Tiny veiled chameleons

Heika

New Member
Hello all,

I recently purchased a group of veiled chameleons from a seller. I was told that they ranged in age from appx. 3 months to almost 4 months. When the package arrived two days ago, I was very surprised to see tiny animals that were obviously much, much younger than the seller had claimed. They were shipped in deli cups with wet paper towels in them, and although there was a heat pack in the box, they were chilled. The four smallest were paired up and placed in deli cups together. The smallest animal is only three inches long from her nose to the tip of her tail, and the largest is almost five. The larger chameleons faired much better than the smaller ones. They have recovered nicely. Today, two of them shed.

I am most concerned about the four smallest. Two of them have been very lethargic since I received the box two days ago, and now an additional two don't seem to be able to open their eyes. Honestly, I am very surprised that one of them is even still alive. She is very weak and will die unless I can figure out a way to force this tiny animal to eat. Any suggestions on force feeding an animal so small? I have very serious concerns that I will drown her if I attempt it. My vet is nearly as obsessed with this little group as I am, and has stopped by the house four times in the last couple days. He is at a loss as to what to do for them.. they are so tiny. I am sure that some of you have been in this position before. Is there any way to help these neonates?

Smallest female:



Healthy larger female:

 

Brad Ramsey

Retired Moderator
Heika,

The only thing I can think to do would be to play with the temperatures.
I know it's dangerous with babies but (and maybe you've tried this) perhaps a little more heat than we would normally provide them with.
Can you even get their mouths open?
-Brad
 

Joshua

New Member
Hi Heika, my advice is this: separate the lethargic ones into a small container with tiny flyes Drosophila and try to wake them up to feed. The smallest juveniles from my first clutch also closed their eyes and wasn´t able to feed themselves. I think it´s due to lack of energy when not eating enough. I just poke them (in the ribs) :D to wake for a while and see the prey until they closed their eyes again. Some of them ate and get ok, some of them not. :(
 

Cherron

New Member
i had to force feed a baby veiled for almost 4 months.. from the time he was about 2 and a half inches long unti he was close to four.. i bought vanilla ensure.. the high calcium variety.. and used a tiny dropper and would insert it into the side of his mouth and feed him maybe 10 or 12 drops a sitting.. one tiny drop at a time.. to open his mouth i would insert the very edge of my fingernail in between his teeth (make sure you feel teeth and don't pull down on the lip) and then VERY gently pull down just enough to insert the dropper.. giving him a few minutes in between to be sure it went down.. after a few weeks of this he would just open his mouth when he saw the dropper.. i also bought an electrolyte solution made for reptiles and gave him a few drops of that as well.. i did this once a day.. usually about mid day after he had warmed up but well before he went to sleep.. i also made sure that most of his branches were under his uvb light and no where else really.. to maximize his exposure.. and of course misted him several times daily.. i am definitely not saying this is the best way to feed a chameleon who is not eating, but it worked for me.. my guy is on the small side, but healthy and active now ;)

after a month or so i pinched the head off of a cricket and put it in his mouth.. he spit it out.. i tried it the next day and he ate it.. so i very gradually added a few crickets a day.. then quit killing them first.. then quit putting them in his mouth.. then just let him hunt them ;) it took months.. but it was well worth the patience and effort..

good luck..

any questions let me know and i will try to help you the best i can ;)
 

Heika

New Member
Heika,

The only thing I can think to do would be to play with the temperatures.
I know it's dangerous with babies but (and maybe you've tried this) perhaps a little more heat than we would normally provide them with.
Can you even get their mouths open?
-Brad
Thanks, Brad. I have the heat up as far as I dare already... the ambient in the shop is a toasty 75-80 degrees during the day, and drops down to about 68 at the lowest temp at night. With the florescents, the temperature in their enclosures reaches 85-90. I think I can get their mouths open...

Joshua said:
Hi Heika, my advice is this: separate the lethargic ones into a small container with tiny flyes Drosophila and try to wake them up to feed. The smallest juveniles from my first clutch also closed their eyes and wasn´t able to feed themselves. I think it´s due to lack of energy when not eating enough. I just poke them (in the ribs) :D to wake for a while and see the prey until they closed their eyes again. Some of them ate and get ok, some of them not.
Thank you, Joshua. Unfortunately, these little guys aren't even opening their eyes when they are disturbed. Note the little female I am holding in the pic. I don't think she has the energy to shoot a fly right now. The sick ones are seperated out from the rest of the chameleons, and all of them are being offered fruit flies and farmed house flies at the moment.

Cherron, thank you for your response. Your dedication to your chameleon is admirable. Since you were successful at force feeding, I will give it a try as well. Where did you find a tiny dropper?

Thanks again,

Heika
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
Heika...vets have a long thin tube that fits on the end of a syringe used as a cat catheter....it would fit into the mouth easily....I'm just not sure how thick a fluid would go through it.
 

Heika

New Member
Thanks, I will call my vet and ask if he will bring one when he comes by today. Seems I should be aiming for a pretty thick liquid to try and prevent aspiration..? Any thoughts?

Heika
 

FaunaBgirl

New Member
I got Fractal the same way, from a company in Florida. Sent with no warmer though. And the deli cup had come open and he'd been able to walk in the newspaper and the paper towel was dry. I wonder if it's the same company as yours? Or if others are using this same method of delivery?
Fractal was dehydrated and extremely hungry. He was very dark and very small. 2 inche. He would hang from the screen top licking, so I learned right away, that they probably sprayed the cage tops with water, and that was the way he knew to drink. Fractal was one month old when he arrived on Nov. 2.
 

Cherron

New Member
i actually got a box up disposable bulb droppers from a craft store.. they were little clear syringes with a squeeze bulb on top and they worked well. They came in a box of fifty for a few bucks. Good luck :)
 

Cherron

New Member
sorry for two posts, but, yeah.. it seemed like the ensure worked well because it was so think and smooth.. i know there are bug juice recipes and what not but the ensure (extra calcium kind) did the trick with my guy..
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
One other thing that might work...just ease a little tiny bit of food in between the lips at the side of the mouth and she might start to ingest it.

Ask your vet about this...but I would not overdo the amount of food at first. If she's been too cool it would affect the digestion so she may need to start ingesting slowly.
 

Prism Chameleons

Established Member
Hi Heika,

The dropper suggestion is a very good one. Pedialite as well is very good to use to bring up their hydration levels and energy. Be very, very careful to do it in little tiny drops, watch for a swallow, wait a little bit, and give just a tiny bit more. You have to be very careful the liquid doesn't get into their lungs. Those babies are soooo tiny, it can be very easy to overdue it.

One other suggestion I have is to perhaps find the smallest worms possible as worms are easier for them to swallow without the hardness of matter that a cricket and such has. If you can somehow open their mouth and put a small worm or even a small piece of soft worm that you may have to cut in small pieces (small silkworm perhaps?) this may help. I have used worms often to help chameleons get nutrition when they are going through some hardships. I have never had one of my chameleons not swallow it after placed in their mouths.

I'm so sorry and sorry for the chameleons as well that they were shipped to you so young. What a shame :( . I wish you the best of luck in their recovery.
 

Heika

New Member
Thank you everyone for all the help.

The smallest of the veileds has, amazingly, made it through another day. I force fed 4 tiny chameleons today, and they all are still hanging in there. We will see what tomorrow brings.

Heika
 

Brad Ramsey

Retired Moderator
Heika,

I may be premature, but I have a good feeling about these stressed out little babies being in your care.
This in no way excuses the husbandry or shipping methods of the breeder...but I think they are going to make it.
They're pretty tough little boogers already, having survived what they have.
With a little stimulation, proper temperatures and some fuel in them, my prediction is that you will see a remarkable change in a very short amount of time.
That being said, I do believe they have a lot of catching up to do, but under your watchful eye I don't think this will be a problem.
I am sending good cham energy your way!

-Brad
 

Heika

New Member
Heika,

I may be premature, but I have a good feeling about these stressed out little babies being in your care.
This in no way excuses the husbandry or shipping methods of the breeder...but I think they are going to make it.
They're pretty tough little boogers already, having survived what they have.
With a little stimulation, proper temperatures and some fuel in them, my prediction is that you will see a remarkable change in a very short amount of time.
That being said, I do believe they have a lot of catching up to do, but under your watchful eye I don't think this will be a problem.
I am sending good cham energy your way!

-Brad
Thanks for the good cham energy, Brad. :D
 

DrewNYC

New Member
heika

becareful with the liquids, i tried the same thing with a few day old and i think i drowned it with a drop of ensure. it is so easy to forget how tiny these guys are, we see them small and then they grow but then when we see a baby we can't believe how tiny. i find tiny silky's are the best for neonates the silky's are small enough, they move but not fast and can't get away and nutritious. i guess with help if you could open the mouth and drop a tiny silky in

good luck, i know if they were meant to live they will
drew
 

Heika

New Member
Thanks, Drew. I did the same thing with a tiny neonate once. Very painful to watch.. and that is the reason I was so reluctant to try force feeding with these babies. They have actually done well with it, though. I have a friend who is a nurse, and she brought me a tiny syringe used for babies. It has worked well for force feeding. As an update...

The small veiled female that is pictured in this thread has passed on. She put up a good fight, but was too injured and sick. The other three continue to struggle on, and 2 of them seem to be improving. One of them needs only a taste of the baby food mixture I have been using, and she greedily eats on her own. Another one takes it pretty easily as well. The third is nearly impossible to feed.. she struggles the entire way, and she is the one who is having the hardest time right now.

Heika
 

lele

New Member
repta-aid

you could use carnivor care mix to feed her.
I am guessing you mean Fluker's Repta-Aid? That is what I was going to suggest. You can make it thick, thin, etc. I don't think it would take much to turn the little one around if you can get her(?) to eat it. I have used it on both Luna and Darwin and they really like the taste so will usually continue to lick it. With your cham experience you likely know about it and may even have it in your chameleon emergency kit ;) I always keep it on hand now. Most all chain pet stores carry it or you can order it directly from flukers Repta-Aid
I agree with Brad and am sending you good cham karma :D
 
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