Papilloma Virus/husbandry check?

PlanetRemulak

Avid Member
My little blue boy is keeping me up at night a lot as of late :(

About two or so weeks ago, Bastion‘s health took a nose dive. He was hardly moving and had both eyes shut. Thought for sure I was going to lose him. Called up the exotic vet I used for Beau and had planned on taking Bastion to only to find out our vet left the clinic. Asked for a replacement exotic vet and they had one, but she didn’t have any chameleon experience. I spent two hours calling vets with cham experience fully intending to bring him in that same day, everyone was booked up a day or two out, My fiancé suggested we take Bastion to see a family friend of his that is a retired vet tech (who has chameleons of her own), and being that I expected to lose him that night, we did just that. She suggested a RI, got a weight and gave him a dose of Baytril. Two days later, Bastion was completely back to normal (except for the fact that he was, and still is not, eating very well. He’s also been refusing all feeders except for superworms). He’s very alert and active, basks when he needs to and spends the rest of the day crawling around his cage. Today he wanted to come out, so I went ahead and took him outside. While watching him, I noticed a little blemish on his side. He just shed last week, but unless it’s a small patch of dead scales i don’t believe it’s stuck shed. I haven’t touched it directly, but it appears to be flush with his skin and isn’t raised at all. It can’t be a cricket/feeder bite as I don’t regularly feed crickets, and Bastion is exclusively hand fed. Save for a couple of Fluker’s bendy vines, I use all real branches in both my cages. Branches were sanitized, but I found that one of the branches near the misting nozzle had a couple of small white mushrooms growing on its underside. :( I replaced that branch, but if there was any funky bacteria on that I’m wondering if he could have got an infection from it? He crawls everywhere, so it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that he rubbed up against it. I found a new exotic vet, but we can’t go see her until next Thursday (the 14th). Until then, I’ll be worrying about this either being the start of a papilloma wart or a fungal infection. Photos of his blemish attached.

Its also a little hard not to worry about Beau. They’re kept in separate rooms and I wash my hands in between handling/feeding/even touching the cage door, but they have been on the same plants on my back patio 🤦🏻‍♀️ No one’s pooped out there, for whatever that’s worth.


  • Your Chameleon - 10 month old male panther chameleon. He should be about a year old in September. I think he’s small for his age, but he was born with a tongue defect and doesn’t eat much.
  • Handling - Typically only when cleaning/when necessary. This week he has shown interest in coming out to explore, so I’ve taken him outside for natural sunlight. I only handle him long enough to transport him from his cage to a large plant in my back yard and back again.
  • Feeding - This is one of my primary concerns with this guy. I got him in early April And hand fed 6-9 (or as much as he would eat) dubia roaches a day. He got sick of those, and even though I’ve tried a variety of feeders (dubias, discoids, lobster roaches, superworms, hornworms, grasshoppers, crickets and silkworms) he started taking only 4-5 feeders from me. Two weeks ago, he became visibly ill and received a dose of Baytril. He’s back to normal again in terms of alertness and physical activity, but ever since I haven’t been able to get him to take more than 2 or so feeders a day. Because of this, I feed him daily to make sure there is something in his stomach. Recently he craps on everything I offer unless it’s a superworm. I‘ll give it to him because I want him to at least eat something. I’ve got more hornworms on order, he seems to like those
  • Supplements - I dust every feeder I offer to him using calcium with no D3. On the 1st and 15th of every month, I use Repashy LoD for his D3 and multivitamin. Since he only took two dusted feeders on the 1st of this month, I did get him to eat 2 more feeders also dusted with Repashy LoD the next day (July 2nd) to make sure he was getting enough of the supplement.
  • Watering - Things are so dry out here, his MistKing goes off several times during the day and at night. My schedule is as follows (and even with it like this, I struggle to keep humidity up to 50% during the day): 6 AM - 5 minutes, 1:30 PM - 5 minutes, 6:00 PM 5 minutes, 8:00 PM 3 minutes, 10:00 PM 5 minutes, 2:00-4:00 AM 3 minutes. He shed recently and it all came off pretty well, urates are white
  • Fecal Description - firm stool with white urates. Clean fecal shortly after I got him
  • History - was born with a tongue defect (which I did know about prior to purchasing) and has always been exclusively hand-fed. Currently appears in good health but has gradually accepted less feeders the longer I’ve had him. Became visibly ill with eyes closed two weeks ago, received a dose of Baytril and seems to have recovered. I’ve unfortunately been without veterinary care as our regular vet left and I’ve been scrambling to find someone else with chameleon experience. He has an appointment with a new (and hopefully regular) vet on the 14th of this month

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Tamura PVC hybrid 2’ x 2’ 4“. No substrate, drain pre-installed. Drain water drips into bucket below
  • Lighting - 22” Arcadia 6% linear UVB. Basking branches are approximately 8 inches down from beneath the UVB bulb. Philips soft white 65 watt indoor flood on a Flukers dimmer fixture for basking. Since it’s been so warm, I’ve had his basking bulb switched off
  • Temperature - Between 82-85F at the highest with basking bulb off (86-87 on very hot days. We run the AC both for our own sakes and to bring temps down). 75-80 mid way down, about 75 toward the bottom. Top at night usually sits at 78F, midway down is 75F, bottom is around 72F (drops to 70-68F between night time misting sessions, as well as when we run the AC).
  • Humidity - Lower than I‘d like during the day. 35-40% at the very top near basking, 41-49% midway down. Similar numbers at the bottom. Middle and bottom of the cage spike to 72% and drop down to 60% after day time misting. After lights off I am normally able to keep the entirety of the cage above 68%.
  • Plants - 1 prayer plant at the very top, 2 very large pothos plants on the left side of the cage (my left when facing the cage), vines and leaves also trail across horizontally. 1 peperomia/rubber plant on the right side midway down. (pic included)
  • Placement - in a spare bedroom. Cage is next to a window, but the window is covered with thick vinyl shutters. There is also an air vent on the floor near the cage, but I have a plastic air vent diverter on the vent register to keep air from flowing directly through the screened side of the cage
  • Location - California
 

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Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
So your husbandry is basically on point... Few things to note though.

With his age he may very well be curbing on his own. It may be time to go to an every other day feeding to perk up his appetite. Keep trying the better feeders. You do not want him getting hooked on superworms either.

Your humidity levels are within limits, yes the ideal is 50-60% but you get it as close as you can. Basking level will always be lower than the mid or bottom due to the lights on top. You want gradients like you have then he can move down into them.

Night time temps need to be cooler. You need to get them down to 60's and no higher than 70. They really need that cool down at night.

The misting sessions look good. However if your basking fixture is still on at that 1:30pm session this will create very hot moist air that he then breathes in.

Per the spot... Keep an eye on it. If it develops texture or growth then you need to get it checked out and possibly biopsied. In the mean time to be safe wash your hands between handling the two chams and do not cross contaminate between the two cages.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Gorgeous guy! One of my chams gets a very similar area after shedding and it’s basically shed around a small scar. No idea why it forms after she sheds and seems to get stuck, but it does. The scar is from where she had a small papilloma removed and at first I thought it was growing back, but once the shed came off, I saw it’s still just a scar.
FD70EEEA-CCF9-4405-9A15-A25991D1FB0A.jpeg
 

PlanetRemulak

Avid Member
So your husbandry is basically on point... Few things to note though.

With his age he may very well be curbing on his own. It may be time to go to an every other day feeding to perk up his appetite. Keep trying the better feeders. You do not want him getting hooked on superworms either.
Thank you so much for your input, @Beman!

I definitely agree with you on cutting back to every other day. He didn‘t get any feeders yesterday. Today he took a couple silkworms and a very fat/well gutloaded dubia, which is an improvement for sure. I’m thinking I’ll cut out superworms entirely. I was just going off the way his casque looks, but was worried that maybe he didn’t have enough fat stores to skip feedings. His may not be as full as Beau’s, but it isn’t concave either. @ERKleRose also suggested hanging wide rim disposable cups to see if he can learn how to scoop up feeders without me having to be in his face all the time, which I think is a great suggestion. I get the feeling he’d like to eat without me having to interfere so much.

Your humidity levels are within limits, yes the ideal is 50-60% but you get it as close as you can. Basking level will always be lower than the mid or bottom due to the lights on top. You want gradients like you have then he can move down into them.
I’ve been watching humidity since yesterday - not so bad. Was 49 in both his and Beau’s cage before their 1:30 misting, and is a bit higher than that currently. I really struggled with that this time last year, but trial and error with the MistKing (and having hybrid cages) definitely helped. I have a much easier time keeping humidity up at night, so I’m thinking that’s why both chams still have good looking urates. Thankfully!

Night time temps need to be cooler. You need to get them down to 60's and no higher than 70. They really need that cool down at night.
Completely agree with you here. Fiancé wasn’t down with the window cooler idea, so I’m currently looking into portable units. The plan is to put a divider up between both cages and move him to the main room beside Beau (but that is contingent on the vet giving me the all-clear on Bastion’s blemish not being viral). Temperature is a bit easier control in the main room than the spare bedroom, but in the mean time one cham will get the portable AC and the other has an evap cooler that can sit on top of the cage (It brought temps down pretty well last year so long as I kept it full of ice!).

The misting sessions look good. However if your basking fixture is still on at that 1:30pm session this will create very hot moist air that he then breathes in.
I think this is what happened when he got sick. We had several weeks of very hot weather. I had to increase misting sessions to account for the dryness and low humidity, and forgot to change the timer on his basking bulb. :( I am very fortunate to have had the help of a cham knowledgeable friend with veterinary experience, otherwise I would have lost him. I hate that it had to be a learning experience at all, but that it definitely was.

Per the spot... Keep an eye on it. If it develops texture or growth then you need to get it checked out and possibly biopsied. In the mean time to be safe wash your hands between handling the two chams and do not cross contaminate between the two cages.
Will do. I was told the our [new] vet has seen many chameleons and has 30 years herp experience. I’ll be holding her to that! I plan to ask her about whether or not a biopsy is needed pretty much the moment she enters the room, lol. The coccidia fiasco scared the crap out of me, so I’ve been regularly washing my hands when I even so much as touch a cage door. If it DOES turn out to be a papilloma or something viral, hopefully all the obsessive compulsive hand washing keeps cooties from traveling.

I hope it turns out to be nothing! You can add a whole room cool mist humidifier to help raise the relative humidity in Bastion's room, as well!
Thank you so much, fingers crossed!! I am definitely considering a whole room cool mist humidifier, especially after I get the AC. My fiancé will be horrified by the need for yet another chameleon related accessory but I’m confident he’ll recover (eventually 😂)

I hope it’s not papilloma! He’s a gorgeous Cham!
Thank you for the kind words!! He was a pretty boy to begin with, but he really colored up after his most recent shed. I‘ve always wanted a blue panther cham, and I definitely got It 😍 sometimes he even looks a bit purple.

Gorgeous guy! One of my chams gets a very similar area after shedding and it’s basically shed around a small scar. No idea why it forms after she sheds and seems to get stuck, but it does. The scar is from where she had a small papilloma removed and at first I thought it was growing back, but once the shed came off, I saw it’s still just a scar.
View attachment 326441
@MissSkittles, not gonna lie! I found your post about this and thought oh crap it might actually be a papilloma 😭. This is your Stella, right? She’s such a pretty girl. Was she gravid here, or flexing her colors at you because she didn’t appreciate your camera in her face? 😂
Did her papilloma wart ever grow back, and do you have her in the same room as your other chams?

Thank you for the kind words!
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
That is Stella and she was both gravid and fired up. She is in the same room as my other chams, and I am careful to make sure there is no cross contamination of anything. The papilloma has not grown back and just the tiny scar remains. Every now and then when she sheds, that circle of shed forms around the scar and sticks a little. It is more related to having the scar than the papilloma (since the papilloma is gone) and it would be interesting to know if other chams who have scars have similar shed patterns.
 

Lindasjackson

Chameleon Enthusiast
My Eustis did have a wierd white spot on his side that I noticed about a month ago and I was worried but I kept an eye on it and he just shed a few days ago and the spot is gone, it was just a spot of stuck shed. I hope that is all your guy has!
 

PlanetRemulak

Avid Member
That is Stella and she was both gravid and fired up. She is in the same room as my other chams, and I am careful to make sure there is no cross contamination of anything. The papilloma has not grown back and just the tiny scar remains. Every now and then when she sheds, that circle of shed forms around the scar and sticks a little. It is more related to having the scar than the papilloma (since the papilloma is gone) and it would be interesting to know if other chams who have scars have similar shed patterns.
She is such a beauty! Male veilds are awesome, but females always end up so pretty! Stella has me wanting a moody, pissy little lady veiled 😂

All very helpful, thank you so much for your input! I’m already in the habit of washing the crap out of my hands between interactions with each cham. In the event that Bastion’s weird spot does turn out to be a papilloma, hopefully our experience turns out like yours and Stella’s (we can just have it removed and it doesn’t come back). Not thrilled about him possibly ending up with a scar, but I doubt he cares! He’ll be far more upset about seeing the vet lol.

Looks we’ll find out if he ends up in a similar position as your Stella!
 

PlanetRemulak

Avid Member
My Eustis did have a wierd white spot on his side that I noticed about a month ago and I was worried but I kept an eye on it and he just shed a few days ago and the spot is gone, it was just a spot of stuck shed. I hope that is all your guy has!
Best possible outcome for Eustis! I’m so hoping it’s something similar and it comes off with his next shed.
 
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