Jackson's chameleon suddenly died

Hi there, this is my first post on the forums, and I wish it was under better circumstances. Despite the fact that it's too late to do anything now, I'll post up the details:


Chameleon Info:

Your Chameleon - Jackson's Chameleon (Chamaeleo jacksonii jacksonii), male, age unknown, had been in my care for 10 days.
Handling - Only when necessary - once or twice when I adjusted things in the enclosure for a few seconds at a time (after moving him out of his enclosure I sat him on a houseplant outside his enclosure in the sun and he hung out there while I was doing stuff)
Feeding - Only ever saw him eat two locusts, day after I got him home he defecated a half-digested waxworm that I guess he must've eaten from the bowl I left in there. First one he ever dropped (first night I had him) had a white urate and an orange, runny fecal component, the rest of them looked normal and solid. Livefood was gutloaded and supplemented appropriately.
Supplements - Gutloading with varied vegetables, was planning on dusting once a week with calcium but he only ever got one round of that...
Watering - Heavy misting 3-4 times a day, enclosure allowed to dry out between mistings. Dripper running with drainage directly out of enclosure - water was always available and I'd seen him drink several times.
Fecal Description - First dropping was orange with white urate. Second had a half-digested waxworm in it. Rest seemed normal. Do not know if he had been tested for parasites previous to me having him.
History - Bought from an exotic pet shop, when i bought him he didn't seem particularly happy - he was pretty brown when I got him home, but I put that down to stress of the journey. He started to colour up slowly over the next few days but never as vibrant as some of the Jackson's I've seen on here. He was wild-caught, but apparently a long-term captive.


Cage Info:

Cage Type - Exo-terra flexarium 38.
Lighting - Basking spot - 60w household bulb. UV - exo-terra repti-glo 10.0 tube.
Temperature - Temps measured with infared digital temp gun, Basking spot hovered around 82-85f and ambient was no lower than 70 down to the cage floor where the temperature dropped, nighttime temps never dropped below 65.
Humidity - Humidity 80-100 after spraying, humidity maintained with regular daily (thorough) spraying. Dripper also available.
Plants - Ficus, hibiscus, bromelia guzmania. They're intact so I know he's not been picking at them.
Placement - Cage is in my bedroom. I barely spend any time in there except to sleep, once the chameleon's lights were off I crept around and didn't switch on any lights in order to avoid disturbing him. I also didn't spray deodorant, etc, anywhere near the room. A crested gecko is also in the room but there is no sightline between the two enclosures. The top of the cage is about 2m off the floor.
Location - United Kingdom, Southeast England.

So what happened?

Last night he seemed absolutely fine. I'd got him home Friday before last (the 18th). I'd been instructed that a glass enclosure would be fine but after doing a bit more research on here and other places it seemed that the general consensus was mesh enclosures were the only way to go for Jacksons, so I switched him over to a flexarium within a few days. I saw a marked improvement, he started colouring up, saw him feed. He was solid and seemed happy until yesterday, when I caught him sleeping during the day briefly. He woke up and started drinking within a few minutes of me seeing him, so I made a note to keep an eye on him for the rest of the day and he seemed fine.

When his lights went off for the night, I left the room to give him some time to get to sleep. I came back five minutes later to check on him and he was scraping about in the ficus at the back of his enclosure, but I couldn't see anything. When I got a light on him, he was lying, on his side, on the very floor of his enclosure, struggling to breathe and moving lethargically. He'd started to go a very sickly shade of creamy-yellow, like old paper. I picked him up and had him flat on my palm and he didn't even make any attempt to stand, and only weak attempts to grip my fingers.

It was then that I noticed he was bleeding from his cloaca - he wasn't losing blood in torrents or anything, but it was a substantial trickle down half the length of his tail. I switched on his lights and put him near the basking spot to keep him warm while I sorted out a plan of action, but it was too late by then. He went a few vibrant colours (unfortunately, the most vibrant I've seen since I got him), gaped several times and had a bit of a painful-looking spasm. And then he let out a clicking breath and was gone.

I'm pretty upset if I'm honest - he was one of the most interesting reptiles I've owned, and I'd got quite attached to the little guy. I just wondered if anyone may be able to shed some light on why he might've gone so quickly? I'll be sorting out a post-mortem as soon as I can but I kinda wanna figure out if it's down to my husbandry that's killed him so fast or if something like that may have been lingering from his time in the pet shop and just set off by the stress of the move.
 
Sorry, just thought I'd post some pics of him him before he went, in case that might shed more light on what happened or at least what condition he was in when I got him. These were taken the day he came home.



 

ChamChick

New Member
Honestly, I can't tell you what happened with him, but I am very sorry for your loss. The only thing I see wrong in your husbandry ( I am not as familiar with Jacksonii) is the use of a 10.0 repti-glo (I would have went with the 5.0). I am not as familiar with supplementing needs for a Jacksons, so I will not comment on that, but honestly, being only in your care for 10 days, I don't think the lack of supplementing in your care would have been the issue. It sounds to me that this was an pre-existing issue when you bought him. Fecals definitely sound strange to me. You said he was WC, but a long term captive. Was he in the care of the pet shop this whole time? Being WC I know there is a risk of parasites, and also being in the care of a pet shop, it is very likely THEIR husbandry and supplement schedule was incorrect (if not non-existent) for this little guy.
 

eisentrauti

Avid Member
Based on the history and the pics I would guess that he died because of heavy damages in the liver and/or the kidney. He got during and after import probably nearly no water which most of the animals survive some days and weeks but for a long time. The problems which are based on a lack of water are lethal for nearly all small species, only big Furcifers can handle this after my experiences. The lack of water is together with parasites and the stress extremely difficult to manage for a small species
 

Miss Lily

Chameleon Enthusiast
:( So sorry you lost him. He looked so beautiful too. I would love one myself one day, but will steer well clear of wild caught if at all possible. A friend of mine had a pair of wc Jacksons and she lost both of hers too. They are incredibly hard to find in the UK (I guess you are in the UK as you mention locusts).
 

jdog1027

Established Member
Your husbandry/hydrating/feeding all seem good, but in the picture you posted, he does appear to maybe be dehydrated. In the second picture, you can see that his eyes look to be sunk in and his tail in the first picture looks like he is underweight as well. His tail looks thin in the first picture. I know alot of people in the U.K. use locusts- how large are these locusts? I don't know if I can even compare this to chameleons, but when I used to breed snakes, I know that feeding an underweight animal a meal that is too large would sometimes cause regurgitation or even death. I don't know if this is applicable to chameleons or not, but I don't know what would cause the bleeding you described. Sorry you lost him.
 

eisentrauti

Avid Member
Did you know when this guy was imported ? In general it's a very bad idea to feed fresh WC at the first days/week. Their immunsysteme is still down, the animals are stressed and the massive profiteers are the parasites, the worms, sitting in the digestive tract. Thats another reason why water is important after the import, not food. A chameleon with a size like this jacksonii can handle two-three weeks without food, so never hesistate to make a diet with fresh WCs
 
Thanks for your help to all of you, absolutely gutted about this happening. I've kept reptiles for a really long time, but this was my first chameleon - I was assured with my experience level I'd be fine (I've kept dodgy and wild-caught stuff before, obscure Boiga and Atheris species but always been a bit intimidated by chameleons and their level of care!) but I'm started to think there'd be much less heartache and one less dead Jackson's if I'd have taken a Yemen...

It sounds to me that this was an pre-existing issue when you bought him. Fecals definitely sound strange to me. You said he was WC, but a long term captive. Was he in the care of the pet shop this whole time? Being WC I know there is a risk of parasites, and also being in the care of a pet shop, it is very likely THEIR husbandry and supplement schedule was incorrect (if not non-existent) for this little guy.
I think he was in the care of the shop I bought him from for a couple of months, not sure if he came in with a shipment to the shop or if he'd been bought from somewhere else. I wasn't really given anything other than verbal assurances, supposedly he was parasite-free but I'm not sure if I can trust that...especially judging by what happened...

Based on the history and the pics I would guess that he died because of heavy damages in the liver and/or the kidney. He got during and after import probably nearly no water which most of the animals survive some days and weeks but for a long time. The problems which are based on a lack of water are lethal for nearly all small species, only big Furcifers can handle this after my experiences. The lack of water is together with parasites and the stress extremely difficult to manage for a small species
Just to clarify, you're proposing that it might be an underlying thing that was set off by the stress of me taking him home? He was well hydrated and drinking with me but could there still be problems if he'd already suffered a few months prior? And could that explain the bleeding? Sorry for all the questions, I feel pretty bad after all this has happened and I just wanna get some opinions of whether it's more likely that my husbandry caused this, or if it could be something from the shop. That'll also affect my next course of action, cos while I feel worse about the poor little guy dying than the money I've lost on him, realistically I need to figure out some way of recouping my losses.
 

CNorton

Avid Member
Did you know when this guy was imported ? In general it's a very bad idea to feed fresh WC at the first days/week. Their immunsysteme is still down, the animals are stressed and the massive profiteers are the parasites, the worms, sitting in the digestive tract. Thats another reason why water is important after the import, not food. A chameleon with a size like this jacksonii can handle two-three weeks without food, so never hesistate to make a diet with fresh WCs
Hmm...why not feed a WC anything for the first few days? Are you speaking about the stress of other things in the cage or possibly some other reason?
 

Texas Panther Man

New Member
Ive only kept one pair of jacksons adn that was over 10 yrs ago. He looked kind of thin to me from your pics. I agree I wouldnt be too hard on myself if I were you. I would tell the pet shop maybe you can get a partial refund. I would go elsewhere if I wanted a replacement. Jmo..
 

eisentrauti

Avid Member
Thanks for your help to all of you, absolutely gutted about this happening. I've kept reptiles for a really long time, but this was my first chameleon - I was assured with my experience level I'd be fine (I've kept dodgy and wild-caught stuff before, obscure Boiga and Atheris species but always been a bit intimidated by chameleons and their level of care!) but I'm started to think there'd be much less heartache and one less dead Jackson's if I'd have taken a Yemen...



I think he was in the care of the shop I bought him from for a couple of months, not sure if he came in with a shipment to the shop or if he'd been bought from somewhere else. I wasn't really given anything other than verbal assurances, supposedly he was parasite-free but I'm not sure if I can trust that...especially judging by what happened...



Just to clarify, you're proposing that it might be an underlying thing that was set off by the stress of me taking him home? He was well hydrated and drinking with me but could there still be problems if he'd already suffered a few months prior? And could that explain the bleeding? Sorry for all the questions, I feel pretty bad after all this has happened and I just wanna get some opinions of whether it's more likely that my husbandry caused this, or if it could be something from the shop. That'll also affect my next course of action, cos while I feel worse about the poor little guy dying than the money I've lost on him, realistically I need to figure out some way of recouping my losses.
It's not the best comparison but dry alcoholics die often because of problems with the liver, even if they havent drunk any alcohol for years. The inner organs dont forget. The stress based on the new home could be thing which was the final straw.
But regarding the pics I think it was the conditions under which he lived before. Beginners often dont see a sure death candidate when they buy their new animal.
Try to get your next chameleon from a good breeder and I'm sure you will have way more luck with it.
 

eisentrauti

Avid Member
Hmm...why not feed a WC anything for the first few days? Are you speaking about the stress of other things in the cage or possibly some other reason?
Stress is another reason. As I written in my post the parasites/worms are the ones who profit most from the food. The stress, the dehydration, the wrong temperatures, all those factors together are pure poison for the immune system of the animal.
A normal working immune system keeps the parasites down, a weak one cant stop them the same way. So the parasites increase and the problems for the chameleon are getting worse and worse
 

Elizadolots

New Member
I was wondering about how long the store had the animal. You initially said "long term captive" but later said it was maybe a couple of months. That would make more sense to me. I had a couple of wild caught chameleons (neither a Jackson) that seemed to thrive for several months then suddenly went south. They seem to hide being ill up to the point where it's too late. I suspect you just had the misfortune to buy the animal right before it's ability to hide its illness wore out.
 
I was wondering about how long the store had the animal. You initially said "long term captive" but later said it was maybe a couple of months. That would make more sense to me. I had a couple of wild caught chameleons (neither a Jackson) that seemed to thrive for several months then suddenly went south. They seem to hide being ill up to the point where it's too late. I suspect you just had the misfortune to buy the animal right before it's ability to hide its illness wore out.
Ah, sorry for the confusion. What I meant was I'd been told it was a long-term captive, but I'd only known the store have him for three months. He may have been an import to the store, or he may have been bought from somewhere else who had previously imported him. So basically as far as I've been made aware he's a long term captive, but I can only confirm his history up to about three months ago.

Is there any possibility of it being old age? I know they aren't particularly long-lived but I'd assumed it'd be a little less violent than what happened.
 

glOckcOma

New Member
I was wondering about how long the store had the animal. You initially said "long term captive" but later said it was maybe a couple of months. That would make more sense to me. I had a couple of wild caught chameleons (neither a Jackson) that seemed to thrive for several months then suddenly went south. They seem to hide being ill up to the point where it's too late. I suspect you just had the misfortune to buy the animal right before it's ability to hide its illness wore out.
I just came from a Vet and he stated that Chameleons try their very best to hide ailments. My Nosey be had burns on his back but I never noticed them until he slept and relaxed. Now they got so bad he cant camo the burn anymore. He told me they have this instinct (hiding the fact that they are sick) because in nature if another animal sees that they are weak and ailing they will be easy prey.
He stated that this was a problem with these animals because people wont notice their chams are actually sick until it's really late.
 

EvilLost

New Member
@glock: that is true of most any "prey" type animal (and chameleons are prey :). When others are looking to eat you, you always want to look the strongest you can, especially when you are weak!

@Samuel: I have to agree with others. Your husbandry isn't perfect (i would also use a 5.0 and am not sure about jackson supplementation as i have a panther but i supplement calcium daily and d3/multivitamins twice a month.)

however, it is most likley that your guy was dead before you ever bought him. When I first began my interest in exotics (i started with snakes myself) it was due to the local exotic pet shop. Nearly every "hard to care" for animal I bought from them died a few months after I had it and I blamed myself and just stuck to colubrids for a few years. Having come back now, I stick exclusively to reputable breeders (and prefer to avoid wc at all unless the animal is not available otherwise). I haven't lost an animal since. It really DOES matter!

...I guess what I'm saying is don't let it get you down and blame yourself. Next time, pay a little more money for a good CB animal from a reputable breeder and both you and the animalS will all be happier. Promote local projects and don't support wild exportation :) just my 2 cents
 
@Samuel: I have to agree with others. Your husbandry isn't perfect (i would also use a 5.0 and am not sure about jackson supplementation as i have a panther but i supplement calcium daily and d3/multivitamins twice a month.)

however, it is most likley that your guy was dead before you ever bought him. When I first began my interest in exotics (i started with snakes myself) it was due to the local exotic pet shop. Nearly every "hard to care" for animal I bought from them died a few months after I had it and I blamed myself and just stuck to colubrids for a few years. Having come back now, I stick exclusively to reputable breeders (and prefer to avoid wc at all unless the animal is not available otherwise). I haven't lost an animal since. It really DOES matter!

...I guess what I'm saying is don't let it get you down and blame yourself. Next time, pay a little more money for a good CB animal from a reputable breeder and both you and the animalS will all be happier. Promote local projects and don't support wild exportation :) just my 2 cents
Very true, I guess I've experienced it before myself - a CB Boiga Tannahjampea I picked up from a pet shop (turned out to be WC) went rapidly down hill and died within about three months despite my best efforts but every animal I've bought from breeders, even some harder to keep species are still going strong, and are usually my healthier animals - even my shop-bought royal python is nowhere near as reliable a feeder as his breeder-bought female counterpart. It's a shame as I thought I was doing everything alright, I was paranoid about the stress and made everything perfect, but he suffered anyway - I'm glad at least that it wasn't entirely my fault, at least I tried I guess!

I'll be going to the shop later this week to talk to them about it, I'm doubtful of the possibility of a refund but I might be able to get a yemen as a replacement - there are several young ones in the shop that are lovely and green and look fairly healthy, all CB as well. Saves the flexarium going to waste too.
 

ataraxia

Avid Member
dont beat yourself up. that chameleons shows all the signs of poor health. As far as your husbandry is concerned, it was in no way a direct effect of his death. he was dieing before you bought him.
 
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