Tongue swallowing

Olimpia

Biologist & Ecologist
I'm doing this to document this for anyone who has similar issues in the future. I never knew chameleons could do this, so I'm hoping it will help someone in the future.

This morning I went to feed my female veiled, Charlotte, and noticed she wasn't going for her crickets. I picked her up to see if she just couldn't see the feeding cup from where she was and she started gagging on her tongue. I illustrated what I saw (I have to kill time to not keep worrying about her and pull my hair out) below:



I could see the bony part of her tongue sticking out (at first I thought she had bitten off her tongue) and then I saw the rest of it disappearing back into her throat.

I talked to my vet who advised me to try to pull it out myself, suggesting that perhaps she had swallowed it. Which she totally had. Between a friend and I we were able to pry her mouth open and use what I had on hand (two digital thermometers, basically. Only things I could find that were thin, rounded, and smooth enough to not cause damage.) and gently pull her tongue out from her stomach. It hanged limp for a bit but was able to retract it back into her mouth while in a gentle misting to keep things moist.

I was told by my vet to check on her in an hour to see how we could proceed. When I checked back on her she had done it again. This time I had to get her tongue out by myself, and she was not able to retract it again.





However, it was still a good color so at least the tissue wasn't dead. But it was swollen and damaged from her stomach acid. About an hour later she had swallowed it again! So now she's in complete darkness, hoping that she'll go to sleep and not keep doing it.

I have an appointment for tomorrow morning to have her tongue amputated, because for some unknown reason she keeps swallowing it.
I will post an update tomorrow with any information my vet has for me about why this might have happened and anything else he might know.

Wish Charlotte luck in surgery tomorrow! I've got all my fingers and toes crossed for her but she could use a couple more!
 

ferretinmyshoes

Veterinarian
Staff member
Wow, I had no idea they could do that! Nice drawing btw. Did your vet have any suspicions as to why this is happening? Hope all goes well and she has a swift recovery...
 

sagemoon2004

New Member
So sorry for both of you! Keep us posted, especially on what may cause a cham to do such a thing. I bought my cham month's ago from Craigs List, (I know stupid), and his tongue has never worked, we just cup feed. Even correct gut-loading and supplements never fixed it. Just wonder why all the tongue issues with these guys? Wishing you all the luck in the world!
 

Olimpia

Biologist & Ecologist
Wow, I had no idea they could do that! Nice drawing btw. Did your vet have any suspicions as to why this is happening? Hope all goes well and she has a swift recovery...
Me neither! I didn't know it could happen. He didn't say he knew but I'll see what he thinks could have happened tomorrow. I have a hard time imagining how it could happen, so I don't know what might have caused it. But he does say that in his experience it's typical that they keep swallowing it, for some reason.

Thank you for the support!
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
Olimpia you worked fast and got with Dr. Alfonso so quickly. Charlotte is young and healthy and should do well with the surgery. I will be praying for you, Charlotte and for Dr. A to do a good job on her.
 

Olimpia

Biologist & Ecologist
So sorry for both of you! Keep us posted, especially on what may cause a cham to do such a thing. I bought my cham month's ago from Craigs List, (I know stupid), and his tongue has never worked, we just cup feed. Even correct gut-loading and supplements never fixed it. Just wonder why all the tongue issues with these guys? Wishing you all the luck in the world!
Thank you for the support! I don't know if this is a supplement-deficiency thing, but I'm definitely going to ask if it might be a possibility. I've heard of weak tongues, bitting off the tongue, or pulling it off, but I've never heard of them swallowing it so it must not be too common.

Hopefully your guy never has any other issues with his tongue!
 

Olimpia

Biologist & Ecologist
Olimpia you worked fast and got with Dr. Alfonso so quickly. Charlotte is young and healthy and should do well with the surgery. I will be praying for you, Charlotte and for Dr. A to do a good job on her.
Thank you Jann! She's a tough girly, I also think she'll do well and recover quickly. I'll let you know the second she's out of surgery.
 

carol5208

Chameleon Enthusiast
Good luck at the vet Olimpia! Thanks for sharing you story so we are aware of this. Hope everything turns out ok.
 

Olimpia

Biologist & Ecologist
Thank you Carol!

Thanks Kinyonga, it's interesting to see another documented case. It's a mystery how they could manage to swallow their tongues in the first place though, what has to go wrong enough to do that if they seemed healthy and fine just a couple days ago.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
Tongue problems can come from infection, injury, nutrient imbalance and a few other things. It can happen quite quickly depending on the cause.
 

Syn

Avid Member
I have nothing to offer other than a best of luck at the vet's. Hope everything goes well.
 

Elizadolots

New Member
Wow! Thank you for making us aware of this. I would never have guessed that was even possible. I hope everything goes well from now on. (and, great illustration! Thank you for that.)
 

Olimpia

Biologist & Ecologist
Thank you for the support! I'll update tomorrow when she gets out of the vet's office, but it might not be until very late in the day, even if she'll be dropped off at 8am. It's going to be a long day for both of us.
 

laurie

Retired Moderator
Hoping for good luck for both of you. If you had to deal with this like to video, it must have been awful. I ill also be crossing my fingers and checking to see how it goes.
 

jojackson

New Member
Fascinating, very unfortunate, but fascinating. I wonder what happened, injury or degeneration of the hyoid muscle?
Please let us know.
Out of curiosity, has this lizard been a keen shooter, or like mine, does it tend to get as close as possible before shooting?
 
Fascinating, very unfortunate, but fascinating. I wonder what happened, injury or degeneration of the hyoid muscle?
Please let us know.
Out of curiosity, has this lizard been a keen shooter, or like mine, does it tend to get as close as possible before shooting?
Ditto! Interesting, but sad. :eek:
 

Olimpia

Biologist & Ecologist
Fascinating, very unfortunate, but fascinating. I wonder what happened, injury or degeneration of the hyoid muscle?
Please let us know.
Out of curiosity, has this lizard been a keen shooter, or like mine, does it tend to get as close as possible before shooting?
I know, it's just so strange. She's always been a good shooter, and I always try to make some feeding challenging by putting the feeding cups a little far from the nearest branch so they have to work at it a little. But I can't be sure that she didn't injure her tongue in the last day or two somehow, because she only eats certain days of the week, and the only reason I noticed something was wrong today was her disinterest in food.

I'll update tomorrow with any theories my vet has.
 
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