Rescue is dying slowly..

Lemlem1125

New Member
to make a long story short I took in an extremely neglected and malnourished Jackson’s chameleon from someone who should never have had him in the first place..
(No heat lamp. No UV light. Leaving live crickets in his enclosure at all times. No real plants.) I believe this person was misinformed about his care when they bought him from Petco.

Owner told me that he has been on the bottom of the enclosure for “a few days” and they’ve thought “he looked sick for a while now” but didn’t want to pay for vet care.

I took him in although I’ve never had any reptile because no animal should be treated the way he has been. I have been trying to educate myself as much as possible.

I went to a reptile shop and bought this person a heat lamp and UV light after finding him laying on the bottom of his enclosure with his eyes shut last week.. (owner was shocked he needed a heat lamp???)
after finding out his owner was planning on leaving him at school over winter break I took him home with me with the hope of healing him. (As soon as I brought him home I’ve done nothing but research chameleon care and have realized his entire set up has been wrong, and he probably has parasites, and MBD, and is extremely dehydrated and underweight)
Initially I was able to get him to eat calcium dusted hornworms (the first 3 days he was with me) out of some tweezers and drink some water from a pothos leaf but now he is outright refusing to eat (even when I gently open his mouth he won’t keep anything in and it will drop out) or drink.

I was told he is too far gone to just “keep him comfortable” so he can pass but it has been now DAYS of him laying on a towel in his enclosure and slowly dying…
He is SO skinny, and dull(brownish greenish color)… his eyes haven’t opened aside from maybe one time since he came home with me.
My heart is seriously broken for him. He has a vet appointment at the end of the week but I hate to see him suffer like this.
I keep thinking he has passed but then if I mist the enclosure he will attempt to move a arm or leg or his head. He barely moves but I just feel so gutted… he has been like this since Sunday… it just feels cruel at this point.
How long does it take chameleons to pass? He seems on deaths door but each day he is still here..
i am so devastated for the suffering he has clearly endured.

I included some pictures but they are so difficult to look at: any help or advice is appreciated.
 

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to make a long story short I took in an extremely neglected and malnourished Jackson’s chameleon from someone who should never have had him in the first place..
(No heat lamp. No UV light. Leaving live crickets in his enclosure at all times. No real plants.) I believe this person was misinformed about his care when they bought him from Petco.

Owner told me that he has been on the bottom of the enclosure for “a few days” and they’ve thought “he looked sick for a while now” but didn’t want to pay for vet care.

I took him in although I’ve never had any reptile because no animal should be treated the way he has been. I have been trying to educate myself as much as possible.

I went to a reptile shop and bought this person a heat lamp and UV light after finding him laying on the bottom of his enclosure with his eyes shut last week.. (owner was shocked he needed a heat lamp???)
after finding out his owner was planning on leaving him at school over winter break I took him home with me with the hope of healing him. (As soon as I brought him home I’ve done nothing but research chameleon care and have realized his entire set up has been wrong, and he probably has parasites, and MBD, and is extremely dehydrated and underweight)
Initially I was able to get him to eat calcium dusted hornworms (the first 3 days he was with me) out of some tweezers and drink some water from a pothos leaf but now he is outright refusing to eat (even when I gently open his mouth he won’t keep anything in and it will drop out) or drink.

I was told he is too far gone to just “keep him comfortable” so he can pass but it has been now DAYS of him laying on a towel in his enclosure and slowly dying…
He is SO skinny, and dull(brownish greenish color)… his eyes haven’t opened aside from maybe one time since he came home with me.
My heart is seriously broken for him. He has a vet appointment at the end of the week but I hate to see him suffer like this.
I keep thinking he has passed but then if I mist the enclosure he will attempt to move a arm or leg or his head. He barely moves but I just feel so gutted… he has been like this since Sunday… it just feels cruel at this point.
How long does it take chameleons to pass? He seems on deaths door but each day he is still here..
i am so devastated for the suffering he has clearly endured.

I included some pictures but they are so difficult to look at: any help or advice is appreciated.,
@Lemlem1125 I just wanted to express my admiration for the bravery, responsibility, and maturity you have demonstrated in taking in a very unhealthy chameleon and providing it with the care it needs. It takes a special kind of person to be willing to take on such a challenging task, and it is clear that you are willing to go above and beyond to ensure that your chameleon is healthy and happy.

Owning a chameleon is a big responsibility, and it is important for anyone considering getting one to be well-informed about their care requirements. Chameleons are sensitive creatures that need a specific diet, environment, and level of care to thrive. It is heartbreaking to see that the previous owner didn't even do his research even after acquiring the cham. It is heartening to see that you have taken the time to educate yourself about these needs and are doing everything you can to provide your chameleon with the best possible care.

Thank you for being such a compassionate and responsible pet owner. You truly are an example for others to follow. As for the chameleon These experts can hopefully tell you what to do or if you can do anything :( @Beman @MissSkittles @jamest0o0
 
Thank you so much for such a kind reply!
I pride myself on taking care of any animal under my care.
Every animal is a lot of responsibility but I had no idea just how much complex care a chameleon would need.

I really admire anyone who is able to do it correctly and have a healthy pet!
The 6 days I have had him have been so saddening as I was really hopeful I could help him recover but I just really don’t know :(
At this point I just hope he is not in any pain
 
Thanks for trying!! Just remember they only metabolize with heat and good uv light
Wow I wish his previous owner knew that… they definitely did not considering he’s only had a heat lamp since I bought it for them a week ago and she’s had him since September… how he’s made it this far without any light or heat source is crazy :(
 
How sad for this poor little cham. It sounds as though he is wanting to live and is trying to fight. The best one to help guide you is @JacksJill. All I can tell you is to give him some heat and uvb during the day and keep him hydrated. If you can get a temp drop below at least 68-70 at night, give him a cool mist humidifier and let humidity go as high as it can during the night only. That will help hydrate him. He needs nutrition too. I would be liquefying bugs that I’ve dusted with calcium without D3 and trying to give him small amounts with a syringe (like the equivalent of 1-2 feeders). You’ll have to hold his head up and aim the syringe towards the very back of his throat. His airway is in the front and you don’t want him to aspirate. Most likely he won’t make it, but since he is fighting to live he deserves a chance and one never knows. Poor poor baby. 😢
As for the person who had him…I hope they don’t think of getting any more animals or having children. 🤬😡
 
I knew I forgot to tell you something important. If you haven’t already given him a vitamin D3 or multivitamin, he is needing one dose only. I would get a combination product like either Repashy calcium Plus LoD or Reptivite with D3. Jackson’s are very sensitive to D3 and other vitamins and usually only get a dose once a month. If you have already been giving calcium with D3, stop! Get a phosphorus free calcium without D3 and use that instead. Get Reptivite without D3 and give one dose of that. An overdose of D3 will only make the poor guy sicker.
I’m not sure where you’ve been finding info, but this is the most up to date and accurate that I know of.
https://chameleonacademy.com/chameleon-husbandry-program-getting-started-with-chameleons/
 
How sad for this poor little cham. It sounds as though he is wanting to live and is trying to fight. The best one to help guide you is @JacksJill. All I can tell you is to give him some heat and uvb during the day and keep him hydrated. If you can get a temp drop below at least 68-70 at night, give him a cool mist humidifier and let humidity go as high as it can during the night only. That will help hydrate him. He needs nutrition too. I would be liquefying bugs that I’ve dusted with calcium without D3 and trying to give him small amounts with a syringe (like the equivalent of 1-2 feeders). You’ll have to hold his head up and aim the syringe towards the very back of his throat. His airway is in the front and you don’t want him to aspirate. Most likely he won’t make it, but since he is fighting to live he deserves a chance and one never knows. Poor poor baby. 😢
As for the person who had him…I hope they don’t think of getting any more animals or having children. 🤬😡
Thank you so much for your advice!
The issue is he is really refusing to eat and drink..
We have been trying to handle him as little as possible to minimize stress and he is refusing to open his mouth even when I try to force it open (gently with a finger and with this little plastic stick) so I have felt at a loss because I don’t want to hurt him while trying to get him water :(
I’ve been trying to drip water on his nose as well but it isn’t working.. he will move his head a little initially but as I keep dropping it he doesn’t react whatsoever.
But yes… he does seem like he wants to live?which makes this even harder.
every time I think it’s the end he will show some sort of movement. So I just feel so conflicted.
I have been to the exotic reptile store nearest me 4 times in the last 6 days I’ve had him with me and have had my hope crushed. They told me that it’s highly unlikely he will pull through and I’m probably just prolonging him passing?
The last time I went they told me that they actually felt it was not right to push me to buy anything given his condition and lack of improvement :(
But that was 3 days ago and he’s still here so I just don’t know.
I definitely do not want to be prolonging his suffering :(
 
This is a horrible situation for the poor little cham and you. I don’t know what else I can tell you. I would never advocate for letting any creature suffer, but at the same time he seems to be fighting to survive and I’d hate to tell you to just give up on him and do nothing to try to help. There are no right answers here. You have to make the choice that you can live with. I would call the vet and tell them it’s an emergency and see if there’s any way they can see you sooner or maybe if you can even just drop the chameleon off and they can see it between patients. If you choose euthanasia, explain your goal of not letting the poor cham suffer any longer and they may let you drop him off. If you want to continue to try and help the sweet thing fight, you can try to gently open his mouth with something like a guitar pick.
I’m one of the very few forum members that is such a night owl. Soon it’ll be morning and the ’normal’ members will be on and may have some wisdom to share. I’ve tagged @JacksJill who is a Jackson’s expert and has a wealth of knowledge and experience.
 
You can try force feeding him. I use a ground cricket powder available from Amazon meant for body builders. cricket+pro You can mix in small amounts of the appropriate supplements and water as it is nothing but cricket dust. My Jackson's Supplement Schedule To force feed you have to get the liquid all the way to the back of the throat as they breath through the front of their mouth. You need to feed with their head elevated for the same reason.
I have to say I don't hold a lot of hope for him. You have done a lot for him already but it looks like it was too late. Feeding him couldn't hurt. If he's not able to climb into the range of the lights you should probably make a plastic bin hospital enclosure for him so he gets UVB and some heat. Don't over heat him use a low wattage bulb, 40 Watt, and only have it on in 20-30 minute increments. Raise both bulbs up 8- 10 inches above him with room for him to crawl away.
It was noble of you to attempt this. Hit me up with any other questions. I will do my best to get back to you through the holidays.
Just a note euthanasia would not be wrong at this point and your vet may be willing to do so without an appointment as a drop off.
 
You can try force feeding him. I use a ground cricket powder available from Amazon meant for body builders. cricket+pro You can mix in small amounts of the appropriate supplements and water as it is nothing but cricket dust. My Jackson's Supplement Schedule To force feed you have to get the liquid all the way to the back of the throat as they breath through the front of their mouth. You need to feed with their head elevated for the same reason.
I have to say I don't hold a lot of hope for him. You have done a lot for him already but it looks like it was too late. Feeding him couldn't hurt. If he's not able to climb into the range of the lights you should probably make a plastic bin hospital enclosure for him so he gets UVB and some heat. Don't over heat him use a low wattage bulb, 40 Watt, and only have it on in 20-30 minute increments. Raise both bulbs up 8- 10 inches above him with room for him to crawl away.
It was noble of you to attempt this. Hit me up with any other questions. I will do my best to get back to you through the holidays.
Just a note euthanasia would not be wrong at this point and your vet may be willing to do so without an appointment as a drop off.
Thank you for your help and advice!
I was able to get a hold of a reptile vet who happens to be in today at a vet clinic and he is willing to see him.
I wish I could have intervened much sooner…
When I talk to the previous owner again I will not sugarcoat the extent of the suffering her negligence has caused for this poor animal.
 
So hard to read this, but some people should never have pets unless they are willing to learn about the care involved. You did the right thing. I wish you could've intervened sooner.
Oh agreed! I guess it was silly of me to believe that he was being properly cared for this whole time.
Nope.
All it would have taken was a simple google search to realize that chameleons are complicated pets that require a LOT of care.
It’s beyond frustrating that his entire set up was wrong when once again all it would have taken is literally a Google search to see he needed entirely different things.
I will be doing everything I can to make sure his previous owner does not adopt another animal.
 
For what it is worth - it is very difficult to rehab a chameleon that is so far gone. I have attended a veterinary CE talk on the topic that was literally titled "Chameleon medicine: I can't stand another one dying on my watch." The takeaway form that talk was basically that education about husbandry and hydration prior to the animal taking ill is the most effective intervention, and generally by the time an inexperienced owner has noticed something is wrong there's not a lot that can be done. I've seen reports of good results with rescue Veileds, but Jacksons seem particularly challenging, and I suspect you took him on well after the point of no return.

IMO Petco is the bad guy here, not even the hapless original owner. We really need Petco to stop selling chameleons (particularly species like Jacksons); they sell reptiles as impulse buys to people who don't know how to care for them. I know they sell them as impulse buys because 1) Petco doesn't know what they are doing and doesn't have a great selection so informed keepers don't buy from them and 2) their pricing is - paradoxically - generally higher than what you would pay from a breeder or reptile store. Selling sick animals at high prices generally doesn't bring in the highest information customers. I feel strongly that most people who did even minor research up front would decide against buying from a store like Petco.

Perhaps someday there will be sufficient blowback on Petco and Petsmart that they'll stop carrying exotics in the way they no longer sell puppies and kittens.
 
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I am so sorry to hear that the chameleon did not make it despite all of your efforts to save it. It must have been heartbreaking to watch and do everything you could to help, but sometimes no matter how much we try, things don't turn out the way we hope. Please know that you did everything you could and your love and care for the chameleon will not be forgotten. It's okay to feel sad and grieve but always be ready to bounce back and try again.
 
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