Ficus Plants & Eye Irritation

Prism Chameleons

Established Member
Thought I might share a tip with you all about Ficus plants. The sap from broken leaves/limbs can cause eye irritation in chameleons and it has even been speculated that some chameleons may be susceptible to Ficus plants in general as an eye irritant. Ficus are commonly recommended (I even have some myself), however, if you notice frequent eye irritations in your chameleons and you have a Ficus plant inside it's habitat, you might consider changing it out to another safe non-toxic plant for it's cage to see if this might alleviate the problem. Umbrella/Schefflera are great plants to use as they have nice leaves to retain water moisture should you need to switch out your Ficus plant. :)
wow....that interesting stuff. Especially seeing as ficus is such a widely recommended plant.
But on the flip side, I've heard that the sap from schefflera can cause the same kind of irritation. Of course I have no idea where exactly I read that....and am not even sure if it was a reliable source. Just figured I'd throw that out there.

Just for the record. The only plant in with one of my chams I have noticed an eye problem with was in fact a ficus. I've never had experience with schefflera causing eye irritation. Plus their leaves and branches are much more sturdy, making for a much better climbing tree.
Yes, it is pretty interesting seeing how the Ficus plant is one of the most recommended plants to use in habitats for chameleons. However, it has been researched through veterinary sources (which of course, I don't have in front of me, but can get if necesssary).

I imagine that any sap could be an irritant, even with the umbrella plants. But, for some reason the Ficus tree is currently being focused through veterinary literature as a possible cause of eye irritations in some chameleons. Good stuff to know.
I have read of this too. I would be especially careful when using the plant with veileds or other species that are known to occasionally eat plants.
Brad said:
... that are known to occasionally eat plants.
or when thye may rub an eye on a branch to loosen a piece of shed. If the branch cracks/breaks the sap can enter the eye. Many of the more commonly recommended cham plants do have some minor toxicity and like anything we just need to pay attention to our chams habits - but thye can do that in the wild, too.
lele is absolutely right. In fact, during my cham's recent shed he did break a few small side branches trying to remove skin from his face and eyes.
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