New chameleon parent, so many questions!!

Slupo

New Member
Hello!!
I’m a new panther chameleon mom and I have tons of questions!! This forum was extremely helpful when setting up his enclosure and doing research, I appreciate it thank you!!
I apologize in advance for the large message:
I have a male (nosy be) panther chameleon, got him last week from my local reptile guy, he’s said to be about 2 years old and extremely healthy...

He had a stressful first two days, dark colors, he slept in the middle of the day the first day home!! I live in New England and it’s winter so my heat is a dry one, (if anyone has New England chameleon tips lmk!!!) but after getting a warm humidifier and a space heater in the guest room he’s in he was much more active and happier, like the guy I met in the pet store!!

He’s currently in a zoo med 16”X3’ screen cage (I know, I know!! He was in a tiny glass cage I had to save him from and it was the only one I could find not backordered, once our weather warms up I plan on building him an xl enclosure, just for now!) already 4ft off the ground. He has one live pothos plant (cleaned it myself just with distilled water!) and a few fake reptile plants from the store, and the jungle vine, and two dowels for climbing. I mist him pretty much hourly, he has a dropper going most of the day. I have the reptisun uvb 50 lightbulb, should I get the 100?! I have a heat lamp that seems to be working great and a nightlight heat lamp too, since it’s winter here!!

He’s been eating every other day 6 hornworms/ the mealworms I got from the reptile place, he was eating just those and crickets for a while. I dusted one meal with a multivitamin and calcium earlier in the week, and I always spray his food with water for extra hydration, I was worried he was overweight so I didn’t want to feed him daily, but he seems very hungry when I do, almost like he won’t ever stop eating!! He usually hunts for 2 in his enclosure and gets handfed the rest. It’s hard to tell in pictures, but I was wondering if his head crest was a bit swollen? It seems to me like his left side has a bit of a bump while his right side is more flat.

Here come my questions!!
1. Health: the reptile breeder assured me hes extremely healthy, never had any infections. I noticed in the store he had one claw that looked irritated from climbing on the glass/ metal. I noticed a few of his back and belly spines were broken too, and his nose looked roughed up. I will include pictures of him in the store as well, it seems he has swollen up more since being in my care, though looking back at pictures, when looking at him in the store his head crest seems less flat than it is now. His first poop was 3 days after arriving to his new home, and he pooped 5 times, all the horn worms he had! The urine portion of his poop was definitely dehydrated, so I’ve been seeing him drink a few times a day but should I be forcing him to drink?! I don’t want to do anything wrong!! Along with his head crest being a bit uneven, overall it’s just not flat! He also seems to have a swollen part at the corner of his jaw on his right side (opposite the crest “bump”), it’s hard to tell in pictures and seems like the corner of his jaw, but it’s been getting bigger!! He’s eating okay and I’ve seen him drinking, but I was curious if this was fluid retention, or dehydration, or possibly an abscess or infection?! He has NO other symptoms, his eyes are clear with no dents, no fluids coming out anywhere, he’s opening his mouth and eating and drinking perfectly! He’s not lethargic, he’s actually super active!! (Which is my next question!!) I sent photos and a video to the breeder and he assured me he’s healthy and he sees no swelling, but I know what I see!! The crest and his jaw bump are the only concerning things I’ve noticed, he has normal behavior otherwise and I haven’t seen any aggressive behavior at all!!

2. Social:
This guy is crazy social!! After doing some reading I’m less nervous about it and more understanding that he’s just a friendly Cham, but this was not what I anticipated!! Everytime I walk by the room he’s in he comes to climb on the screen, and right when I open it up to mist him he immediately climbs on the bottle to get to my head!! I’ve noticed his colors lighten up a ton when he climbs out, I set up a dracona tree in a sunspot in the living room for him for now (but again it’s winter!!) basically, how long is too long to keep him out of the enclosure?! He fights me if I try to put him in too soon, but I know he can’t stay out too long because he needs his uvb lights and heat!! Should I be setting up a basking lamp/ uvb light situation for him to roam freely (supervised of course!!)?! I understand this could be in part to his enclosure being small, but when his social timer does run out, he climbs in very fast and happy to sit in his basking spot!! He was handled almost way too much in the pet store, to the point where he drinks off the mist I spray on my arm!!

3. Skin!
From research it looks like chameleons shed their chin like snakes, in sheets! Hugh has been shedding a few scales individually? I’ve been misting more and making sure his humidity is higher than usual incase it’s dehydration, most of his skin looks good and he’s soft, just came with a rough patch on his nose from rubbing on the cages to get out!! I just had single scales give off skin flakes and that seemed odd to me, I will try to get a good picture of his injured toenail as well. It increasingly got worse when I visited him at the pet shop, now that he can climb it seems to be bothering him less but he doesn’t use that toe to grab, could he have an infection from this causing all these issues?! I’ve also never seen his super deep or bright colors, I’m starting to think he’s not actually a nosy be? Just simply has a lighter coloring?! I’ve never seen him hiss or get defensive at all, I’ve just noticed his darker colors from the stressful move, and how he lightens up when he climbs out of the cage!!

4. Does his setup sound okay so far?! I mainly want to make sure he has the right amount of uvb light, since that’s so vital and hard to find in the winter!! And I want to make sure he doesn’t have any kind of ailment or infection, could it just be dehydration?! My nearest reptile vet is a bit far away, I wanted to save him from a cold and stressful drive if he doesn’t need it! Should I be doing anything else?! Any tips for New England chams? For social chams?! I don’t want him to get bored in his own little room, but I don’t want to overwhelm him by putting him in a more high traffic spot of the house! I’ve noticed he likes watching out the window and watching the fish tank!! Hugh and I appreciate your help, and thank you for reading all this way!! I’ll be sure to include pics of his jaw, head, and coloring. If I can find a picture of his toe too!! Photos are in order from oldest to most recent (this morning) the swelling I’ve noticed is on the right side of his jaw, the left side when looking at pictures, it is bigger than the other corner of the jaw but hard to tell depending on light!!

Thank you:)
 

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Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
Wow, there's a lot there. I won't even try to address everything, but I'll take a stab at the questions...
Here come my questions!!
1. Health: the reptile breeder assured me hes extremely healthy, never had any infections. I noticed in the store he had one claw that looked irritated from climbing on the glass/ metal. I noticed a few of his back and belly spines were broken too, and his nose looked roughed up. I will include pictures of him in the store as well, it seems he has swollen up more since being in my care, though looking back at pictures, when looking at him in the store his head crest seems less flat than it is now. His first poop was 3 days after arriving to his new home, and he pooped 5 times, all the horn worms he had! The urine portion of his poop was definitely dehydrated, so I’ve been seeing him drink a few times a day but should I be forcing him to drink?! I don’t want to do anything wrong!! Along with his head crest being a bit uneven, overall it’s just not flat! He also seems to have a swollen part at the corner of his jaw on his right side (opposite the crest “bump”), it’s hard to tell in pictures and seems like the corner of his jaw, but it’s been getting bigger!! He’s eating okay and I’ve seen him drinking, but I was curious if this was fluid retention, or dehydration, or possibly an abscess or infection?! He has NO other symptoms, his eyes are clear with no dents, no fluids coming out anywhere, he’s opening his mouth and eating and drinking perfectly! He’s not lethargic, he’s actually super active!! (Which is my next question!!) I sent photos and a video to the breeder and he assured me he’s healthy and he sees no swelling, but I know what I see!! The crest and his jaw bump are the only concerning things I’ve noticed, he has normal behavior otherwise and I haven’t seen any aggressive behavior at all!!
Was this a reputable breeder or a pet store?

Some here will tell you not to believe anything a pet store owner tells you, and IMO they'd likely (not always) be correct. Did he give you a written health guarantee, and have you had him examined by a herp vet?
https://arav.site-ym.com/search/custom.asp?id=3661

We're not veterinarians here. Considering all the issues, I'd definitely want him checked out, and while there get a fecal exam (take a sample less than 24 hrs. old—you can keep it in the fridge overnight if necessary).
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
2. Social:
This guy is crazy social!! After doing some reading I’m less nervous about it and more understanding that he’s just a friendly Cham, but this was not what I anticipated!! Everytime I walk by the room he’s in he comes to climb on the screen, and right when I open it up to mist him he immediately climbs on the bottle to get to my head!! I’ve noticed his colors lighten up a ton when he climbs out, I set up a dracona tree in a sunspot in the living room for him for now (but again it’s winter!!) basically, how long is too long to keep him out of the enclosure?! He fights me if I try to put him in too soon, but I know he can’t stay out too long because he needs his uvb lights and heat!! Should I be setting up a basking lamp/ uvb light situation for him to roam freely (supervised of course!!)?! I understand this could be in part to his enclosure being small, but when his social timer does run out, he climbs in very fast and happy to sit in his basking spot!! He was handled almost way too much in the pet store, to the point where he drinks off the mist I spray on my arm!!
His desire to get out and higher could be due to the too small enclosure, and whether it's high enough off the floor.
https://chameleonacademy.com/chameleon-cage-placement/

I leave my guy out for 2-4 hrs., twice a week, but they're all different and may/will have different tolerances.

Yes, some will object to going back home after an outing on the houseplants. Mine does.
How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm After They've Seen Paree?

They need heat for basking to aid in digestion, but only for a few hours a day. As long as it's room temperature—no problem.

MBD can take weeks to months to manifest, so I wouldn't worry about missing a few hours per week. If you want to set up supplemental lights, that's fine, but I don't think they're needed unless you decide to free range.
https://www.chameleonforums.com/forums/free-range.86/

I think drinking off your arm has less to do with handling and more to do with husbandry.
If you haven't yet, please go through the Chameleon Husbandry Program on https://chameleonacademy.com/
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
3. Skin!
From research it looks like chameleons shed their chin like snakes, in sheets!
NO. Chameleons shed like many/most other lizards—more (and more regular) when young, and in pieces later on. Yours is old enough that he may only shed 1-2 times per year, and it will likely be in sections—the whole lizard may not shed at once.

Hugh has been shedding a few scales individually?
Not something I'm familiar with.

I’ve been misting more and making sure his humidity is higher than usual incase it’s dehydration, most of his skin looks good and he’s soft, just came with a rough patch on his nose from rubbing on the cages to get out!! I just had single scales give off skin flakes and that seemed odd to me,
Chameleons are DRY shedders; too much humidity may be counterproductive.

I will try to get a good picture of his injured toenail as well. It increasingly got worse when I visited him at the pet shop, now that he can climb it seems to be bothering him less but he doesn’t use that toe to grab, could he have an infection from this causing all these issues?! I’ve also never seen his super deep or bright colors, I’m starting to think he’s not actually a nosy be? Just simply has a lighter coloring?! I’ve never seen him hiss or get defensive at all, I’ve just noticed his darker colors from the stressful move, and how he lightens up when he climbs out of the cage!!
How's he look when he objects to going back in the enclosure? That's when mine "fires up" most, but it can vary depending on his mood & other color-changing factors.
https://chameleonacademy.com/chameleon-behavior-dark-colors/
https://chameleonacademy.com/chameleon-behavior-light-colors/
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
4. Does his setup sound okay so far?!
For that, it would be best to get a full enclosure review (you can continue on this thread for clarity).
Copy/Paste this questionnaire, with your answers filled in (use bold or a color for clarity), and include pics of the enclosure showing the top (lighting) on down to the bottom (floor/substrate/drainage).
https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/how-to-ask-for-help.66/

I mainly want to make sure he has the right amount of uvb light, since that’s so vital and hard to find in the winter!!
For UVB, you want a linear T5 HO UVB—either Reptisun 5.0 or Arcadia 6%, running the whole width of your (larger 24 x 24 x 48 minimum) enclosure. I recommend you invest in a UVI meter—commercial or DIY, for accurate strength and distance. These bulbs have a 50-100 hr. burn-in period, so distance may have to be readjusted after burn-in. It should be good for a year after that.

And I want to make sure he doesn’t have any kind of ailment or infection, could it just be dehydration?! My nearest reptile vet is a bit far away, I wanted to save him from a cold and stressful drive if he doesn’t need it!
That's doable. Put him in an appropriate-sized opaque container with a stable branch inside. He'll probably sleep through the trip both ways. Warm up the car, bring extra blankets if necessary. He'll be fine as long as the temp is 55F or above.

Should I be doing anything else?! Any tips for New England chams? For social chams?! I don’t want him to get bored in his own little room, but I don’t want to overwhelm him by putting him in a more high traffic spot of the house!
Then don't.

I’ve noticed he likes watching out the window and watching the fish tank!!
I don't have fish, but Ol' Mr. GrumpyPants (he's not quite as friendly as Hugh—that name was on my list too) loves his window and playing gargoyle. They can be very curious. Whenever my Missus waters her plants, he's right there watching everything.

Hugh and I appreciate your help, and thank you for reading all this way!! I’ll be sure to include pics of his jaw, head, and coloring. If I can find a picture of his toe too!! Photos are in order from oldest to most recent (this morning) the swelling I’ve noticed is on the right side of his jaw, the left side when looking at pictures, it is bigger than the other corner of the jaw but hard to tell depending on light!!

Thank you
PLEASE... IMO, he needs to be seen by a herp vet.

Best to read ALL of https://chameleonacademy.com/
The Resources here: https://www.chameleonforums.com/care/

You've got a way to go, but we all started where you are (or thereabouts...).
 
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