Panther Chameleon has been very sick for 4 weeks and no improvement with many vet visits.

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
Disclaimer: We are not veterinarians here, much less herp vets; the advice/suggestions come largely from members' self-education and experiences.


Whenever I see a calcium deficiency/imbalance in a reptile that's getting calcium supplementation, my mind runs first to the UVB, because without it, the chameleon cannot assimilate the calcium.

For the science, here are some articles by Dr. Frances M. Baines, M.A. Vet.M.B. M.R.C.V.S., considered to be the leading authority on UVB & D3 in reptiles.
https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=frances+baines+reptiles+d3+calcium+uvb
https://reptilesmagazine.com/an-in-depth-look-at-uv-light-and-its-proper-use-with-reptiles/
She can explain things much better than anyone here.

Here is Dr. Baines website: http://www.uvguide.co.uk/

IMO, 5" above the screen for a 5.0 linear UVB is too high—the basking site would have to be 4-5" below the screen in order for the chameleon to get enough UVB (UVI). Mine is less than an inch above the screen with no problems—even during his ceiling climbing phase.
https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/simple-uvb-fixture-supports.177896/

Personally, I think despite the cost, a UVI meter (Solarmeter 6.5x) should be as required a piece of equipment as a UVB itself. IME, it's worth it. For those handy with an Arduino board, a DIY version can be built for under $50.
  1. A meter is the only way of knowing for sure what the strength of a bulb is, and what distance to place a basking site beneath it.
  2. In the long run, a meter will save money. The 'change it every year' meets the life expectancy and warranties, but when UVB bulbs burn out, it's not like flipping a switch—they can last for several months beyond that. I have one that is 2 years old and still puts out its original strength (probably an anomaly). There are also other ways of extending bulb life.


This next part is a bit difficult. Chameleons—most chameleons—are fecund animals, and very close to the bottom of the food chain, the only thing lower being the bugs they eat. Otherwise, chameleons are food for many other kinds of animals. As such, despite perfect breeding and husbandry, sometimes they can & do just crash (fail to thrive). It's not anyone's fault—it's Nature (capital N). It can happen with other fecund animals as well (fecundity is not the reason—it's just a correlation).

This is more common with wild-caught animals, and those bred under less than ideal conditions, but it can happen to any of them and us.

I'm not suggesting this is the case, and I certainly hope it's not, but it's something I think every reptile keeper should be aware of. Beating oneself up over things beyond our control... not good.

Other folks here have more knowledge/experience—each to their own strengths.

Hoping for the best.
 
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Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
yes and I have a brief overview at the top of this post with pictures again. The only thing I was told when it was reviewed was to make my UVB light elevated off the top of the cage.
What is the actual distance now from the bottom of the UVB fixture to the basking branch directly below it? With elevating it 5 inches I am concerned about his UVI levels at basking. Total distance would need to be 8-9 inches from the bottom of the fixture to the branch directly below it to get the right UVI level.

Also did you happen to replace the UVB bulb to ensure it is not the issue?
 
What is the actual distance now from the bottom of the UVB fixture to the basking branch directly below it? With elevating it 5 inches I am concerned about his UVI levels at basking. Total distance would need to be 8-9 inches from the bottom of the fixture to the branch directly below it to get the right UVI level.

Also did you happen to replace the UVB bulb to ensure it is not the issue?
yes I did replace the bulb. I put the uvb light back on the cage top. his branch that he would normally bask under for uvb is 6-7 inches from the top of the cage. If you look up at the pictures of him that I posted he is still in that same spot of his cage but I lowered the uvb light to be on top of the screen. He is right now probably 6 inches from the light or so and has been uvb basking for the past 2 days pretty much cause he doesn't move much on his own. although he is very capable of moving and still has a pretty strong grip at least when I handled him 2 days ago to give him his food.
 
To Anyone who is helping with this thread thank you so much. I am trying everything with this guy as he is so important to me and I have spent so much money at the vet I figured that I would post on here. I will do anything for this guy. I just heard back from the vet and she will send the bloodwork results at the end of the day today.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
yes I did replace the bulb. I put the uvb light back on the cage top. his branch that he would normally bask under for uvb is 6-7 inches from the top of the cage. If you look up at the pictures of him that I posted he is still in that same spot of his cage but I lowered the uvb light to be on top of the screen. He is right now probably 6 inches from the light or so and has been uvb basking for the past 2 days pretty much cause he doesn't move much on his own. although he is very capable of moving and still has a pretty strong grip at least when I handled him 2 days ago to give him his food.
Ok so that is better. Will be higher UVI levels but should not be more then a 5 UVI at that distance so still within limits. So he is sleeping non stop now? When did you drop the light fixture back down to the screen? IF it is a UVB issue then having the light back on the cage top will help. But it may take him a few days to get up and going again.

Was a fecal ever run to rule out a parasite issue?
 
Ok so that is better. Will be higher UVI levels but should not be more then a 5 UVI at that distance so still within limits. So he is sleeping non stop now? When did you drop the light fixture back down to the screen? IF it is a UVB issue then having the light back on the cage top will help. But it may take him a few days to get up and going again.

Was a fecal ever run to rule out a parasite issue?
I dropped the light down this morning when His lights went on. the uvb was only elevated off the screen about 1 month or so ago when this all started as someone told me to do so on Reddit.
A fecal is the only thing that I haven’t had done because he has really stopped defecating. He has only pooped once this past month and it still looked pretty good other than being very large because he was holding it in so long.

Now I’m remembering that before he got sick he took a weird poop kind of that I will post a picture of here. I showed it to the vet but they didn’t seem to concerned.

And yes I’m not sure if he’s asleep but he just keeps his eyes shut all day and doesn’t move. He is still semi alert I think because when I come by his cage he moves his eyes a little bit without opening them.
I actually had him out of his cage about an hour ago to give him his calcium gluconate and he opened his eyes for a few seconds to see where he was before closing them again.

EDIT:One final thing to mention that may be important when this all started it was just his eyes that seemed to be bothering him. He would rub them alot and they had sligh swelling at the bottom of his eyes. Then he just started shutting them frequently.
 

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Lindasjackson

Chameleon Enthusiast
I dropped the light down this morning when His lights went on. the uvb was only elevated off the screen about 1 month or so ago when this all started as someone told me to do so on Reddit.
A fecal is the only thing that I haven’t had done because he has really stopped defecating. He has only pooped once this past month and it still looked pretty good other than being very large because he was holding it in so long.

Now I’m remembering that before he got sick he took a weird poop kind of that I will post a picture of here. I showed it to the vet but they didn’t seem to concerned.

And yes I’m not sure if he’s asleep but he just keeps his eyes shut all day and doesn’t move. He is still semi alert I think because when I come by his cage he moves his eyes a little bit without opening them.
I actually had him out of his cage about an hour ago to give him his calcium gluconate and he opened his eyes for a few seconds to see where he was before closing them again.

EDIT:One final thing to mention that may be important when this all started it was just his eyes that seemed to be bothering him. He would rub them alot and they had sligh swelling at the bottom of his eyes. Then he just started shutting them frequently.
This picture looks like a sperm plug and not a poo.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Parasites could be the issue. When he next poos, run it to the vet and have it checked. Some parasites can be deadly and don’t always show visible signs in the poo unless checked by the vet.
 
Here are the results of the bloodwork. Thanks for all the help everyone.
This was taken 14 days ago and he has been having calcium glucose daily since as well as eaten 1 superworm and had 2 feedings of powder food from the vet.

One more update quick the vet called me tonight and asked how he’s doing and suggested maybe trying some pain medication to get him up and moving around a little bit and possibly to defecate? Is this something that may work?
 

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Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
Ok so that is a urate in the picture above. I am not good with blood work. @kinyonga @JacksJill do you know bloodwork?

@ferretinmyshoes if you happen to get online could you look at the OP's blood work above. This situation really has me baffled. I can not pin down why the cham would be shutting down this way.
 

MzLaurie11

Established Member
Hello everyone,
SUMMARY OF ISSUES PAST 4 WEEKS -
My 1-year-old Ambanja Panther chameleon completely stopped doing his normal life and routine randomly about 1 month ago and started shutting his eyes during the day. As recommended people always say go to the vet if your chameleon is shutting his eyes a lot during the day so I did. the vet washed out his eyes and gave me some antibacterial injections that I gave him for a week or so with no improvement. I then went back and asked them to do a blood test and they said that they couldn't get blood out from him and it was then I realized this vet definitely has lied about knowing anything about chameleons. After that Vet visit I did a lot of research and then found a very good reptile vet about an hour away from me. they were able to do blood tests and a kidney/liver panel of some sort and said that they found no infections but that his calcium levels were low. which is weird because before he got sick I followed a very good dusting schedule. The vet then prescribed me an oral calcium gluco of some sort that I have been giving him once a day for the past week as well as they gave me a powder food formula to feed him three times a week to help with his nutrition as he has not eaten or drink on his own in 3 weeks. I have been doing everything for him and the only time he opens his eyes is when I bother him.

He has been sleeping all day for the past 2 weeks and has definitely not defecated as well. No eating past month besides 1 superworm and the powder food I have given him 2 times this week. I slowly drip water into his mouth in the morning after I give him his dose of the calcium gluco. one weird thing is that he hasnt shed in like 3 months.

His Husbandry is great.
I have great temps of 85-87 at basking and ambient temps of 71-77. Humidity levels stay very high in the room I have him in. 50-60 daytime and 80 at night. I have a T5 5.0 HO UVB elevated about 5 inches above the screen of his cage. before he got sick he was being very picky eating and would only eat superworms for a while before this.

I have no idea why he hasnt improved yet and I'm super worried about him and keep spending so much at the vet. do calcium deficiencies take awhile to fix? I am so worried that he just keeps his eyes closed all day and has been like this for multiple weeks.
I am so sorry to hear of your of your problems. First i suggest you put the uvb light directly on top of the top on the cage. There is no neef to suspend it 5 inches as no heat or burn issues. If you change the bulb get T8 HO 10.0. The 5 is not for larger cages it onky penetrates 13 inches down. I like to afd hornworms to diet when thete are issues. Easy to digest, has lots of wayer and calcium too. If yourguy likes them you can inject the calciym solution into the hornworm to reduce stress if forcing it into him. Personally, i would take him out into the sun a bit everyday. To reduce stress once you get him on your arm civer him untik you get to a nice quite spot in the sun. Hangout for about 15 minutes direct su or 25-30 indirect sun or, more perferably a commbination of both. The xhange of scenery might help too. fyi do not let him climb onto your head. Since i get chemo my wonderful vet told me that they can swallow you hair which can cause havic on their intestines. Something i never even thought of. Of course chams like to go to the highest spot when they are stressed.
 
I am so sorry to hear of your of your problems. First i suggest you put the uvb light directly on top of the top on the cage. There is no neef to suspend it 5 inches as no heat or burn issues. If you change the bulb get T8 HO 10.0. The 5 is not for larger cages it onky penetrates 13 inches down. I like to afd hornworms to diet when thete are issues. Easy to digest, has lots of wayer and calcium too. If yourguy likes them you can inject the calciym solution into the hornworm to reduce stress if forcing it into him. Personally, i would take him out into the sun a bit everyday. To reduce stress once you get him on your arm civer him untik you get to a nice quite spot in the sun. Hangout for about 15 minutes direct su or 25-30 indirect sun or, more perferably a commbination of both. The xhange of scenery might help too. fyi do not let him climb onto your head. Since i get chemo my wonderful vet told me that they can swallow you hair which can cause havic on their intestines. Something i never even thought of. Of course chams like to go to the highest spot when they are stressed.
Thank you for the response. I just woke him this morning and he opened his eyes to look at me for one second and then shut them again and it looked painful. they look dry and he has to do the weird eye thing a couple times before he got them open. He also wont drink on his own either so pretty much I am the only thing that's keeping him alive. I give him small drinks of water that I put through a tiny syringe in the side of his mouth after I have been giving him his daily calcium glucose.

Another problem I'm having is force feeding him actual bugs and that's why I'm using the vet food. I can never get him to open his mouth wide enough and funny enough I have always tried to get him to eat hornworms and he is just not interested even when he was super healthy before this situation.

I live in Oregon where the temps will be a high of 50 today and only dropping so I think getting natural sun is not an option unless there is a way for me to keep him warm outside?

I have a zilla t8 fixture and a reptisun t8 bulb but the fixture is only 18 inches long and have never used it because of this.

Is it possible he could have very serious Vitamin A deficiency? I was always good with his vitamins but this last month he has only eaten one worm with calcium plus LoD on it and that's all the vitamins he has had. Wouldnt that show up on the bloodwork?

He usually only uses one eye if he ever opens them anymore and it looks a little swollen. maybe because he rubs them so much after he opens them or when trying to open them. seems as if they bother him after he uses them.
 
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Alycia

Established Member
Many times eye issues can also be vitamin A related. After reading through I didn't see the exact supplement schedule or brand of supplements used.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
This might help...it's more natural than the stuff the vet gives everyone....
https://www.adcham.com/html/husbandry/bug-juice.html

This really needs to be solved. The chameleon should not be keeping its eyes shut all the time. Is the vet you're using now an exotics/chameleon vet?

In addition to the liquid calcium and the food the vet gave you, is the chameleon getting any othe supplements?
 
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kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
He's not breathing with his nose in the air at times?
Is he willing to eat or does he try to spit everything out?
Is it carnivore care he's getting? What does the food have in it in the way of calcium, phosphorous, D3 and various forms of vitamin A
If he's eating he should be pooping regularly...is he?
 
He's not breathing with his nose in the air at times?
Is he willing to eat or does he try to spit everything out?
Is it carnivore care he's getting? What does the food have in it in the way of calcium, phosphorous, D3 and various forms of vitamin A
If he's eating he should be pooping regularly...is he?
Sometimes he does that but it’s just after he takes a drink when I drop it on his face. He never sits with his nose up though.

He’s willing to eat the carnivore care that I’m giving him but he doesn’t eat anything else because he just keeps his eyes closed all day. Doesn’t seem like he minds when I use the string to give him water or food.

Yes it’s carnivore care. I have only given him carnivore care this Monday and Wednesday and he hasn’t pooped yet. Other than that he has eaten one super worm about 2 weeks ago and hasn’t pooped since that.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
Once again....What does the food have in it in the way of calcium, phosphorous, D3 and various forms of vitamin A?
 
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