Mouth abscess/rot - no exotic vets available

RetiredCham

New Member
Please keep in mind, before offering advice, I live in a state (Hawai'i) where there are not exotic vets to care for reptiles. All our terrestrial herps are non-native and it is technically illegal to keep as pets (though many do). Additionally, I am a biologist who specializes in herpetology and have done my research. I have specific questions about mouth abscess/rot.

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - Jackson's chameleon, female, exact age unknown but at least 6 years old. Has been in my care for 5 years.
  • Handling - Normally rarely handle her. Recently have handled more often to clean mouth and aid in feeding (see History below for details).
  • Feeding - 2-3 large crickets daily (if she'll take them, again see History for details). Gut loaded with Fluker's high calcium cricket diet, Fluker's orange cube full cricket diet, and occasional veggies.
  • Supplements - Crickets dusted with Reptivite.
  • Watering - Hand-misting daily so I can tell she's drinking. Occasionally use a home-made dripper (large bottle with holes in bottom) on days I'm out of the house for a long time.
  • Fecal Description - Seems regular, brown droppings with white/clear urates.
  • **History** - She is a retired research subject (not mine). She was wild caught as an adult (Jackson's are invasive in Hawai'i; this was legal/permitted for research purposes). I'm not sure how long they had her or what her habitat conditions were. I adopted her and three other chams (adopted out to others) so they wouldn't be euthanized. She is missing most of her tongue. She tries to strike but it is very short. For most of the time I've had her, I have put crickets in a small bowl and she has been able to climb nearby and chomp on them. Recently, I noticed she wasn't eating them within a day so I observed feeding a few times and she's struggling now to catch the crickets. Even when I try to tong feed her, she tries to strike or chomp fairly far away from the crickets. I've had to handle her a bit more recently so I can place crickets on her tongue when she tries to strike. We've gotten better at doing this without handling/using tongs! But it's still hit or miss...literally. Have also been handling a bit so I can inspect her mouth.

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - 36" Metal Bird Cage ( https://tinyurl.com/3z9jvks6 ) with live plants and several sticks/things to climb on.
  • Lighting - Natural...the cage is on my lanai. Yes she gets plenty of sunlight and has shade to move to if needed.
  • Temperature - Ambient...It's Hawai'i. It's plenty warm for her. If anything, during the summer, I monitor to make sure it isn't too warm. Again there is open space for her to bask and shaded areas to move to. Throughout the year, temperatures stay within 68 to 84 degrees F in my area.
  • Humidity - Ambient...Our average humidity in Hawai'i is 63%. She is also misted daily.
  • Plants - Live plant - croton
  • Placement - Lanai (covered balcony) facing an inner courtyard (so no traffic, exhaust, etc.) Cage is placed on the floor and is 36" tall.
  • Location - Hawai'i

Current Problem - Mouth rot or abscess. I noticed this about a week ago (see photo) but it is progressing. I do not have access to a vet that would be able to run tests or diagnose. But I'm wondering if I can talk to my vet about the problem and if he'd prescribe anything that is commonly used for this (eg. I tell him what is often prescribed). I've read about different "at home" treatments but I'd like to hear about anyone's experience with these. Most seem to be for early stages (such as right when you notice a cut or wound), but I'm dubious they'd help once we're at the "puss" stage as seen in the photo. But at home treatments may be my only option. I'm open to any advice, thank you.
 

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RetiredCham

New Member
Your best treatment will involve antibiotics. I think this is beyond topical treatment because of the location and severity. Give your vet a call.
Hi, as I mentioned in my post, reptile vets do not exist in Hawai'i (I've searched my whole island). Do you have a recommendation of common antibiotics used for chameleons? I've heard of baytril so far. I'm hoping that I could call my vet (who treats more common pets), and ask for a specific prescription even though he doesn't treat reptiles.
 

JacksJill

Moderator
Staff member
Baytril is commonly used in reptiles (maybe over used). Animal should be well hydrated to prevent organ damage.

I have been given liquid TMP/SMZ or trade name Tribrissen for use in a Jackson with a temporal gland infection. If I recall I gave it daily for 21 days. It worked very well. Your vet will have access to dosages for reptiles by weight even if he/she is not a reptile vet.
 

RetiredCham

New Member
Baytril is commonly used in reptiles (maybe over used). Animal should be well hydrated to prevent organ damage.

I have been given liquid TMP/SMZ or trade name Tribrissen for use in a Jackson with a temporal gland infection. If I recall I gave it daily for 21 days. It worked very well. Your vet will have access to dosages for reptiles by weight even if he/she is not a reptile vet.
Thank you for the advice! Hopefully my vet will work with me (or recommend someone who can).
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
You said..."She is missing most of her tongue"...does she keep trying to adjust her tongue when she tries to get an insect to eat?

Is the part of her tongue that's left just enough cover th e hyoid bone or is there a "flap" of tongue left hanging off the end of the hyoid bone?
 

RetiredCham

New Member
You said..."She is missing most of her tongue"...does she keep trying to adjust her tongue when she tries to get an insect to eat?

Is the part of her tongue that's left just enough cover th e hyoid bone or is there a "flap" of tongue left hanging off the end of the hyoid bone?
She definitely has some tongue flesh left and it is even a bit sticky. So when close enough, she does try to stick it out a bit and she's able to use her tongue to help her swallow.
 

RetiredCham

New Member
Further update: on Saturday the vet cleaned out Egg's mouth and I have oral antibiotics (baytril) to give her daily. Otherwise, vet said just keep feeding her gut-loaded/dusted crickets and keep her sun/UVB exposure up.
Cheers for your help, all. This vet isn't listed or searchable as being able to treat reptiles. Future reference for anyone on Oahu, Dr. Ganzer at King Street Animal Hospital treats chams!
 
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