Learning from mistakes

Teutonic

New Member
So I recently had a really sad experience. Me and my gf purchased a veiled chameleon from Petco who was about 5 months old. One week into owning him, I noticed that his leg looked too bent and took him to the vet, only to find that he was in the advanced stages of MBD. The vet did what she could, gave him fluids and medicine, but a week later and two weeks exactly after the day we got him he died. The vet said that there's no way it got that advanced only in the week of us having him, and even though the vet said our husbandry practices weren't ideal, it shouldn't have gotten that bad that fast. It feels like my fault and I feel terrible that I let such a horrible thing happen to such a brilliant creature. I got really attached to him really fast. I didn't notice signs of MBD fast enough, and I'm a new chameleon owner so it was harder for me to tell what's normal and what's not. We've talked and we're definitely not ready to get another one yet, but in the next few months we might. I thought I might post our supplies and the schedule we had (Since we would only really need to buy another chameleon) and see if there's anything I'm missing or could do better for when we do. Most of this schedule is just hypothetical since we really didn't get last the first week without problems.

Terrarium - 18x18x36 mesh terrarium with green absorbant flooring. Two hanging plastic plants, a small and a big standup plant. We were also planning on getting a live plant eventually. We also have a fake vine and a few branches.

Lighting - we have both a 5.0 and 10.0 UVB 22" Hood light, and we'd probably use the 10.0 because it reaches farther. As for heating, we have a 60 watts ceramic heat bulb (which we would probably upgrade to 100 watts to make it warmer). As for temperature, it would always be above 75F and ideally around 80, reaching about 100 in the heat spot.

Water - misting 1-2 times a day for about a minute, never letting humidity get below 40% but ideally keeping it above 50%. We also have a drip system, though it's kinda shoddy and isn't consistent. We also have a humidifier that we kept next to the terrarium.

Food- We fed mealworms (Which the vet said wasn't too nutritious so we probably wouldn't do that again), crickets and waxworms. We fed the crickets oranges, but made plans to make some mix of carrots, lettuces, apples, and a few other calcium and vit. A veggies. About 5-10 crickets a day depending on appatite.

Supplements - Repti Calcium with D3 twice a month, with Repashy Calcium plus at every feeding (Until no longer a juvenile, then every other feeding).

Handling - I'm aware of the controversies around handling chameleons and what the best way to do so is, but I would let the chameleon be in the terrarium for about 3 days to adjust, then hand feeding him with tongs until consistently eating it. I would then try to prompt him to crawl on my arm to get to the food, which would take awhile to do. During this time I would also leave the terrarium open, sometimes putting waxworms in the dish outside to prompt him to leave his terrarium (This is all done while someone is in the room watching him of course). Eventually I would like to be able to take him out of his terrarium to a tree on the balcony where he would be able to chill outside in the summer months to absorb natural UVB.

Any tips or suggestions for improving would definitely be appreciated, I don't ever want something like this to happen again.
 

Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
So I recently had a really sad experience. Me and my gf purchased a veiled chameleon from Petco who was about 5 months old. One week into owning him, I noticed that his leg looked too bent and took him to the vet, only to find that he was in the advanced stages of MBD. The vet did what she could, gave him fluids and medicine, but a week later and two weeks exactly after the day we got him he died. The vet said that there's no way it got that advanced only in the week of us having him, and even though the vet said our husbandry practices weren't ideal, it shouldn't have gotten that bad that fast. It feels like my fault and I feel terrible that I let such a horrible thing happen to such a brilliant creature. I got really attached to him really fast. I didn't notice signs of MBD fast enough, and I'm a new chameleon owner so it was harder for me to tell what's normal and what's not. We've talked and we're definitely not ready to get another one yet, but in the next few months we might. I thought I might post our supplies and the schedule we had (Since we would only really need to buy another chameleon) and see if there's anything I'm missing or could do better for when we do. Most of this schedule is just hypothetical since we really didn't get last the first week without problems.

Terrarium - 18x18x36 mesh terrarium with green absorbant flooring. Two hanging plastic plants, a small and a big standup plant. We were also planning on getting a live plant eventually. We also have a fake vine and a few branches.

Lighting - we have both a 5.0 and 10.0 UVB 22" Hood light, and we'd probably use the 10.0 because it reaches farther. As for heating, we have a 60 watts ceramic heat bulb (which we would probably upgrade to 100 watts to make it warmer). As for temperature, it would always be above 75F and ideally around 80, reaching about 100 in the heat spot.

Water - misting 1-2 times a day for about a minute, never letting humidity get below 40% but ideally keeping it above 50%. We also have a drip system, though it's kinda shoddy and isn't consistent. We also have a humidifier that we kept next to the terrarium.

Food- We fed mealworms (Which the vet said wasn't too nutritious so we probably wouldn't do that again), crickets and waxworms. We fed the crickets oranges, but made plans to make some mix of carrots, lettuces, apples, and a few other calcium and vit. A veggies. About 5-10 crickets a day depending on appatite.

Supplements - Repti Calcium with D3 twice a month, with Repashy Calcium plus at every feeding (Until no longer a juvenile, then every other feeding).

Handling - I'm aware of the controversies around handling chameleons and what the best way to do so is, but I would let the chameleon be in the terrarium for about 3 days to adjust, then hand feeding him with tongs until consistently eating it. I would then try to prompt him to crawl on my arm to get to the food, which would take awhile to do. During this time I would also leave the terrarium open, sometimes putting waxworms in the dish outside to prompt him to leave his terrarium (This is all done while someone is in the room watching him of course). Eventually I would like to be able to take him out of his terrarium to a tree on the balcony where he would be able to chill outside in the summer months to absorb natural UVB.

Any tips or suggestions for improving would definitely be appreciated, I don't ever want something like this to happen again.
Sorry you lost him! The first mistake was buying anything from Petco; animal or supplies. Sometimes people who post here say their particular store had an educated employee, but the majority of these stores know little to nothing about cham husbandry, they buy their stock from mass producers with little regard for (or understanding of) correct care of the breeders. The chain stores often don't even carry the correct husbandry supplies or appropriate caging.

Rather than go through your post line by line, I'd suggest you read through the husbandry articles located under the Resources tab and compare what YOU have and did with the information there. I think you'll see quite a difference.

A few comments: Yes, you can handle a cham. They are individuals, so some will resent handling more than others from day one. Some never learn to tolerate it, others do. There are good approaches to take while handling and bad approaches. NEVER, ever leave a cham loose in a tree outdoors. They can sneak off in seconds and you'll lose him. Just don't do it. Build an outdoor cage for your balcony or put a net over the tree that he can't escape through.

Have fun learning...there's a lot to read here!
 

starter

Member
My deepest condolences, too. Perhaps one advice: Check the "Hood light" you have whether it really is a UVB light. I have got my male chameleon from private a few months ago and he was very sick, almost starved to death. I bought him "with his complete setup" which included two lamps, a heat lamp and a hood lamp emitting white light. Upon closer inspection I found that the hood lamp of the brand "Arcadia Jungle Dawn 9w" was one which did not emit any UVB light, but only serves to improve plant growth. So this chameleon was left without any chance to absorb UVB for 2 or 3 years. As this Jungle Dawn light was sold to the previous owner in the pet shop together with the chameleon, he thought it was the right light. Therefore it is really important to not fully rely on the advice of pet shop employees, but always double-check. Google is a good friend, just enter the brand and you know what the product does.
 

Teutonic

New Member
My deepest condolences, too. Perhaps one advice: Check the "Hood light" you have whether it really is a UVB light. I have got my male chameleon from private a few months ago and he was very sick, almost starved to death. I bought him "with his complete setup" which included two lamps, a heat lamp and a hood lamp emitting white light. Upon closer inspection I found that the hood lamp of the brand "Arcadia Jungle Dawn 9w" was one which did not emit any UVB light, but only serves to improve plant growth. So this chameleon was left without any chance to absorb UVB for 2 or 3 years. As this Jungle Dawn light was sold to the previous owner in the pet shop together with the chameleon, he thought it was the right light. Therefore it is really important to not fully rely on the advice of pet shop employees, but always double-check. Google is a good friend, just enter the brand and you know what the product does.
I found out hard it is to find adequate light, the first light I bought was a compact UVB which didn't do much at all. The hoods I have now do have UVB lights as I double checked.
 

iMi

Established Member
I just wanted to chime in on the Petco situation. I am one of those people who say it depends on location. I have two very close to us. One is horrible. Feeders are always out or dead, animals are not well kept and vailed chameleons there are 100% in horrible condition. They had a dish with water sitting on the ground.

The second Petco, on the other hand, is fantastic. The staff is knowlagable, the enclosure is setup correctly with two droppers running almost non-stop and the chams there look very healthy. That’s where we got ours and he’s been great. No problems. They have full assortment of feeders including hornworms, which is unusual. They are run well. I really like that Petco.

Granted, knowing what I know now, I would probably buy from a breeder directly. I certainly will next time. I also buy feeders online, too. Except for crickets. They come from Petco.

So, I would say it really depends on location.
 

Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
I just wanted to chime in on the Petco situation. I am one of those people who say it depends on location. I have two very close to us. One is horrible. Feeders are always out or dead, animals are not well kept and vailed chameleons there are 100% in horrible condition. They had a dish with water sitting on the ground.

The second Petco, on the other hand, is fantastic. The staff is knowlagable, the enclosure is setup correctly with two droppers running almost non-stop and the chams there look very healthy. That’s where we got ours and he’s been great. No problems. They have full assortment of feeders including hornworms, which is unusual. They are run well. I really like that Petco.

Granted, knowing what I know now, I would probably buy from a breeder directly. I certainly will next time. I also buy feeders online, too. Except for crickets. They come from Petco.

So, I would say it really depends on location.
Supporting the company Petco or not is a big part of the reason folks here avoid them. Their corporate policies about the animals they offer, the incorrect information and incorrect husbandry supplies they choose to carry are the problem. If one store is lucky enough to let a knowledgeable employee do what's better for the cham that's great. The company itself doesn't tend to care and is resistant to doing anything their established policies dictate (regardless whether its right or wrong for the pet).
 

Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
The Petco company is a big part of the reason folks here avoid them. Their corporate policies about the animals they offer, the incorrect information and incorrect husbandry supplies they choose to carry are the problem. If one store is lucky enough to let a knowledgeable employee do what's better for the cham that's great. The company itself tends to resist doing anything other than what their established policies dictate (regardless whether its right or wrong for a particular animal they choose to sell).

When you purchase anything, animal or supplies from Petco you are in essence, agreeing with their policies. Evaluate the local store you shop at...their policies and ignorance could have lead to the death of your cham. If you buy more stuff from them or a new animal, they got what they intended to get.
 
I'm so very sorry for your experience :(

I agree that you should read through provided care sheets. But I will highlight a few things of importance.

-I would find an established trusted breeder among this community or recc by this community.
-Linear UVB
- Live plants (I do provide fake vines as well to fill in areas)
- Gut load for feeders & supplementation

All the best! Can't wait to hear about & see your new baby when you are ready!
 

salty dog

Chameleon Enthusiast
I'm sorry for your terrible experience!! I've been to numerous petco stores and some of them had chams and no uv lights, others had heat lamps on the cage, chams with burns...... anyways, here is a treasure trove of cham loving people who will help you, keep your chin up!!
 

GodricktheVeiled

Established Member
I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience. I hope you choose a reputable breeder when you're ready to try again. The things I noticed in the list you posted, is that the temps are way too hot. A cham doesn't need a 100 degree basking spot. And ambient temps dont have to be above 75 all the time. Also, Misting needs to be a minimum of 2 minutes, ideally longer than 2 minutes.
As @ChamChamChangeForMe mentioned, Live plants with fake plants to fill in empty spaces are a good plan as well. :)
Good luck and I wish you the best.
 
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Thehippie

Chameleon Enthusiast
if you do end up getting another cham, a lot of site members and sponsers have very healthy chams and support good treatment of chams in the breeding business, 100 degrees is way too much for a chameleon, i would recommend that you go to the resource tab and read up on the kind of chameleon you want to get. also flchams has an extensive safe plant list that you can choose plants from to put in a chams enclosure.
 
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