just bought a velied chameleon, I think she is dieing...


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just bought a velied chameleon, I think she is dieing... *update*

After years and years, and maybe 20 some snakes, I finally got myself a chameleon. I have always wanted one, but for one reason or another, I never picked one up. last nite at the pet shop, while helping my friend pick out his first ball python, I decided to do it. I got a small veiled chameleon, fresh air cage, and all the goodies. She took the car ride home pretty well, all things considered. I set the cage up, and let her loose in it. she seemed to be doing ok when I got home from work today. I had picked up some crickets, and was going to feed her and give her some water. this is were things went wrong.

I got a small tupperware container, poked a tiny tiny hole in it, and filled it with water, to let it drip into the cage. she ran, well, she moved faster than I had seen her move, over to the water. for a half hour she sat there drinking. I left for a bit. when I came back. she was laying on her side on the vines, not grasping any of them. She looked dead. Then I noticed that every minute or so she would open her mouth and almost make a sighing sound.

in an odd moment of clarity, I thought about the water. I wasnt thinking when I put it in the tupperware. it was straight out of the tap, and was very cold. with snakes, the bowl of water gets to room temp after a few hours, so you dont have to worry. I surmised the water sent her body temp plummenting. I gently reached in, plucked her from the vines, and perched her up on the high branch right below the heat light. that area hangs around 88-90 degrees with the light on. she slowly, very slowly, seem to come back. she started arching her head up, and gripping the branches. but every now and again, she would fall to her side. a little bit ago, she started walking around a bit, but its almost like she drunk. she will walk a few steps, stop, then teeter for a few seconds. her color has returned to the light shade of greenish brown it was last nite.

Do you think there was any permenant damage from what happened? Do you think she will make a recovery? I would hate to have my first ever chameleon die after 48 hours of owning her. I am just used to much hardier ball pythons and boas. I am hoping this chameleon makes it. I havent even named her yet. :(
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Oh, and heres some other things about my setup. I am wondering if theres anything kissing, or if I should get something different...

The cage is a full mesh cage. it is 20x18x12
the basking light is a 60w sun glo bulb. something about neodymium daylight lamp.
For UV I have a slimline reptile fixture with a 15w ESU reptile super uv flourescent.
The basking temp under the light hovers from 88-92, depending on if the fan in the room is going. the coolest part of the tank stays around 75. at nite, with all the lights off, I would say the temp would get down to 75 everywhere.
The UV light is on for 12, off for 12 hours. I have a spa timer from an old snake setup. the basking light is on for 16, off for 8.
ambient humidity is around 60%. I live in miami florida, So I dont think humidity will be a problem.
I am not sure on the age of the chameleon, because I didnt ask. but I do know it is captive bredd. without the tail she is about 3" long.
I bought some stuff called 2:1 reptile supplement. I was told to put a little in the bag with crickets, and shake around. I also planned on varying things up a bit with the occasional mealworm and ground up carrots and such. maybe try to find a live plant I can put in the tank with her.
the cage is setup in the living room. while I have 2 roomates, we all work 50+ hours a week, so it is only busy in the living room for a few hours a day. otherwise it is quiet.
for water I have a small tupperware with a hole poked in it. I am sure there is something better I can use, but that seems to work for the time being. what is this about misting the cage or something. do I need to be doing that?

I have tons of knowledge when it comes to snakes. I owned one particular ball for over 15 years, before a freak occurence in the dead of winter took her life. But with chameleons, I am useless. I have basic reptile knowledge, but just not this species. any help is appreciated.

UPDATE: she seems to be doing better. no more tipping over or teetering. she is firmly grasping ontom the branches and is moving around a bit. she doesnt seem to interested in the crickets, but I sort of expected that after what just happened. I hope there isnt any long term damage.
If there is a problem, its more likely to be from when it was at the pet store and not from you. I'm not quite positive what the effects of cold water could do to chameleons, or veileds in particular. They prefer warmer water, but as for permanent damage, not quite certain, though there have been no ill effects from chameleons being misted with cooler water, providing they had the chance to escape the mist.

Gasping or wheezing is a sign of respiratory disease.

For research, use: http://www.chameleonnews.com/
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The UV light went off about twenty minutes ago. she seemes to have settled down. she got herslef on a nice long branch, curled up, and seems to be sleeping. she hasnt wheezed in about a half hour. though, when she was awake, she only seemed to be opening one eye. though if she opened the other, it would have been staring directly into the heat lamp. so I am not sure if that means anything or not. The shop I got the veiled from has a great reputation down here. it only sells reptiles. snakes and chameleons. I talked to the guy earlier, and he wasnt sure what might be wrong. he wants me to call him back in the morning and afternoon with updates. He said if it looks like things arent getting better, he will pay to have it looked at by a vet.

Sorry if I sound like I dont know what I am doing. I am trying to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can. she was sort of an impulse buy, but like I said, I am not unfamiliar with reptiles. I just have never had one of these. :) And I want this one to have a long happy healthy life.
No, all signs of problems are pointing to a source that started from before she was in your care.

Eyes closed during the day are a sign of a problem. But as closed eyes isn't associated with any one particular problem, it won't help in identifying it. You should shorten the time that the heat lamp is on to about the same time the UV light is on. Around 12 hours.

As I said before, Gasping or wheezing is a sign of upper respiratory disease.

Raise the basking temperature up a few points to 95Degs, as low daytime temperatures can aide in the development of URI. You should have a spray bottle to mist the enclosure a few times daily to offer more chances to drink. By your description of her anxiousness to drink, she sounds quite dehydrated.

The signs being shown, do warrant a visit to an experienced vet. Do not wait, as I'm sure others on this forum will agree with me, that once a problem arises in chameleons it is incredibly difficulty to reverse it, let alone stop it in its progression.

It would be in the best interest of the store owner, to examine the other chameleons he is housing currently as well. Chances are, that if this one is struggling, they may be others.
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Hi.. welcome to the forum. Just to clarify... you got the chameleon last night, but didn't give her any water until tonight when you got home from work? I wonder how long it had been since the pet store had misted or used a dripper for them. If what you are saying is right, she went for over 24 hours without access to water, and it is not surprising at all that she ran to the dripper. I wonder if, in her haste to drink, she may have inhaled some water into her lungs?

Chameleons require a LOT of water. They prefer to drink from the leaves of plants, and misting is a necessity. You can use a dripper as a supplement, but it isn't a substitute for a 15 minute misting session. Generally speaking, a good amount of misting is 30-40 minutes a day of misting, broken up into at least 2 sessions. Your local hardware store should have a hand held pump sprayer.. mine holds 48 oz. and can be pumped up to pressurize it. It works really well, and saves you from having to use a spray bottle until your hand blisters.. :eek: If you haven't given drainage a serious thought, you might want to now. Here is a good article on it: http://www.chameleonnews.com/watering.html

You might want to take a closer look at your lights.. most successful chameleon keepers prefer to use Zoomed Reptisun 5.0's paired with just a regular household lightbulb for basking. I use a 60 watt. My lights, both basking and UVB, run for 12 hours a day.

How big are the crickets you are using with her? At three inches, she should be eating about 1/8" or 1/4". The crickets should be no longer than the space between her eyes. There are several different types of supplement dusts you can use. For minerals, I use Rep-Cal's Herptivite, and occasionally use Sticky Tongue's Minerall. For calcium, I use Rep-Cal calcium, rotating between the kind with D3 and the kind without.

There are lots of ways to keep a chameleon healthy.. and I don't believe that anyone has discovered a "right" way yet. For general research and learning, a good place to start is by reading all of the back issues of Chameleon News. Here is the link: http://www.chameleonnews.com/

Keep us up to date with your little girl! I hope she doesn't have a URI.

If you are using the ESU slimline fixture, it is essential that you remove the clear plastic cover thats over the flourescent tube. It will block 100% of the UV unless you remove it. Switching the bulb out for a ZooMed 5.0 wouldn't hurt either. Just to be clear however, the problem you are experiencing with your cham most likely has nothing to do with lighting.

Is your chameleon's breathing labored? Any popping, crackling or wheezing sounds? Nasal discharge? These are all signs of a URI. Is your chameleon extremely wide in the midsection? Perhaps she is gravid? It's very difficult to diagnose over the internet. If your petshop owner is willing to pay for a vet visit (which is very commendable) then by all means take him up on it.
Update: (this may be a long post)

I sat and had a very long talk with the guy I bought the chameleon from. none of his still in the store show any signs of illness. we concluded that the first day she was in my place, I had yet to turn the A/C up. it was still cooling things down to 70 degrees. it was also sucking the humidity from the air. I also didnt mist/water her enough the first two days. this led to the eye problem, and the beginings of a URI. We called his vet, but he is out of town till tuesday. the only other qualified vet was over an hour away, and wanted 75 bucks just to walk in the door. I wont have that till saturday. We decided on an unusual strategy to deal with the problem.

This is a trick I used to use with snakes when they would develop a URI. It might be way to harsh for a chameleon, but I have to try something. We are basically drying her out. trying to dry up and clear te mucos. this will help her breathe considerable better and hopefully she will be able to at least hold off the infection till I can get to a vet next week. this involved putting her in a large tupperware box, with a dry towel at the bottom. The heat lamp is aimed in. it is a very warm, very very low humidity enviroment. I give her water three times a day. But I completely dry the container out afterwards, and then return her to it. She has been in this container since yesterday afternoon.

Her breathing has improved 100%. only very rarely will her breathing be labored. and the mucos has seemed to all but vanish. so stage one seems to be working. she has also taken well to what is happening. for the most part, she has stayed a very pretty very pale shade of green. as soon as I come up to water her she climbs up and tilts her head to the side. she will sit there and drink the drops as they hit her mouth, then let it fall on her closed eye for a few minutes before wandering off. thats when I know to stop. I then take her out, completely dry everything off, then return her.

Once I feel the URI is more under control, I am going to return her to her cage. I have since moved it up higher and out of the way. it is as far from the A/C vent as I could get. the ambient air in the tank is 94 at the highest, and 75 at the lowest. I also thoroughly cleaned the cage to make sure no bacteria was left behind. I am going to change the substrate from repti-bark to this moss like stuff. it is better at retaining humidity. I am going to be setting up a new misting, drip and drainage system this weekend as well. basically, building a catch box below the tank, and setting up an automated mister/drip nozzle in the cage. this way she gets a good 45 minutes of water a day. and I will be able to easily drain out the water. I also bought a small hibiscus to put in the tank. hopefully it will be all setup by the time she goes back in it. Then I wont have to disturb her other than putting crickets on there for her to eat.

I know, I am going to get yelled at or told I am doing the exact opposite of what I should be doing. But my options were limited. I feel I am going in the right direction at least. especially with the cage and general setup. This is my first chameleon, and I am going through the baby steps. I desperatly want this little girl to pull through. I understand I am going against the grain in terms of dealing with a possible URI. please dont be angry. I am just doing what I think will help. next week, she sees a vet. but for now, it is in my hands.
Glad to hear that she is improving. Honestly, your technique literally made me cringe. Keep in mind that dehydration leads to kidney damage pretty quickly in chameleons, and you really need to monitor the temps very carefully.

The cage changes sound good, but you might want to reconsider the substrate all together. They are known for harboring bacteria that can lead to a URI. Your live plants will hold moisture in the soil, and should help to increase the humidity.

well im sure someone already said this.. i just kinda skipped everyones replies.. but that "teeter" thing, where they move 2 legs back and forth a few times, its completely normal.. theyre trying to look like "a leaf blowing in the wind" and as for the water temp. it should be at least room temp. just cause chameleons are picky about it i guess, cold water isnt really the problem though, i dont think. its the chlorine.. the cholrine, if ingested too much, can kill the delicate little guys.
My chameleon has seemed to make a full recovery . no more signs of labored breathing. No more mucos or any of those signs. she has started eating again. and seems to be generally happy. I took the time she was in the crate to redo her cage. I moved it to a higher place on the other side of the room. I have solved my drainage problems. I even automated the drainage. which I am quite proud of. all thanks to a large plastic box, some 1/4" plastic tubing and a masonry drill. So now I can happily mist and not worry about flooding myself out.

I even have slightly automated my hand mister. I took the garden mister apart, transplanted 2 feet of tubing and repositioned the sprayer over the tank. When I full pump the prayer up it runs for 10 minutes. all i have to do now is fill it, pump it up fully, and put a rubberband around the trigger. that will hold me off for now.

I also upgraded my light to a 75w tight beam light. I didnt have the cash for the all in one uvb heat lamp deal. I will get that at a later date. I will just stick with my slimline uvb light.
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