Female Veiled Chameleon Stopped Eating

Sheriff Brendo

New Member
My female veiled chameleon, Carmela, has recently stopped eating. I first noticed this a couple days ago and she’s still refusing to eat. I’m aware chameleons will sometimes go on hunger strikes but she has a pretty varied diet (mainly crickets & mealworms, with an occasional super, and a hornworm once in a blue moon as a treat). She also enjoys munching down on lettuce and the occasional nibble out of the plants in her enclosure. With that being said I’d say it’s been coming up on about a week of her so called “hunger strike” and I’m beginning to worry. I’ve managed to get her to catch a mealworm or two over the past few days but that’s about it, as she was ignoring some leftover crickets hanging out under the lights in her cage for a few days. I’d appreciate any help or input given to me as I’m concerned for her health and well-being and am beginning to consider a trip to the vet but would like to avoid this if possible.

I’ll provide as much information about her and her enclosure as I possibly can. I appreciate any help you all can give. Have a Happy New Year!

Carmela:
-Veiled Chameleon (Female)
-Purchased 2-3 months ago, I’d guess her age is around 4-5 months
-Unsure about her weight, but I’ll attach pictures I took of her today down below
-Mainly eats crickets, mealworms, occasional super, and hornworms as treats, along with vegetables mainly lettuce.

Carmela’s Enclosure:
-Location: My bedroom, low traffic w/ no loud noises
-Ambient Temp: 75 during day
-Basking Temp: 88+
-Humidity: 40-50%
-Misting: Multiple times a day, 2-3 at least, there’s also a dripper for her
-Handling: Often, she’s very social and likes to come out & explore/crawl all over me and others and explore my room
-Plants: Two pothos plants, a money tree, a bromeliad, two dracaena plants, anthurium (flamingo flower), a fake plastic plant that came with the reptibreeze enclosure, and an elephant ear plant
-Substrate: I know I’ll get chastised for this and trust me I’ve read all about how chams shouldn’t have any substrate but I digress...
I have two plastic bins in the bottom of her cage filled with soil I bought from my local pet store specifically made for “tropical environment” animals. It’s very fine and it’s mostly made of peat moss which I’ve read shouldn’t cause any issues. I potted my plants in these bins so it’s easier to clean, water them, perform maintenance, and so that they double as an egg laying bin.
 

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Gingero

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hi - and welcome to the forums. Carmela is very cute. Thanks for providing all of that info and pictures. SUPER helpful.

A few follow-up questions...

What are you gutloading with? What supplements are you using? Are you aware that a compact UVB bulb is not sufficient?
 

Sheriff Brendo

New Member
Hi - and welcome to the forums. Carmela is very cute. Thanks for providing all of that info and pictures. SUPER helpful.

A few follow-up questions...

What are you gutloading with? What supplements are you using? Are you aware that a compact UVB bulb is not sufficient?

I’ll gutload with commercial gutload (mainly Fluker’s brand) or with produce such as apple, lettuce, etc. or whatever leafy greens Carmela doesn’t finish.

I use calcium power w/ and without D3 and Zoo Med’s Reptivite

For lighting I use a reptisun bulb that came with the Reptibreeze enclosure as well as a ZooMed daylight blue light bulb, and for basking light I was using a ZooMed reptibasking spot lamp but after those burnt out I wasn’t able to get to a store in time to get a new one so I threw in a normal old light bulb which has been working fine and giving off an adequate amount of heat, but I do have another reptibasking spot lamp for when this bulb burns out.
 

Gingero

Chameleon Enthusiast
Okay gotcha. Usually improving husbandry is the first place to start when trying to help out a chameleon. Improper husbandry *could* be what is causing her to have a loss in appetite.

I'm going to recommend you use fresh gutload instead of the commercial gutload since unfortunately, the commercial gutload usually isn't sufficient. This video will walk you through why, how, and what to gutload with.



Can you be specific about how often you use the 3 supplements you mentioned?

Adding this video just in case.



The biggest thing that needs correcting is the UVB bulb that you're using. Compact UVB (the kind you have) does not penetrate deep enough for a chameleon to fully absorb the UVB, thus preventing them from properly being able to absorb the calcium in their supplements to help their bones, muscles, and organs function. What you want is a linear T5 HO (high output) UVB fixture and bulb. Reptisun and Arcadia are both brands that are recommended.

Using a house bulb for heat is totally fine. Most keepers do this to save cost on bulbs since the reptile ones are much more expensive just because they say reptile on them.
 

Sheriff Brendo

New Member
Okay gotcha. Usually improving husbandry is the first place to start when trying to help out a chameleon. Improper husbandry *could* be what is causing her to have a loss in appetite.

I'm going to recommend you use fresh gutload instead of the commercial gutload since unfortunately, the commercial gutload usually isn't sufficient. This video will walk you through why, how, and what to gutload with.



Can you be specific about how often you use the 3 supplements you mentioned?

Adding this video just in case.



The biggest thing that needs correcting is the UVB bulb that you're using. Compact UVB (the kind you have) does not penetrate deep enough for a chameleon to fully absorb the UVB, thus preventing them from properly being able to absorb the calcium in their supplements to help their bones, muscles, and organs function. What you want is a linear T5 HO (high output) UVB fixture and bulb. Reptisun and Arcadia are both brands that are recommended.

Using a house bulb for heat is totally fine. Most keepers do this to save cost on bulbs since the reptile ones are much more expensive just because they say reptile on them.

I’ve been trying to stray away from the commercial gutload and haven’t been using it as frequently. So I’ll start to use fresh gutload, any recommendations on what to gutload mealworms and supers?

As for the supplements, I know chams don’t need D3 constantly so I’ll use the one with D3 about once a week or every other week. The reptivite and calcium w/o D3 I’ll use about every other feeding or so, sometimes I’ll miss few feedings without but I always dust her veggies with them when I’m giving her something fresh to snack on.

And for the lighting, I think you’re misunderstanding me. I’m not using a household compact UVB, I’m using a 5.0W Reptisun bulb along with the ZooMed Daylight Blue bulb with the house bulb/ReptiBasking bulb for heat depending on which I have on hand.
 

Gingero

Chameleon Enthusiast
Gutloading
Awesome! The video actually walks you through what fruits and veggies to use for gutload and what not to use for gutload starting at 1:45.

Good ingredients to use for gutloading: mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion leaves, collard greens, escarole lettuce, papaya, watercress and alfalfa

Sort of good things to use for gutloading: sweet potato, carrots, oranges, mango, butternut squash, kale, apples, beet greens, blackberries, bok choy and green beans

Dry ingredients to use: bee pollen, organic non-salted sunflower seeds, spirulina, dried seaweed, flax seed and organic non-salted almonds

Bad things to use for gutloading: potatoes, cabbage, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, corn, grains, beans, oats, bread, cereal, meat, eggs, dog food, cat food, fish food, canned or dead insects, and vertebrates

Foods to boost immune health: Bee pollen, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Green Peppers, Kale, Mangoes, Turnip Greens, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Oranges, Nectarines, Tangerines, Peaches, Pink Grapefruit, Pumpkin, Squash, Sweet Potato, Berries, Apples, Nuts, and Watermelon

Foods to aid with nerve and eye health: whole grains, dark leafy greens, flax seed, almonds, and Brazil nuts

Supplements
Please watch the video on supplements that I linked above. It's important to have a set schedule with supplementation. It's not something we can cut corners on :(

Supplement schedule I recommend:
- Calcium without D3 6x week
- Calcium with D3 1x every other week
- Multivitamin 1x every other week

Lights
I'm totally understanding you. What I'm trying to say is the 5.0W Reptisun bulb is not giving Carmela enough UVB to help her absorb her calcium. Without the right kind (the T5 HO linear bulb), she can't process the calcium in her supplements. This will lead to metabolic bone disease, her not being able to form the shell around her eggs and getting egg bound, broken bones, organ failure, and eventually death. Not trying to scare you or anything just trying to stress the importance that she gets a new fixture and bulb ASAP. This could also be what is affecting her appetite.
 

Sheriff Brendo

New Member
Gutloading
Awesome! The video actually walks you through what fruits and veggies to use for gutload and what not to use for gutload starting at 1:45.

Good ingredients to use for gutloading: mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion leaves, collard greens, escarole lettuce, papaya, watercress and alfalfa

Sort of good things to use for gutloading: sweet potato, carrots, oranges, mango, butternut squash, kale, apples, beet greens, blackberries, bok choy and green beans

Dry ingredients to use: bee pollen, organic non-salted sunflower seeds, spirulina, dried seaweed, flax seed and organic non-salted almonds

Bad things to use for gutloading: potatoes, cabbage, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, corn, grains, beans, oats, bread, cereal, meat, eggs, dog food, cat food, fish food, canned or dead insects, and vertebrates

Foods to boost immune health: Bee pollen, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Green Peppers, Kale, Mangoes, Turnip Greens, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Oranges, Nectarines, Tangerines, Peaches, Pink Grapefruit, Pumpkin, Squash, Sweet Potato, Berries, Apples, Nuts, and Watermelon

Foods to aid with nerve and eye health: whole grains, dark leafy greens, flax seed, almonds, and Brazil nuts

Supplements
Please watch the video on supplements that I linked above. It's important to have a set schedule with supplementation. It's not something we can cut corners on :(

Supplement schedule I recommend:
- Calcium without D3 6x week
- Calcium with D3 1x every other week
- Multivitamin 1x every other week

Lights
I'm totally understanding you. What I'm trying to say is the 5.0W Reptisun bulb is not giving Carmela enough UVB to help her absorb her calcium. Without the right kind (the T5 HO linear bulb), she can't process the calcium in her supplements. This will lead to metabolic bone disease, her not being able to form the shell around her eggs and getting egg bound, broken bones, organ failure, and eventually death. Not trying to scare you or anything just trying to stress the importance that she gets a new fixture and bulb ASAP. This could also be what is affecting her appetite.

Oh okay! Sorry for the confusion, I just wasn’t understanding what exactly you were trying to get at. So with that out of the way, are there any specific T5 HO linear outputs you could direct me towards? I’ve read up on MBD and all the things that improper UVB levels can bring about in chameleons at that’s something I definitely want to avoid.

I’ll definitely look into the gutloading and supplement videos as well, I’ve read for the most part you want to give the feeders food items that are beneficial to your chameleon or items that the chams themselves often enjoy (dandelion greens, kale, etc.)

And you’ll be happy to know that while anxiously awaiting your reply I opened up Carm’s cage to offer her a superworm (she would go crazy for these guys) and she snapped it up. Definitely relieved some anxiety on my part as she’s only eaten about two mealworms in the past few days, fingers crossed her appetite returns to her soon!

Thanks a million for all your help and input, I’ll definitely look into a new lighting fixture and the proper gutloading of feeders and supplements to ensure that her health is at its peak.
 

Hashtag ChamLife

Avid Member
My female veiled chameleon, Carmela, has recently stopped eating. I first noticed this a couple days ago and she’s still refusing to eat. I’m aware chameleons will sometimes go on hunger strikes but she has a pretty varied diet (mainly crickets & mealworms, with an occasional super, and a hornworm once in a blue moon as a treat). She also enjoys munching down on lettuce and the occasional nibble out of the plants in her enclosure. With that being said I’d say it’s been coming up on about a week of her so called “hunger strike” and I’m beginning to worry. I’ve managed to get her to catch a mealworm or two over the past few days but that’s about it, as she was ignoring some leftover crickets hanging out under the lights in her cage for a few days. I’d appreciate any help or input given to me as I’m concerned for her health and well-being and am beginning to consider a trip to the vet but would like to avoid this if possible.

I’ll provide as much information about her and her enclosure as I possibly can. I appreciate any help you all can give. Have a Happy New Year!

Carmela:
-Veiled Chameleon (Female)
-Purchased 2-3 months ago, I’d guess her age is around 4-5 months
-Unsure about her weight, but I’ll attach pictures I took of her today down below
-Mainly eats crickets, mealworms, occasional super, and hornworms as treats, along with vegetables mainly lettuce.

Carmela’s Enclosure:
-Location: My bedroom, low traffic w/ no loud noises
-Ambient Temp: 75 during day
-Basking Temp: 88+
-Humidity: 40-50%
-Misting: Multiple times a day, 2-3 at least, there’s also a dripper for her
-Handling: Often, she’s very social and likes to come out & explore/crawl all over me and others and explore my room
-Plants: Two pothos plants, a money tree, a bromeliad, two dracaena plants, anthurium (flamingo flower), a fake plastic plant that came with the reptibreeze enclosure, and an elephant ear plant
-Substrate: I know I’ll get chastised for this and trust me I’ve read all about how chams shouldn’t have any substrate but I digress...
I have two plastic bins in the bottom of her cage filled with soil I bought from my local pet store specifically made for “tropical environment” animals. It’s very fine and it’s mostly made of peat moss which I’ve read shouldn’t cause any issues. I potted my plants in these bins so it’s easier to clean, water them, perform maintenance, and so that they double as an egg laying bin.
She's showing her gravid colors in some of those photos as well as coming "of age" to start laying. I couldn't see a laybin in your set up there, but that bromeliad is blocking most of the shot.

The females will definitely start eating less once they start their first cycle. After laying, she'll want to gorge. After a few days, cut down on her food and temps [read info by @kinyonga ] to reduce or even eliminate her egg laying.

Sounds to me that this is the most likely cause of the "hunger strike", but I'm no expert!

Best wishes!

Edit: guess I should read properly, i see the bit about bins for plants.

What size are your bins? Chams like a decent amount of depth and space for laying.
 

Syreptyon

Chameleon Enthusiast
Oh okay! Sorry for the confusion, I just wasn’t understanding what exactly you were trying to get at. So with that out of the way, are there any specific T5 HO linear outputs you could direct me towards? I’ve read up on MBD and all the things that improper UVB levels can bring about in chameleons at that’s something I definitely want to avoid.

I’ll definitely look into the gutloading and supplement videos as well, I’ve read for the most part you want to give the feeders food items that are beneficial to your chameleon or items that the chams themselves often enjoy (dandelion greens, kale, etc.)

And you’ll be happy to know that while anxiously awaiting your reply I opened up Carm’s cage to offer her a superworm (she would go crazy for these guys) and she snapped it up. Definitely relieved some anxiety on my part as she’s only eaten about two mealworms in the past few days, fingers crossed her appetite returns to her soon!

Thanks a million for all your help and input, I’ll definitely look into a new lighting fixture and the proper gutloading of feeders and supplements to ensure that her health is at its peak.

The best quality T5 HO lights available are the Arcadia bulbs at lightyourreptiles.com :)
Alternatively, Reptisun also offer T5HO bulbs instead of the compact ones you get in the kit. Linear reptisuns are easier to find in real life, whereas Arcadia bulbs will need to be ordered (although they are totally worth the wait)
 

AnamCara

Chameleon Enthusiast
Not sure if it's been mentioned, but if I were you I would remove the Alocasia Polly as it is pretty toxic. It is topically toxic, so it can cause irritation from simple touch. Dogs who ingest it can have serious adverse reactions -- including mouth issues, pain, swelling....
 

Sheriff Brendo

New Member
She's showing her gravid colors in some of those photos as well as coming "of age" to start laying. I couldn't see a laybin in your set up there, but that bromeliad is blocking most of the shot.

The females will definitely start eating less once they start their first cycle. After laying, she'll want to gorge. After a few days, cut down on her food and temps [read info by @kinyonga ] to reduce or even eliminate her egg laying.

Sounds to me that this is the most likely cause of the "hunger strike", but I'm no expert!

Best wishes!

Edit: guess I should read properly, i see the bit about bins for plants.

What size are your bins? Chams like a decent amount of depth and space for laying.

I was kicking around the thought that maybe Carmela (Carm) is getting ready to lay her first (infertile) batch. But I didn’t want to be so too rash and jump to conclusions on my own. But since you said something about her gravid or “coming of age” colors, the yellow marks around her head and body are brand new and lately she’s been very elaborately patterned (lots of dark dots and rings on green base - non-defensive). So maybe she IS in heat or already ready to lay.

As for the bins I’ve read it’s good to have about 10-6 inches of damp substrate for them to tunnel. However, my bins offer only about 5 inches of substrate to tunnel in and while I’d like to have a designated laying bin with sand and some soil in her cage at all times I don’t think my current setup can support that size container. I know some people have separate laying bins made up in 5-gallon buckets but I’ve heard they’re more comfortable when it’s in their own enclosure, safe from the outside world.

I have calcium sand from my local store (clumps when wet) and some extra soil on hand so I can craft up a laying bin for her. However what would you recommend I do in terms of making this bin for her? Is it better to just make a separate container for outside the cage or rearrange some things in the cage and put a bin in there?

I do eventually want to upgrade her to the larger reptibreeze enclosure but she’s still fairly young and quite frankly I did not expect her to grow up so quickly. Seems like yesterday she was barely bigger than my palm. Those were simpler days.

Thanks for any help you can give, and happy new year from Carm & Me! :)
 

Hashtag ChamLife

Avid Member
I was kicking around the thought that maybe Carmela (Carm) is getting ready to lay her first (infertile) batch. But I didn’t want to be so too rash and jump to conclusions on my own. But since you said something about her gravid or “coming of age” colors, the yellow marks around her head and body are brand new and lately she’s been very elaborately patterned (lots of dark dots and rings on green base - non-defensive). So maybe she IS in heat or already ready to lay.

As for the bins I’ve read it’s good to have about 10-6 inches of damp substrate for them to tunnel. However, my bins offer only about 5 inches of substrate to tunnel in and while I’d like to have a designated laying bin with sand and some soil in her cage at all times I don’t think my current setup can support that size container. I know some people have separate laying bins made up in 5-gallon buckets but I’ve heard they’re more comfortable when it’s in their own enclosure, safe from the outside world.

I have calcium sand from my local store (clumps when wet) and some extra soil on hand so I can craft up a laying bin for her. However what would you recommend I do in terms of making this bin for her? Is it better to just make a separate container for outside the cage or rearrange some things in the cage and put a bin in there?

I do eventually want to upgrade her to the larger reptibreeze enclosure but she’s still fairly young and quite frankly I did not expect her to grow up so quickly. Seems like yesterday she was barely bigger than my palm. Those were simpler days.

Thanks for any help you can give, and happy new year from Carm & Me! :)
Well... I can give you two ways to do it. The one I've been told and the one that's worked for me.

First and foremost, they need a bigger laybin, in all directions. Usually you want about 12" cubed (deep and wide) or more. It's also said to not use a clear bin. Some people add a big rock as females look for something to lay against.

As for substrate, I use a sand/soil mix. It's not a 50/50, I just wing it, heavier on the soil than sand. [Closer to 65/35] You want enough moisture you can dig a tunnel and it hold up, but no actual water and not soggy. (Can help to drill some holes in the bottom for drainage).

I've built many of these - left in the cage. I've only had one cham ever show interest however.

Here's what I have success with; I've been using a large planter on my "main tree" in the cage. It's a 14" square pot from Lowe's/Home Depot and runs about $12. Since theres a lot of water going through my cages, I make my own potting mix. It's clay balls/rock in the very bottom about 1" or so, then I mix peat, vermiculite, orchid bark (1*), perlite and soil for the actual potting mix. I've had ALL my girls use their planters since I did this and it's been great for the plants.

(1*) Orchid bark can be just the bark nuggets or the mixed that contain coarse perlite and charcoal - just be careful how many obstacles there are for your girl when digging.

Edit: Before switching to my own soil mixes I did also use the sand/soil mix for my money tree and that worked for the tree and the cham. That is to say, you don't HAVE to be so elaborate with your soil.
 

Hashtag ChamLife

Avid Member
I happened to have a few photos of my planter in action:

20191211_150706.jpg

This is the 16x16 reptibreeze cage. That's my 14" planter with a "patio" sized hibiscus. My girl was under 6 months old when she decided to lay... I'm so glad I decided to give her a plant!

20191211_192943.jpg


Here she is on her way out... one of my favorite photos, hehe.
 

The Wild One

Chameleon Enthusiast
You shouldn’t let her see you see her, she might abandon the hole and become egg bound, cover the bottom portion of the cage in a sheet or towel and give her complete privacy.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
Please don't use calcisand...it can cause an impaction. The sand I have used for years (and has never caused a problem when ingested) is produced by Kings and comes in a white bag with red, blue, yellow sand box toys on the front of it.

The MINIMUM size for a laying bin should be 12" X 8" X 8" deep...and opaque. There should be a laybin in the cage the cage all the time once the chameleon shows its mature colors.
 
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