Very Worried About Chameleon!!!

legolaskeeper

New Member
Hey,

This is my first post on this site. I am really in need of advice.
Just a bit of info before I start:

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - What kind of cage are you using? What is the size? I have a wooden cage with a sliding door. Currently building a bigger Wire mesh cage.
  • Lighting - What kind of lighting are you using? How long do you keep the lights on during the day? I use a ZooMed 10% UVB light and a Basking light.
  • Temperature - What temperature range have you created? Basking spot temp? What is the temperature at night? On the hot side it is between 28-33 DEGREES CELSIUS to 22-24 DEGREES CELSIUS.(I dont know what those temps are in fahrenheit.
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? I do not know.
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind? NO
  • Location - Where is your cage located? Is it near any fans, air vents, or high traffic areas? In my room above a bearded dragon cage. Next to a sliding,glass double door.
Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - The species, sex, and age of your chameleon. He is a Flap-Necked(chamaeleo dilepsis) chameleon. I do not know its age.
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What kind of schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders? Crickets(Staple diet),Mealworms and Grubs. I gut-load the crickets with carrots,apples and the meal worms with carrots
  • Supplements - What are you dusting your feeders with and what kind of schedule do you use? I dust the insects with a calsium duster and ad a D3 supplement in his water.
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? Do you see your chameleon drinking? I hand water him with a spraybottle,I spray the water into a suction cup and he drinks from that. About every three days he drinks.
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Brown,urine part is a bit yellow.
  • History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you. I saved the cham from a kid who caught it in the wild and was keeping it in a shoebox. I have had him for two years now before he started to get sick like this.
  • Current Problem - The current problem that you are concerned about. Lately he has stopped moving around in his cage,permanently sleeping, and quite often very stressed(Dark Black Colour). Today I cleaned his cage and I Placed him an a branch in my room. He started swaying and suddenly he fell of the branch about three feet. He immediatly sprang up and started moving again. I placed him back on the branch but got such a fright that I placed a pillow under the branch and he fell of again! I am really worriod about him.
    It is winter here in South Africa and I thought that he may be brumating? He is also strugling to shed.

    PLEASE if anyone could help me I would really appreciate it!:confused:
 

Tygerr

Avid Member
Hey Legolas. Where about in South Africa are you?

[*]History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you. I saved the cham from a kid who caught it in the wild and was keeping it in a shoebox. I have had him for two years now before he started to get sick like this.
Firstly, let me say that wild-caught (WC) chams don't have a great survival rate in captivity. The fact that you have had him for 2 years already shows that in general your husbandry can't have been too bad.

Reading through your post, there are a couple of things that could be improved, but solving these husbandry issues might not actually solve your current problems with the cham. My first bit of advice would be that you need to have him checked out by a vet.

"[*]Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? I do not know."

"[*]Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind? NO"

"[*]Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? Do you see your chameleon drinking? I hand water him with a spraybottle,I spray the water into a suction cup and he drinks from that. About every three days he drinks."

"[*]Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Brown,urine part is a bit yellow."

"He is also strugling to shed."
All of the things you have mentioned here lead me to believe that you might have a hydration problem with your cham. Dehydration might not be the cause of the current symptoms you are reporting, but over the long term it could lead to renal and other problems.
Yellowness of the urates is one of the first symptoms of dehydration (the other tell-tale sign would be sunken eyes).
Most chameleons shouldn't only be drinking every three days - they drink daily. Also, chameleons drink by licking up condensation or rain water that collects on foliage in their surroundings, they're not animals that drink from standing pools of water like cups or bowls (although I have heard anecdotal evidence that chams can be trained to drink from bowls, all I've ever seen are dehydrated chams with drinking bowls in their cages).
You can achieve proper watering by spraying his enclosure (not into a cup) at least twice a day for about 15-20 minutes each time, and by using a dripper to supply a stream of steady drips for a significant part of the day. Read here: Watering Chameleons.
Problems with shedding can be an indication that their is not enough humidity in the cage. You are not currently measuring the humidity in the cage, so it is difficult to tell if that is the problem.
I don't know where exactly you are in the country, but anywhere away from the coastal regions, it becomes very dry during winter in South Africa.
Also, live plants make a massive difference to humidity levels in the cage. I suggest you get some safe live plants in there.

[*]Supplements - What are you dusting your feeders with and what kind of schedule do you use? I dust the insects with a calsium duster and ad a D3 supplement in his water.
D3 can build up in the chameleon's system causing various problems. How often are you using the supplement? Are you sure the calcium you are using is pure calcium (i.e. no phosphorus and no other vitamins)?

I gut-load the crickets with carrots,apples and the meal worms with carrots
You may want to also use some leafy greens and a dry powder gutload (like this one: James/Wells/Lopez Gutload)

I have some further questions:
[*]Cage Type - What kind of cage are you using? What is the size? I have a wooden cage with a sliding door. Currently building a bigger Wire mesh cage.
Is the cage all wooden with only a glass sliding door? What size is it, and how is it orientated (i.e. is it higher vertically, or wider horizontally)?

[*]Lighting - What kind of lighting are you using? How long do you keep the lights on during the day? I use a ZooMed 10% UVB light and a Basking light.
What are you using for a basking light? Is it a normal spot light, or one of those red heat lights (you shouldn't be using the red ones)?

[*]Temperature - What temperature range have you created? Basking spot temp? What is the temperature at night? On the hot side it is between 28-33 DEGREES CELSIUS to 22-24 DEGREES CELSIUS.(I dont know what those temps are in fahrenheit.
Your temps sound fine, although you could allow for cooler ambient temps. They need cooler temps to regulate their metabolism and a seasonal drop in temps during winter is not a bad thing. I'm not familiar with the exact ranges for Flap-necks, but I would think that even a drop overnight down to 15C would be ok.

It is winter here in South Africa and I thought that he may be brumating?
It is my understanding that chameleons don't brumate. They may slow down their eating and activity during colder weather, but they don't fully brumate like some other reptiles do.

To summarise, the current problem you are reporting could have arisen due to a number of problems. It's extremely difficult to diagnose a specific problem via the internet. So read as much as you can on these forums and other recommended sites to improve your husbandry, but first and foremost try get your cham to a vet.

Here is some reading matter:
Chameleons! Online E-Zine (They have a great article about Chameleon Dilepsis - good starting point)
The Chameleon's Dish
 

legolaskeeper

New Member
A reply to your questions tygerr

D3 can build up in the chameleon's system causing various problems. How often are you using the supplement? Are you sure the calcium you are using is pure calcium (i.e. no phosphorus and no other vitamins)? Im definitly sure about it. Im using the supplement 2x a week.

You may want to also use some leafy greens and a dry powder gutload (like this one: James/Wells/Lopez Gutload) I bought gutload and water gel today fot the crickets

I have some further questions:

Is the cage all wooden with only a glass sliding door? What size is it, and how is it orientated (i.e. is it higher vertically, or wider horizontally)?The cage is currently inapropriate for a chameleon but I am almost finished with his new cage, it will be 80cm deep,150cm high and 150cm wide with live plants,waterfall and lots of climbing and hiding places for him.


What are you using for a basking light? Is it a normal spot light, or one of those red heat lights (you shouldn't be using the red ones)?I was told by the lady at the pet shop that it would be fine to use the red light. Should I remove it? what should I use instead?

refering to the watering, he dinks the water out of the cup while I have it in my hand. but i will definetly improve this.



tygerr, I am not able to put into words how thankfull I am for your advice. I feel so inadequate for not being able to properly care for the cham. I will let you know how his progress is as time passes. I am in the Centurion area between Pretoria and Joburg. I was told that the chameleon was caught in the Bela-Bela(Rather Warmbad) area and I would really like to release him into the wild near the dam where there are a lot af other little chameleons. Do you think that would be ok and that the chameleon would survive it in the wild again? I will still be nursing him back to health before then. thank you again for everything.
 
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kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
Tygerr..the link leads to a book titled Chameleons by R. and P. Bartlett. Unfortunately the site won't let me copy and paste any parts of it. I'm trying to find another link that might work. Its on page 10.
 

Tygerr

Avid Member
I feel so inadequate for not being able to properly care for the cham.
You have no reason to feel inadequate. Like I said, 2 years with a WC cham is good going already. From the equipment that you have already obtained, it sounds as though you did at least try to find out how to keep him properly.

I bought gutload and water gel today fot the crickets
What gutload did you get? Also, water gel isn't really necessary for crickets (in fact, some keepers warn against it). They can obtain the water they need by providing them fresh fruit/vegatables like oranges and squash.

Im definitly sure about it. Im using the supplement 2x a week.
Ok, how often is your cham exposed to unfiltered sunlight (i.e. not behind a window or through plastic)? If he is getting adequate exposure to sunshine, then you should probably reduce or even stop adding the D3 supplement to his water, because as I mentioned, supplemented D3 can build up in his system and affect calcium absorption.

The cage is currently inapropriate for a chameleon but I am almost finished with his new cage, it will be 80cm deep,150cm high and 150cm wide with live plants,waterfall and lots of climbing and hiding places for him.
Sounds like a good size. Make sure to wash the plants thoroughly to get rid of any pesticides that may have been sprayed on at the nursery.
And don't bother with the waterfall. Waterfalls are often just breeding grounds for bacteria, and also chameleons seem fond of depositing their droppings into pools of standing water. Most people argue that if you clean it regularly, you can prevent bacteria, but what would be the point of that? Chameleons won't drink from the waterfall, and all it does is add more maintenance that you don't need.

I was told by the lady at the pet shop that it would be fine to use the red light. Should I remove it? what should I use instead?
IMHO, I haven't met anyone at a pet store in Gauteng that knows a damned thing about keeping chameleons. Bearded dragons, sure. But the supply of chameleons is too irregular for them to learn anything about them.
So yes, get rid of the red light. All you need is a regular, household spot globe (I use the 60W Philips or Osram globes that you can buy at Pick 'n Pay). By adjusting the globe closer or further away from the cage, you can get the right temperature at the basking spot. Just don't put the globe right up against the cage, or the cham will get too close to it and burn itself.

I have my lights set up on individual timers so that the UV bulbs come on 30mins before the heat bulb, and then turn off 30 mins after the heat bulb. When the heat bulb turns off, the chams know that it is time to sleep and they all move to their favourite sleeping perch before the UV bulb goes off. I have the lights on for 11 hours a day in winter, and gradually increase that to 13 hours a day in summer (it correlates roughly to the actual hours of daylight in SA).

I was told that the chameleon was caught in the Bela-Bela(Rather Warmbad) area and I would really like to release him into the wild near the dam where there are a lot af other little chameleons. Do you think that would be ok and that the chameleon would survive it in the wild again?
It has been reported that the average lifespan for a chameleon in the wild is only about 2-3 years. So your cham is already quite advanced in terms of that lifespan.
Normally I would advise people to release the cham where they found it, because I am quite firmly against people keeping WC chams as pets, but in your case I don't think it would serve him any good to release him back into the wild.
So rather get him as healthy as he can be and let him live out the rest of his days getting fat on easy-to-catch crickets.

I will let you know how his progress is as time passes.
Please do keep me informed.
 

legolaskeeper

New Member
Hey tygerr,

I have put the cham in his new cage and his back to being his old self. Drinks everyday and isn't napping anymore. The red light is out of his cage and I put in the new plain light. Im only able to take him into natural sun 2x a week with his old cage but the new cage is built so that it can stand outside in the day if the tempretures allows it. With half shade and half sun by setting up the cage north south. replaced the waterfall with a dripper system made from a sterile IV drip,like the ones you get in the hospitals,works nicely because you can control the flow of the water.I give the crickets the same veggies that I give my beardie everyday and it seems to work. I definitly do also not agree with wild caught ANYTHING and keeping it as a pet but the chameleon was in a worse state than it has been this last while. I should agree that the pet shops do not really help a lot concerning chameleons.Thanx a mill for everything and I'll try to post some pics as soon as possible.
 

Tygerr

Avid Member
That's great to hear.

I've heard of people using those IV drips as drippers before. Seems like a neat idea.

And it's good that you can expose him to so much sun now. My vet always says that the absolute best thing you can do for lizards is give them as much sunlight as possible.
(With shade too of course so that they can choose to cool down if they wish...)
 
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