Pouty Lip and Poor Muscle Tension in Lower Jaw - Jackson's Cham


Chameleon Enthusiast
Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - Jackson's Chameleon, 9-10 months old, male
  • Handling - Everyday in the morning and afternoon; he's extremely friendly
  • Feeding - Crickets (60%, gutloaded on a veggie/fruit mix), silkworms (30%), superworms (10%, gutloaded on a veggie/fruit mix)
  • Supplements - Calcium only 3 times a week; Calcium plus D3 monthly; Multi-Vitamin monthly (all supplements are dusted on feeders)
  • Watering - MistKing every 3 hours for 5 minutes; Little Dripper all day; tap water (local utilities use lower chlorine content and is not fluoridated)
  • Fecal Description - Soft and round like a little brown jelly bean with pure white urate every morning; left me a sperm "present" last week, too
  • History - Previously treated for protozoan infection; fecal checks since have come back clean

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Aluminum screen enclosure (LLLReptile), 24x24x48, he uses every inch of the enclosure, very active
  • Lighting - Zoo Med 18" Repti Sun 5.0 UVB bulbs (due to be replaced in August) and 15 watt mini-halogen basking lamp
  • Temperature - Ambient temp 70-75°F, basking spot 86°F, fixed digital thermometer to monitor basking area
  • Humidity - Ultrasonic humidifier running almost 24/7, piped into cage has been able to maintain about 50% RH at top of enclosure; fixed digital hygrometer to monitor RH
  • Plants - Umbrella plants (Schefflera arboricola), Golden pothos (Scindapsus aureus); Mamey croton (Codiaeum variegatum); Bromeliad flower (Guzmania berteroniana). Artificial climbing vines (Exo-Terra Jungle Vine small). Sand blasted grape vine stick (large). Found sicks and vines cleaned and backed before going into his enclosure.
  • Placement - Corner of dining/living room. Low traffic within 10-feet of cage and we are out most of the day. Near sliding glass door but not directly adjacent. Closest floor register has been closed. Cage bottom is 24" off floor.
  • Location - Missouri (currently ranging 45-80°F for April 2013, gotta LOVE Midwest weather...)

Current Problem - On the left side of my cham's mouth only, the lower lip is "pouty" (projecting from under the upper lip so that a small bit of inner lip is exposed). The gums are wet and pink, no discoloration, roughness, or other signs of infection. No signs of injury and no swelling to the lower jaw. He is eating and drinking fine, and it doesn't seem to cause him pain if the area is touched.

I took him to the vet this morning. The vet saw no signs of mouthrot or any other infection, no abscesses. He said the jaw bone seemed fine and overall my cham looked in great health. He did find that the muscle tension on the left side of the lower jaw was much slacker than the right side (I agree with this since it is very easy to open the left side of his mouth compared to the right which is tight), but he seems to be swallowing fine. We did not have an xray taken. Vet advised to monitor the area and come back if the issue did not correct itself in a few weeks or at the first sign of swelling or discoloration. We went through my husbandry, but the vet's only thought was that my cham may have bruised the nerve along the jaw somehow.

Anyone have experience with a "pouty" lip or have any thoughts? Could this be supplement or otherwise husbandry related?

I took some photos but couldn't show the issue well enough to be of any help. I will dig out the SLR and try again when I get home from work.

Thanks in advance - I'd be a wreck without this forum!


New Member
Photos would really help.

If could be the beggining of an infection, as jacksons are known for getting them in the corners of the mouth, the temporal gland.

If nothing seems off, i would do as your vet advises, but I would also try to get some photos posted so people who know what they are looking for can help out


Avid Member
Your vet sounds like he knows what he's talking about.
I'd keep an eye on it for any changes, just to be on the safe side.

Your care looks very good overall, though maybe a sheet of plastic on 2 or 3 sides will allow the humidity to get up to the desired 70-80% range.

On days where the temperatures are ok, a little natural sunshine is good for your cham.


Chameleon Enthusiast
My vet does seem pretty knowledgeable and has a lot of experience with herps in general. He has four other Jackson's patients and was kind enough to let me ask questions about his experience with chams on the first visit without so much as a hint of impatience :)

I've uploaded a few pics of my cham, but it's pretty difficult to see the issue in the photos. You can maybe make out that his lower lip is just a little distended.


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Chameleon Enthusiast
Based on a few other posts on the forum, including the current one about the Cham whose tongue is always showing, I am concerned this might be the start of MBD.

I'm trying to get my little guy some natural sunshine, but the weather just won't cooperate (we had a blizzard this week, in May!).

Anyone have any thoughts on my husbandry and what I can do better?

My current gutload mix for the crickets is turnip greens, carrots, strawberries, winter squash, and green peppers. I put it in the food processor and freeze it into cubes. Any problems with this practice? That's how my friends make their babyfood (people babies).

I'm also still struggling for a balanced diet for my cham. He loves his crickets but is "meh" about other feeders so far. I have blue bottle fly pupae hatching currently. Any advice for picky eaters?

He keeps me awake with worry but he's just so darned adorable.

Action Jackson

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hi, your husbandry you described sounds good. I assume you have your lighting going on and off with your dawn and dusk times in your area or close to it. No lights at night and cool night temps down to 50+- are good. I personally wouldn't keep my Jackson's so wet and wouldn't run a humidifier all day and night. Keeping Jackson's in such a humid environment with a humidifier, mister and dripper can cause problems too. If your chameleon has time to drink from a dripper or from long mistings ( over 5 minutes) he should be fine and you won't have to worry about relative humidity so much.

I have never seen a Jackson's with MBD. I use a comercial dry gut load Cricket
Crack and various leafy greens, squash, carrots, etc. also. I try to stay away from things like strawberrys because they get moldy so fast and I don't want my bugs around any mold.

I suppliment with calcium about once a week and lightly dust crickets. Luckily none of my Jackson's are picky (I have 13 right now) and I try to offer as much variety as I can. Here's what I feed them, roaches,crickets,bb flies,silks,horns and supers. They love'm all.

Your Jackson's mouth doesn't look bad to me. Possibly he injured it while eating. As long as there is no infection he should be ok.

You have a good looking guy there and it sounds like you're taking good care of him. Good luck.


Chameleon Enthusiast
Ferdinand is my first chameleon and I am still getting used to what "normal" is for him, so I know I am a little paranoid :)

Lights are indeed automated, running about 7:00am to 7:30pm; no lights and no heater at night. He's a great drinker and guzzles from the mister every morning between crickets, so I'm not too worried about him getting dehydrated. His morning and midday misting sessions are 10 minutes and shorter sessions at other times.

I have been turning off the humidifier periodically to let the enclosure dry. I have a good drainage system set up, but everything will stay damp in the bottom of the cage. It's on the calendar to give everything a good scrubbing tomorrow too.

Weather is supposed to warm back up this week, and his outdoor enclosure is all ready. We were having coffee together in the sunshine every morning, and now he goes to the balcony door first thing and paws at the glass - too cute!

I'm keeping a close watch on his lip. I'm also going to take your advise and ease up on the humidifier. Thanks again!


Chameleon Enthusiast
Update: Ferdinand's lip issue still isn't resolved. He's had the pouty lip and small asymmetry for several weeks. Gums are pink and firm still. No discoloration, dryness, or pus. This week, he's had some aggressive localized swelling one side. It doesn't seem to hurt him when I press on it, and its very hard. It doesn't seem to affect his eating.

I'm concerned about an abscess, so back to the vet we go. I have an appointment on Monday. Poor little guy.


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Chameleon Queen
I wish your photo was clearer on my playbook but it could be the start of an infection. The vet should know.


Chameleon Enthusiast
Update - Vet Visit #2

Over the weekend, the swelling continued and a scab began to form inside the gum line - definitely a mouth infection. Photos below are from before the vet visit he's chilling in the Cham Cadillac (bucket).

Just got back from the vet. Ferdinand sees Dr. Schweizer at Crysler Animal Hospital in Independence, MO.

The vet pressure-drained a bit of green/orange pus from the site and mixed me some Baytril - oral dose daily for 2 weeks (it's grape flavored!). Return visits in one week and two weeks. If the swelling does not reduce, the infection might need to be scraped out. Even during the draining, Ferdinand did not act like he was in pain. The vet looked at the pus under the microscope - not sure if this is what is considered "culturing" to determine the appropriate med to prescribe.

This week:
  • Scrubbing everything down and sanitizing what I can
  • Meds as prescribed
  • Extra hydration and higher humidity to ease the harshness of the Baytril

Anything else I should do/be doing to help him get through this? Does a non-specific mouthrot diagnosis merit tossing everything in his cage due to resistant bacteria? I will happily do anything that is needed.

I just feel terrible that the infection took this long to show it's ugly face. Ferdie is eating and drinking fine, but I bet he's been feeling poorly.


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Chameleon Enthusiast
I know he's not feeling well - I caught him sleeping during the day for the first time today. I had to wake him up to give him his meds. Sleepy chams are sooooooo cute, but man did I feel bad. Hopefully he will start turning around soon.


Avid Member
Poor Ferdinand--you can feed him some nice Phoenixworms, silkworms and horned worms.
The Phoenixworms are high in calcium and are said to help the immune system. The other 2 are high in water and reasonably high in calcium.

For cleaning, you can get some Hibiclens or Chlorhexidine Gluconate (generic is cheapest).
You can also use Chlorhexidine Gluconate diluted a bit on the lip sore to help it heal and kill bacteria.
Typically Chlorhexidine Gluconate is sold in gallons at feed stores and online.

If temperatures allow it, oudoor time is good for chams.


Avid Member
Hi Lathis, sorry about your Jack.

Something that has always paid off for me is using the open mouth for Baytril admin as an opportunity to hydrate. In other words- two drops baytril and five drops of water. Then let the cham be so that he will swallow in comfort. My chams spit it out if I don't let them go back into their cages right away or hold them up high so they feel comfortable.

I have stopped using Baytril altogether. I take it as a sign that the vet doesn't know chams too well when they prescribe Baytril. I've been using fluoroquinalones such as Cipro and Besivance. They are much less harsh on the chameleon's system and I haven't seen the major decrease in appetite as with Baytril treatments.

Please ask around and take my advice with a grain of salt. These are just two cents coming from a private chameleon keeper.;)


Established Member
Exactly what happened to my jax. Jackson is doing a lot better.:) I took him back to the vet and they said he looked a Lot better. I got prescribed baytril, nystatin, metacan, nycassin.
Hope Ferdinand does better. :) my visit qirh meds only cost 48 bucks. :cool:


Chameleon Enthusiast
Ferdie is definitely on the upswing. The swelling in his lip has not reoccurred since it was drained by the vet. He takes his medicine (although he hates me for it and will literally turn his back to me for hours afterwards). After only a few days, he has perked back up and is happily wandering about the living room right now.

He is absolutely being spoiled since getting sick - extra showers, lots of free-range time, sunshine every morning before it gets too hot :)

I have noticed a drop in appetite, which I attribute to the Baytril. He is still eating at least a cricket almost every day (before it was 3-4), so I am not pressing it. Before getting sick, he was finally up to what I considered a good weight for his length (39 grams!). He was very, very skinny when I got him back in March (20 grams) and has been steadily gaining weight. His old owner said he was not a good eater...but maybe that's because she kept him in a bucket...

Anyway, thanks to everyone for all the good thoughts and advise. We go back to the vet on Monday for a follow up and have another week of antibiotics, but hopefully we have this thing kicked!


Chameleon Enthusiast
I have stopped using Baytril altogether. I take it as a sign that the vet doesn't know chams too well when they prescribe Baytril. I've been using fluoroquinalones such as Cipro and Besivance. They are much less harsh on the chameleon's system and I haven't seen the major decrease in appetite as with Baytril treatments.

Thanks for the advise. I will discuss it with my vet. He specializes in herps and does have a few other Jackson's patients, but since chams are the exception rather than the rule, I am not shy about bringing up alternate treatment options with him. Being new to chams, I often don't know what questions to ask or topics to bring up, so I definitely appreciate it.

To date, the vet has been great - patient with me and super gentle with Ferdie.
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