Update on Atlas. Tongue doesn't shoot.

OldChamKeeper

Chameleon Enthusiast
I titled this thread with the purpose in mind that if somebody out there ever does an internet search for a tongue issue with a cham, they may find it.

As some of you may know, Atlas was CH in 2014. I received him at 70g in 2015. He thrived but in March of 2016 he suffered an injury to his tongue.

The injury was entirely due to him shooting at a large tomato worm whose grip was stronger than the chameleon's tongue. Instead of the bug being drawn into the mouth of the chameleon, the chameleon was drawn to the worm. The result, at a guess, was pulled muscle. Since that day years ago, Atlas has never been able to shoot more than an inch from his face. Actually, he doesn't bother. He'd starve to death if I didn't grab him by the nose three to four times a week and give him a roach. Now once it is in his mouth, he eats it. The only thing he will run over for is a Mantis, which he still can't shoot. He'll just try and grab it.

So, for the few asking about him, here's your update.

I have force fed him weekly now for three plus years. He gets mostly orange head roaches. Twice a month he gets a fuzzy mouse. When he started getting force fed he was less than 200g.

As for now....

Atlas 782g.JPG


He's just shy of 800g. I'm not proud to say that over 600g of that is me force feeding him. Actually from my past exp. with these animals, he should be bigger at his age. A rough estimate would be about 10% more, so 850g? My last male was just under 1050g over twenty years ago. He was much larger than Atlas here. Each of those metal squares is an inch. He's about 7 inches long snout to vent. So he turned five years old this past May. Close to 800g. The old man I was referencing from twenty years back was about 12 inches long snout to vent.


For anybody referencing this trying to find a 'cure' for a damaged tongue, there isn't one as of this post. Sorry. I've spoken to many genuine experts, no dice. I keep forgetting I'm an expert myself, despite that - I don't know everything. I do reach out to those who I know also have a ton of real hands on experience.

I've made sure the supplements are solid, his lighting needs met, and the fact he's still alive after 3+ years of being force fed, should logically inform you that he's had ample time to heal. Has gained a huge amount of weight, and still can't shoot. It's permanent. So if you are unlucky enough to have this issue, be prepared to care long term for your invalid lizard.
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
Have you talked to Dr. Douglas Mader? He’s an expert. Dr. Greek there is good with chameleons also. Chris Anderson has a fantastic knowledge of the chameleon tongue. I know the tongue is a muscle and when not used it gets weak. I believe I’d get large silkworms and place them around on his branches and try to get him eating on his own at least some. As my veiled Luie got older he we only shoot an inch of two and I was told it was from cup feeding. So we had to start hand feeding and moving the feeder back a little bit at the time to exercise the tongue.

Kudos to you for feeding this sweet boy and I’m hoping the best for you two.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
I've had this happen with a panther. I don't know the exact moment his tongue got injured, but same deal. He would eat up close though. I wonder if the injury healed, but caused so much atrophy that they just stopped using it.

@snitz427
 

AnamCara

Avid Member
When I was hand-feeding a while back my girl's tongue got stuck to my hand and almost pulled her off the branch -- similar to what is stated above. She doesn't shoot as far anymore but has had no problem eating. Thanks for this post, glad your cham is in such good hands.
 

JacksJill

Chameleon Enthusiast
I dislike horn or tomato worms for this very reason. I never feed them stuck to the screen they can grip it too well. I try to place them on a flat surface like a broad leaf they can't grip. I don't leave them in cages.
Sorry, you had this experience. Thanks for sharing.
 
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nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
I dislike horn or tomato worms for this very reason. I never feed them stuck to the screen they can grip it too well. I try to place them on a flat surface like a broad leaf they can't grip. I don't leave them in cages.
Sorry, you had this experience. Thanks for sharing.
Mine wasnt even a horn worm, since i dont use hornworms. So it was some other random feeder 7 years ago, either an adult dubia, silk worm, or super worm, but it was on a screen.
 

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
I've had this happen with a panther. I don't know the exact moment his tongue got injured, but same deal. He would eat up close though. I wonder if the injury healed, but caused so much atrophy that they just stopped using it.

@snitz427
I think he is faking it because he does't like "healthy" foods. It's amazing how quickly and eagerly he tries to shoot if its a superworm or a stick bug! :unsure:

He does seem to have lost the ability to shoot more than 3-4" in front of him, and the speed of it is much slower, as well... and that is only if he is excited about the food item. Often he won't shoot at all, instead he will walk up and sort of slowly scoop it up with his tongue, only pushing it out about an inch or two in front. I think part of it is that he is now gun shy, and the other is that the tongue hasn't fully recovered. If it is a muscle strain, the less he uses it long-term, the less likely it is to recover. It does make it a bit more difficult for him to catch crickets, and he is very unlikely to catch flies... but otherwise he has adapted well.
 

OldChamKeeper

Chameleon Enthusiast
Have you talked to Dr. Douglas Mader? He’s an expert. Dr. Greek there is good with chameleons also. Chris Anderson has a fantastic knowledge of the chameleon tongue. I know the tongue is a muscle and when not used it gets weak. I believe I’d get large silkworms and place them around on his branches and try to get him eating on his own at least some. As my veiled Luie got older he we only shoot an inch of two and I was told it was from cup feeding. So we had to start hand feeding and moving the feeder back a little bit at the time to exercise the tongue.

Kudos to you for feeding this sweet boy and I’m hoping the best for you two.

Hi Jannb.

Dr Greek is my vet. No dice there. I talked to Chris about it years back. We had a little chat about nutrition but no dice. I can leave a silk right in front of him, hold a roach or grasshopper near him, he won't even try to eat them. He even went two weeks without eating since I tried to force him to feed himself. Instead he told me to go F*@! myself and lost weight.
For all I know he's suicidal and thinking: "This sucks. I can't eat on my own. I was shooting with the best of them and now I got hosed by that stupid green worm. The ladies won't have nothing to do with me now. That stupid human keeps making weird sounds. I can't believe it held up a hand drawn picture of me shooting at a roach, like I need a picture to show me what to do. Somebody kill me."

Yeah, he will only come running for a Mantis. Which is the most expensive bug to buy or raise. I've raised them but they are more work sometimes than I have time for.

As for everybody else, It;s good to know there are others out there who had this problem. I didn't figure I was alone mind you, but not many folks post this.
 

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
Have you tried phasmids? They're much easier than mantids and they sure can be bountiful! I doubt they can be a solo or primary feeder, but if it gives your little guy a purpose! Stick bugs are the only feeder I've seen my guy "run" for and try to shoot from afar.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
OldChamKeeper...If the tongue was shot out...could he retract it on his own?
Will he take an insect if you touch it to his lips? Stick it between his teeth when he's drinking?
 
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OldChamKeeper

Chameleon Enthusiast
Yeah, your fellow there will eagerly take food from you. Mine would rather die, knowing the pain he inflicts upon me would be lasting. He won't do it. Been this way for three years. I'll just keep on taking care of him
 
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