What went wrong?

Otis2019

New Member
Hello, I am a first time chameleon owner. This is going to be long so I apologize. I decided to adopt my late veiled chameleon, Otis, from a local Petco. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the ethicality of this choice, but this was what happened. After researching chameleon care and the general personality of the fancy lizard, I decided it was right for me. So I picked up 3month old Otis and took him home to a 32Inx18 x18 fully screened in cage with a 7UVB light bulb and a daylight blue bulb (this was not enough I know that now). He also had lots of branches and since I live in south Louisiana the humidity stayed around 50% or higher even indoors. Otis started eating crickets and meal worms the first night he was home and quickly settled into a 12hr on 12hr off sleep schedule. He never had a problem eating when he was little and I dusted his crickets, mealworms, soldier fly larvae, and wax worms with calcium. I read that too many mealworms and wax worms were not best so I limited these to special treats. His main diet has always been crickets and I gut load them with flucker farms calcium jelly and feed. I use oatmeal as a substrate for my feeders (that may not matter). As far as water goes I really didn’t know how to make sure Otis got proper water, I did different things such as put ice cubes at the top and they would drip on the leaves as they melted and I sprayed the leaves. Otis usually showed little interested in the water anyway I gave it to him. This was concerning but he never showed outward signs of dehydration (his poop was white and wet, his eyes were googly and out, and his energy seemed fine). Still, I started giving him zucchini and horn worms to improve his water intake along with “wetting his food” as in dropping a little bit of water into insects before serving them to Otis. He was not interested in lettuce. After visiting the vet when he was about 9 months old after not eating For a couple days, the vet told me his vitamins levels looked good but I can improve on my husbandry. I was so excited to get some solid advice and Otis got a major upgrade. 10HO UVB bulb, a heater to bring up the temperature of his basking spot to ~88 degrees, A dripper system, and a humidifier for the winter time. Once I made these additions he started eating normally again. Many months pass and I notice Otis seems cramped in his old cage and I get him a 4ftx2ftx2ft screened in cage and a linear 10HO UVB fixture. I add a second ceramic bulb heater to accommodate the larger cage and a second day time bulb. When Otis moved into the new cage he started refusing food. I thought it was because the new cage made him a bit nervous so I left him be and offered him food each day. After a few more days I started to get nervous so I thought of all the things the vet recommended. The light, brand new, cage, screened in good, water? He is using the dripper still and I’m still misting him, heat? Good. I have a screened in back porch where Otis likes to go to bask in the natural sun so I knew he was getting at least some vitamin D. I only handle him when he wants to come out. He would let me know by pushing his little nose on the spot where I open the cage door and he hops on my hand. So the problems I noticed were that since he was not eating he wasn’t getting supplements and before he stopped eating he would let the feeders hang out with him before eating and they would clean themselves off leaving Otis with very little supplement. I also noticed he had some stuck shed for a while. So my goal became to get him to eat something and get him hydrated. I also thought another option to bring up the humidity More and make Otis feels more natural was to add a fern at the bottom. I looked up the species online and it was in the nontoxic/safe to eat zone for chameleons. Now, Otis LOVED this plant. Within a few Hours Otis had eaten this plant to the core. I thought well at least he ate something but that is a little weird to reject feeders he used to love and want to eat a plant only. So for a week he ate nothing but this plant. (This was 3 months before he passed). In hindsight I should have dusted the plant with calcium and vitamin but I did not. So he spends a week eating nothing, then spends a week eating a fern, then starts to eat nothing again and suddenly wants nothing to do with food and everything to do with water. He sat under the dripper all day. He ate the plant back in early April and began eating again by late April. not eating much, but at least he was eating. I was concerned but I heard that chameleons can go a little while without food and he was eating some. I figured when he got more used to the new cage he would loosed up. Also this was during quarantine so I was home all day maybe stressing him out since he usually gets to be alone while I’m at school/work. He started eating a little more, But it was too late unfortunately. I naively thought since his bones looked strong and not bendy, he was energetic, and had white poops, that he was fine. The problem started when I noticed Otis had not pooped in a few days which is very odd for him. a day or so later, Otis began walking oddly having trouble distinguishing between what was a branch or his own leg. I thought he might have been impacted. While I was out my mom called in a panic saying Otis had Fallen and couldn’t get up. I of course also panicked and thought he had had a seizure or something. Otis was having a lot of trouble staying upright and walking. I feared he was developing MBD since he hadn’t eaten much in so long. I should have taken him to the vet sooner but I guess my mind thought he was showing signs of improvement so the vet would likely tell me to keep trying. My mistake... So I rushed him to our local exotics hospital and they reviewed his care and I told them all about how he was not eating for so long and so forth. They told me he had developed kidney disease. I was shocked because I thought maybe its MBD or intestinal blockage because of a lack of calcium making him all wobbly. They tried very hard to save him with fluids and everything else. He stayed there 5 nights. They told me they had trouble with him being a picky eater which is very on brand for Otis. They said they would present him with healthy food and he would look away, but with chameleon equivalent of “candy” he was ready for it. I was constantly in a battle between trying to ween him off of “candy” and not starve him. He didn’t show any improvement so they sent him home with me to basically want for him to pass. I am of course devastated and trying to find out what went so wrong with Otis. I know chameleons are fragile and difficult to read. I tried so hard with Otis and unfortunately for him I did a lot of learning along the way. I know this is ramblely and I likely left out some details but if anyone could give some advice on where the problem likely occurred. I had no idea they could go downhill so quickly. Any advice on what to do with a picky Cham? What causes kidney disease in Chameleons and ways to combat this in the future. I will attach a picture of him so y’all can see what a cutie he was.

Note for the picture: this is the last picture i have of him in a tree after his hospital stay. notice his spine is bent, this happened within 5 days. Also his head has a scar because when he was younger I (naively) let his branch he too close to the heat bulb and he got a burn about a year ago :( my fault.
 

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nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
"chameleon grabbing own leg"
10HO UVB "bulb"
Drank tons of water
Vet didnt mention gout or edema


Im guessing it was a calcium/phosphorus/d3 imbalance. CHameleon grabbing own leg is a dead giveaway that there is a calcium problem to the point it neurological.

"something" was causing calcium binding or maybe just way too much calcium. Im guessing something was in every feeder that it knew it didnt want more of, and thats why he rejected all bugs and switch to veg.

It might help if you list your vitamins and calcium brands/models, and your lighting, since you were very abbreviated on that (was it a 10.0 cfl for most of his life and only a linear at the end?)
 

Otis2019

New Member
"chameleon grabbing own leg"
10HO UVB "bulb"
Drank tons of water
Vet didnt mention gout or edema


Im guessing it was a calcium/phosphorus/d3 imbalance. CHameleon grabbing own leg is a dead giveaway that there is a calcium problem to the point it neurological.

"something" was causing calcium binding or maybe just way too much calcium. Im guessing something was in every feeder that it knew it didnt want more of, and thats why he rejected all bugs and switch to veg.

It might help if you list your vitamins and calcium brands/models, and your lighting, since you were very abbreviated on that (was it a 10.0 cfl for most of his life and only a linear at the end?)
Thank you for the reply! He had the coiled 10.0UVB light for most of his life (changed out every 4-5 months and the linear one at the end. He did go outside a lot as well to get natural sun on the porch. He used the repticalcium supplement Without D3 and I used the one with D3 occasionally, maybe once a month.

You were spot on with the vitamin imbalance, that was the vet’s findings. the vet mentioned he had edema after they gave him fluid treatments.
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thank you for the reply! He had the coiled 10.0UVB light for most of his life (changed out every 4-5 months and the linear one at the end. He did go outside a lot as well to get natural sun on the porch. He used the repticalcium supplement Without D3 and I used the one with D3 occasionally, maybe once a month.

You were spot on with the vitamin imbalance, that was the vet’s findings. the vet mentioned he had edema after they gave him fluid treatments.

So it sounds like he did not have enough D3 and maybe even too much calcium. The curly bulbs are only good for "tanks" that are 12-18" tall, since they are only good for 4-6" away from the bulb before D3/UVB output goes to almost zero. Greate for geckos and anoles that literally hang from the screen under the bulb, not so good for a 3-4ft tall cage. And if you did not have a solid d3 supplement schedule, well young chams will be doubling in weight every 6-8 weeks.

So im to go with just enough D3 that bones we not bendy, but not enough D3 for good health, and odds are too much calcium period, which is why he was rejecting feeders but eating things without calcium.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
I am sorry for your loss. The coil bulbs are no good. They need linear T5HO fixtures. While there were errors in husbandry you tried your best which says a lot.

If you decide to get another I highly recommending learning as much as you can from this website. https://chameleonacademy.com/ Every bit of info is correct and every section is detailed. Then come back here and we can go over your plans and what you intend to provide. :)
 

Otis2019

New Member
So it sounds like he did not have enough D3 and maybe even too much calcium. The curly bulbs are only good for "tanks" that are 12-18" tall, since they are only good for 4-6" away from the bulb before D3/UVB output goes to almost zero. Greate for geckos and anoles that literally hang from the screen under the bulb, not so good for a 3-4ft tall cage. And if you did not have a solid d3 supplement schedule, well young chams will be doubling in weight every 6-8 weeks.

So im to go with just enough D3 that bones we not bendy, but not enough D3 for good health, and odds are too much calcium period, which is why he was rejecting feeders but eating things without calcium.

That makes since he would hang upside down under the bulb sometimes :/ I upgraded to the linear bulb when he moved into the taller cage, wish I would have done so sooner! I didn’t realize they were different until recently since they had the “same” UVB number. Thank you for your help!
 

Otis2019

New Member
I am sorry for your loss. The coil bulbs are no good. They need linear T5HO fixtures. While there were errors in husbandry you tried your best which says a lot.

If you decide to get another I highly recommending learning as much as you can from this website. https://chameleonacademy.com/ Every bit of info is correct and every section is detailed. Then come back here and we can go over your plans and what you intend to provide. :)
Thank you that means a lot! i will definitely check out the link if I get another in the future! Tricky creatures but so so great! Thank you!
 
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