Diabetes in chameleons?


Avid Member
Well, Cyrus' saga goes on. His eye has still not changed (better or worse) has slight edema so we decided to do bloodwork. It came back OK (Ca:p - phos was a bit high) liver, uric acid/kidney was fine and so was Calcium. He did not want to take too much blood so did not do white blood cell count yet. However, his blood glucose was 329! Apparently "normal" (though hard to know for sure with chams) is 80-150. He said not to panic yet as he wants to do a "dip test" in a fresh fecal (the urates) which will be more accurate since the blood/GL can vary for a number of reasons.

Anyone here had experience with diabetic chams or know of info on it? As he said, I am not panicked - yet (hopefully will get a nice fresh poop from him in the morning :) but am curious.

I do not know of diabetes with chameleons, but do have experience with diabetes my self...seeing as how i am diabetic. Although he may have diabetes, i dont know how you would take care of him. Even with cats you can test thier sugars as i do every day through out the day. Testing chameleons blood glucose would seem to be challenging at the least! I do hope that your chameleon is okay.

Hi Jake,

Sorry to hear you have to deal with that. I hope I never do. If Cyrus does in fact have diabetes, well, I will likely lose him. Can be giving him insulin injections and drawing blood regularly - would;t be fair. BUT I am not to that point of worrying yet. We'll see what the urate dip shows. I had him on pedialyte for a few days and wonder if that had anything to raising it - will ask the vet. I am hoping it is just a fluke and am grateful that all his other numbers were OK.

Take care,
Howdy Lele,

Have your vet take a peek at the chapter "Hyperglycemia in Reptiles" in Mader's "Reptile Medicine and Surgery". There are about 9 pages on the subject. The summary statement is "...if a reptile presents with hyperglycemia, DO NOT think diabetes mellitus. Because true diabetes mellitus is not common, ruling out other causes for the hyperglycemia is prudent." So basically, there are many reasons for blood sugar to be high. Those need to be understood and eliminated as the source of the problem. Other sources include underlying diseases, environmental or physiologic influences. "Husbandry information obtained should include housing, lighting, heating, diet, vitamin and mineral supplementation and feeding history." I think your vet may be able to put together a good plan to tracking down the problem after reading the chapter.
Several species of chameleons have been reported to have high glucose counts under certain circumstances. It has to do with switching to anaerobic glycolysis (energy production) at times when they are not at optiminal temperatures or in need of sudden bursts of energy for example.
Thanks to both of you (k- got your email, will reply later, thanks :) ). Dr. N did say that it was not necessarily diabetes (I may have not made that clear) and that it could be due to stress and other problems. In part this is why he wants to do the fecal dip (still waiting on Cy to do his thing!). If it is still high we will check again at a later date to compare.

Dave, I will cite the article you mentioned. Going there today for dental eval for my cat (she'll have surgery tomorrow :( ...it never ends) and I will leave a note for him. Btw, Dave, I did finally reply to your reply (elsewhere) yesterday.

Quick note re: temps. K- in your email you asked about temps. I have to say, that due to his eye issue I have allowed him to sit under the humidifier for long periods. it is a cool mist and he may have had a harder time really warming up. He just went to his "spot" and I did not turn it on and only misted with hot water instead (I usually do both at same time). Well, next time I looked he was back up front. I am going to try and find a warm mist humidifier for his "in cage" and move the cool out to the room.

Something I thought of, and have no idea if this could have made a difference, but for a few days about a week or so ago I gave him pedialyte in his water (more pedia than water). I know that it is basically sugar and sodium and wonder... I did not mention to vet, but will when I leave note. Any thoughts on that?

OK, gotta go for now but will keep you updated, thanks again!

Good News update

Well, about 15 minutes after my last post I heard a "plop" on the cage floor and ran it over to the vet ASAP :p I just got home and vet had called. His blood glucose dip was fine and since they had the fecal I asked them to run it just to "remove" any other possible problems. He has always had clean fecals and even though his last was just 3 months ago I figured it was worth the extra $16 since it was right there.

I just bought a warm mist humidifier at HD and think I can adapt my PVC pipe set up to it (with a bit of plumbers putty) so at least he will be getting warm mist. I'll see how that works out, plus the warm mist should produce more droplets and maintain humidity longer. He doesn't mind sitting under his Misty Mate. I heat up water in micro, then fill and pump. It lasts b/t 5-10 minutes but it is a nice, gentle (but very wet) mist.

I guess for now we will just watch what happens. If his eye gets back to normal in warmer more humid weather then we will know it is just very bad dry-eye. Still don't like his color, though. At least he is eating, drinking and pooping. :D

lele & the Cy Guy
Top Bottom