Injured Veiled Chameleon's Tongue Hand Feeding, Please Help!

Tawnee29

New Member
I was offering a wax worm as a treat to a veiled chameleon I'm petsitting for a bit, but he got my finger instead and I accidentally jerked my hand back out of instinct and now his tongue is out of his mouth and won't go back in.

I've never taken care of a chameleon before, but have general experience in reptile care, particularly with beardies. I feel so terrible and I have no idea what to do. I called the herp I usually take my beardie to to ask if they could give me any help or if so could schedule an appointment but he won't be available until Monday.

I looked up what to do for him and did a few things like take out all cage furniture except for a few branches on the ground now, added a infrared heat emitter to keep him warm, and am trying to keep him moist but he climbs up the side of his cage when I do and steps on his tongue and looks like he's gagging when he does.
When he gags, the stiff part at the base is bloody. I've attached a picture so you can get a better idea. It's not the best, but I didn't wanna agitate him more and make him hurt himself any more than he has.

Sorry if I didn't include all the necessary details, but I'm freaking out and just want to help him and don't want to make it any worse. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

I had no idea that was even a possibility and wouldn't have ever tried handfeeding if I knew. I feel like the worst person in the world.
 

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kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
Take him out of the cage and put him in a large plastic Tupperware type container...no branches...bare floor on the container. Let his tongue lay on the floor of the container and put just enough water into the container to cover the tongue and get it to a vet ASAP...if it's left hanging out he will likely bite it and may even bite it off. It may have to be amputated at the end of the hyoid bone if it doesn't retract on its own soon. If the tongue gets dried out it will go necrotic and have to be amputated for sure.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
You said there is blood which means he may have ripped a hole in his tongue and that would stop it from retracting back over the hyoid bone. I'm not a vet but have had some experience with chameleons that had this happen to the tongue. They will learn to eat without a tongue (if it has to be amputated) as long as the to
Once is left just long enough to cover the hyoid bone. If the tongue is left too long he will likely do that gagging a lot and it can make them uncomfortable that they won't eat.
 

Tawnee29

New Member
Take him out of the cage and put him in a large plastic Tupperware type container...no branches...bare floor on the container. Let his tongue lay on the floor of the container and put just enough water into the container to cover the tongue and get it to a vet ASAP...if it's left hanging out he will likely bite it and may even bite it off. It may have to be amputated at the end of the hyoid bone if it doesn't retract on its own soon. If the tongue gets dried out it will go necrotic and have to be amputated for sure.
I just did this and he doesn't seem to be having any of it. He keeps trying to get out and is holding his tongue up out of the water.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
I don't know what would be safe to put on his tongue to keep it moist...
Only suggestion I have is to shut out the lights so he will go to sleep.
He really needs to see a vet right away IMHO.
 
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Tawnee29

New Member
Well, I called them and 2 other emergency vet offices and none see exotics. The best I was told I can do by the last one is wait until tomorrow to call an office they gave me a number to and see how soon I can get an appointment.

I wetted some gauze and wrapped it around his tongue, then turned off his lights so he'd sleep. Not sure what else I can do for the poor guy. I really hope he's going to be ok, I feel so terrible.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
I'd be worried he couldn't draw the tongue back in with the gauze on and worried he could ingest the gauze.
 

Tawnee29

New Member
It seems to be either that or not be able to keep it moist at all since he won't cooperate with the water. I just seem screwed either way T_T

On a side note, of course this would happen to me right now only a few days after my dad's funeral. Doing cpr on my father after finding him unresponsove and cold was evidently not traumatizing enough for the universe.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
So sorry to hear about your father. That must have been hard. I found my husband dead a few years ago and it was way to late to do CPR. Not an easy thing to have happen.

I just think if the gauze is on the tongue it will stop the tongue from retracting so there will be no choice but amputation...and I really don't want to see him choke on the gauze either. You're stuck between a rock and a hard place.
 

Tawnee29

New Member
Thank you, and I'm sorry you had to go through that as well with your husband. It's not ever something you think you're going to encounter in your life and it's really a shock. In hindsight, it was too late in my case as well, but I had to try.

So, after some thought I just took the gauze off and just poured water in a medicine bottle cap and set his tongue in it after he settled down. He seems to sleeping now, so hopefully I found a solution.

Thank you so so much for all of your help.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
If you have a humidifier, put it on...may help prevent his tongue from drying.
Very sorry about your Dad and that you are now going thru this.
 
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