My male does not use his tongue

starter

Member
I have bought an adult male Veiled Yemen chameleon with his enclosure from private about three months ago and he was in a very poor condition - extremely scared, very small for a male and extremely thin - see the first attached picture how thin he was at pickup. He is about 2-3 years old. I intended to do everything to bring him to better health. I noticed after some time that he never used his tongue. I don't even know whether he has a tongue at all, because I have never seen it! For feeding, he would go to the food container and pick up the mealworms, fruit and salad leaves with his jaws, or I would put worms and insects right into his mouth with long tweezers. He never even made an attempt to hunt for locusts oder crickets. He also never licked off water from plant leaves. Instead, when I spray the plants, he opens his mouth and wants me to spray water directly into his mouth, which I have been doing ever since several times a day.

While he has very much improved psychologically and can be now picked up and handled, and he has gained much confidence and is always interested in my female (who, however, usually hisses him away unless she is in mating mood), I could not make his body weight go up significantly - he was stuck at only 190g. (In comparison, my gravid female weighed 240g a few days ago.) So I took him to the vet last week who gave me a high-energy food powder called "Emeraid IC" to be mixed into a paste and fed with a syringe once a day. This seems to be helping rapidly and his belly is getting round and he is finally gaining weight. I have been doing this for five days and it is working really
IMG_0776.JPG
well. He also has much more energy and is more active than before.

My question is whether anybody else has had a similar case and how it ended. I worry whether I will have to continue manual syringe feeding for the rest of his life - or whether he will finally regain control over his tongue and will start feeding and drinking naturally. I worry especially when thinking of our summer holidays. We will be away for six weeks and I will have a house and pet sitter here, but I have not prepared him yet for such a task. That's why I wonder whether I can expect full recovery by summer - or ever?

The second picture was taken right now, so you can see the progress compared to three months ago.
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IMG_0901[1].JPG
 

salty dog

Chameleon Enthusiast
Your cham in nature lives in a forest canopy at about 1500 - 2000 feet so needs a night drop in temp to 60. the forest canopy, plants vines, dripping water and the ability to thermoregulate youf cham needs at least a 2 x 2 x 4 but bigger is better, your cham will die without a linear t-5 or t- 8 uv light
 

starter

Member
To salty dog: See photo - do you have such a vivarium in mind? That is my male's for times when he is not in intensive care. It is 60 x 60 x 140 cm in size. It has a UV lamp and a basking lamp and I had a dripper in it, which he did not use, so I switched to the water spraying method. But husbandry was not my question. I asked whether anybody has had experience with a chameleon not using its tongue and the final outcome - recovery, life-long dependency, or death?
 

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OldChamKeeper

Chameleon Enthusiast
The glass tank for a hospital cage is fine salty dog when dealing with a weak animal like in that photo. The OP is asking about tongue issues.

I may be one of the only ones around who can talk about this in depth. I was told about this topic and asked to come post despite my lack of interest in all things veiled...

I have rehabbed numerous chameleons over my time going back decades in fact. Sometimes the animals pulled through, sometimes not.

Some here know of my current Parson Chameleon, Atlas, and his problem with his tongue.

I received Atlas healthy as a CBH animal in 2015. He thrived and gained weight. Then in March of 2016 when feeding him a large hornworm he had an injury. Those worms can hold on to nearly anything like Velcro. My mistake for not cup feeding him. Anyway instead of the worm coming to Atlas when he shot it....the damn worm held on and it forced Atlas to come to it. His tongue suffered an injury as a result. Kinda like a pulled muscle. He can no longer fire his tongue more than a inch. To this day he has to be force fed as a result.

He has been seen by the best Herp vet. Has been discussed about by some of the best in this hobby. And has one of the most experienced keepers for his owner. Despite all that we now approach his third year being force fed. Yes I typed that correctly - it has been three years without him being able to eat on his own. If he had been in the wild nature would have just killed him off. Instead he has me. Since it was my fault for not cup feeding him I'm willing to deal with his convalescence. I test him twice a year to see if there is any improvement by offering him a mantis for which he will gladly try and fire at. Never works.

Now in your case...... I have no idea why yours is not shooting. It could be due to an old injury. It could be due to a nutritional issue since he was so neglected. Can it be reversed? I would not go overboard on any type of vitamin or mineral supplement but I would say you need to make sure he is getting a multi-vitamin supplement twice a week in his condition. I usually use it once a week to twice a month myself but rehabbing an animal tends to involve needing extra for the first six months to a year.

So I would say a 12% uvb bulb (desert species) with adequate space to get away from the light if he feels like it. That 48" tall cage is fine if he has horizontal branches not just near the top but also at the midway point etc etc.

Needs that heat lamp for basking. Then feed him daily with a calcium supplement (no D3) or the multi-supplement twice a week for a while.

Now, my way is not the only way. Others may post some of their experiences or offer their suggestions. It is the one thing great about this site, that you can post a weird question like this and maybe find a few people with real experience in dealing with it. I have only shared my experience here, and I have no real idea if it will help your animal since I don't know all the factors he is dealing with.

Good luck and say "no" to face book experts!
 

salty dog

Chameleon Enthusiast
Old cham keeper defenitely has more experience with the tongue issue, I have never dealt with that, personally. My angle was to dial in the rest of his needs and supplementation to hopefully reverse the problem, gutload your feeders and get some bsfl medium or large, they are loaded with calcium, I would take out the large vertical branch and replace it with a vine plant or multiple narrow branches, I cut my branches off a mulberry tree, the natural walk of a chameleon is foot over foot
 
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starter

Member
Thank you, OldChamKeeper, that is a great post and very helpful. I find it amazing that you have been hand-feeding your chameleon for three years. That is indeed true dedication! But if necessary, I will do it too. Thanks also to you, salty dog. I agree that the right nutrition is very important - and perhaps it will resolve the problem, given time. Let's hope so!
 

maxK

Member
I am also having a similar problem when I mist my cage my chameleon opens his mouth and I spray some water in his mouth and he swallows and he does it a couple of times... I just thought it was a little odd.. is it? (this is my first chameleon and I got him yesterday from fl chams he's a sub adult male veiled)
 

KobaOregonherper

Chameleon Enthusiast
I am also having a similar problem when I mist my cage my chameleon opens his mouth and I spray some water in his mouth and he swallows and he does it a couple of times... I just thought it was a little odd.. is it? (this is my first chameleon and I got him yesterday from fl chams he's a sub adult male veiled)

Dripping water in front of your cham and letting them drink it is fine. If hes gaping while misting it's not going to be a huge deal. If your cham is gaping hes probably, if not certainly, too hot. He'll swallow naturally if he gets water in his mouth.
 
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maxK

Member
Dripping water in front of your cham and letting them drink it is fine. If hes gaping while misting it's not going to be a huge deal. If your cham is gaping hes probably, if not certainly, too hot. He'll swallow naturally if he gets water in his mouth.
okay yeah because i did also notice that he hides under the plants alot where the "coldest" parts of the cage is... the basking spot is about 90 degrees and the rest of the cage is about 75-80 is that too hot? and the humidity is generally 70 ish
 

KobaOregonherper

Chameleon Enthusiast
okay yeah because i did also notice that he hides under the plants alot where the "coldest" parts of the cage is... the basking spot is about 90 degrees and the rest of the cage is about 75-80 is that too hot? and the humidity is generally 70 ish

Can you do me a huge favor so we aren't thread Jacking. Start a new thread and fill this form out?


Chameleon Info:

Your Chameleon - The species, sex, and age of your chameleon. How long has it been in your care?

Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon?

Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders?

Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule?

Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking?

Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites?

History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you.


Cage Info:

Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions?

Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule?

Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?

Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?

Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind?

Placement - Where is your cage located? Is it near any fans, air vents, or high traffic areas? At what height is the top of the cage relative to your room floor?

Location - Where are you geographically located?


Current Problem - The current problem you are concerned about.

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Please Note:

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Mawtyplant

Chameleon Enthusiast
The glass tank for a hospital cage is fine salty dog when dealing with a weak animal like in that photo. The OP is asking about tongue issues.

I may be one of the only ones around who can talk about this in depth. I was told about this topic and asked to come post despite my lack of interest in all things veiled...

I have rehabbed numerous chameleons over my time going back decades in fact. Sometimes the animals pulled through, sometimes not.

Some here know of my current Parson Chameleon, Atlas, and his problem with his tongue.

I received Atlas healthy as a CBH animal in 2015. He thrived and gained weight. Then in March of 2016 when feeding him a large hornworm he had an injury. Those worms can hold on to nearly anything like Velcro. My mistake for not cup feeding him. Anyway instead of the worm coming to Atlas when he shot it....the damn worm held on and it forced Atlas to come to it. His tongue suffered an injury as a result. Kinda like a pulled muscle. He can no longer fire his tongue more than a inch. To this day he has to be force fed as a result.

He has been seen by the best Herp vet. Has been discussed about by some of the best in this hobby. And has one of the most experienced keepers for his owner. Despite all that we now approach his third year being force fed. Yes I typed that correctly - it has been three years without him being able to eat on his own. If he had been in the wild nature would have just killed him off. Instead he has me. Since it was my fault for not cup feeding him I'm willing to deal with his convalescence. I test him twice a year to see if there is any improvement by offering him a mantis for which he will gladly try and fire at. Never works.

Now in your case...... I have no idea why yours is not shooting. It could be due to an old injury. It could be due to a nutritional issue since he was so neglected. Can it be reversed? I would not go overboard on any type of vitamin or mineral supplement but I would say you need to make sure he is getting a multi-vitamin supplement twice a week in his condition. I usually use it once a week to twice a month myself but rehabbing an animal tends to involve needing extra for the first six months to a year.

So I would say a 12% uvb bulb (desert species) with adequate space to get away from the light if he feels like it. That 48" tall cage is fine if he has horizontal branches not just near the top but also at the midway point etc etc.

Needs that heat lamp for basking. Then feed him daily with a calcium supplement (no D3) or the multi-supplement twice a week for a while.

Now, my way is not the only way. Others may post some of their experiences or offer their suggestions. It is the one thing great about this site, that you can post a weird question like this and maybe find a few people with real experience in dealing with it. I have only shared my experience here, and I have no real idea if it will help your animal since I don't know all the factors he is dealing with.

Good luck and say "no" to face book experts!

So agree with the dams hornworm.. got a same issue but turn back to normal after 2/3 weeks (the injury was minor) One of my baby melleri got similar issue with sibling.. both shot for the same prey and one of them got injured, never come back. But all theses chameleon actually did try to shot, was im concern here is your chameleon dont even try.

So my guess is you have to force him to try maybe Tonge is better but he was just never using it? try to put the food out of mouth reach 1 time every month after couple of day without food

there is multiple reason why a chameleon can't shoot : calcium, vitamin A (but not the first issue here usually), Vitamin D3, water, motivation, injury, .. when he drink is he using the tongue to lap (this can give you tip on if the tongue can actually move ;) )

I know you dont want to ear about husbandry but first picture let me believe he just got a small burn to the dorsal crest (Color is a bit pale compared to the rest of the body and this mean burn injury) what is this bulb? maybe you can consider something smoother (real bath sun can be good too!)
I know for husbandry! but make yourself sure he also can avoir the uvb light from time to time (too much of uvb can actually destroy the beneficial effect of just enough uvb and can lead to MBD too, since the cage is small I think this can have negative impact on him

dont hesitate if you have more question! good luck with him! :)
 
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