Tongue care


New Member
After reading about the tongue to shirt incident here, I suddenly have the need to know everything I can about cham tongues. In particular, the dangers to stay away from.
Is that why fake plants in the habitat might not be a good idea?
I know that chameleons can shoot their tongues out and as the tongue starts to retract it can hit a branch and wrap around it. A chameleon will usually try to pull on it to pull it back in and can hyper-extend the muscle so that the tongue won't retract.

There have been stories of chameleons coming in from the wild with no I'm betting it happens a lot more than we think.

If a chameleon cannot retract its tongue then it will have to be amputated leaving enough tissue to cover the hyoid bone. With a little help/training the chameleon can learn to eat without the tongue by approaching the insect and eating it like other lizards do.

It wouldn't surprise me if the tongue could stick to the (cloth-type) leaves of an artificial plant...but I've never heard of it happening.

Here are some articles about the chameleon's tongue...
Excellent material and info, Kinyonga. Read it all and thirsty for more. I feel better about how to handle a possible tongue problem.
Thank you :)
You're welcome Fauna Girl.

I had a WC werneri male for about two days when he got his tongue wrapped around a branch and pulled and pulled before I could stop him. He ripped a hole in the tongue which resulted in him not being able to "fold" it back up over the hyoid bone. It would retract on the outside of the bone instead. The vet put him under and tried to patch the hole with a kind of "glue" that they use for joining skin together...but by the time all of this was done, he could no longer retract his tongue. We had to make a decision....wake him up and hope he could retract it or amputate it. It couldn't be determined whether the tongue wasn't reacting because the chameleon was out or because the trauma was too much for it. If we woke him up and he couldn't retract it, he would have to be put to sleep again and the tongue amputated. It was finally decided that the tongue be amputated. This male was very spunky and was soon chasing after insects as if nothing had happened to him!

The main things to remember if it ever happens to your chameleon is to not pull on the tongue while trying to untangle it and not to allow it to get stuck to anything. It needs to be kept moist until you can get to the vets to have the problem dealt with....and its important to stop the chameleon from biting down on it too.

Best thing is to hope it never happens!
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