Strange Behavior


New Member
Today I noticed my cham exhibiting some strange behavior. He was sitting on one of his branches and he had puffed himself all out and had his chin pushed way out and was rocking back and forth. Then he would do something like a shiver. He then opened his mouth in a yawn and then just kind of walked away. His temps are fine (mid 80's ambient to mid 90's basking), so I'm not sure what the whole shivering thing was. Any ideas would be great.
Was this in response to you? Did he do this while under the basking area? It is possible he was acting naturally when threatened (by you), or that he is regulating his body temps. There is also the possibility of something else. If he begins to extend his head upwards and yawn a lot, there could be some respiratory problem. As the problem progresses you may begin to hear popping sounds.
I did move him about a half hour prior to his display. I suppose he could still have been a little angry with me. I havent really noticed him ever doing this before. As far as the yawning goes, he might do it maybe once or twice a day, but I wouldn't say anything out of the ordinary. I'll keep a close eye on him though just to make sure. What are some common causes of respritory problems?
Hi Zero,

My cham was doing the yawning and sneezing bit for a while too. I even took him to the vet, who said that he was fine. The sneezing made me very very nervous! I took apart his cage for cleaning, and the wood floor had mildewed under the formica I had covering it. I removed the floor completely and replaced it with screen. I haven't had the problem since then.

Thanks Heika. I did notice yesterday there was a little water dripping from the side of the cage(its a little slanted). So there was probably a little too much in the bottom of the cage. Maybe he didn't like the change in humidity. It was a bit high but has since returned to his normal.
Yesterday afternoon I noticed him basking and every once in a while he would tilt his head straight up and open his mouth for a few minutes. Its starting to sound more and more like a URI to me. I'm starting to think it might not be a bad idea to take him to the vet. I guess I'll watch him for today and see if he continues any of this behavior.
Now today he acts like he's never been happier. Does their appetite decrease at all when they get a URI?
Although Spencer never gaped, he acted similar to what you are describing. Perhaps it was the beginnings of a URI that he overcame, who knows? It would make me extremely nervous to see my cham gaping, and it sounds like you are. Personally, I would run him to the vet just to make sure everything is fine. If it is a URI, the sooner antibiotics are started the better chance he has of successfully fighting off the infection.

Thanks for the reply. I was beginning to think everyone had disappeared ;) . Yeah I think if Wolfgang can hold out through tomorrow I should be able to get him in to one of the vets around town at least on Tuesday. Maybe someone will be open tomorrow? I'll have to check. Thanks for the advice.
Gaping while basking can be a normal thing. Chameleons will do this to help regulate their temperature. This kind of behavior is different than what you would see with URI.

Common behavior of a chameleon with URI would be to extend their neck\head upwards and continue to do a swallowing motion. You will also sometimes hear a popping or similar sound while they are doing this. They could of course have URI and not show these symptoms.

Some people that are able to catch early signs of URI will slightly raise their temps for a short period of time. This may help with some chameleons, but if you are hearing popping noises or your cham's behavior is obviously abnormal I would take it to an experienced vet asap.
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I agree with everything Brad has said. I have treated two different species of chameleon with URI, it can be done, you just need to get them to see a vet first. My two were treated with Baytril (given orally) and I kept them in the hottest end of the temperature range for their species.
Excellent. I actually did raise the temps in the cage to make the ambient around 88 degrees andbasking up near 100. I suppose I'll give him a few more days and see if he stops. Thanks all.
Brad said:
Gaping while basking can be a normal thing. Chameleons will do this to help regulate their temperature. This kind of behavior is different than what you would see with URI.

Oh, that is good to know. I have never seen my cham gape, and didn't think chameleons did it.

My cham does this type of thing all the time. He ll puff up turn his head from side to side, open up his mouth(gap) and then his whole body will shake, like a big shiver. I really think this is nothing but him stretching out.

Ive also heard him "sneeze" a lot. He will shoot out air from his nostrils when I turn out his lights for him to go to sleep or when I take him out of his enclosure to let him roam around in his hibiscus trees.

I really dont associate this with any problem whatsoever...
Wow....I feel like a hundred times better about this whole thing. I guess reading for a few months about chameleons is no substitute to hands on experience. This has been quite a learning expereince, and its been only a little over 2 weeks! Thanks everyone for your help.
Hi all

Regarding this shiver thing most of my chams do this(past & present),it looks strange to watch but i think its normal

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