Senegal Chameleon health question?


New Member
Hey all! I'm a very new chameleon owner, so I may be overreacting a bit, but I thought I'd come ask you all what your thoughts were. (I also just made a vet appointment, but it isn't until tomorrow morning.)

I just got a Senegal cham from a breeder online, I've had him for about 5 days now. I'm not sure how old he is (he's roughly 5" long to the end of his tail), but he's supposedly a male. He seems generally pretty happy, often a nice leaf green color with some interspersed blue, occasionally a darker olive color. He drinks from the dripper I set up a couple times a day, and loves to bask under his UVB bulb (5.0 compact) or his basking bulb (60 W). He's in a glass cage with a screen top (18x18x24"), which I mist roughly 3-4 times a day to keep the humidity around 60-75%. I have an analog thermometer in the middle of his cage that reads around 70F. His cage has substrate on the bottom because there's a bunch of live plants in it.

Since I've gotten him I've only seen him eat 1 house fly, even though I've offered him crickets (big and small), mealworms (from a can), and live superworms. His feces the first day I had him was normal, but yesterday it was runny (but still with a white urate). He occasionally "naps" during the day in his basking spots. Yesterday and today he's been scratching at his cage doors like he wants to get out, and when I open the doors he scales my arm (but is a nice content green once on my arm). Today he also was digging in the substrate at the bottom of his cage in the corner, and starting turning stress colors until my boyfriend came and let him scale up his arm. I thought he might be hot in the cage, so we moved his lights up above the cage a little higher. But he also hangs upside down on the screen top.

Any ideas on what might be up? Like I said, I'm planning on heading to a vet tomorrow, but I was wondering if I could do anything until then to help my little guy. =(
Thank you!!

Welcome to the forum!

You've found a good place for reliable info, since there are many helpful, often very knowledgeable fellow cham owners here.

Your cham may just be trying to get used to his new home or maybe there is something in his environment that should be changed to make him more comfortable.

Senegal chams are so cute and most of them are wild caught, so they sometimes have parasites.
Your vet can check him for most common parasites if you bring a fresh poop to the vet. (Put it in a baggie and refrigerate it until you can get it to the vet. Just don't freeze it.)

Most of the things you are doing for him are very good.
When you mention canned mealworms, do you mean dead ones?
I ask because chams will only eat live food.

Some more food ideas and how to make your feeders more nutritous are here:

One of the most interesting Senegal articles I've ever seen is this one, since it lists what the Senegal color and pattern changes mean:

This one is a great caresheet to know how often and which supplements to dust his feeders with to keep him healthy, plus temperatures, humidity, etc. that Senegal chams need:
Thanks so much! That all makes me feel a bunch better. =)

The mealworms were dead, so I figured that's why he wasn't interested in them. I'll keep trying the other live critters I bought, and maybe order some other varieties that he might like more. Thanks!

Do chams poop every day? I'm just worried I won't be able to get another from him before the appointment! haha
You're very welcome! :)
It's safe to say that most of us have probably been given some bad care advice from well meaning sellers and there is some seriously wrong info out on the internet.
I'm glad to be able to help fellow cham owners who care enough to ask questions.

I wouldn't worry about him not providing a sample on the day of the vet visit--often they are nervous at the vet and poop.
Even if he doesn't, you can drop off a fecal sample on another day.

Since he has been pooping, he must be eating something.

I forgot to mention a few other things earlier.

It is important to measure the basking site temperature, preferably with a digital laser thermometer, to be on the safe side
Thermometers such as this one are also sold in Home depot and other stores:
He isn't an adult if he is 5 inches head to tip of tail.
Younger chams typically prefer it a few degrees cooler than adults, so 80-85 would be a good range for the basking site.
When a cham is too hot, they often try to get out of their cage or head to the borrom where it's cooler.

Petstores love to sell them but you have to be very careful about substrates.
Typically, the recommendation is to not use any, since they can lead to an intestinal blockage if ingested and they can allow bacteria and molds to grow.
For those reasons, most folks on the forum don't use them.
Some more setup info is here:

The best diet for a cham is a variety of well-fed feeders, which are lightly dusted with supplements.
A dusting schedule like this one should help maintain your cham in good health:
calcium (without D3 or phosphorus) at nearly every feeding,
multivitamin once every 2 weeks
and calcium with D3 once every 2 weeks

With supplements, too much is as bad as too little, and the guideline was developed by longtime cham keepers.

Local stores often lack feeder variety. I like this place for a decent variety of feeders
I also order Blue Bottle Flies from (most chams go crazy for flying insects)
Phoenix worms from (they are higher calcium feeders than most comercially available feeders)

I hope this info helps you out and I hope you will let us know how the vet visit goes.
Seriously, thank you so much. All this information is really, really helpful!!

I raised the light up much higher above his enclosure to cool it down a bit, and I'm thinking of getting sphagnum moss (at the vet's recommendation) to cover over the substrate the plants need and to raise humidity. I'll also be picking up more vines for him to climb on in the cage as well as some digital thermometers today.

Went to the vet and she said he looks great, not dehydrated or anything. She gave me some advice on his set-up and what not (she said his basking spot should be 90F but he's still been digging at the bottom this afternoon so I'm gonna keep up with lowering the temperature). She recommended raising the humidity to around 90%. She also gave me two medications to give him: a dewormer and one to get rid of a specific rotifer. If he doesn't seem to perk up/start eating then we might try an anti-biotic.

He's been quite active lately, and crawled all over me on the drive to the vet, but he still seems very much to want out of his cage. But hopefully the meds will help a bunch and I'll order him some new foods and see how that goes!

Thanks again! =)
Male Senegal Chameleons have a marked hemipenal bulge that I'm just not seeing on that photo so I'm thinking you actually have a female. Not that it makes much difference in care really.

I'm glad you took her to see a vet. The medications she prescribed do cause some inappetance for a few days after dosing so don't be alarmed by that. I've found the Senegal Chameleons aren't gluttons anyways. Some medicines can be hard on the kidneys so make sure she has access to plenty of water. It will help flush her system of the dead and dying parasites as well as rehydrate her. I've written a blog on wild caught chameleons and there might be some tips in there that will help you out:

Oh, interesting! I guess I"ll keep an eye on him/her to see if it becomes clearer with age.

He definitely hasn't been eating since I started the meds, even when offered a fly, but he also hasn't really been eating at all. Do you think a force feeding may be necessary later in the week? (though I really don't want to have to put him through that...)

I've got a water dripper set up, though I haven't seen him drink since starting the meds yesterday, unless he did it while I was at work.

Also, would it be normal for him to be lethargic from the meds? He just seems really sleepy and sad today and it's making me sad too. =(
What are the names of the medications?
Did the vet do fecal testing?

Rather than sphagnum moss, a safer solution is rocks that are large enough to not get accidentally swallowed.

Trace's blog about wild caught chams has some great care and feeding tips.

When I've had to give any of my chams oral medicine, I use 2 needle-less syringes and I do one of 2 things.
Either I put a couple of waxworms into one and the medicine into the other OR
I measure out the medicine into one and then carefully extract the plunger and put a waxworm or two into the syringe with the medicine.

You could always drop a waxworm into your cham's mouth when you give him/her the meds.

Keeping your cham well-hydrated is far more important than getting him to eat.
The vet did not do a fecal testing because I could not find one to bring and he didn't go while there. I may bring her one later if I find one.

The meds are Panacur Suspension once a week for 4 doses, and Baycox every day for 4 days and then repeated in 2 weeks.

He really hates the meds.... definitely aggravates his mouth and tongue to give it to him with the syringe (needle-less insulin syringe). So I'm not sure if it'd be worth the aggravation to him (at least right now) to force feed him then too... :(

Should I be force feeding him water?

The vet recommended the sphagnum moss to raise the humidity. If it doesn't seem to do much for that, I might change to rocks.

He was super lethargic as the day went on, and seemed grateful when the lights went off.

I just ordered some bb and house flies since that's the only thing I've successfully seen him eat so far.
He's pretty small (5in head to tail tip, roughly), and he won't be getting much bigger, so I'm not sure what else to order for him? I'm thinking silkworms once he starts to seem more up for eating?
My little dude seems to be doing better!
The past two days he's gotten more active and hasn't been napping during the day until around 5 or 6 (which is close to his bedtime anyways haha). Today he ate a fly and I saw him drinking some water from the leaves under his dripper.

Hopefully this means the meds are doing good things and that he's perking up.
Thanks for the update!
Sounds like he is heading in the right direction now.
It is truly worthwhile to continue the medications as the vet prescribed.
The parasites were really draining him.
Good thing you got him to the vet!

Cage, hand and syringe cleanliness is very important right now so he does not get reinfected with eggs from the parasites that he presently has.
Panacur kills a variety of parasitic worms and Baycox (toltrazuril) is the medicine of choice against coccidia.

If you can find some Phoenixworms/Calciworms/black soldier fly larvae they are very nutritious and their wiggling often tempts reluctant chams to eat.
Additionally, according to the Phoenix Worm Store online, "53% of the fat
in Phoenix Worms is beneficial lauric acid, a proven antimicrobial especially
effective against coccidiosis."
Coccidiosis, as you may know, is what you call an infestation of coccidia.
Lauric acid in Phoenix worms also is said to be effective against some types of harmful bacteria and viruses.
The rest of the info is here:

If the temps in your area are good for him--then some outdoor time would be great.
I swear it makes chams "happy" , in addition to the actual known benefits.
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