Please Help - Chameleon doesn't seem healthy

FrozenRain00

New Member
First I apologize for the long detailed post- but I figured more details now may help identify issues to help down the line.

I adopted an 8-month-old male veiled chameleon in December... Making him approx. 1 yr. and 5 months of age now. This is my first chameleon after having numerous other reptiles in my lifetime. I waited until I had the money, experience, and time to care for him. He was a pretty happy little guy for the majority of the time, coming to me when I opened the cage, liked to climb in the house trees I bought him, or sit in the window on a plant next to the screen for direct sunlight. He also loved going into the shower for 20-30 minutes at a time every couple of days. He ate out of my hand and was never really hissing or puffing- until recently.

Just a little background on him: His name is "Houdini" and he inherited his name because he used to escape his original setup and climb up on the back of the chair nearest my bedroom door. He would wait until I came out in the morning because he knew I'd take him to the shower in my bathroom- definitely surprised me a few times until I figured out how he was escaping his enclosure. He loved the shower and would prance out of his cage and through my apartment to the bathroom if I left his cage open. He also liked to climb wherever I was and hang out near me watching my every move. He had quite the cute little personality which I am hoping will return with help. He hated being manually misted (I think the original breeder may have tortured him with it?), so I got a MistKing setup to aid in adding humidity more naturally. This was added only a couple months after adopting him.

I noticed about a month ago some patches on his side and the tops of his legs where his shed would not come off. I ensured the humidity in his cage was good and continued to put him in the shower (water bouncing off the back of the wall and misting him) for about 30 minutes or so, supervised, each week. These spots do not seem to be getting better and he has gotten extremely agitated and grumpy. He no longer wants to leave his cage, if I am home I still sometimes will leave his door open with the tree near and he still won’t leave. If I reach in (which before he used to come to me willingly) he now hisses. It got to the point where he would hiss simply whenever someone would walk by. He will try to bite or hit you with his tongue now when he is removed (he definitely lets you know when he is ticked off.) To limit the stress, I just stopped taking him out and monitored the gauges on his cage and tried to let him be, but he doesn't seem to be any happier. I also haven't allowed him free-range in a few weeks.

I did take him to a herp. vet about 3 weeks ago but I don't feel like it helped much. The vet saw how aggressive he was (literally bashed against the inside of the box when she came near- like a trapped raptor from Jurassic Park). She noted that the spots didn't look like burns or mites and may just be hard spots to shed. She said he looked healthy from what she was familiar with. Mind you these spots have been there (and seem to be worse) for about a month now). She also noted that he may be coming into maturity and the aggression could be due to his desire to mate? He had tried to mate with my arm a couple of times before his attitude changed (he gripped me hard one day and his hemipenis came out. I quickly rejected that behavior and put him back in his cage)- to be honest a lot of the attitude came after that lol. But I know the spots are attributing to his discomfort from these patches too.

Based on everything we discussed with my current husbandry setup, she advised I move the heating light up higher than it was, increase misting, and keep a general eye on him. She said to limit the contact with him to see if his angst goes away once the season changes. She also 'de-wormed' him.

Despite what I was informed, I feel that there is something more going on here as he is still not himself. His beautiful coloring is rarely seen, he is now a dark brown/green where he used to be pretty light green when he was happy, he appears more clumsy, and I can tell he is in pain when he moves- I think from the patches of skin- and I think these spots are getting worse. I personally have bad eczema and what he has going on kind of looks similar; patchy, dry, and stiff. I was hoping someone on here could help me.


Today after reading some interesting details about bad shedding/potential healing burns I tried something new. A few of the forums noted to use a q-tip and apply olive oil gently to the spots, so I figured I'd give it a try. Today was the first time in about 3 weeks (since the vet visit) that I've opened his cage for something other than feeding. He did not fight me coming out, I put him in the shower like I once use to, and I attempted the olive oil. He was pretty peed off at first when I went near the spots but instantly closed his mouth and seemed to calm down once I got some of the olive oil on - almost like a relief. I'm hoping this could help - but I am asking for a friend because I want my Houdini back to his happy normal self and I want these spots gone. I'm starting to think this forum may give me better insight and advice than the vet did. She actually consulted a forum while I was there regarding whether or not the halogen spotlight was ok, so I figure I may just go to the source myself.

Current Husbandry:
Humidity:
MistKing- Previous settings were 2 minutes of mist approx. every 2 hours. He started freaking out this past month whenever it went off (when I first noticed his strange behavior). Humidity was about 5-10% lower than needed so the vet recommended more frequent misting. I set the Mist King to the following (only allows for 10 settings): It mists for 1 solid minute at these times: 9:30a, 10:45a, 11:30a, 12:45p, 1:30p, 2:45p, 3:45p, 4:45p, 6:15p, 7:15p. Humidity is now a minimum of 50% and goes up to about 94% immediately after the mister goes off. I have gauges for humidity and temperature throughout his cage- top and bottom. Everything has pretty stable reading throughout.
He runs away from the mist when it goes off now- which is also weird.
1 ‘Big Dripper’- which I keep full daily. He does drink from it every morning.

Lighting/Heat:
Auto on/off starting at 8:00a and off at 8:30p. If I am in the room, I cover the sides of his cage with a dark towel (like you do with birds) so he can sleep.
With lights out the apartment is maintained at 70-73 degrees.
UVB: T8 Zilla Reptile Slimline Reptile Lighting Fixture, 18-Inches.
Basking: I HAD a Fluker's Basking Spotlight 100 watt. These bulbs died every month- OR would explode. I stopped using them because of the danger AND because Houdini was acting like he couldn’t get enough heat from it. (gauges would read 88 degrees max). I read on the forum many people use outdoor halogen spotlights with success, so I switched to that. The basking is now a Sylvania halogen 60W spotlight.
The vet had me raise it from 8 inches above the basking area to about 15 inches: temperature holds between 88-94 degrees now. The bottom of the cage is around 70-75 degrees depending on when misting occurs.
He never climbs on the top of the cage to get more heat.

Cage:
Large repti-breeze cage. I read he should be in an XLarge at this age, but I do not have the room with my current apartment setup to upgrade yet which is why he previously had free-range to 2 trees or the window plants in my apartment if he needed to get out and stretch. Until he is feeling better, I’m keeping him in his cage to monitor.

Plants:
I have some plastic reptile-safe plants in his cage atm until the pathos gets larger. The living plants in his cage are: Pothos and Hibiscus. He used to eat them both (especially the hibiscus flowers- I don’t see him doing that anymore).
The plants in the windows are living: Pothos and an umbrella plant aka Schefflera.
The trees in my apartments are fake, about 6ft tall: 2 ficus.

Food:
Was mostly dusted crickets- he does not eat them lately. He also is picky about his crickets- if they have wings/cheep, he won’t eat them. Hates the local pet store stock and used to love the wingless ones from Petco.
He has been eating about 5 dusted super worms daily- at least it’s something right now.
I’m going to reptile faire this weekend to see what other bugs I can add in to see if he will munch on them. The idea of roaches scared me- if they get out, I don’t want to the be the source of an infestation. (tips on these- or alternatives would be appreciated).

Vitamins:
Bugs are dusted daily with Rep-Cal Calcium w/Vit D.
2x monthly with Rep-Cal Herptivite multivitamins.
I often clip fresh romaine lettuce- but he hasn’t eaten any.
He used to take a banana slice out of my hand once every couple weeks, but also turns his nose up to those lately.
I used to hand feed him- but I built a bug cup and he has been eating bugs out of this device for the past 3 weeks now to avoid the additional stress.

Drainage:
I have the entire setup on a metal shelfing unit. The top shelf holds the lights and the big dripper, the next shelf down holds his screen cage. The shelf under that holds a catch basin from the mister and dripper (there is screen on the bottom of his cage to prevent escape). I have the catch basin plumbed and a clear hose runs down to the bottom shelf where a sealed bucket sits and the excess water drains (makes it easier to dump and clean). There is a shelf between the basin and the bucket shelfing unit- this holds the clean water tun which is used by the MistKing throughout the day.

*I have attached photos. I apologize as I should’ve taken the photos of his skin BEFORE the olive oil. Upon taking these photos about an hour after applying the olive oil- I do have to say the spots on his sides and his knees already look 100x better.*
 

Attachments

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
Looks like a healing burn to me.

And yes they will get very grumpy for a bout 2 sheds before they become full adults.

And i wouldnt be putting anything on the burn, certainly not olive oil. Its going to look like that till the next peel, which i hope will be in the next 30 days.


Your UVB is sub standard, but you are also over supplementing with D3, so it works out. Once that bulb is about six months old, id invest $50 into a Zoomed reptisun 22" T5HO hood that comes with a 5.0 bulb. Then you can reduce the D3 to only once every 2 weeks.
 

FrozenRain00

New Member
I have a feeling the Fluker's bulb was part of the issue, I just figured that a month later this would've gotten better but it looked worse. I still had the Flukers bulb about 8 inches above his basking spot. I'm just surprised that he doesn't have any marks on his back/spine- that seems fine and is shedding fine. If it was a burn, wouldn't his back have marks too since he sits normally on the basking branch?
 

FrozenRain00

New Member
I read it on another forum where they recommended applying the olive oil for poor shedding and especially for helping burns heal which is why I tried it. I know they do this for humans with bad burns too so I figured it couldn't hurt. I will say that he is moving up and down in his cage since I put the olive oil on the spots which is more activity than I've seen in a while. I wonder if the olive oil moisturized the skin so it didn't hurt when he moved?
 

FrozenRain00

New Member
Are there recommendations on adding anything (supplements, dechlorinators, etc...) to the drinking water OR the misting water?
 

FrozenRain00

New Member
Looks like a healing burn to me.

And yes they will get very grumpy for a bout 2 sheds before they become full adults.

And i wouldnt be putting anything on the burn, certainly not olive oil. Its going to look like that till the next peel, which i hope will be in the next 30 days.


Your UVB is sub standard, but you are also over supplementing with D3, so it works out. Once that bulb is about six months old, id invest $50 into a Zoomed reptisun 22" T5HO hood that comes with a 5.0 bulb. Then you can reduce the D3 to only once every 2 weeks.
Do you know if they make an 18" T5 bulb for my current hood? My cage is only 18" across, so I want to avoid overhang off the sides. I had a dual basking/uvb lighting fixture when I first had him but it seemed sub-par, plus the explosing bulbs despite following voltages allowed. :/
 

JacksJill

Chameleon Enthusiast
Reverse osmosis or distilled water is recommended for use with misting systems to prevent clogged tips and white build up in your cage.
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
Do you know if they make an 18" T5 bulb for my current hood? My cage is only 18" across, so I want to avoid overhang off the sides. I had a dual basking/uvb lighting fixture when I first had him but it seemed sub-par, plus the explosing bulbs despite following voltages allowed. :/
Well im not sure how long a 18" cham is going to like being in a 18" cage...

But yes they make both a 14" and a 22" hood. You will not be able to buy a T5HO bulb for your hood, you have to buy the whole hood that comes with a light. But the lights need changed half as much, so you get double the life from each bulb.

https://zoomed.com/reptisun-t5-ho-terrarium-hood/

If you are stuck with that hood, then get a 18" zoomed T8 10.0.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
There are quite a few husbandry issues here for a Veiled. Besides what has already been stated. Please do not use olive oil on his body. Your greasing him then putting direct heat on him. They are dry shedders so this is complicating the issues for him to shed properly.

It will take me a while to go through the whole health form.
 

Graves923

Chameleon Enthusiast
Id put your UVB fixture right on top of the screen cage top. UVB loses strength with distance and the screen will be blocking a good amount as is. With the screen, the UVB will only be beneficial down about 6-8 inches depending on what strength bulb you are using so every inch counts. The UVB won't be hot enough to burn your cham while resting on the screen so no worries there.
 

Daesie11

Chameleon Enthusiast
I have no idea what a reverse osmosis is- but I googled it and it looks like a pretty advanced setup that I just wouldn't be able to get into this apartment. Do you know if this stuff is ok? "Zoo Med ReptiSafe Water Conditioner"
I got the RO water filter from Chewy and it has been a God sent, and I live in an apartment. Just make sure you have a faucet that you can take the spout off to reveal the threads that you'll connect it to. It's very easy to use.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
@FrozenRain00 First off welcome. Your going to receive a ton of feed back so just have an open mind and know we are trying to help you. See all my feedback in red bold.

Current Husbandry:
Humidity:
MistKing- Previous settings were 2 minutes of mist approx. every 2 hours. He started freaking out this past month whenever it went off (when I first noticed his strange behavior). Humidity was about 5-10% lower than needed so the vet recommended more frequent misting. I set the Mist King to the following (only allows for 10 settings): It mists for 1 solid minute at these times: 9:30a, 10:45a, 11:30a, 12:45p, 1:30p, 2:45p, 3:45p, 4:45p, 6:15p, 7:15p. Humidity is now a minimum of 50% and goes up to about 94% immediately after the mister goes off. I have gauges for humidity and temperature throughout his cage- top and bottom. Everything has pretty stable reading throughout.
He runs away from the mist when it goes off now- which is also weird.
1 ‘Big Dripper’- which I keep full daily. He does drink from it every morning.

For a veiled they should have a humidity level of 30-40% during the day. 50% is the max you want it to hit during the day. At night when the cage is its coolest (under 70 degrees) you can use a cool mist humidifier to kick the humidity up to 100%. The worry with the current schedule is two fold. 1. the cage is not able to dry out which exposes him to constantly walking on wet branches that can grow bacteria. 2. The humidity level is so high the risk to him is developing a respiratory infection.
I will give you a link to a podcast on naturalistic hydration.


Lighting/Heat:
Auto on/off starting at 8:00a and off at 8:30p. If I am in the room, I cover the sides of his cage with a dark towel (like you do with birds) so he can sleep.
With lights out the apartment is maintained at 70-73 degrees. This is still a little on the warm side at night.
UVB: T8 Zilla Reptile Slimline Reptile Lighting Fixture, 18-Inches. This fixture is not adequate and MBD is a serious risk for your Cham. You need a T5HO Fixture with a 5.0 bulb. This should be a 24 inch because a male Veiled needs room. A 18x18x36 inch cage is much too small for them at that age.
Basking: I HAD a Fluker's Basking Spotlight 100 watt. These bulbs died every month- OR would explode. I stopped using them because of the danger AND because Houdini was acting like he couldn’t get enough heat from it. (gauges would read 88 degrees max). I read on the forum many people use outdoor halogen spotlights with success, so I switched to that. The basking is now a Sylvania halogen 60W spotlight. Get a temp gun off amazon for 15 bucks. this will give you better idea what your temps are. He should sit right about 90-94 degrees at basking level. Some males prefer it slightly cooler.
The vet had me raise it from 8 inches above the basking area to about 15 inches: temperature holds between 88-94 degrees now. The bottom of the cage is around 70-75 degrees depending on when misting occurs. It seems like your temps are off. What are you using to measure temps. With a 60watt bulb at 15 inches. It just does not add up that your getting a basking temp of 88-94 degrees.
He never climbs on the top of the cage to get more heat.

Cage:
Large repti-breeze cage. I read he should be in an XLarge at this age, but I do not have the room with my current apartment setup to upgrade yet which is why he previously had free-range to 2 trees or the window plants in my apartment if he needed to get out and stretch. Until he is feeling better, I’m keeping him in his cage to monitor. Part of his aggression could be the small cage. This is something that will cause him additional stress and anxiety which will just compound his aggression.

Plants:
I have some plastic reptile-safe plants in his cage atm until the pathos gets larger. The living plants in his cage are: Pothos and Hibiscus. He used to eat them both (especially the hibiscus flowers- I don’t see him doing that anymore).
The plants in the windows are living: Pothos and an umbrella plant aka Schefflera.
The trees in my apartments are fake, about 6ft tall: 2 ficus.

Food:
Was mostly dusted crickets- he does not eat them lately. He also is picky about his crickets- if they have wings/cheep, he won’t eat them. Hates the local pet store stock and used to love the wingless ones from Petco.
He has been eating about 5 dusted super worms daily- at least it’s something right now. Superworms are extremely low in nutritional value. They should not be used as a staple diet due to this. I will post an image.
I’m going to reptile faire this weekend to see what other bugs I can add in to see if he will munch on them. The idea of roaches scared me- if they get out, I don’t want to the be the source of an infestation. (tips on these- or alternatives would be appreciated). Roaches are best as they gutload really well. And if you hand feed or cup feed they do not get out.

Vitamins:
Bugs are dusted daily with Rep-Cal Calcium w/Vit D. He is at risk for a D3 overdose. He should be getting fed every other day at this point in his life. The reduced appetite could very well be from way too much D3. This should be given 2 times a month alternating with the herpivite. Then for all the other feedings you should be giving calcium WITHOUT D3.
2x monthly with Rep-Cal Herptivite multivitamins.
I often clip fresh romaine lettuce- but he hasn’t eaten any.
He used to take a banana slice out of my hand once every couple weeks, but also turns his nose up to those lately.
I used to hand feed him- but I built a bug cup and he has been eating bugs out of this device for the past 3 weeks now to avoid the additional stress.

Drainage:
I have the entire setup on a metal shelfing unit. The top shelf holds the lights and the big dripper, the next shelf down holds his screen cage. The shelf under that holds a catch basin from the mister and dripper (there is screen on the bottom of his cage to prevent escape). I have the catch basin plumbed and a clear hose runs down to the bottom shelf where a sealed bucket sits and the excess water drains (makes it easier to dump and clean). There is a shelf between the basin and the bucket shelfing unit- this holds the clean water tun which is used by the MistKing throughout the day.

*I have attached photos. I apologize as I should’ve taken the photos of his skin BEFORE the olive oil. Upon taking these photos about an hour after applying the olive oil- I do have to say the spots on his sides and his knees already look 100x better.*


Ok so it would seem that your way of dealing with the aggression is by taking away everything that he was used to. going from free range to a tiny cage is stressful enough. But you have changed even hand feeding to cope with his aggression. I think this is exacerbating the issue for him. It is changing everything he is used to.

If you are going to keep him caged you have to upgrade the cage size. The lighting has to be upgraded to a T5HO fixture as already stated. That t8 will do nothing for him. The t5ho should be placed directly on the cage top along the center with his basking 7-8 inches below for correct UVI levels. Get the calcium without D3 asap as well. Take him off the calcium with D3 for a month so his body can start flushing it. Then only use the calcium with D3 2 times a month rotating week over week with your multivitamin. Correct the misting schedule. Listen to the podcast link.


While I agree the skin looks like burns... I really do not think that they are. I do think finding a Reptile vet that is actually experienced with chams would be a good idea. the advice you were given is not what I would expect from one with cham knowledge. The fact that they did not even physically look at him because they were scared is another indication.

Podcast link. All his podcasts are wonderful. https://www.chameleonbreeder.com/podcast/ep-89-naturalistic-hydration-for-chameleons/
https://www.chameleonforums.com/blogs/basic-info-on-misting-and-fogging.2325/
https://www.chameleonforums.com/blogs/truth-is-the-torch-that-gleams-through-the-fog-without-dispelling-it.2400/

https://www.chameleonforums.com/care/caresheets/veiled/


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