Vieled Cham skin peeling? -thought it was shedding but after 20 hours i'm doubtful

Discussion in 'Health Clinic' started by HairyScaryMark, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. HairyScaryMark

    HairyScaryMark New Member

    Cage Info:

    * Cage Type - 38 Gallon Flexarium 42 x 42 x 76cm (16.5 x 16.5 x 30inches) - plan to upgrade to 100 gallon flexarium when chameleon is bigger and older.
    * Lighting - 60W screw in spot attached to a Habistat dimming thermostat and a Reptiglow 5.0 UV strip 20W.
    * Temperature - about 32-36C (90-97 F) at basking spot and 22C (72 F) ambient
    * Humidity - I tend to aim between 55-80%. I use the drip system (2 plastic cups with holes in the bottom, in the morning) and mist twice daily.
    * Plants - I have a Bonsai Mondo Verde - Ficus Gingseng and about 4 artificial 'jungle plants' and a 'jungle vine'.
    * Placement - It is in the corner of my upstairs bedroom. I open the window slightly wherever possible. The top of the cage is around 2 metres from the floor.
    * Location - Aberdeen, Scotland.

    Chameleon Info:

    * Your Chameleon - Male Yemen Chameleon. I've had him since May of this year and led to believe he was around 2-3 months old (probably 3 as he was held back due to being a 'lazy feeder') when I got him, which would make him around 6 months old.
    * Handling - Every couple of days on average. I try to get him to walk onto my hand but he usually isn't very keen to although will happily use it to help him manoeuvre round his cage.
    * Feeding - Daily - 5 medium crickets, 2 small locusts, 2 wax worms and occasionally a moth or a cricket larvi. I also leave in some grapes and strawberries and he has taken this from my hand when presented to him when eating other insects but I am unaware of him ever eating this of his own accord.... I gut load the crickets and locusts with a mixture of grapes, strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes (all chopped finely) and a small quantity of basil, mint and lettuce (particularly for the locusts)
    * Supplements - I dust all the food in a tub using pure calcium powder prior to feeding.
    * Watering - As with humidity, daily dripping, twice daily misting. He often drinks from the drip system but only occasionally from the residue on the leaves.
    * Fecal Description - Never been tested for parasites but they are almost solid and medium/dark brown. No notably change in consistency since I first got him. He also sprays a white liquid.
    * History - apparently the breeder I got him from is very good and knowledgeable and the quality of her stock is very high. I've had absolutely no problems so far with keeping him. He's remained what i've thought to be healthy colours.
    * Current Problem - I thought skin shedding has started on his head, usually this only takes a few hours and will take place over his entire body, leaving only the occasional bit of skin here and there. The skin would also be seen lying around his cage but I have seen none. About 20 hours later he has still not shed more than a small quantity of the skin on his head. This has caused me to think it may not be shedding and the skin could be peeling for another reason.

    He also has had an apparent loss of appetite. Yesterday he didn't eat any crickets or wax worms I presented him with. The crickets have been in the cage for at least 3 days without any notable reduction in population. He did however eat 2 locusts and a couple of worms 2 days a go and I spotted him eat a cricket today. I heard they get bored of their food easily but i've also fed him locusts and wax worms in an attempt to prevent this happening. He has only been slightly more enthusiastic about eating these, the wax worms I put in yesterday were still in there at the end of the day. I wouldn't think too much of his loss of appetite but combined with the apparent peeling (maybe shedding) of skin, it worries me that it could be something else.

    I was also away for a couple of days 2 weekends a go and gave other family members with the job of looking after him. I left around 30-40 pupating moths in his cage and also divided crickets into 4 tubs (one for each day), gut-loaded with strawberries and grapes. It was reported that he wasn't eating but I dismissed this as I had left in moths and additional crickets were given, despite my instructions just to feed him what I left.

    I wondered if he was losing his skin due to dehydration or a burn and if the cage temperature was too great, this might explain it. Considering he regularly drinks the water I give him, it seemed a little bit unlikely that he would get dehydrated but perhaps he doesn't drink enough. (i notice him drink maybe every other day)

    All these things may just be a coincidence or explainable within normal parameters of how chameleons operate but I thought it best to get advice. I'm still quite new to all this stuff but i've never heard of a chameleon just shedding the skin on their head before (not saying it doesn't happen, I just haven't heard of it). Or does this slow down and take a lot longer as they get older?

    I took these pictures of him to demonstrate how his skin has been peeling off his head. It's not as dark as it looks in picture.



    Here is a picture of his cage taken a couple of months a go but it hasn't changed at all. I apologise for it being quite blurry.


    Also check out this link for a wider range of pictures of him.

    Thank you very much in advance for your help. I did a google search on reptile vets and found a few in my area. I can take him to the vet tommorow if that appears to be a wise thing to do. It is also possible the old skin will disappear or someone will identify the problem on here.

  2. HairyScaryMark

    HairyScaryMark New Member

    Dehydration is what I think is most likely.

    The symptoms don't really fully match his condition but as he has been drinking water it's unlikely to be a particualrly bad case of dehydration. It's more that he hasn't been drinking enough water, if my thoughts are correct.

    "Symptoms to watch out for:

    1. Sunken eyes (Be aware, the chameleon in the case study is already in advanced stage of dehydration. When your chameleon exhibits the same symptom in the picture, you need a vet to treat and hydrate your chameleon).
    2. A yellow or orange urate
    3. Loss of appetite and chameleon appeared lethargic
    4. When pulled GENTLY with 2 fingers, the skin is too slow to return back to its position (or, even worse, does not go back at all)."

    In my book, i think it says something about peeling skin being a symptom of dehyration also.

    It may also explain why he has gone off crickets to some extent. I don't know for sure but I think the chameleon would feel the wax worms were more moist than the crickets.

    I also haven't seen him poop for a while although have been cleaning up a small number of them daily.

    I have no way of verifying this. If things aren't back to normal tommorow, I will concider taking him to the vet but if it is just a mild form of dehydration, he should recover by himself..
  3. Jonas

    Jonas New Member

    That looks like a normal shedding veiled to me.
    There are no visual sighns of dehydration, but you might want to help the shed along by misting a bit more when in shedding.

    Dont leave crickets with the chameleon around the clock, take rthem out if he doesnt feed on them in a few hours. Put them in again the next day to try again.

    I would also advice you to get much more light. Just light, not UVb or heat, just light. A daylight tube and/or som low energy bulbs with reflectors would do the trick. I cut beer cans in half to get cheap reflectors for the smaller low energy bulbs.
    We often forget regular light for the chameleons, yet it can have a huge impact on them. They get much more active, it releases certain hormones, and they can get a better appetite from it.

    A well lit cage indoors are most often much darker than a shady day outside, we just preceive it as well lit due to the dark indoors.
  4. jake01

    jake01 New Member

    20 hours seems fine to me. My veiled recently shed for the first time and it took around 24 hours. Even yesterday he still had one tiny bit of skin left but that's gone now as well.
  5. dodolah

    dodolah Retired Moderator

    that is him shedding.
    I do not think your chameleon is dehydrated.
    You can help him shed faster by raising the humidity of his cage (misting more etc).
  6. jannb

    jannb Chameleon Enthusiast

    Mist with very warm water and for a long period of time. As veileds get older they shed in sections and seem to have some part of their body sheding almost all the time.
  7. chameleon97

    chameleon97 New Member

    My cham takes several days... One day it her belly, tomorrow its her feet etc.
  8. WelshOneEmma

    WelshOneEmma New Member

    I found that when my male veiled got to about the 6 month mark his appetite started decreasing. Some days he would eat 8-10 crickets or locusts, other days one or two, or none at all. He now gets fed every other day, and maybe 6 locusts or crickets (I alternate).
  9. Jonas

    Jonas New Member

    Young chameleons shed much faster as staded above, its quite humorous some times as it look liks they just exploded in a cloud of shedded skin. Like cotton candy.

    About the "not eating" part, you really should stop handling him. No reptiles have any bennefit from it, its actually harmful in different degrees for them. The stress for chameleons seem to be quite high up on that scale.
  10. HairyScaryMark

    HairyScaryMark New Member

    Thanks for the responses and the advice. It is quite a relief that people think he isn't dehydrated.

    I've already been misting and used the drip system 3 times today, in an attempt to get him to drink more. This will also raise the humidity so has that effect.

    I'm thiking of attaching the light to a bracket to get a small distance between the cage and the light, decreasing the chances of him getting burnt, although I was told my current sollution is fine.

    I might see about getting a second buld or some low watt 'natural light' bulbs or simlar.

    I've heard much of the handling discussion. There are probably no real benefits other than I can take him outside to get some real sunlight, every now and again (obviously, not often in Scotland but i've done it a few times on warm days). It may however stress him out more if I handled him only ocasionally and he wasn't used to it. He does seem to interact with me at some level. He often just stairs at me when I go beside his cage and sometimes even moves towards me (although this could be my imagination). I tend to get a few quiet hisses when I handle him but he settles down after a minute or two then gets more tense if I don't sit down somewhere soon afterwards and let him sit on my shoulder. Overall, I don't think he minds being handled all that much as he tends to keep the same colouring and there haven't been any major hissing episodes when handling.
  11. Jonas

    Jonas New Member

    Ive had calyptratus in outside cages for months (all around the clock), and I live in Sweden. They seem to thrive from that.

    I am not a believer of getting reptiles "hand tamed". If anything its the people whe get "tamed", learning to handle the animal better. There is no reason to try to get a chameleon more used to handling just so it will be less stressful when they NEED handling; that equation does not even out even if it worked. The total stress will always be greater the more you handle it.
  12. sandrachameleon

    sandrachameleon Chameleon Enthusiast

  13. HairyScaryMark

    HairyScaryMark New Member

    Calyptratus are Yemen/Vieled? I looked it up and I learn something new every day.... I am quite amazed by the fact you can keep them outside concidering we are probably in a vaugely similar climate (although probably colder winters and slightly warmer summers in Sweden). Do you use night time heating? I assume you cannot keep them outside in winter? I think it even snowed in April here this year, so I really just can't imagine doing this myself.

    I've ended up handling him today but only after he moved onto my hand voluntarily and purely for the reason I desperately needed to clean out his cage so had to move him elsewhere. I am ashamed I let it get so dirty. He ended up spending a large part of the afternoon sitting on ficus and hisbiscus trees in the middle of my shower. I couldn't get him to go in a small plastic tank as he just kept climbing up my arm and I couldn't find anywhere else I could put him without risk of him moving onto other objects or being eaten by the cats (although suprisingly, they have taken no interest in him so far, possibly don't even know he exists).

    Anyone got any tips for cleaning out the cage in future? Anyone use any anti bacterial cleaners or anything like that? I think if I change the substate (bark) monthly or posisbly more freuqently, that would be a good start.

    I also added 3 additional smaller plants and cut back a little bit on the fake plants. I now have 2 hisbiscus, a bonsai ficus gengsing and a small ficus 'exotica' tree. My thinking was real is better than fake although if anyone knows anything to contrary, i'll be interested to hear and change it back. I had these plants lying around for the last few weeks as I bought them with the idea i could place him on them at times (such as when cleaning) or put them in the adult cage, when I get that.

    Tommorow i'm planning on getting some additional lighting. I was actually planning on purchasing some natural light bulbs or LED's for better lighting when painting minatures (yes, i am a geek).

    Thanks for the info on gut loading. The list is rather extensive and some of the food is a bit rare and hard to come by (such as avian pellets, bee pollen, colland greens (never even heard of them) and kale) but I noticed a few things I regularly have in my house, which I am yet to feed crickets. I'll maybe try Strawberries, Grapes, Blueberries, Green Pees, Oatmeal, Carrot and Orange.

    I have been using Blueberries, Grapes and Stawberries with the ocasional bit of cucumber, basil, mint and lettace which in my opinion isn't exactly bad concidering some people just feed them lettace, but I guess it can be improved.

    Maybe I will sound silly for writing this but I don't fully understand why you don't feed crickets and locusts this food all the time rather than just in the 24 hours before feeding. I usually find even the smallest quantity of a fruit or veg will lead to a much larger quantity than can be eaten. I only keep 1 chameleon so my food requirements aren't quite as great as those of you who have a large collection and as he is growing I and changing his appetite it is difficult to predict exactly what he will eat (recently, very little).
  14. WelshOneEmma

    WelshOneEmma New Member

    Let me say it before everyone else does - get rid of the substrate. It makes it harder to keep clean, can harbour bacteria and you risk impaction. Most people on here use paper towels which are easy to replace, or nothing. Try to do a daily clean where you pick up poo and urate. I do a quick clean once a week (wipe down the bottom with a wet sponge) and every few months I do a deep clean, where everything comes out and I wipe the cage down using water with a little washing up liquid in.

    With regards to gutloading, I just use what comes in the veg box (bar broccolli), and bee pollen is very easy to come by. You can buy it in most health food shops and online. Kale can also be bought at any super market.
  15. HairyScaryMark

    HairyScaryMark New Member

    My book suggested using newspaper at the bottom of the cage. My only concern is crickets might try and eat that as they don't seem to be picking about eating anything. It also looks a big gash but I guess it's a lot cheaper (pretty much free as we get at least 2 newspapers every day in this house). I guess it would be a lot easier to clean without the bark. The bark actually stunk really bad as soon as I moved it. Admittedly, the time before cleaning was probably far too great and I can't imagine it would get to that state in a few weeks.

    The other thing is, I have my plants in pots at the moment and there is a notably differnce in height between the bottom of the cage and the pots. I fill this up with bark and the chameleon can move around anywhere he wants, inside the enclosure. The only surface whcih botehrs him is the UV light, which he regularly attempts to climb. Would this level of manouverability still be possible with newspaper or paper towels? Or would it even matter?

    I already clean up any poos that I find, which have been a lot fewer in numbers recently due to him eating less. He's deffinately eaten a few insects in the last few days though. I wipe down some of the surfaces and leaves that end up with his waste on it regualrly.

    I am still a bit of a n00b with keeping chameleons but am trying my best and reading as much as possible. I (very) casually read for over a year before actually getting one and did serious research in the weeks and months prior to getting him. I think the biggest mistake i've made so far was the time it took to clean out the cage. I guess everyone makes a few mistakes when they first start though and he is still alive and doing well.

    The next clean out in a couple weeks time will feature no bark, I think. Depending on the state of the bark I clean out. I have 1 spair bag of it currently. I need 2 to fill the tray but I could put something else underneath (such as newspaper) to build up height and even then it would still be easier to clean out, but possibly best just to not bother with it as it would be better for hygene.


    Went round various shops yesterday to track down some lighting. I managed to get some daylight bulbs from my supermarket reduced on special offer. I ended up in a Reptile shop and I think she ordered me one of these. Black Dome 14cm With Clamp&pid=8128

    It wasn't the shop I usually go to as it doesn't open on Tuesday. She spent quite a long time on the phone to her supplier before ordering it and i'm a bit confused to what exactly I'll be getting but apparently it's what I want.

    Also, is there anything against using a conventional lamp such as this one to house a daylight bulb aimed at the chameleon?
  16. jojackson

    jojackson New Member

    Aye, be canny lad, threaten the wee beastie with a haggis, ne'er fails! :D
  17. Jonas

    Jonas New Member

    You CAN have a "backup lamp", but I seldom use one. The nights can get really cold in some locals of Yemen, calyptratus have been found in night temps just over freezing degrees. I do not keep them out in that kind of cold though. A lot of montane species will encounter cold nights in nature.
  18. HairyScaryMark

    HairyScaryMark New Member

    He should adjust his markings to resemble Tartan on national days such as St Andrews Day and Burns night. Or he could turn Blue with a white diagonal cross

    I've been a lot more careful recently with handling. I haven't actulaly handled him since I cleaned out his cage but I think I will be patient and let him walk onto my hands, entirely voluntarily in the future. His claws are also getting bigger and sharper

    I was thinking of getting a heat mat or two use in the winter. Do you think this is excess to requirements? I often get very cold at night in winter and he is kept in my bedroom but what is cold to me is probably differnet to him.
  19. jojackson

    jojackson New Member

    Aye, but which clan? :) maybe you could get him a wee red wig for his casque? :D

    Hell be ok with the handling mate, even if you have to use a stick for him to climb on initially.
    Those claws can really dig in some cant they! :)

    P.S im a bit bored, in a silly mood, dont think much of it, im normally sane, honest, they even let me out for recreation days for good behaviour! :D
    #19 jojackson, Sep 2, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  20. Jonas

    Jonas New Member

    Its kind of lika asking if you like cake. I simply dont know.

    You have to check the temps in your specific room and make that judgement yourself. I would not recommend mats and such, its too ineffective. Adding a few spots here and there have worked better for me.

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