Swollen Toes


New Member
I just posted this on the CCIC forums, but I wanted to get some insight and info from this group as well. Thanks!

Well, so yesterday while I was feeding my meru (btw I think he was just bored with the crickets becaues he willingly hunted down 2 after having not been exposed to them for a couple days & his weight is only down by 0.3 grams, so I'm not worried) I noticed that the middle digit on both front feet (the side with three toes) was swollen. I took him to the vet, who examed him and deicded to try a treatment of antibiotics (Fortaz, IM injections) in cause it is merely an infection. He said that at worst it could be gout or MBD, but he doesn't show any other signs of MBD and is still active despite the swollen digit.

Has anyone ever had a chameleon or heard of an infection that was so locally specific to the same digit on both front feet or something similar?

His color is still good, and I'm keeping his as hydrated as possible. The treatment prescribed includes 3 more injections of diluated Fortaz (9:1 dilution with sterile water) with 3 days between each treatment. Is there anything else I might do that could bring the swelling down?
He does climb the sides of the cage, and his claws are also intact. The screening I've used isn't like a Reptarium. It's a metal screen with I think it's either 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch openings. Yesterday morning before I headed off to my morning classes, I noticed that he was climbing up and down the sides of the cage quite easily/quickly, but he's shown a tendency to like to sleep on the side of the cage hanging from the screen so I assumed that he was coming up to bask from where he'd been sleeping.

What does his climbing on the sides mean?
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u wanna make sure he doesnt have a nail break or something. if hes climbing the side of the cage alot u myte wanna put more branches also my panther used to do that but when i put him in e bigger cage and put more branches he stopped
Thanks for the suggestion!

I am actually planning to replace some of his plants this weekend with a larger, sturdier hibiscus as well as adding some more vines for him to climb on. As of this morning (last time I was home) his claws looked to be ok with just the toes swollen, but I'll be sure to keep an eye on them.
In most cages, wall climbing should be avoided. I find that it can often mean that the cage is not densly enough decorated or planted. It usually stops after I add in more vines, branches, and plants. It could also mean that htye are searching for a place to stay in the temperature gradient they want. Again, more foiliage and etc will help reduce the climbing.

Keep watch of the skin directly around the nails. if it starts to look ugly, chaffed, or rough, you may want to use a cream to clean them, just incase the skin is splitting. Polysporin will moisturise the skin and clean it- and won't cause harm if here is no cuts or splits. I don't think poly sporin helps with reducing swollen areas, but there are other anti bacs that do.

You may already know, Foot problems in chameleons are both often occuring and often leading to more serious problems. Infections are easy to happen after food problems because of hw exposed the area of injury is. You may want to inquirte to your vet about a bacterial culture to help figure out the cause and make preventive measures aswell as a more effective treatment.

As with every problem, when one occurs, it is time to re evaluate all your husbandry from heat to humidity. Just o be certain you can know it didnt have anything to do with it.

Best of luck.
I will definitely look into the foliage, etc. in the enclosure and I've been adjusting/tweaking my temps/lights/humidity to try and see if anything makes him more comfortable.

My vet ran a fecal on one that I brought in with him and found a worm that none of his parasitologists or he had ever seen before. So they're currently working to identify what it is and if it could be causing this.
Well one time i had an issue like that but it involved only one foot and when we looked closer it looked like he had been biten on the bottom of the foot by a cricket. The vet squeezed the puss out from the infection and we treated with baytril.
Has anyone ever had a chameleon or heard of an infection that was so locally specific to the same digit on both front feet or something similar?
I have never experienced this. The first thing that comes to my mind is similar to those above: hanging from cage sides. Did you build this cage? If you hang from something long enough with both hands, the weight from your body will create soars in very similar spots on your fingers and hands. Could this be what is happening?
Just a guess... have any pics?
Great suggestions above, which is why I asked if he climbed the side of the cage. Follow the advice given... If he is sleeping on the side of the cage too, that could also mean he has no place he feels safe and comfortable (i.e. foliage) to sleep during the night. If he is hanging on the side by using the strongest toes he has (middle ones), he could very well possibly be straining them. This can also cause a loss of his claws.

Also look for infection, as the others mentioned. :)
I don't have any photos of it right now, but I will try to take some tomorrow when he's awake. I didn't build the cage myself. It's was custom made however.

My vet didn't do anything as far as squeezing out any pus from the toes but did put him on Fortaz. I don't know when crickets might have had an opportunity to bite him since I don't leave uneaten crickets in the cage but that is, of course, a very real possibility that I hadn't thought of so I appreciate you pointing it out.

If the swelling is caused by sores on his feet from hanging so much, would the swelling be due to an infection of those sores (I'm assuming it would since they're feet are exposed to so much water and such...)? Certainly hoping that it is just an infection and can be remedied through antibiotics and some enclosure modifications....
It's a metal screen with I think it's either 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch openings.
It is common for chameleons to get hand injuries when the metal sides are rough and/or sharp. This is especially true with the larger mesh and why you may see people talking about plastic coated screen.
In my experience, torn toenails form screen is actually less likely than cut feet from metal hardware cloth - especially in soft-footed montanes.

Try to add more plants, or raise your cage up higher - they shouldnt' be climbing on the sides.
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