Sick adult male veiled - need help!

MomofZulu

New Member
Hi ~ My adult male veiled chameleon, Zulu, has been sick for almost two weeks. His original symptoms were staring at this worms but not eating, dehydration and yellow crud in his mouth. He can barely open his mouth.

We have been flushing his mouth. Originally, lots of stuff came out. Now - nothing. He's on Baytril, which may have taken care of that, but otherwise, he's not doing better.

His current symptoms: not eating on his own (I've been feeding him A/D through a syringe and yesterday I was able to hand-feed him three small meal worms), depression, lethargy, swollen eyes, foggy eyes, sometimes receding eyes, and sleeping a lot. He also has those two bumps between his eyes on his forehead -- I've seen mention of this in various forums, but no one has said what this indicates.

I've been taking him in the shower and allowing him to have the humidity of the warm water without soaking him. I'm also giving him water orally. Today he just held that little meal worm in his mouth but wouldn't eat it. OMG. I was so sad for him. He locks his jaw and there's no getting in there.

I don't know his age, but I do know Zulu is older.

Any help you can offer at this point would be very appreciated. He's been a real trooper, allowing me and the vet to handle him a lot. I know it would be much better if he would hiss -- occasionally he does! But just a little. The poor guy is just worn out.

Thanks for any advice. I need it quickly, before it's too late! Please feel free to e-mail me directly at eritsch (at) yahoo (dot) com.

MomofZulu
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
Can you post some pictures of him please?

It could be just that he has mouth rot but it sounds more serious than this. Where any areas of his mouth cleaned out properly by a vet? Was a culture and sensitivity test done? What about the bumps on his forehead....where they cleaned out? Tested?

Can you also fill out the questionaire at the top of the health section (How to ask for help).
 

MomofZulu

New Member
Chameleon Info:
Your Chameleon - Zulu, adult male veiled chameleon. At least 4 years old. I've had him 2-1/2 years.
Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon? When healthy, only occasionally. Now that he's sick: often. Every day at least one.
Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? Mostly mealworms and crickets. Occasionally he eats the long red worms. What amount? 7 to 8 giant meal worms every other day or so. I offer 12 small Crickets 2 X week. What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders? Not gut-loading. I buy straight from Petco and drop in the cage.
Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule? Used to dust, but Zulu wouldn't eat the crickets. He likes the meal worms better, so I spray them with Zilla Food Spray Calcium Supplement.
Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? Spray one to two times a day. How often and how long to you mist? 5 to 10 minutes - until plants are soaked. Do you see your chameleon drinking? Not usually.
Fecal Description - Usually brown tootsie rolls. He had light brown diarrhea today.
Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites? I don't know. The vet has done tests recently. Waiting for results.
History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you. Not generally active. Hisses when annoyed. Usually gets over it and is then easy to handle. He's a great guy!

Cage Info:
Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions? Screen. 36 X 48 I believe.
Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using?
Night light (red) -
Day lighting - EXO-Terra Terrarium 25 for reptiles UV bulb
and Zilla Incandescent Day White Light Spot 100 Watt
What is your daily lighting schedule? 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. DAY/7 p.m. to 7 a.m. NIGHT
Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?
Not sure. The temp cage doesn't work well. It's a big cage. He can get within a few inches of the bulbs and can move away as need be.
Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?
Spray inside cage - recently I've started to take him in the shower for the steam
Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind? Yes - I don't remember the names - I have checked to make sure they are on the safe list.
Placement - Where is your cage located? Is it near any fans, air vents, or high traffic areas? Quiet place in kitchen. At what height is the top of the cage relative to your room floor? 4 feet.
Location - Where are you geographically located? North Texas

Current Problem - The current problem you are concerned about. See other post.
 

MomofZulu

New Member
Zulu's head

photo-99.jpg

Please see the two bumps on Zulu's head. You can see the slits where the vet went in to clean them out. When she first took a sample, there was ooey gooey puss in there. That's when she decided to cleam them out, but there wasn't much in there, she said.
 

Julirs

New Member
From first glance, not knowing your temps, not gutloading, and your lack of properly supplementing are concerning. All of this could have contributed to a slow demise that has just now seriously surfaced and compromised his health. Yellow crud could be respiratory infection, or mouth rot. Your vet should have been able to determine, but Baytril sounds like what would commonly be prescribed. Baytril can be hard on kidneys, so water is far more important than food, and since he does not look thin to me I would not stress him by getting him to eat. It will be interesting to see what the fecal says. Did you get blood work? It is also a possibility that he is older than you realize, and he is just aging out. Either way, if he survives, you have some serious husbandry changes to make.
 

MomofZulu

New Member
Julirs. Obviously, I have done everything I know to do for this guy. If crickets were his primary nourishment, I would think gutloading would be more an issue, but he has shown little interest in them. I cannot force him to eat them, I can only offer. Also, are not crickets gutloaded prior to being sold in the stores?

I have done everything as much by the books as I know to do, have consulted with people who have reptiles to find how best how to care for him and have followed their advice. Now YOU tell me I have some serious husbandry changes to make, and I resent the implication that I haven't done this correctly. I have done everything I know to do.

How can you regulate the temperature in a well-ventilated cage? Obviously, air passes through, and so I have made sure to have the proper lighting and heat, he has room to move close or far away, and other than that, I don't know how I could do better.

I'm asking for help. I resent that you, who doesn't know me, feels free to judge me and my actions. I am not a reptile expert. I have done the best I can and resent your accusing me of doing otherwise.

I could say more, but you have really upset me. I am hurting. Now's not the time to kick me and my chameleon, when we're both VERY DOWN.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
I'm glad to see that the vet cleaned out the two bumps on the chameleon's head! Do you know if s/he did a culture and sensitivity test on the stuff that came out of them to see what antibiotic worked on the bacteria?

You said his symptoms included not eating, depression, lethargy, swollen eyes, foggy eyes, sometimes receding eyes, and sleeping a lot...some lights cause eye issues...but its more often the compacts.

Do you have the cage in front of a window?? How cold is it at night there?

If his mouth is sore, that could be part of the reason he's not eating. Being that its a veiled, you could give it some veggie baby food with a syringe for a while. You can ease a little of it between his lips without having to open his mouth to see how he responds to it.
 

Elizadolots

New Member
Mom, I don't think Julirs was trying to kick you when you were down or offend you. As she notes, it's entirely possible that Zulu is older than you think in which case, this is just a natural progression. However, if a vet can help and he pulls through, there are things you can do to help him in the future.

Crickets are not properly gutloaded when they are sold. Even if they were, they only maintain that gutload for a short time, so unless you buy crickets daily, you need to provide food for them that makes them good nutrition for your chameleon.

If your chameleon declines crickets, it's probably a sign that he's full and only indulging in treats. Once he's healthy again, give him a couple of days with no food, then try crickets again.

Mealworms are generally not recommended as a staple because their outer body is much harder than many insects and can cause constipation. Normally they would be considered "treats".

Knowing the temps in your cage is easily accomplished by investing in a good digital thermometer. You want the temp at the basking spot and the bottom of the cage. While it's true the animals can move around to stay comfortable, they (like humans) can over indulge in "sun bathing" if it's nice and warm...and, like humans, it won't always be good for them.

I hope Zulu pulls through. I'm dealing with an aging chameleon nearing the end myself and I know how sad that is. I hope you aren't facing that.
 

MomofZulu

New Member
Yes, his mouth is very sore, I'm sure. It's pretty nasty in there, and as I think I mentioned before, he won't open his jaw. In fact, twice the vet has tried to anesthetize him, first with the gas and then an injectible, and he just wouldn't be knocked out enough to pry open his jaw wide. He got groggy, but when she tried to open his mouth, he resisted, even in his sleepy state. She cleaned out his mouth the best she could. Also, he has a hard, gold tartar-like substance along his gum line. It's HARD. He's had this since day one, and it hasn't changed.

His eyes are all pussy. I have been able to wipe the puss, and some oozed out from over his eyes (near the bumps). Honest to God, I could just gently push on this area, and quite a bit of yellow puss came out. I got out as much as I could.

He's been on Baytril for a week and a half. She's injecting fluids subcutaneously. The vet cultured the puss out of those bumps when she cleaned them out, and the test results are supposed to come back later today and tomorrow. Hopefully we'll know better.

To his credit, he is a strong little guy. I'm not ready to give up on him. It may well be the aging process at work, as he is older, but he's not showing signs of giving up, so I'm not either.

Yes, he's near a window. I can move him. Generally in North Texas, cold isn't an issue, but I will err on the conservative side and bring him closer in.

I will find out from Petco if they gutload. For a while, I'd buy crickets in the cricket container and I'd feed them the jello-like cricket food with water, but then I discovered it was just as easy for me to stop by Petco on my way home from work twice a week and give him the crickets straight from the store. I will find out if their crickets are gutloaded, to be sure.

I discovered he didn't like the dusted crickets, and that's when I switched to spraying the worms with the calcium spray. He ate those fine, so I'd get him crickets once or twice a week and worms every other day.

Again, I'm not sure how I would alter the cage temperature. He's got the appropriate lights. I can keep him away from the window. I'm confused as to what to do. It's generally 69 to 72 in my house, so I know it doesn't get colder. If the light is too hot for him, wouldn't he move? If not, what do I do?

Until today, his color has been pretty good. The photos aren't great -- the cage is a black nylon mesh, so that's why it looks so dark.

Thank you for your help. I feel terrible. I thought I had been doing right by him all along. It's very disturbing to find out I have not.

Zulu's Mom
 

Julirs

New Member
Julirs. Obviously, I have done everything I know to do for this guy. If crickets were his primary nourishment, I would think gutloading would be more an issue, but he has shown little interest in them. I cannot force him to eat them, I can only offer. Also, are not crickets gutloaded prior to being sold in the stores?

I have done everything as much by the books as I know to do, have consulted with people who have reptiles to find how best how to care for him and have followed their advice. Now YOU tell me I have some serious husbandry changes to make, and I resent the implication that I haven't done this correctly. I have done everything I know to do.

How can you regulate the temperature in a well-ventilated cage? Obviously, air passes through, and so I have made sure to have the proper lighting and heat, he has room to move close or far away, and other than that, I don't know how I could do better.

I'm asking for help. I resent that you, who doesn't know me, feels free to judge me and my actions. I am not a reptile expert. I have done the best I can and resent your accusing me of doing otherwise.

I could say more, but you have really upset me. I am hurting. Now's not the time to kick me and my chameleon, when we're both VERY DOWN.
It is never my intention to upset or offend anyone. You came to a forum to ask questions and get help for your chameleon, and I offered you sound advice from experience. Trust me, there was a time that I did not know what I now know, and it is thanks to people on this forum that I am able to help. All feeders must be properly gutloaded, and supplementing too much or too little can cause major damage. Knowing your temperatures is essential to keeping cold blooded animals, and a digital thermometer or temp gun is an essential piece of equipment. It sounds like your vet has reptile experience, so you did the best thing you could do by getting him medical assistance.

These are tricky animals, and it is hard to watch so many die due to improper care, intended or not. I am only trying to help, and am not trying to hurt you.
 

Julirs

New Member
Still trying to help, but it looks like the plant you have in there is toxic:

General
Schefflera actinophylla is a commonly found plant that is often confused with Schefflera arboricola. It is not unusual to find the two plants sharing the same common name. Unfortunately, Schefflera actinophylla is too toxic for use with captive chameleons. This is a good example of why it helps to know the full scientific name of the plants you are looking for.


Toxicity and Irritants
notes: minor toxicity when eaten, dermatitis, calcium oxalate crystals
 

Elizadolots

New Member
The Petco's I shop at here do a good job of feeding their crickets. They use a professional cricket feed. People here will tell you that it's better to use other things--and it probably is--but in the grand spectrum of "gutload" it's a lot better than what many stores use (I know one who feeds them cardboard). Do verify that though because I know there are a lot of differences. If they are feeding the crickets a good diet, then I'd just advise you to ask for freshly bagged crickets. Sometimes the ones in the bags have been there for hours.

Unless I missed it, you didn't tell us what type of lights you use. You mention using a red night light. I'd suggest getting rid of that. They like it to be dark and cool at night. Unless your house gets really cold (you can't walk around comfortably) it will be fine.

It looks to me like you have a coiled fluorescent and some other type of light which I take it is for heat. If you need to cool the basking spot down, just raise that light up a couple of inches.

Until you can get a thermometer, stick your hand in there and leave it for a minute. If it's at all uncomfortable, that's too hot.

While it would be lovely if they would just move out of the heat, they won't. I made the analogy to a human sun burn for a reason. It can feel just wonderful to lie out in the hot sun. Of course, later in the evening you might discover you've done pretty severe damage to your skin.

It looks like Julirs has found some really important information. Hopefully switching out the plant will help.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
You said..."twice the vet has tried to anesthetize him, first with the gas and then an injectible, and he just wouldn't be knocked out enough to pry open his jaw wide. He got groggy, but when she tried to open his mouth, he resisted, even in his sleepy state"...my vet puts the chameleon in a large jar and attaches the hose for the anesthesia to the top...when the chameleon falls over asleep its removed and the mask is put over its nose. Chameleons don't always breath enough when the mask is over the nose. This information might be helpful to your vet.

You said..."She cleaned out his mouth the best she could. Also, he has a hard, gold tartar-like substance along his gum line. It's HARD. He's had this since day one, and it hasn't changed.

His eyes are all pussy. I have been able to wipe the puss, and some oozed out from over his eyes (near the bumps). Honest to God, I could just gently push on this area, and quite a bit of yellow puss came out. I got out as much as I could."...I have never heard of a chameleon having anything this bad. I will be interested in hearing what the bacteria are that are involved.

Glad you aren't giving up on him as long as he has the will to carry on.

You said..."he's near a window. I can move him. Generally in North Texas, cold isn't an issue, but I will err on the conservative side and bring him closer in"..even though you might not think so, being near a window can be chilling and it can leave the chameleon open to infections.

If you cover three sides of the cage with plastic it might help keep the heat in. You can also add another light to the top of the cage if its too cold.

You said..."I feel terrible. I thought I had been doing right by him all along. It's very disturbing to find out I have not"....it happens. All you can do is make sure things are right from now on!
 

MomofZulu

New Member
Thank you

I appreciate all of your advice. I moved the cage, took out the plant and I will pass on this information to my vet who is taking care of Zulu while I'm out of town all the rest of this week. I thought he was all but gone yesterday and was quite distraught, but putting him in the shower seemed to loosen up some of that crud. I know this is gross, but a lot of that crud was centered around Zulu's eyes and once we got rid of that, he seems much better. Also my vet hydrated and gave him another shot (sorry - I don't know what she injected him with), and by God, his color came right back! He looked beautiful tonight -- really! Maybe, hopefully, we're making progress. I will let you know more. Thank you so much.
 

Itwas

New Member
You still need to start gutloading your feeders and not relying on the petshop as they are hardly going to tell you they feed them crap, and really how hard is it to shove a few scraps of veg in with them?

You also need to get a thermometer and hygrometer to measure temps and humidity and start dusting again. Try using less dust if he doesnt like it as you say, but maybe the reason he wasnt eating them when dusted was due to his sore mouth.

Just because he is getting better doesnt mean this wont happen again and as you have said how low and sad you feel would you really want to go through this again?
 
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