Sick Baby Chameleon Needs Help!

Name: Pierre
Species: Veiled Chameleon
Sex: Male
Age: about 4.5 months, we’ve had him since he was about 1.5 months old

Handling: once a week at the most before he started having issues, now it’s a couple of times a day

Feeding: Pierre eats gut loaded crickets, sometimes he eats small mealworms. He has a constant supply of small crickets, we buy them gut-loaded, keep them in container with veggies, usually some potato.

Supplements: We recently got Tetrafauna ReptoCal which we’ve started using once a week on a few crickets, unfortunately if he doesn’t eat them right away they die from the dusting. It seems the best way to make sure he eats the calcium dusted ones is to feed him from our hands.
We also have Zilla humidifying spray that we spray him with once a day and also mist the terrarium.

Watering: We mist down the terrarium 3 or so times a day for a minute each, depending on if we’ve seen him drink yet or not.

Fecal Description: He has never been tested for parasites. His feces looks like a brown solid and white liquid.

History: My boyfriends brother bought Pierre randomly one night mid-September with really no intention of being a responsible owner. We’ve adopted him and have been doing the best we can, constantly researching how to care for him. He is our first chameleon, we also own a Ball Python, Red-tailed boa constrictor and Leopard Gecko. We moved into our new, smoke-free apartment Nov. 21st.

Cage Type: Zoo Med ReptiBreeze, all screen, 18" x 18" x 36".

Lighting: Zilla Slimline Desert 50 UVB T8 Fluorescent Fixture, 15watt. Daytime heat lamp is a Zoo Med 150watt Basking Spot Lamp. Night heat lamp is a Zilla 75watt Incandescent Night Black Heat Spot light. The UVB and daytime bulb go on at 8:30am and off at 8:30pm.

Temperature: Day- temp range (top to bottom) 90F, 85F, and 80F
Night- temp range (top to bottom) 85F, 78F, and 75F.
We have 3 temperature gauges, top, middle and bottom.

Humidity: 55% in between mistings, spikes up to 65%-75% during mistings (3+ times a day). We have a humidity gauge at the center of the terrarium.

Plants: We have 2 fake plants, a big log and 5 vines.

Placement: The cage is in our living room, there are no fans or vents nearby. As far as high traffic, it’s only my boyfriend, dog, and I. There’s never much activity going on. The top of the cage is 5ft off the floor.

Location: We are located in Vermont.

Current Problem: Up until about a week ago, Pierre seemed absolutely fine, he was hunting/eating crickets all on his own, climbing all over the place. Now, Pierre is lethargic, very clumsy, falls a lot, unable to climb/grip, very weak, tries to eat small crickets but can’t hold them in his mouth, they push their way out, sleeps during the day, puts his left hand on his eye/nostril a lot. He also hasn’t grown at all since we adopted him. We think the issue may be a lack of calcium; we just started really pushing the reptiCal yesterday. I coat a cricket it in and then hand feed it to him so it doesn’t get away and die from the calcium. Any suggestions on how to nurse him back to health would be greatly appreciated. Also any suggested schedule on using the calcium, including how many calcium coated crickets per week he should be getting. Any tips you can give us would be great, we’re constantly learning new things Pierre needs, he’s far more complicated than a snake.


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He seems to have a slight bow/curve to his upper arm so it could be MBD.
You said you recently got Tetrafauna you weren't using anything before that??

If your chameleon has MBD then you need to bring the nutrients back in line and then make the husbandry changes needed to keep them there. The quickest way to get things back in line is to take it to a vet. The vet can give it calcium injections until the blood calcium levels are high enough to give it a shot of calcitonin which rapidly draws the calcium back into the bones.

Here's some information that should help with your husbandry and supplementation........
Exposure to proper UVB, appropriate temperatures, supplements, a supply of well-fed/gutloaded insects, water and an appropriate cage set-up are all important for the well-being of your chameleon.

Appropriate cage temperatures aid in digestion and thus play a part indirectly in nutrient absorption.

Exposure to UVB from either direct sunlight or a proper UVB light allows the chameleon to produce D3 so that it can use the calcium in its system to make/keep the bones strong and be used in other systems in the chameleon as well. The UVB should not pass through glass or plastic no matter whether its from the sun or the UVB light. The most often recommended UVB light is the long linear fluorescent Repti-sun 5.0 tube light. Some of the compacts, spirals and tube lights have caused health issues, but so far there have been no bad reports against this one.

Since many of the feeder insects have a poor ratio of calcium to phosphorus in them, its important to dust the insects before you feed them to the chameleon with a phos.-free calcium powder to help make up for it. (I use Rep-cal phosphorus-free calcium).

If you dust twice a month with a phos.-free calcium/D3 powder it will ensure that your chameleon gets some D3 without overdoing it. It leaves the chameleon to produce the rest of what it needs through its exposure to the UVB light. (Some UVB lights have been known to cause health issues, so the most often recommended one is the long linear fluorescent Repti-sun 5.0 tube light.) D3 from supplements can build up in the system but D3 produced from exposure to UVB shouldn't as long as the chameleon can move in and out of it. (I use Rep-cal phos.-free calcium/D3).

Dusting twice a month with a vitamin powder that contains a beta carotene (prOformed) source of vitamin A will ensure that the chameleon gets some vitamins without the danger of overdosing the vitamin A. PrEformed sources of vitamin A can build up in the system and may prevent the D3 from doing its job and push the chameleon towards MBD. However, there is controversy as to whether all/any chameleons can convert the beta carotene and so some people give some prEformed vitamin A once in a while. (I use herptivite.)

Gutloading/feeding the insects well helps to provide what the chameleon needs. I gutload crickets, roaches, locusts, superworms, etc. with an assortment of greens (dandelions, kale, collards, endive, escarole, mustard greens, etc.) and veggies (carrots, squash, sweet potato, sweet red pepper, zucchini, etc.)

Calcium, phos., D3 and vitamin A are important players in bone health and other systems in the chameleon (muscles, etc.) and they need to be in balance. When trying to balance them, you need to look at the supplements, what you feed the insects and what you feed the chameleon.

Here are some good sites for you and your parents to read...
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I see that you have analog thermometers, which are really useless in determining basking spot temps. The bulbs you are using is way too strong. Put a 60 watt bulb in the clamp lamp and get a digital thermometer with a probe to ensure a basking spot of no higher than 85 degrees. You also should not have night light, and you should not need night heat unless your temps are dropping below 60 degrees.
Also I would like to add that you change out that Zilla Desert Bulb. If I can find the thread for you there was a big problem before with these bulbs putting out way too much uvb. Get yourself a ZooMed Reptisun 5.0 tube for that linear fixture.
And those slim line fixtures often came with a plastic cover over the bulb that needs to be removed.
You will need to constantly keep your crickets gut-loaded. They just had a recent post about some homemade DIY gutloads. Adding fresh carrots, apples, kale, collard greens. etc.

It looks like the onset of MBD or metabolic bone decease. Likely because he didn't have the correct supplements. You need something like repcal, one with vitamin d3 and one without. You can find a feeding schedule on a breeder's website like bluebeast reptiles.
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