Sudden drop in weight

CreatureFeature

New Member
I own a rather small female Jackson chameleon, Creature, which I noticed about three weeks ago, had lost some weight. Being a first time chameleon owner I rather dumbly thought little of it since several weeks before a few people who’d seen her had remarked how Creature looked over weight. However today I noticed Creature on the bottom of her cage and took her out to make sure she wasn't injured from possibly slipping off her favorite branch. But when I took her out I found she’d had a sudden and very noticeable drop in weight. So much that she looks almost skeletal. I also found her to be lethargic and to have a weaker grip then she normally has. And showed no interest in performing her habit of mountain climbing from my hand to the top of my head to see what was going on.

I have at no point during this time frame changed her feeding habits or the amount she’s been fed. She just eats normal store bought crickets dusted with calcium power. And she seems to be eating however continues to drop in weight. She’s also misted two – three times a day depending on the humidity or whenever she wants to drink. The humidity always lands at around sixty - seventy five percent. And her temperature at its highest point is always between seventy five – eighty degrees at any given time with her day or night lights.

She inhabits a one foot six in wide by one foot eight in tall square upright tank with a screen lid and air vents on the warmest low traffic side of my room. I rotate a number of chameleon safe plants also with two fake plants for her to climb and bask on. On the bottom of the tank is a Zoo med reptile carpet with a basking rock in the warmest part of the tank and a very shallow water dish in case she gets thirsty and I’m not home to spray her. And when I cleaned her cage today she appeared to be relieving herself normally with no discoloration or odd droppings.

I handle her often because she normally begs to come out and sit on top of my head when I’m working on the computer or walking around the house. But I had to veto handling her for the last week since she was going through an extremely difficult shed and I did not want to stress her out while she was shedding.

Unfortunately I’m not fully aware of her exact age. I was given her in October by a friend of the family who had bought her from a chain pet store in the area. I was however made aware of the fact that she’d apparently been pregnant when she’d come to the pet store, had the babies the week before, then was place on display to be sold. Upon picking her up to be brought home I was told that if she died in the next sixty days it would be dew to that and was handed a flimsy “You’re now the owner of a Jackson Chameleon” pamphlet which I found completely useless. From the pet store also came a document stating that she was free of all illnesses and/or parasites so I can only assume she was tested for them at some point in time. What’s concerning me most now at the moment is I have a male Jackson who is in the exact same conditions and he is thriving with no loss in weight or energy and I don’t know of an exotic reptile vet in the immediate area. And would prefer not to drag her across two cities in this condition to take her to the one I know of. I could really use some help.

I’m not a first time reptile owner but I’m completely lost as to what’s going on with my chameleon. Does anyone know of a reason a Jackson chameleon would lose so much weight in such a short time? Is there some condition I need to be aware of that might be causing it? Or any possible ways to help her gain back the weight quickly?
 

Seiryu

Established Member
Sorry she is losing weight. Maybe some type of parasite?

Do her poops look normal? Should have white urates (orange is dehyration) and firm not runny poop.

Also, unless I misread. You said she's in a 1'6" wide by 1' 8" tall aquarium? That is very small. The absolute bare minimum should be 2x2x3 ft tall, and most will say no smaller than 2x2x4 ft. My jacksons use all the space I give them. My female in a 2x2x4 ft and male in a 3x2x5 ft.

You also say she "seems to be eating". Have you seen her eat recently? Can the crickets escape her enclosure to where you might think she is eating and is not really? You might try cup feeding to get a feel for how much she is truly eating.

Wax worms are a good fatten up food, but should not be a staple and it won't correct whatever issue you are having. My bet would be some type of parasite and you'd need a vet to check for that. Try syringing water into her (slowly) if she is not a good drinker from misting to make sure she is hydrated.
 

CreatureFeature

New Member
Sorry she is losing weight. Maybe some type of parasite?

Do her poops look normal? Should have white urates (orange is dehyration) and firm not runny poop.

Also, unless I misread. You said she's in a 1'6" wide by 1' 8" tall aquarium? That is very small. The absolute bare minimum should be 2x2x3 ft tall, and most will say no smaller than 2x2x4 ft. My jacksons use all the space I give them. My female in a 2x2x4 ft and male in a 3x2x5 ft.

You also say she "seems to be eating". Have you seen her eat recently? Can the crickets escape her enclosure to where you might think she is eating and is not really? You might try cup feeding to get a feel for how much she is truly eating.

Wax worms are a good fatten up food, but should not be a staple and it won't correct whatever issue you are having. My bet would be some type of parasite and you'd need a vet to check for that. Try syringing water into her (slowly) if she is not a good drinker from misting to make sure she is hydrated.


Thank you for the reply. From the way it looks it does sound remarkably like a parasite. But since I've never owned a chameleon before I'm not entirely sure what is or isn't normal for them.

Her droppings look normal. Thats the first thing I checked when I cleaned her cage this afternoon. I found no discolored urates or loose/runny poop.

As for the tank, trust me I'm aware its small. Although I'm not sure if 'aquarium' is the right placing for it? Its one of these upright terrarium like tanks. (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/images/Categoryimages/normal/p-27518-37018-reptile.jpg) I was caught unpaired when I was told I was getting her and so I pulled out an old tank I'd had for a large flying gecko I'd had some odd years ago. When I attempted at a later date to move her into a large tank she had what I can only describe as a panic attack and wedged herself into a corner for nearly a week refusing to eat or drink. From that I can only assume she's developed a discomfort for large spaces since the tank the pet shop had her in for almost three months was a miserable five inches wide, ten tell, and only a foot deep. And she herself is four inches long with about three more inches of tail and was at the time they kept her in that tiny tank.

Yes I have seen her eat. She ate two crickets after I cleaned the cage and put her back. But when I offered her a third one she walked away and left it. Normally she can eat around six - ten large crickets. Which are split up between a morning feeding and a night feeding. The male however is a pig and eats almost double that.

She's actually a very good drinker. I've seen her drink out of the shallow water dish many a time. I will definitely look into buying some wax worms for her.
 

Seiryu

Established Member
Those are terrariums. Some people use those and have success, but usually for smaller species/babies.

How much weight has she lost exactly and how long of a period of time in between weights? I would definitely look into getting her into a vet ASAP. I know you said there aren't many exotic vets around you, so you may need to drive a bit. But that is your best bet.

Hopefully someone can chime in and find a vet list for your area!
 

CreatureFeature

New Member
Thank you for the correction. I wasn't entirely sure what it would be classified as because I've been calling it a cabinet tank. I just knew that when I bought it, it was being sold for chameleons, flying geckos, ect, so thats what I decided to use because it would be the fastest to set up and get to the right temperature. But if its as undersized as you say I'll look into attempting to move her again once all this settles.

I called the vet today but the only one dealing in exotics that I know of is in Virginia. Which from where I am in southern Maryland is a long drive for such a little lizard to go. The long drive is whats unfortunately got me wary about taking her, but if I manage to get an appointment in the next week I'm just going to bite the bullet and take her, long drive or not.

Honestly I never thought to weigh her when I first got her. I don't know how much she weighted. But she was never very heavy or large. As I said she's only about seven inches (Tail included.) and in the time I've had her, she hasn't grown at all. If I had seen it earlier I would have taken her to a vet much sooner then this. In the last week during her shed though I've left her alone and haven't handled her. Then today I saw her and was caught completely off guard by it. She both looks and feels like she's lost almost half her body mass.
 
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