Opinions and Advice on my custom enclosure.

MegaWattz

Member
So long post here, as I am very frustrated from the lack of help I have received from vets and other professionals and need to make a decision on whether: there was an already existing issue, my setup truly is bad, or no matter I do I'll just end up killing a Cham anyway.
So context I received my veiled Iggy in the end of June 2018 after I finished my bar Exam. He was an adoptee my mom brought home from one of her clients who could no longer care for him, while he was sort of pushed on my I eventually fell right in love. Iggy's issues from day 1 were 2 fold. 1) He had a blind eye, the girl who owned him before had all his vines secured in one of those standard Chameleon Mesh cages with bread twists many of which faced inward and I can only assume he had poked his eye on one of them. 2) That cage was far too small for him he had to do a fall lap around it just to turn around and was constantly scratching at the screen to be let out. At this time he was aproximately 3. I took him to my local herp vet and was told he looked good except a little underweight to feed him a little more. The biggest issue remained that with his poor eyesight he could not catch crickets and had no interest in other feeders, finally I found out about hornworms and unfortunately that became pretty much his only diet as that was the only thing he was willing to eat.

So I then proceeded to build my own custom enclosure for him quite large in size so he would be comfortable. Fast forward he is doing fine up through december. Then I moved farther north in Michigan for my first job and after moving in had a family member transport him and his enclosure. Until february all was good until I noticed a decline in health. He usually had to be hand fed because of his missing eyesight but now he was hardly eating at all. Found a herp vet farther north and took him there where we x-rayed him and found deterioration of the bone in his joints.

Now I had gotten a lot of my care information from the forums here as a lurker. Use D3 few times a month, gut load feeders and do multi vitamin and calcium few times a week to every other feeding, but again on pretty much a hornworm only diet. The vet said he was basically on the verge of death and that if I wanted I could attempt to rehabilitate him but it would require force feeding on my part since he was too weak to eat at that point. That was February its now the end of April and he is not in the horrible shape he was thanks to my intense care of feeding him the last 3 months, never leaving town overnight to visit family or friends so I could make sure he got daily care. FOr a bit he regained interest in hunting again but could not use his tongue to caught the superworms that I discovered he was very interested in. And now he has no interest in food at all and the force feeding as of yesterday has become harmful to him because even using as little force as I can to open his mouth it usually causes him gum to start bleeding. At this point I have to decide if I feel there is not enough quality of life for him and whether I should let him find peace.

Woof. With all of that context my question is can you all help me figure out what I did to him to get him like this? The vet told me it was almost entirely due to my custom enclosure. I had built it as entirely screened w/o any plexiglass because that how his original one was and what everyone on these forums said to do. But the vet told me the reason he got sick was because of lack of humidity and heat because the wide ventilated enclosure allowed it all to dissipate too much. So I am getting two heavily conflicting arguments on what enclosure method is best. Adittionally she told me the bone deterioration was because I was not providing a D3 dusting at least every other day, again contradicting everything I have read online. She had me buy a small glass enclosure to keep him in while he healed b/c it would retain heat and humidity better, that is what he is in for now.

So I'm hoping some of you enthusiasts can take a look at the enclosure pictures and explain what glaring error I have made. I may have to put Iggy down but I would like to get another chameleon someday as I very much enjoy them and get lonely here by myself but I'm honestly afraid I'll just end up killing another poor creature trying to give them this cool home or even care for them at all and I just cant handle that

Thank You

Also Setup Specs:
- ZooMed: Reptifogger: left on during daylight hours with the lights to help keep a constant humidity since my apartment has been very dry all winter (also usually mist every few hours when home from work)
- 75 watt bulb on clamp fixture positioned 6-8 in above basking spot (on cage mesh in pics, have since upgraded to a clamp stand
- repti dripper for water to drip through top mesh onto leaves, also left on during daylight hours
- UVB bulb which was replaced when he got sick (possible suspicion that this may have been part of the bone issue as the old bulb came with him and I have no idea how long the original owner had had that)
- Aside from sticks all vines and foliage are fake so as to avoid any chance of stupidly poisoning him
- mesh screen on the bottom for housing and vacuuming of feces/feeders with a dishwasher plate underneath with a shelf with substrate pads to catch water and urate
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Syreptyon

Chameleon Enthusiast
There is nothing wrong with your enclosure at all! It looks good. I would recommend getting a different vet because what they are telling you is not reliable advice.

(1) I realize that you're having feeding problems, but neither hornworms nor superworms are nutritional enough to use as staple feeders

(2) Supplementing multiple times a week with D3 will quickly lead to overdose and a sick or dead chameleon. What you should be doing is calcium without D3 EVERY day // calcium without D3 twice a month // and multivitamin twice a month. Any more than this will lead to a buildup of potentially toxic substances

(3) It's much more likely to create or exacerbate a pre-existing illness in a small glass cage than a large ventilated screen one

(4) You don't say anything at all about misting? You do mist, right? That's very important. Moreso than either the fogger or the dripper. Also, foggers on during the day is a common cause of respiratory illness

(5) I would remove the "reptile hammocks" from the screen enclosure. Those are for belly-dragging lizards. Chameleons can get their toe nails caught and torn out in them.

(6) Finally, should you decide to move him back to the screen enclosure, he will be happier if you put it on top of something. They don't like their cages to be on the floor. The higher, the better

(7) I doubt the bread ties are the cause of the one faulty eye. That's usually due to a vitamin deficiency, overdose, or pre-existing sickness
 

MegaWattz

Member
There is nothing wrong with your enclosure at all! It looks good. I would recommend getting a different vet because what they are telling you is not reliable advice.

(1) I realize that you're having feeding problems, but neither hornworms nor superworms are nutritional enough to use as staple feeders

(2) Supplementing multiple times a week with D3 will quickly lead to overdose and a sick or dead chameleon. What you should be doing is calcium without D3 EVERY day // calcium without D3 twice a month // and multivitamin twice a month. Any more than this will lead to a buildup of potentially toxic substances

(3) It's much more likely to create or exacerbate a pre-existing illness in a small glass cage than a large ventilated screen one

(4) You don't say anything at all about misting? You do mist, right? That's very important. Moreso than either the fogger or the dripper. Also, foggers on during the day is a common cause of respiratory illness

(5) I would remove the "reptile hammocks" from the screen enclosure. Those are for belly-dragging lizards. Chameleons can get their toe nails caught and torn out in them.

(6) Finally, should you decide to move him back to the screen enclosure, he will be happier if you put it on top of something. They don't like their cages to be on the floor. The higher, the better

(7) I doubt the bread ties are the cause of the one faulty eye. That's usually due to a vitamin deficiency, overdose, or pre-existing sickness

Thank you for the input, it almost killed me when I heard that this enclosure I lovingly built for him had threatened his life.

On the subject of misting I do but missed mentioning that, I use a typocal salon spray bottle with distilled water and give the enclosure a good soaking each morning before work when his lights turn on (lights are all on a timer 8am to 930pm.) I come home at lunch to mist it, and once home from work 8 give it a good thorough misting every couple hours until lights out

Agreed on the hammocks I will just add more vinage.
 

MegaWattz

Member
Thank you for the input, it almost killed me when I heard that this enclosure I lovingly built for him had threatened his life.

On the subject of misting I do but missed mentioning that, I use a typocal salon spray bottle with distilled water and give the enclosure a good soaking each morning before work when his lights turn on (lights are all on a timer 8am to 930pm.) I come home at lunch to mist it, and once home from work 8 give it a good thorough misting every couple hours until lights out

Agreed on the hammocks I will just add more vinage.
Also my diet while he has been attempting to recouperate: mealworms, superworms, hornworms, calciworms, silkworms, waxworms whoch I force fed him during this period
 

Lunatuck

Established Member
There is nothing wrong with your enclosure at all! It looks good. I would recommend getting a different vet because what they are telling you is not reliable advice.

(1) I realize that you're having feeding problems, but neither hornworms nor superworms are nutritional enough to use as staple feeders

(2) Supplementing multiple times a week with D3 will quickly lead to overdose and a sick or dead chameleon. What you should be doing is calcium without D3 EVERY day // calcium ***with*** D3 twice a month // and multivitamin twice a month. Any more than this will lead to a buildup of potentially toxic substances

(3) It's much more likely to create or exacerbate a pre-existing illness in a small glass cage than a large ventilated screen one

(4) You don't say anything at all about misting? You do mist, right? That's very important. Moreso than either the fogger or the dripper. Also, foggers on during the day is a common cause of respiratory illness

(5) I would remove the "reptile hammocks" from the screen enclosure. Those are for belly-dragging lizards. Chameleons can get their toe nails caught and torn out in them.

(6) Finally, should you decide to move him back to the screen enclosure, he will be happier if you put it on top of something. They don't like their cages to be on the floor. The higher, the better

(7) I doubt the bread ties are the cause of the one faulty eye. That's usually due to a vitamin deficiency, overdose, or pre-existing sickness
I think this was a mistype. #2 should say "What you should be doing is calcium without D3 EVERY day // calcium ***with*** D3 twice a month // and multivitamin twice a month."

D3 used 2x per month.
 
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