Sick Cham, New Owner, No Vet Help forth coming

Thothgirl

New Member
Chameleon Info:


  • Your Chameleon – Veiled, Female, Age is at least 4 months, and had for a week or so at home, in the store for 3 months.
  • Handling – Once every other day when at store, now twice to three times a day for reasons that will be explained
  • Feeding – Crickets, Mealworms, Waxworms, tried kale. She isn’t eating now at all. gut loading crickets with flukers but planning on finding better alternative once she starts eating.
  • Supplements – 1 time calcium with d3, now just straight Calcium, once mixed in Repitle vitamin into her calcium/bug slurry
  • Watering – three times a day I heavily mist the plants in her cage, have a drip set up onto umbrella tree for her to drink from and I have yet to see her drink
  • Fecal Description – Haven’t found any since brought home
  • History – was at Petco up until a week ago, was feed 10-15 crickets a day and access to meal worms and water constantly. Fecal description was perfectly normal. Note: brought home 4/19

  • Cage Info:
    Cage Type
    – Mesh 15x15 bottom and 2.5 feet tall
  • Lighting – ZooMed, came with kit, Currently taking out into sun 20 mins a day. She has 12 hrs of light from the ZooMed plus is in the room that gets the most direct sunlight.
  • Temperature – 80 to 75 from top to bottom have a therm in middle and one that I use to measure top and bottom temp
  • Humidity – 40-70 depending on time of day. Mist three times a day and honestly live in swamp so allot of humidity about
  • Plants – an Umbrella Tree, Spider Plant, English Ivy
  • Placement – In Kitchen with little traffic during day and can get sunshine, is on table next to window.
  • Location – New Orleans

Current Problem – So here is the thing, I work at a Petco (In inventory and customer service so very little contact with the animals. my specialities are Bettas, Ferrets, Small Parrots and now Axolotls) and had an eye on this Chameleon hoping she would get a good home as I have found I adore Chameleons. Then the whole lock down thing happened. I was worried about the size of habitat she was in and waivered for about two weeks on getting her. I finally had the money to “Rescue” her from my work and on the day I did she had fallen off of a vine and broke my heart with Her sad Help Me face. So…. Bought a chameleon kit, some house plants, wax worms, Mealworms, just about anything that she could need and set her up in her new home. She is named Ptah Willis because Chameleons do not need to conform to our silly gender notions. ?

And it was readily apparent she wasn’t eating. Okay, stress from moving. Then she started falling off of her vines and Dowels I had strung up for her. So I set about finding the type of fake vine she had in her habitat at work thinking that maybe there is something wrong with what I had, the dowels being to smooth or something. No. She is still falling off and spending all of her time at the bottom of her cage being miserable. Research leads me to think it is calcium deficiency, SO 20 mins outside a day and because still not eating, force feeding calcium (no D3) and smooshed worms. First time managed to get 3 ML into her and second time 5ML. This morning we watched her attempting to eat a mealworm and she couldn’t.

While in my care at home she has eaten two crickets.

Yesterday I talked to our Pet Care Specialist. She was surprised at the idea of Calcium Deficiency but then went wide eyed and mentioned we had 3 bearded dragons die from Adenovirus and maybe it transferred to Ptah Willis. I can’t take her to the Vet because of lockdown and we only have one exotic vet in the city that sees reptiles who is booked for months. ☹ I asked my coworker about bring her back in and having them take her to the vet but my coworker said there was no point. Either the Calcium would fix it or she wouldn’t make it.

Right now the plan is continue force feeding Calcium and bug juice/maybe baby food until can eat on her own, and taking her outside for 20 mins of sunlight a day (Why I am over holding her; that and the catching her when she falls). We have also changed out the bottom of her cage to towels so if she does fall it hurts less.

4/27: while I was waiting to get approved to post I moved her lights closer to her so they are about half way down the cage. She got 4 ML in her this morning and almost all of it went in. I forgot to mention she is flailing at things, has trouble standing and keeping balance. I have watcher her try to grab for a branch and fail her arm around not getting anywhere near it. After today’s feeding she couldn’t get her tongue back in her mouth and right now she still has her mouth open a little bit. Her colouring is pale. I am going to get chicken and veggy babyfood and pedalite tonight on my way home from work. I still have calcium without d3 and if we run out of that before I can get more from work, we have cuttle bones for our cockatiel I can grind up.

I guess right now I am just hoping there is a CHANCE of her pulling thru though it is looking more and more dire. I called the small animal hospital in town and they only deal with fuzzies and occasionally feathered animals.

ANY advice is welcome!!! This is my first chameleon though I have had Snakes in the past and currently have a happy and thriving Axolotl (Named Lizard Man).

can't seem to attach images, will respond with them when I can.
 

Gingero

Chameleon Enthusiast
Have you figured out how to post pictures yet? How’s she doing? Sounds like a severe case of MBD with her constantly falling.
 
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Redman

Avid Member
As regards your hydration strategy, I have to ask how long you mist each time? I find that most of my chams don't even start to drink unless the mist lasts well over a minute, some of them take much longer to start.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
I agree with @Gingero. All of the symptoms you are describing can be attributed with advanced mbd. She really does need veterinary care, but I understand that is not possible currently. Perhaps @kinyonga may have some ideas how to help her until you can get to a vet. Are you able to travel any distance for a vet? According to my quick search, there are only 4 reptile vets within 250 miles of New Orleans. Attaching what I found. @Brodybreaux25 not sure where in LA you live, but maybe you can offer vet/other suggestions.
While you need to make some big changes in your husbandry, let’s first try to help you get your cham thru this.
6E54B96F-797C-4080-85DF-3053D8BF08D2.jpeg
 

Thothgirl

New Member
Never did manage to get pics downloaded to something I could load them from, but I do have an update.

managed to get my manager to push thru the appointment for Ptah thru Petco. And took her in two days ago.

yesterday they got back to me and told me was sever MBD with a broken jaw. They euthanized her yesterday.

I am completely broken up about this but will respond to all your questions just in case it might help someone.
 

Thothgirl

New Member
As regards your hydration strategy, I have to ask how long you mist each time? I find that most of my chams don't even start to drink unless the mist lasts well over a minute, some of them take much longer to start.

I was misting for about 30 seconds but had the drip water set up on to the umbrella plant and from there on to the ivy.
 

Thothgirl

New Member
I agree with @Gingero. All of the symptoms you are describing can be attributed with advanced mbd. She really does need veterinary care, but I understand that is not possible currently. Perhaps @kinyonga may have some ideas how to help her until you can get to a vet. Are you able to travel any distance for a vet? According to my quick search, there are only 4 reptile vets within 250 miles of New Orleans. Attaching what I found. @Brodybreaux25 not sure where in LA you live, but maybe you can offer vet/other suggestions.
While you need to make some big changes in your husbandry, let’s first try to help you get your cham thru this. View attachment 265363
Dr. Rich was the Vet used and the one I had tried to set up an appointment with on my own. I have seen him for Ferrets, a cockatiel and once a chicken. He is a good vet but really busy.

thank you for the list though! The next closest would have been in Gulfport which is about an hour and a half away. Alexandria is more like 2.5. I also don’t have a car but would have bribed a friend to take me if my manager Hadn’t done some strong arming.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
I’m so sorry that you lost her. :( I didn’t realize that your post was from earlier in the week.
If you are wanting to try again with a chameleon, do come to the forum first and we’ll help you get everything set up properly in advance. I also would suggest getting a chameleon from a reputable breeder, such as one of the forum sponsors.
Unfortunately, your story illustrates the problems with getting a reptile from Petco and other big box pet stores. I realize you work for Petco and mean no disrespect to you. Ptah most likely came from a reptile breeding mill, where profit is more important than breeding healthy animals. She was kept for several months with improper food, water, lighting and supplements. She was handled by many people who probably had no clue how to do so. Then you bought her and were given what appears to be poor husbandry advice along with your very sick Ptah. Unfortunately, the cards are stacked against these poor animals sold by big box pet stores. Ptah suffered and paid the ultimate price and now you are heartbroken. Stories like this used to happen with dogs and cats and is why these stores are no longer allowed to sell them.
Sorry for rambling on and again, I’m sorry for your loss. Wishing you peace.
 

Thothgirl

New Member
Thank you for your kindness. I am planning on doing a lot more learning/lurking on the forum reading books before I get another chameleon.

I completely understand the problems with box store animals. one of the reasons I started working there was to campaign for better treatment of Bettas and Ferrets under their care. Is also why I tend to be put in customer relations or inventory. I care too much and pitch too many fits about animal care. Ptah was a rescue to me and while I couldn’t save her, at least she had care.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thank you for your kindness. I am planning on doing a lot more learning/lurking on the forum reading books before I get another chameleon.

I completely understand the problems with box store animals. one of the reasons I started working there was to campaign for better treatment of Bettas and Ferrets under their care. Is also why I tend to be put in customer relations or inventory. I care too much and pitch too many fits about animal care. Ptah was a rescue to me and while I couldn’t save her, at least she had care.
Another wonderful resource is chamleonacademy.com. It goes over not just what to do but why to do it.
Yes, I once tried politely arguing with a Petco store manager about the care of the chameleons and was told that they have to follow the care guidelines set down by corporate. The next day I had to go to same store and noticed that the employees just didn’t show reasonable care. I was in a vulnerable emotion at that time and is how I ended up with one of my chameleons.
 

Redman

Avid Member
Very sorry that you lost your girl, but the pics surely tell the story of MBD. I know it sucks to lose one, but at least you know that one week in your care wasn't the cause.

I hope you have a better experience next time.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
It was good that she had you to try to help her. You did the best you could with her. She had too many things going against her though.
(Looks like she was also gravid which explains a lot too.)
 
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