Common Medical Problems
The purpose of this section is to aid you in identifying a potential
problem with your chameleon's health. The key is prevention and keen
Note: If you encounter
symptoms you are concerned about that are not described in the following
list below, please contact me or even better, your veterinarian!
MDB (Metabolic Bone Disease)
calcium and/or lack of UVA/UBV lighting.
jaw line and/or ankles, bumps along spine, poor color, brittle/broken/misaligned
bones, lack of coordination, weakened grip or tendency to fall.
calcium daily to fortify bones (see your vet for dosage, based
on your chameleons weight. You cannot reverse the effects you
can only prevent further deterioration. Your vet may recommend
a series of calcium injections. Calcium Sandoz is available at
any drug store.
way to prevent MBD is to ensure your chameleon gets both Calcium
and UVA/UBV lighting (at least 12 hours a day). In order for the
intestinal tract to absorb the calcium, it requires activated
Vitamin D3 to be present. Vitamin D needs to be exposed to UV
radiation (light) in order to become activated. This is why is
curial to have full spectrum UV light in your reptile's environment!
able to get too close to his basking light.
you will observe a light green patch, accompanied with/or without
a blister(s). The area then turns black and eventually sloughs
off leaving a raw area prone to infection.
professional medical care must be sought! Your vet may prescribe
an oral antibiotic, topical compresses and or a cream called flamazine
that is very occlusive and will sooth and protect the raw area
while providing antibacterial properties. You must of course re-adjust
the basking light is about one foot away from your chameleon!
Make sure your chameleon cannot scale the walls or ceiling and
hang under the bulb! If you see this occurring, use a stand to
suspend your basking lamp so it does not sit flush on the aquarium
ceiling. Make certain there are no sticks or vines/other accessories
your little guy can climb to get closer! Trust me, it is their
goal in life to try to get as close to that darn light as they
chameleon, whether mated of not, will lay infertile eggs a few
times a year. If you do not provide the appropriate conditions
for her to deposit her eggs, she will retain them and die from
either suffocation (eggs accumulate and compress lungs) or become
so weak and dehydrated due to the eggs absorbing all the nutrients
she manages to take in, as well as the stored reserves she will
chameleon wants to deposit her eggs she will stop eating, but
continue drinking. You will notice less fecal matter and more
bugs uneaten. She will either begin scratching at the walls/ground
of the aquarium or start hanging out on the bottom. Symptoms of
a very weak chameleon that is egg bound are: closed eyes, inability
to eat or drink, tendency to sleep on the ground or lower branches
in her enclosure, tends to breath with her mouth open periodically.
see this behavior put her in a container of moist sand and do
not disturb her! While your chameleon is trying to lay her eggs,
you should be giving her liquid calcium! After a few days, if
she has not laid all of her eggs (you can gently palpate her belly
and readily feel any) take her to the vet immediately! Pending
on her state of health/strength, your vet may give her some calcium
and Saline injections plus a drug that aids in starting contractions
(oxcitocine). As a last resort, she may have to have a C-section.
After you observe the initial symptoms of your chameleon needing
to lay eggs do not wait longer than 5 days (or pending on her
health) to seek help! The longer you wait, the weaker she will
grow and the less chance she will have of recovery.
Some people opt to keep a container of sand in the enclosure all
the time, just in case they miss the initial symptoms, however,
most chameleons need a very deep, private area. My chameleon never
used it when I offered her a container in her enclosure, and it
took up allot of space and the bugs burrowed in it and I did not
want to risk my chameleon ingesting some of the sand while trying
to catch a bug.
a bacterial infection, which settles into the gum tissue, palate
or tongue. If left untreated it can invade the jaw bone. One important
fact often overlooked by a pet owner is that mouthrot is not a
disease itself, it is a secondary infection triggered by a systemic
presents as yellowish-whitish plaques, or irregular blotches on
can show you how to work on it. Because stomatitis is a secondary
infection, the reptile must be placed on a course of antibiotics.
Broad-spectrum antibiotics are usually tried first. A culture
is usually done to identify the organism at large. Any reptile
that is sick needs to be kept warm and hydrated. For the duration
of the treatment, the nighttime temperature should stay about
the same as the daytime temperature. They may have to be hand-fed,
and hydrated with Pedialyte.
always take the time to evaluate why your chameleon got sick.
Something must have happened to make it sick in the first place.
Temperatures may not have been calibrated correctly, a new the
enclosure and furnishings may have gone a little to long without
being properly cleaned and disinfected, or reptile may have been
chameleon stops eating for a prolonged period, this is referred
to as a hunger strike. This can be prompted by seasonal change
as your chameleon senses the fluctuating diurnal cycle (this is
why I recommend your lights are on timers, to keep it consistent!).
This can also be prompted by a lack of variety in your chameleons
diet. You should initially rule out any ailments such as parasites
are obvious, your chameleon shows no interest in food, but otherwise,
a greater of variety into your chameleons diet, ruling out any
ailments, keeping your chameleon's lighting on "timers"
so they are not stressed by staying up to late, or by seasonal
change. Your veterinarian may suggest an alternative food.
in diet and consistent lighting!
delivery of water is the most common cause of dehydration.
of low-level dehydration are easy to miss! In advanced cases,
it can lead to loss of appetite, lethargy, sunken eyes/cheeks,
wrinkled skin, and eventual death. A chameleon desperate for water
may be seen trying to lick water off the ground.
mild case, orally administer electrolyte solution (Pedialyte).
You can also soak your chameleon in this (note, once opened the
container must be used with in 24 hours!). You should also heavily
mist the enclosure and alter your water system. For advanced cases,
your vet can inject saline solution subcutaneous.
husbandry! Kidney Failure; is the most common cause of death in
captive chameleons. Probably a result of a general lack of overall
quality of water delivery systems provided to captive chameleons.
Kidney disease is detected through diagnostic blood tests.
an object (i.e. wood chip, pebble, inappropriate sized insect,
matter, chameleon attempting to go to the bathroom but not accomplishing
anything. They tend to hang their "vents" over a branch
and "go" in a designated area.
hydration, mineral or cod liver oil (orally once a week).
causes as noted above! Realistically chameleons will not become
constipated" it is a sign that something is wrong (i.e. diet,
humidity, etc.) and can even be a sign of something more serious
like cancer or parasites!
infections are probably one of the most common of all reptile
ailments. Generally it is caused when a reptile is not being kept
of respiratory infection include; "gaping" of mouth,
wheezing, gurgling, and bubbling from the mouth/and or nose.
early stages, simply maintaining the animal at a constant, higher
heat level, between 85 and 90 degrees, can clear a respiratory
infection. If left untreated too long, pneumonia may ensue and
prescription antibiotics required.
speaking, maintaining the correct temperatures.
could have a problem with his mouth, tongue or throat. This could
be caused by a tongue infection, mouth abscesses, hypocalcaemia
or vitamin deficiency. The infection could also be caused by puncture
wound from enclosure or the sharp part of cricket leg!
chameleon misses food constantly, probably due to the fact that
he cannot "shoot" his tongue properly.
(b) Your chameleon will not be able to retract its tongue. In
sever cases it can be completely extended, and your chameleon
will not be able to coil it back into its mouth.
treatment immediately. Your chameleon will become rapidly dehydrated
and starve unless treated immediately. Missing the insects is
often a sign of a deficiency in B vitamins (and sometimes vitamin
A deficiency). A good supplement containing these usually helps
within 1-3 days if vitamin deficiency is the reason.
enclosure, supplements, lighting and hydration/humidity.
attributed to by improper humidity level and accessibility of
be sunken, as opposed to full and round. Other signs of dehydration
are lateral folds of skin along the sides of the chameleons.
accessibility to water and increased humidity. For immediate treatment,
soak in pedialite solution (found in the baby section of any drug
store) and administer orally as well. You can also offer your
chameleon plants (hibiscus) and fruit/vegetable baby foods via
humidity level, accessible water to drink.