Urgent Help Needed


New Member
Hi All,

My friend has asked me to look at his chameleon tonight as he has a 'problem' with it!

I went round to see it and his chameleon has a large hole through the top of his casque and the top part of the casque looks like its rotting away!!!

I have had chams for years but never seen this before....its looks like a type of necrosis but what could the cause be.......mites etc

I have advised vets, change bulbs, clean viv etc etc but I would everyones thought as to what the hell is wrong with this cham


Hi Dave. Sorry to hear about this cham but it sure would be beneficial to see a picture for us to take a look at! What about his set up and care, is everything corect?

Ok managed to get a couple of photos for you.

I have examined there set up and found they had replaced their UVB 10.0 bulb with an energy saving normal household bulb 2-3 months ago....cant bloody believe it.....I gave these people loads of advice before they got the cam....i'm really annoyed as its a cam I bred :-(

I have already told them to take him to a vet tommorrow......I have also given them the option of giving the cham back to me should they not be able to afford medical care etc and I will treat him

Anyway,.,heres the photos....its worth mentioning as you cant see it in the pics but you can see all the way through


Oh man! it looks like it got burned form the lights. Unfortunately this is quite common. You mentioned they are using an energy saving light bulb? Do you know the wattage of the bulb (fluorescent?) These are very low wattage, so I find it hard to believe it caused this so bad, unless there was nothing in between, say the bulb was inside the cage, or it is some other king od bulb.

Defo not a burn.....all lighting is contained in a hood and there is mesh between the cham and the lights.....

The spinal spikes on the cham also appear to be degrading as well.....I know the casque can be affected by mbd quickly and i am wondering whether this, coupled with the spinal spike damage, might actually be the start of mbd

Either way that casque is rotting on the poor sods head and I think will need to be amputated

Looks like a burn to me. A hood and mesh top wont protect the cham from burns, and 'spinal spikes' are also easily burned if basking temps are too high.
I know what your saying but really cant see it being a burn.....it looks like its rotting from the outside in.....
I agree I don't think it is a burn as like you said it is deteriorating on the inside not the outside. I know this sounds gross, but does it smell like it could be an abcess or something? I think regardless, this chameleon needs to be seen by a vet. Good luck with this guy! He looks like a very handsome chameleon! I know MBD causes bent casques and stunted casques but I have never seen MBD cause that.
Heres some photo showing the chams side and spine

I dont think this cham has been exposed to burning to be honest....the thermostat is in the green, the metal mesh is not hot even after 8 hours of constant light, the cham cannot touch the lights directly

Looking at this spine I think mbd and I have just found out the people have not changed their UVB light for 2.5 years!!!! I think mbd is the prime runner for this chams condition but i am not 100%


That's a shame:mad:, theres nothing you should recommend to those people other than a good vet , apparently they don't listen anyways.
It’s a burn. Well it was.

Back a million years ago when I did rescue work my vet claimed that the pain sensors in reptiles are quite far down in the skin layer and because of that it takes a long time for a reptile to realize that it is too hot and potentially burning itself. I’m not sure if that is true or not maybe some of our vet and vet students can confirm this? The casque and spines, from being too close to the heat lamp for a prolonged period, is dead and finally sloughing off. This is something that has been happening for months and months and now you are seeing the outcome of the healing. I see a lot of Veileds with this problem – maybe not to this large extent – but it is fairly prevalent with the species.

Attached is a pic of a rescue Veiled from back in the day. Please notice the healed casque and spines.



Obviously I recommend a vet visit to ensure what is remaining of the casque has healed but certainly a review of basic husbandry would be prudent. Beyond the sloughed casque, he doesn’t look too bad. His limbs are straight. His colour is good. Eyes are bulgy. Those owners aren’t doing a terrible job.
I believe you're right trace. Although we are still learning much about their skin structure because it is so different from that of mammals, it is generally believed that their pain receptors are either much deeper or much slower than ours. Reptiles will sit there and get very serious burns without even realizing it. Another theory, that doesn't really apply here, is that they may not have heat receptors on their bellies in nearly the concentration that they do on their backs, which is why heat rocks were so terrible of an idea. Of course it makes sense for an animal that basks in the sun that that's where the receptors should be. So reptiles sitting on heat rocks would literally burn straight through their skin and abdomen right up to intestines. It was terrible! But I digress... think of it like when you're out in the sun. You don't realize you've gotten sunburnt until after the damage is already done. Well if their receptors are even deeper and/or slower to recognize pain then the damage is often much worse than just a sunburn.

I agree with the others, this looks very much like a burn that's trying to heal. The casque is necrotic and will slough off if it's not removed (which it may need to be if it's infected) and the spines are healing already. Just because you're not right up against the sun doesn't mean you're not going to get sunburned. Convection heat is just as likely to cause burns, even through a mesh, especially if it's a high wattage bulb. Time for a vet visit! Burned skin easily becomes infected and can cause a systemic infection if uncontrolled so your guy may need antibiotics. Or if the skin next the burned part has already healed up then antibiotics may not be necessary. A vet will be able to tell.
Reptiles will sit there and get very serious burns without even realizing it.

Humans will do that to, though perhaps not to this extent. However, back in the days before we knew about the sunburn/skin cancer link I can remember getting second degree burns (blisters) from laying out in the sun trying to get a tan.
trace: WOW! that poor guy.

founder: casque looks to be rotting. does it smell? is it soft? he looks good other than that.
Logically their pain/heat receptors must also be differently wired, and heat receptors serving to detect radiant heat, rather than pain. We touch a surface hot enough to burn, we pull away, adaptive self preservation. (heat/pain reflex) most reptiles simply dont encounter such extreme hot surfaces in the wild, what good then evolving 'wiring' for such a response? It only needs to sense warmth to thermoregulate, why should the sense be as keen as ours. I think they do have heat receptors on their undersides, since many species utilize warm surfaces after the sun goes down, how do they find them. I think hot rocks burn because they get much hotter than any natural rock in nature, and the fact there is usually only one in an enclosure, no choice,
they behave instinctively and suffer as a result, especially when the hotrock is either the sole heat source or directly under radiant heat (bulb).
Countless burnt reptiles, particularly snakes seem to to attest to this.
Of course this and the skin structure mentioned would vary, consider monitor species, particularly some here, not only encounter rock surfaces 70c and higher,common in their desert habitats, but bask on them and indeed have evolved to make use of such temps for fast thermoregulation, since they need a faster metabolism required to hunt faster prey and digest what are often absurdly large meals when opportunity arises.
Hopefully the animal will be treated and survive. Im inclined to think more along the lines of necrotic bacterial infection as a result of the initial burn myself.
Just a few thoughts.
best wishes with the lizard,
cheers :)
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