My cham swallowed a pebble. Help and suggestion!?


New Member
Hi all,

I have a 9-month old panther chameleon. Today, I noticed that he was holding a big pebble in his mouth; I tried to grab it from his mouth but I watch him swallow it slowly. After doing it, he looked normal and showed no signs of pain while swallowing it. I immediately went to the emergency room; the vet did some x-rays which showed two pebbles in his guts. I suppose this is the second time he does it but the first that I noticed :( From my place to the vet, he looked fine (with the exception of the obvious stress related to me handle him and put him in a container).

The vet said that in order to take them out, he needed surgery, although he suggested not to, as it may be unlikely that he survived.

Has anyone had a similar experience? Is there a way I can help him "diggest" the pebbles? What would be the best way to keep giving him a good life? What should I expect and be prepared for?

He is back in his enclosure now. He still looks frightened, but has both eyes open, and looks normal, although he is not moving and looks really scared. I know this is my mistake, as I should have put bigger pebbles in the plant pots. I feel terrible :(


Chameleon Enthusiast
Definitely get those pebbles out of his cage. If the soil is organic, without any fertilizers etc., you really don't need to cover the soil with anything. But if you do want to cover the soil, definitely get bigger rocks as you said.

Can you post a picture of the pebbles you put in the cage? A picture (with size reference) will give us a better idea of how serious the situation is.


New Member
Like how big of a pebble are we talking? Because my concern is will he become impacted because of it. In that case he would die too. So I am thinking you need another vet with real reptile experience and the ability to perform surgery if it is needed.

The first pic is of him with the pebble in the mouth prior to swallowing. The second shows the possible sizes. Do you know how long would it take to show signs of the impaction in his behavior?

Based, on what the vet said, I think that it is serious and surgery needed.


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Chameleon Enthusiast
Get him to the vet asap! An x-ray might be able to reveal if he can pass it or not, and your vet will be able to determine if surgery is needed or not. I'd take him asap though... not all rocks have smooth edges, and I'd be afraid the rock might lead to a tear in his intestines as it travels through his digestive tract


Chameleon Enthusiast
Yeah no way that is going to pass. It is the size of his mouth. Not sure what he was going for but the rocks you use are very similar to the ones I use. I have never had a Cham try to eat them. I was thinking pebble like fish tank gravel.

What city and state do you live in? @jannb may be able to recommend a vet that would actually have the skills to deal with this.


New Member

I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Find a very good vet with allot of chameleon experience. Make sure the vet has a scope. He will need endoscopic surgery to get that out. Where do you live? I might be able to recommend a knowledge vet that can do this surgery.

As I said in the original message. I took him to the vet and said he needed surgery but he didn't think he will make it. The vet may have not the necessary experience with chams, maybe?

Thanks for all your help.


Chameleon Enthusiast
I’m asking a friend that runs a reptile rescue in the Toledo area if she knows of a vet capable of successfully doing the surgery. I’ll let you know when I hear back from her.

Stephen Barten DVM is a drive but an expert with reptile surgery.

Dr. Stahl is excellent with reptile surgery and keepers from everywhere travel to see him
Stahl Exotic Animal Veterinary Services
4105 Rust Rd.
Fairfax VA.22030
703 281 3750
Dr Stahl and his staff are excellent
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