Sudden deaths

JacksJill

Website Manager
Staff member
Speaking to the possibility of kidney failure, their kidneys sit partially in the pelvic canal. This makes them vulnerable to damage by anything lodged in the pelvis like overly large eggs or constipation, by crushing and circulation disruption. They would also be just as vulnerable to infection or certain toxicities as any mammalian kidney. Once the kidney is damaged it isn't going to be able to concentrate urine. In cats and dogs etc. the urine isn't yellow but clear. I would guess then that in chameleons they wouldn't be able to produce the yellow/orange portion of the urate if the kidneys weren't working. The urate might even be runny.

I lost one of my females suddenly and I suspect this was the cause. She passed a slug that was more than twice the size of the others. She ate and seemed normal for a couple days and then passed in a few hours I was away. I should have done a necropsy but I was too heart broken to cut her open. I'm tearing up just writing this. She could have had another slug stuck, torn her uterus or maybe damaged her kidneys. I might have been able to find the first two if I had looked. Kidney damage would require sectioning the kidney and a knowledge of chameleon physiology that I lack.

Keep in mind that chameleons will try, like birds, to hide their vulnerabilities if they can. Looking sick or injured will lose them their territory or potential mates. They tough it our as long as they can making thing hard for us to spot early. Increased thirst might be the only clue you get. Unfortunately it can mean your house is a bit drier or they slept outside of the fogging area or spent extra time under basking lights. Don't beat yourself up. The signs would be nearly invisible. You are a keen observer just to note the increased thirst.
 

Sonny13

Chameleon Enthusiast
@JacksJill thanks for your story, insight and time, it’s always extremely helpful.

I’m also really sorry that you lost your girl that way, this hurt even more, loosing them that quick and sudden.

I already suspected a kidney failure and you just underlined that even more, thanks for that.

The downside is we got a new symptom to keep our eyes for open, yet at the moment it starts to get noticeable it’s already too late. The process started and can’t be reversed I guess.
 

JacksJill

Website Manager
Staff member
The trouble with treating kidney disease is giving just the right amount of fluid support. Too little leads to dehydration, too much can overwhelm damaged kidneys and to put it simply, flood the body. Either extreme can lead to the same fate. In other pets ins and outs can be measured and monitored but without bigger bodies to take blood and urine samples its all going to be guess work. A dose of subcutaneous fluids might help early on or just make thins worse. Antibiotics if infection is suspected could help. That would be up to your vet based on blood work if it came back in time.
I don't know how much reptile kidneys can heal or just be supported. I don't know if that level of treatment has been considered in small reptiles. I don't have access to that level of information anymore.
 

edtheroach

New Member
I'm so sorry to hear of all these losses. I lost my first Chameleon l, Sylvanas on Wednesday. I am reeling from her death, questioning what I missed. I never saw her use her egg laying bin although she had gone to it a few times. Her belly seemed full at times but other times she made it look very flat. I had her for six months and bought her at 4 months (I believe), so she was just two months shy of a year. Prior to her death, her appetite decreased but she was still eating at least one insect a day, so I thought it was just part of her maturing. She remained as active as usual, no sunken eyes, white urates, everything looking normal. I came home to find her deceased, hanging by her tail from a branch with ants on her. Her tongue was out and bleeding. Her nose had dried blood and her eyes bled a little when I put her in a bag for preservation. I was a new reptile mom but I did a lot of research and did everything right to my knowledge. I don't understand what happened. I don't think she was gravid because I felt her stomach post mortem and didn't feel eggs. Please someone help me figure out what happened to my baby.
 

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Sonny13

Chameleon Enthusiast
I'm so sorry to hear of all these losses. I lost my first Chameleon l, Sylvanas on Wednesday. I am reeling from her death, questioning what I missed. I never saw her use her egg laying bin although she had gone to it a few times. Her belly seemed full at times but other times she made it look very flat. I had her for six months and bought her at 4 months (I believe), so she was just two months shy of a year. Prior to her death, her appetite decreased but she was still eating at least one insect a day, so I thought it was just part of her maturing. She remained as active as usual, no sunken eyes, white urates, everything looking normal. I came home to find her deceased, hanging by her tail from a branch with ants on her. Her tongue was out and bleeding. Her nose had dried blood and her eyes bled a little when I put her in a bag for preservation. I was a new reptile mom but I did a lot of research and did everything right to my knowledge. I don't understand what happened. I don't think she was gravid because I felt her stomach post mortem and didn't feel eggs. Please someone help me figure out what happened to my baby.
I‘m really, really sorry for your (sudden) lost 😢🙏🏻 and thank you for sharing your sad story. I’m absolutely no expert and gonna say things I think. Seeing your girl she definitely doesn’t look gravid, she has a too much arrow shape towards her hips and when she would be carrying eggs towards egg bound, she would be more plumb towards her hips. This is where the eggs should be, therefore IMHO you didn’t do anything wrong.

A strange thing is her lack of black coloring, my girl died pretty rapidly and yet she had lots black spots (death coloring I would say) and that’s what we see a lot with dead chameleons. Therefore, my gut feeling tells me it’s a sudden poisoning from the ants, especially with the blood from the eyes and nose (check I.e. symptoms from venomous snake bites). What kind of ants are we talking about? And how many, 1 or 2 or a dozen?

Again I’m just ventilating my first thoughts. I know @kinyonga @ferretinmyshoes are more knowledgeable with these things
 
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edtheroach

New Member
I‘m really, really sorry for your (sudden) lost 😢🙏🏻 and thank you for sharing your sad story. I’m absolutely no expert and gonna say things I think. Seeing your girl she definitely doesn’t look gravid, she has a too much arrow shape towards her hips and when she would be carrying eggs towards egg bound, she would be more plumb towards her hips. This is where the eggs should be, therefore IMHO you didn’t do anything wrong.

A strange thing is her lack of black coloring, my girl died pretty rapidly and yet she had lots black spots (death coloring I would say) and that’s what we see a lot with dead chameleons. Therefore, my gut feeling tells me it’s a sudden poisoning from the ants, especially with the blood from the eyes and nose (check I.e. symptoms from venomous snake bites). What kind of ants are we talking about? And how many, 1 or 2 or a dozen?

Again I’m just ventilating my first thoughts. I know @kinyonga @ferretinmyshoes are more knowledgeable with these things
Thank you. When I found her she probably had closer to one dozen ants on her. It seemed like the death was recent. I had recently deep cleaned her cage (didn't use any products except a chameleon cage cleaning bottle/brush and petroleum jelly on the outside of the cage to keep ants out. In the last couple of weeks since the deep clean, I hadn't seen more than one or two ants at a time, so I would be surprised if ants caused her death. I've heard of parasites being a big cause of death. Do they cause internal bleeding?
 

Sonny13

Chameleon Enthusiast
Parasites would had an effect on her days / weeks prior to this event. You should have noticed something like, losing weight while eating, odor in the fecals, more thirsty. I still put my bet on something toxic, venom or chemical. Ants mighty hunters and some do have venomous bites. My girl sometimes get terrorized by ants when she’s outside, they even crawl in/on her eyes.
 

PlanetRemulak

Avid Member
This is a really rough thread, but I’m so glad that this topic is being discussed. I lost my beautiful blue ambanja male, Bastion in July. I could still cry just typing that out. Talking about him and looking at pictures of him have been especially difficult.

Bastion was a special case; I got him knowing he had a tongue disability (it was explained to me that he was born with it). He couldn’t shoot it out more than a half inch or so, and his aim was terrible. He was always off by about 1/4th of an inch. Eating on his own was basically impossible, so he had to be exclusively hand fed. He was about 7-8 months old when I first got him, so I figured him eating only 9 or so feeders was pretty typical (I knew that it would soon be time to cut back anyway, given that he was approaching adulthood). Over the course of three weeks, I noticed him gradually accepting less feeders. Nine bugs turned into only five, five of them turned three, and eventually it got to the point that he would only take 2 feeders a day. Half of the time, I could only get him to take one. It wasn’t for lack of trying, either! I tried hanging up clear feeding cups that were tall and relatively wide to see if he’d try climbing in to “gum” the feeders off the bottom. That was a no-go. I tried hanging paper hot dog/french fry trays, and he wouldn’t even attempt to feed on his own. I tried every feeder I could think of - numerous species of roach, grasshoppers, silkworms, BSFL, pupated bottle flies, crickets. I gutloaded everything well, too. The only thing I could reliably get him to take at LEAST two of was superworms, but of course that was far from ideal.

Sometime in June, I noticed Bastion keeping his left eye shut. I knew for certain that it wasn’t due to an A deficiency as I was supplementing twice a month every month with Repashy LoD. Soon after that, he shut both eyes and began declining so fast, I didn’t expect him to make it through the night. I knew it wasn’t MBD - I had JUST put a brand new Arcadia 6% in his T5 fixture just before I got him. Distance from basking was the recommended 8-9 inches, and by that point the bulb was only 2 months old. Whatever was wrong with him didn’t track as a RI, either - no bubbles, no crackling sounds, mouth kept shut. My regular exotic vet wasn’t available and no one could get me in until the following day. I knew he wouldn’t last for much longer, so I made a snap decision and took him to see a retired vet tech friend (she also keeps/rescues chameleons). She got a weight on him, gave him a sub-q injection of Baytril and he began improving. Within two days, Bastion was back to normal, which was great news buuut.. I was left wondering what the hell all that was about. I had been providing the same level of care for him I had for Beau, the only difference being that Bastion had to be hand fed.

Got him into my regular vet soon after that experience. Vet said his lungs sounded clear and he didn’t think what happened could be chalked up to a RI. Suggested that eating is probably painful due to his tongue defect (Bastion would spend a very long time swallowing, despite being given appropriate sized feeders). Bloodwork showed that he had been fighting off an infection, and it also suggested an immunodeficiency. I was told that it was most likely congenital, and to keep his cage as clean as possible. My vet was so impressed with my husbandry, he was confident I’d be able to keep Bastion going despite the challenges (this same vet worked at a zoo AND had experience keeping/breeding panther chameleons, so I trusted his Judgement. Looking back, I wonder if I should have asked about quality of life versus quantity).

End of June/very early July.. I noticed what looked like a wart forming on Bastion’s left side. My immediate thoughts were “Sh*t, here we go again,” and “THAT looks like a papilloma.” The wart felt pretty flush with his skin, and he only had that one little blemish. BACK to the vet we went. My exotic vet wasn’t there during that particular appointment (he worked at that veterinary office one day a week, sometimes two. Every other day he was working at the zoo), but a tech did a skin scrape for us. The results came back negative for papilloma, which I remain dubious of to this day. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to discuss the results with my vet as he ended up having to move suddenly. The new exotic vet that took his place had zero experience with chameleons, so I began looking for someone else.

During this time, Bastion was taking maybe one feeder from me every other day. Sometimes I’d go for 2-3 days without feeding him just to get his appetite back up, but the MOST I could get him to take was two bugs. I knew something was up when I would offer him a superworm and he‘d turn his head away from it. He was going on 11 months and I *couldn’t* get him to put on weight, He also started going down to the bottom branch of the cage (where he slept every night) by 12 noon. He would just sit there. He’d keep his eyes open and would look around, but he wouldn’t move otherwise and I knew that wasn’t right. I also started noticing the wart changing in texture. It felt hard and raised when I would run my finger over it, sort of like a small cone.

Second to the last week of July, I woke up around 7 AM to check on both my boys. I found Bastion laying on his side at the bottom of his cage, still alive but barely. I rushed him to an emergency vet and made the decision to have him put down. It was one of the HARDEST things I have ever had to do. The entire experience absolutely gutted me. Sometimes, I wonder if I got too sure of myself after being told (by the vet) how well I was doing with Beau, and reality decided to bring me back down several notches. I wonder if it was a me problem and I just failed him. I mean, his breeder managed to keep him alive and fed for 8 months. Then he sent Bastion to me, and the little guy lived under my care for about 4 months before I had to euthanize him. I wonder a LOT of things. Mostly, I wonder if I was wrong to have Bastion put down.

One thing I can say I have definitely learned from all of this: Never again will I bring home another chameleon with a tongue disability or defect of the mouth. Their mouths and tongues are really all they have. If one or both those parts aren’t working properly, that’s a chameleon looking at a life fraught with complications. Congenital defects we can see also bring up the possibility of those we can‘t; I suspected something was off, but prior to bloodwork, I didn’t realize Bastion was living with a compromised immune system. There is already so little margin for error in healthy chameleons, and even less so in those born with health issues/abnormalities. I guess I couldn’t appreciate the gravity of the issue until I tried taking it on myself. I also wanted to apologize, this may not be the best example of a sudden death. it’s just that I brought home a chameleon that was seemingly normal beyond a birth defect. He was good until he wasn’t. Proper lighting, appropriate sized housing, correct supplementation, hydration were Provided. Good nutrition was provided to the best of my ability. When he was good, he was really good. When he’d crash, it would happen fast and hard.

This was an Incredibly difficult thing to write about. I’m not including any pictures of a deceased chameleon (I didn’t take any). I’m only including pictures of my sweet blue boy, when he was still here with me. I miss his quirky little personality so very much
 

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GrannyK

Established Member
This is a really rough thread, but I’m so glad that this topic is being discussed. I lost my beautiful blue ambanja male, Bastion in July. I could still cry just typing that out. Talking about him and looking at pictures of him have been especially difficult.

Bastion was a special case; I got him knowing he had a tongue disability (it was explained to me that he was born with it). He couldn’t shoot it out more than a half inch or so, and his aim was terrible. He was always off by about 1/4th of an inch. Eating on his own was basically impossible, so he had to be exclusively hand fed. He was about 7-8 months old when I first got him, so I figured him eating only 9 or so feeders was pretty typical (I knew that it would soon be time to cut back anyway, given that he was approaching adulthood). Over the course of three weeks, I noticed him gradually accepting less feeders. Nine bugs turned into only five, five of them turned three, and eventually it got to the point that he would only take 2 feeders a day. Half of the time, I could only get him to take one. It wasn’t for lack of trying, either! I tried hanging up clear feeding cups that were tall and relatively wide to see if he’d try climbing in to “gum” the feeders off the bottom. That was a no-go. I tried hanging paper hot dog/french fry trays, and he wouldn’t even attempt to feed on his own. I tried every feeder I could think of - numerous species of roach, grasshoppers, silkworms, BSFL, pupated bottle flies, crickets. I gutloaded everything well, too. The only thing I could reliably get him to take at LEAST two of was superworms, but of course that was far from ideal.

Sometime in June, I noticed Bastion keeping his left eye shut. I knew for certain that it wasn’t due to an A deficiency as I was supplementing twice a month every month with Repashy LoD. Soon after that, he shut both eyes and began declining so fast, I didn’t expect him to make it through the night. I knew it wasn’t MBD - I had JUST put a brand new Arcadia 6% in his T5 fixture just before I got him. Distance from basking was the recommended 8-9 inches, and by that point the bulb was only 2 months old. Whatever was wrong with him didn’t track as a RI, either - no bubbles, no crackling sounds, mouth kept shut. My regular exotic vet wasn’t available and no one could get me in until the following day. I knew he wouldn’t last for much longer, so I made a snap decision and took him to see a retired vet tech friend (she also keeps/rescues chameleons). She got a weight on him, gave him a sub-q injection of Baytril and he began improving. Within two days, Bastion was back to normal, which was great news buuut.. I was left wondering what the hell all that was about. I had been providing the same level of care for him I had for Beau, the only difference being that Bastion had to be hand fed.

Got him into my regular vet soon after that experience. Vet said his lungs sounded clear and he didn’t think what happened could be chalked up to a RI. Suggested that eating is probably painful due to his tongue defect (Bastion would spend a very long time swallowing, despite being given appropriate sized feeders). Bloodwork showed that he had been fighting off an infection, and it also suggested an immunodeficiency. I was told that it was most likely congenital, and to keep his cage as clean as possible. My vet was so impressed with my husbandry, he was confident I’d be able to keep Bastion going despite the challenges (this same vet worked at a zoo AND had experience keeping/breeding panther chameleons, so I trusted his Judgement. Looking back, I wonder if I should have asked about quality of life versus quantity).

End of June/very early July.. I noticed what looked like a wart forming on Bastion’s left side. My immediate thoughts were “Sh*t, here we go again,” and “THAT looks like a papilloma.” The wart felt pretty flush with his skin, and he only had that one little blemish. BACK to the vet we went. My exotic vet wasn’t there during that particular appointment (he worked at that veterinary office one day a week, sometimes two. Every other day he was working at the zoo), but a tech did a skin scrape for us. The results came back negative for papilloma, which I remain dubious of to this day. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to discuss the results with my vet as he ended up having to move suddenly. The new exotic vet that took his place had zero experience with chameleons, so I began looking for someone else.

During this time, Bastion was taking maybe one feeder from me every other day. Sometimes I’d go for 2-3 days without feeding him just to get his appetite back up, but the MOST I could get him to take was two bugs. I knew something was up when I would offer him a superworm and he‘d turn his head away from it. He was going on 11 months and I *couldn’t* get him to put on weight, He also started going down to the bottom branch of the cage (where he slept every night) by 12 noon. He would just sit there. He’d keep his eyes open and would look around, but he wouldn’t move otherwise and I knew that wasn’t right. I also started noticing the wart changing in texture. It felt hard and raised when I would run my finger over it, sort of like a small cone.

Second to the last week of July, I woke up around 7 AM to check on both my boys. I found Bastion laying on his side at the bottom of his cage, still alive but barely. I rushed him to an emergency vet and made the decision to have him put down. It was one of the HARDEST things I have ever had to do. The entire experience absolutely gutted me. Sometimes, I wonder if I got too sure of myself after being told (by the vet) how well I was doing with Beau, and reality decided to bring me back down several notches. I wonder if it was a me problem and I just failed him. I mean, his breeder managed to keep him alive and fed for 8 months. Then he sent Bastion to me, and the little guy lived under my care for about 4 months before I had to euthanize him. I wonder a LOT of things. Mostly, I wonder if I was wrong to have Bastion put down.

One thing I can say I have definitely learned from all of this: Never again will I bring home another chameleon with a tongue disability or defect of the mouth. Their mouths and tongues are really all they have. If one or both those parts aren’t working properly, that’s a chameleon looking at a life fraught with complications. Congenital defects we can see also bring up the possibility of those we can‘t; I suspected something was off, but prior to bloodwork, I didn’t realize Bastion was living with a compromised immune system. There is already so little margin for error in healthy chameleons, and even less so in those born with health issues/abnormalities. I guess I couldn’t appreciate the gravity of the issue until I tried taking it on myself. I also wanted to apologize, this may not be the best example of a sudden death. it’s just that I brought home a chameleon that was seemingly normal beyond a birth defect. He was good until he wasn’t. Proper lighting, appropriate sized housing, correct supplementation, hydration were Provided. Good nutrition was provided to the best of my ability. When he was good, he was really good. When he’d crash, it would happen fast and hard.

This was an Incredibly difficult thing to write about. I’m not including any pictures of a deceased chameleon (I didn’t take any). I’m only including pictures of my sweet blue boy, when he was still here with me. I miss his quirky little personality so very much
Thank you for sharing your experience, it may help many others here. I’m so sorry for your loss. 😢
 

Sonny13

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thanks for sharing and I’m also really sorry for your lost. He was a beautiful boy and still thanks for giving him a chance. I think you made a good decision on euthanizing him, because he wasn’t able to be saved anymore. My girl went also on her side and at first she looked like she was death and afterwards it took long long hours of suffering (which I kept hope saving her) before she completely passed away and now I regret I never went for euthanizing, that was the most kind thing I could have done for her. My girl mist half her front foot, but that never played a part in her dead. Bastions symptoms the first time look pretty alike my Cher’s.

Just one question, ever checked the UVB light with a solar meter our UVB testing card? Because we really don’t wanna trust the new lights for working correctly. Already had a new one that worked but didn’t gave any radiation (more stories like this are known) and with a card you test if they at least give radiation.

Again so sorry for your lost and writing about it works with our grieving process 🙏🏻
Plus it helps others, thanks again for that.
 

Tkrd69

Chameleon Enthusiast
That was a very sad story but I thank you for sharing your experience with us. I'm some what happy about this thread as we gather more information concerning these death. Its just the heartache that we have to go through to get it 😢
 

PlanetRemulak

Avid Member
I so hope sharing what happened does help someone! Genuinely. Also, @Sonny13, I am so sorry about your sweet girl. Heartbreaking for sure. :( Sudden losses like these leave you feeling gutted and completely unsure of yourself. That said, your husbandry was spot on and I don’t think there was anything else you could have done for her. Its evident how much you love your chameleons, and you did right by her while you had her.

Your input regarding my decision to have Bastion put down is such a huge help. It’s such a relief to hear that from someone else with experience.

I actually do not have a solarmeter! I keep meaning to get one, but after reading your last comment, it’s definitely time to stop putting it off. Guessing and assuming we‘re at a 3 UVI is too much of a gamble..
 

Sonny13

Chameleon Enthusiast
I so hope sharing what happened does help someone! Genuinely. Also, @Sonny13, I am so sorry about your sweet girl. Heartbreaking for sure. :( Sudden losses like these leave you feeling gutted and completely unsure of yourself. That said, your husbandry was spot on and I don’t think there was anything else you could have done for her. Its evident how much you love your chameleons, and you did right by her while you had her.

Your input regarding my decision to have Bastion put down is such a huge help. It’s such a relief to hear that from someone else with experience.

I actually do not have a solarmeter! I keep meaning to get one, but after reading your last comment, it’s definitely time to stop putting it off. Guessing and assuming we‘re at a 3 UVI is too much of a gamble..
Thank you for kind words, really appreciated 🙏🏻

For the short term and cheapest way, a UVB tester card is a good alternative. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TJHQ2J...7239e&s=hi&sp_csd=d2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9kZXRhaWw
 
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