Should I be worried...?


Chameleon Info:

Your Chameleon - The species, sex, and age of your chameleon. How long has it been in your care?

He is a male amblilobe panther, about four to four and a half months. I have had him for twelve days.

Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon?

Once a day, to feed. I never pick him up or force him, just coax with food.

Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders?

So far he has been eating mostly crickets and phoenix worms, but he had some of my original batch of super worms before they got too big. I just got some smaller replacements, as well as some dubia roaches that he had this morning and some silkworms he had yesterday. So right now I have all of the above, and will be switching it up daily.

His appetite is one of the things that is worrying me. It started out slow but good, he ate the first day and worked his way up steadily till he peaked five days ago when he went absolutely nuts and ate like 25-30 crickets in about ten minutes. Since then his appetite has been way down, he only eats three or four phoenix worms at a time then grazes if I leave the cup in there, where before his feast he would eat around ten. I’m worried that maybe he became impacted somehow, but I’ve been seeing feces regularly so maybe he’s just full?

I’ve been feeding him around two hours after lights on, and then sometimes a little later in the early afternoon.

I’m making my own gutload based off the info found in sandrachameleons blogs. I made a blended mix of apples, carrots, squash, romaine hearts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds that I give to the roaches and the crickets, and I just put chunks of the first four ingredients in the with the supers. I made the mix about two weeks ago when I first got him and have been keeping it sealed in the fridge. Do you think its still good? I also put orange slices in with the crix and roaches.

Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule?

I’m currently using all Sticky Tongue Farms products: Miner-All Outdoor (without D3), Miner-All Indoor (with) and Vit-All, a vitamin gutload. I also have an unopened container of Zoo Med Repti Calcium without D3 and Zoo Med Reptivite with D3, but was recommended that I use the STF stuff instead by Bruce from Chameleon Paradise, whom I purchased him from, in addition to saying that it is better to keep the vitamins and the D3 separate. He also gave me a baggy of Repashy Supervite vitamin A supplement, to be given once a month. Like I said I haven’t actually had him long enough to have gone through a full supplement cycle yet, but the plan
I’ve been going by so far is MA Outdoor every day, MA Indoor every other week, and Vit-All every other week opposite the MA Indoor, as well as the Repashy stuff once a month. I dusted with Indoor Friday before last, and forgot to gutload with Vit-All yesterday so I went with the Repashy instead. I remembered the Vit-All for today, but I’m not sure how much the roaches actually ate. I also gave a light dusting with the Repashy again because he only ate about three or four of the silks that had been dusted with it yesterday. I’m not sure I really like the Vit-All, as I can’t control the amount they eat.

Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking?

I have a MistKing that goes off for 15 min when the lights come on, then 10 min every two hours until lights off, when it goes for 15 again. The cage does dry completely between mistings; I live in a very dry area. I do see him drink.

Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites?

It has been medium brown with a white urate and an even consistency. It was looking more dehydrated when I first got him but that has cleared up. He has not been tested yet, but I plan to take him in for a full physical in the upcoming weeks.

History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you.

I don’t really know what to say other then I got him CB from Chameleon Paradise and I’m pretty sure he had just finished up a shed when I got him.

Cage Info:

Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions?

I have one of the standard 2’x2’x4’ screen cages you can find variants of all over the web, but then I built a two foot platform out of redwood to turn it into a 2’x2’x2’ until he is older. Then I drilled some holes in the floor and put a bucket in the space underneath. When he gets big enough I’ll take the platform out and swap the table he is on for a shelving unit, for drainage purposes.

Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule?

I have an 18” Zilla Slimline tropical for UVB and your standard dome lamp with a white 60 watt incandescent for heat. 7 AM to 8 PM

Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?

The average gradient seems to be about 72 F – 80 F, but the very hottest point is in the 90s, which is too high. I live in an area where the concept of seasons is basically a big joke, especially this time of the year, and I’ve been struggling to compensate for the fluctuating ambient temps as well as keeping that hotspot down while still keeping the ambient temp up enough. He does have quite the jungle gym underneath his light, so its not like he only has access to that one hottest spot, but I would rather he not have access to it at all.

The lowest overnight temp is about 65 F

I have a digital ExoTerra combo thermo/hygro with the probe in the middle of the cage, and a standard digital ExoTerra thermo near the basking spot, although there are a few places that are hotter then that. I also have a SainSonic infrared thermometer that I use to check individual spots.

Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?

The humidity fluctuates from the mid 90s during a misting, down to about 50 at night. It’s typically in the 70s.

Like I said I have a MistKing, as well as two of the walls of the cage covered in plastic. I also have a Crane humidifier next to the cage running pretty much all the time. At night I cover his cage with a sheet, as he is in my room and I stay up later then him, and lately I have been putting a wet towel under that on top of the cage.

I measure the levels with the above mentioned ExoTerra combo meter.

Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind?

Yup. I’ve got a Pothos, a Schefflera and a Parlor Palm. I’ve also got some apple and crab apple branches in there, as well as a small antler.

Placement - Where is your cage located? Is it near any fans, air vents, or high traffic areas? At what height is the top of the cage relative to your room floor?

It’s in my room, so pretty low traffic. No fans or vents. It has a view out a window, but is not next to it. The top of the cage is about six and a half feet off the ground.

Location - Where are you geographically located?

Colorado, in the Denver-Boulder area
Current Problem - The current problem you are concerned about.

Well, like I said above, the way his appetite peaked so dramatically has me worried, he just seems less interested in food in general since his feast. I’m hoping that’s just because he filled up and has just been topping off since?

I also want to get the temp thing worked out, but I don’t know how to get the basking spot cool enough without the rest of the enclosure getting too cold. He is near it right now, and when I measured him directly with the infrared thermo he read 74, so I really don’t know.

He has been rubbing his eye on and off since I got him. He seems to have stopped doing that, but I still see him scrunching and winking every now and then. I gave him a shower a few days ago, but he really seemed to hate it. Do you think I should continue do so anyway? He also arrived with a small flake of skin on his leg. I eventually snapped the other day and gently brushed it off, even though I know I shouldn’t have.

The main thing is that he has been gaping, and puffing his throat out and snapping his jaws and kind of thrashing around, which I interpret as threat behavior. The thing is I don’t know what’s triggering it. At first I thought it was my phone, but there hasn’t been any consistency to that. I was tinkering with the lights the other day and shaking the cage and he did it then, which makes sense, but sometimes he’ll just do it as I walk by, or sometimes I’ll even look up and see him doing it for no reason. He doesn’t do it much, but seems to be doing it more in the last two days. The really weird thing is though; he still has no problems with my hands being in the cage and will still climb on me and turn all bright and colorful. The other day he was doing it so I showed him a cup of food and offered my hand and he cut off practically mid thrash and hopped aboard. I mean if he just had an aggressive personality or there was something that was obviously upsetting him I would worry less, but it just seems so inconsistent and random.

And then the thing that has me really worried is that the other day he grabbed his own tail and held on for a while. I know grabbing themselves is one of the early signs of MBD so that has me kind of freaked out.

Obviously I’m no expert, but despite the above things, he seems in pretty good health overall to me, which is why I turn to you experienced folks with the question: Should I be worried about this stuff, or am I just being a paranoid cham-daddy with New Keeper Syndrome?

Here he is grabbing his tail

Here he is all plump after his gorge

And here he is not eating a silkworm

It sounds as if he is still settleing in. Don't handle him unless you need to. There shouldn't be any need to handle him to coax him to the food. If anything this is stressing him out.
I certainly considered that, but like I said he always comes to me, I just hold my hand out and he crawls on, and usually shows some of his best colors upon doing so.

There shouldn't be any need to handle him to coax him to the food.

You misunderstood, I don't handle him to coax him to the food, I use the food to coax him on to my hand. And by that I mean I hold out my hand with a cup of food on the other side as some incentive. But as I said I usually don't even need to do this. And when he's not feelin it and doesn't want to crawl on, then that's that. I'm definitely not saying you're wrong, it just seemed unlikely to me that he would choose to do something that he didn't like. Here is a link to his thread, if you want more context.

I do appreciate your input. Let me know if you still feel that way after reading that thread. :)
The puffing, gaping and thrashing sounds like he is getting ready to shed. They will open their mouth and snap at the air and also move their head and body from side to side when they are going to shed. You might not see white or flaky skin yet but sometimes they will do it prior to the actual shed. On the Zilla light....if you are using the fixture that came with the tube light, you know to remove the plastic shield over the light right?
Ohhhhhhh my.

I am an idiot. I knew that plastic filtered UVB but I don't recall anything on the packaging (and I feel like I would have) saying anything about taking it off, so I thought it was special plastic. Well then. I would imagine I will be seeing a pretty big difference now that that's been taken care of and he's actually getting UVB. This is why I love this site, thank you so much carol, if you hadn't pointed out that stupid, stupid mistake I probably wouldn't have known till he got full blown MDB.

As far as the shedding thing goes, about how long does it take for the actual shed to start?
Ok I feel slightly vindicated. Just to reassure myself that I still had SOME grip on reality, I dug up the slimline instructions and sure enough, it explicitly says to put the plastic back on after you change the bulb. So either it is special plastic (either way its staying off), or its just another example of the wild incompetence that seems to be running depressingly rampent in the pet industry (such as "gutload" with no nutritional value). So at least I'm not a TOTAL idiot.

Any more thoughts on the rest of it?

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