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12 Common diseases in Chameleon

The most common diseases that chameleon get affected are

  • Dehydration
  • Metabolic Bone Disease
  • Thermal burns
  • Egg retention
  • Parasitic Infections
  • Tail rot
  • Stomatitis
  • Respiratory infections
  • Edema
  • Gout
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Skin diseases

How to know your chameleon is dehydrated?

You can understand from the color of the urates of the chameleon. If the color is yellow, your chameleon needs water, and if it is orange, then your pet is seriously dehydrated and takes him immediately to the vet.

The vet will examine your pet and suggest the misting system, showering, and the cage temperature needed for your pet.

One of the significant reasons why chameleon dies is dehydration. When your chameleon shows the following symptoms, then they are dying because of severe dehydration.

  • Sagging skin
  • Sunken eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Less active

Proper showering mostly solves the dehydration issue.

How to overcome Metabolic bone disease(MBD)?

This is the disease commonly found in chameleon due to the lack of calcium in their food. It can be treated by providing calcium and proper UV-B lighting(12 hours per day). It is better to change the UVB lights with the new ones for adequate lighting.

When you diagnose MBD earlier, it can be treated, and if your pet is not eating for weeks, then the treatment won’t give any results. The common symptoms of MBD are,

  • Lethargy
  • Broken bones
  • The mouth will not close properly
  • Inability to use a tongue
  • Twisted looking joints
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle spasms/twitching
  • Swollen limbs 

Thermal Burns

There is always a chance that your pet chameleon may suffer from thermal burns due to artificial lighting in its cage. The source of heat can also be dangerous to them.

When you keep the heat lamp inside the cage or near the top of the cage, then your chameleon will have close contact with those sources. Due to this close contact, chameleons may suffer from thermal burns.

Unlike human skin, chameleon skin is insensitive, and they won’t feel the sensation of heat in their skin, and they won’t get away from that position.

Common signs of thermal burns are,

  • Gray/black blisters and/or necrotic tissue on the skin,
  • Lethargy
  • Closing one or both eyes

Prevention:

The only way to prevent getting thermal burns is, the heat source should not be too close to the terrarium. Avoid using high-watt bulbs. Continuously monitor the terrarium temperature and mist the cages properly

Treatment for this disease:

Getting cured of thermal burns is not easy. It is a long process, and definitely, you should not treat your chameleon. Consult the vet and follow up the treatment regularly. Don’t try to peel off the burnt skin even when the skin is half-peeled. The skin should fall off on its own.

Egg Retention/Egg binding

Egg retention is a condition where the female chameleons can not produce mature eggs during reproduction.

The common causes of egg retention are

  • Anatomical defects
  • Dehydration
  • Large malformed eggs
  • Improper temperature
  • If the female is sick
  • Lack of a suitable nesting site

Symptoms of egg retention are:

  • The female chameleon is pregnant but depressed
  • Inactive
  • Lethargic
  • Raises its hind limbs and strain without producing any eggs for an extended period

Prevention:

It is always better to avoid this kind of disease by providing better comfort to the pregnant female chameleon, or else this condition may lead to the death of the female chameleon.

Always check the cage condition like temperature and humidity levels. Give proper supplements to the chameleon. Providing adequate and healthy food avoids most of the infections and diseases in chameleon.

When the female chameleon is pregnant, prepare the cage with a suitable substrate so that she can lay the eggs.

Treatment for this disease:

These types of complicated diseases need the vet’s intervention to cure the disease so that both the mother and the eggs will be safe.

Primarily vet will provide a shot of oxytocin and calcium to strengthen the bones and induce the contraction to lay the eggs.

Parasitic infection

Chameleons usually have parasites in their bodies which is not harmful to them. But when these parasites multiply, they can cause severe infection to your pet. These parasites multiply when the chameleons are stressed.

Always clean the cage regularly to avoid external infections, and the parasites can also be transferred from the food you are feeding your chameleon.

When your chameleon shows the following symptoms, then they are dying because of parasitic infection.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Swollen belly
  • Weakness and listlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Bad-smelling feces
  • Emaciation

When you come across these symptoms, go to the vet by carrying the fresh samples of your chameleon’s feces. Once you feel your chameleon is sick, it is good to take him to the vet as fast as possible. Don’t try to treat your chameleon on your own.

Tail rot in chameleons

Tail rot is a severe condition in chameleons. When a chameleon is infected with this disease, its tail gets rotted. If not treated at the earliest, they may lose their tail, and the infection will spread throughout the body of the chameleon.

Symptoms of Tail Rot in Chameleons

1.Black color in the tail

Whenever the chameleon gets injured, then that body part will turn black. This happens in the tail too. You have to monitor when the tail of the chameleon becomes black.

When the tail is black, but the chameleon can curl their tail and move normally, the injury is quite a bruise. When they don’t curl up and remain black, they have to be taken to the vet.

2.Swelling of tail

After the injury, when the tail becomes black and swells, it is a tail rot. In this case, the tail will become fragile and lose its grip, and the tail should be surgically removed.

The infection spreads to the body rapidly and takes weeks to show the symptoms. So when you see discoloration in the tail, better take them to the vet and get treated quickly.

Chameleons Tail

Causes of tail rot

The most common reasons for tail rot are:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Humidity too high, and your chameleon has been living in a damp environment for too long
  • Not shedding correctly and the skin tightens around the tail, reducing the flow of blood to the tail.
  • Malnutrition
  • Trauma

Treatment for tail rot

Depending on the severity of the tail rot, treatment differs. Mostly when the tissue of the tail dies, the tail will fall off on its own. If the discoloration is spreading upwards, then your chameleon will require antibiotic treatment from the vet.

Treatment may include one or more of the following:

  • Careful monitoring, examination, diagnosis, and treatments
  • Surgical removal of the tail
  • Antibiotics
  • Cream to keep tail soft and encourage it to fall off on its own
  • Veterinary assistance in removing retained shed
  • Review habitat regarding diet, heat, humidity, and lighting

It would be great if the tail rot is not spread to the entire body of the chameleon and the diseased tail has been removed before the spread. In that case, after the treatment, your pet will live a happy and everyday life.

Majorly the tail won’t fall off, and it requires surgery to remove the tail. In that surgery, the part till the discoloration is removed by anesthetizing the chameleon. After the surgery, the vet will completely close the part to reduce the risk of debris and any other infections.

How to prevent tail rot

The main reason for the tail rot in chameleons is the increase in the humidity level of the cage. Consider you are walking in a damp region for days, then obviously, your feet will begin to rot. The same will occur for the chameleon tail.

Humidity

You need to ensure that the humidity within the chameleon enclosure is between 65% and 80%. If you allow it to go higher than this, your chameleon will be living in a damp environment, which is not good for their overall health.

Mist up to several times a day to keep humidity levels at optimum to ensure your pet remains comfortable and healthy.

Diet

The standard way you should use is always by feeding the insects with vitamin enrich foods like

  • apples
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • cereals
  • collard greens
  • cornmeal
  • ground legumes
  • mustard greens
  • oranges
  • rolled oats
  • spinach
  • sweet potatoes

The other way is by dusting the insects with multivitamin powder. Dusting should be done once every two weeks. Make sure whatever vitamin product you get, the powder should have Vitamin A in the ingredient’s list.

Supplements

For Veiled and panther chameleon,

  • Calcium without D3 – Should be provided at every feed
  • Calcium with D3 – Every other week
  • Multivitamins – Every other week

For Jackson Chameleon,

  • Calcium without D3 – Should be provided twice a week
  • Calcium with D3 – Once a month
  • Multivitamins – Once a month

For Male Chameleon:

Calcium without d3: 3 to 4 days a week for the male.

For Female Chameleon:

Calcium without d3: 4 to 5 days a week for the female.

Stomatitis

Stomatitis is a chameleon mouth disease that affects the oral cavity, tongue, palate, or esophagus. If untreated, this disease will spread and affects the jaw bone.

This disease is commonly caused due to the lack of nutrition and due to improper supplements.

Causes

Stomatitis may be caused by poor animal husbandry, poor nutrition, and bacterial infection. It could also be caused by improper phosphorus and calcium levels, deficiency in Vitamin C, poor temperature regulation, and overcrowding. Physical causes include trauma in the mouth due to a scratch or wound.

Signs

Early signs of this disease include a gum line stained with a brownish-yellow matter surrounding the periphery of the gums and teeth. Your chameleon may also have an occasional dehydrated film-like matter situated on the edge of the mouth and slight swelling of the lower jaw. Loss of appetite may also ensue If the infection is not treated on time.

Prevention

adequate monitoring of your chameleon for changes in gait, appetite, and level of activity. Also, keep the temperature at an optimum level as preferred by the species.

Your chameleon’s cage should also be adequately ventilated with a relative humidity level of about 50 to 75 percent. Feed your chameleon with various insects and ensure you dust the insects with calcium and vitamin powders.

Treatment

The major treatment course involves the use of antibiotics injections. The vet may also prescribe an antibacterial solution on the affected area for a determined period. The temperature and other factors need to be adequately monitored during treatment.

Your chameleon may not be able to feed on its own adequately, so you may need to feed it with your hands. If the condition is severe or there is little response to treatment, your chameleon will have to undergo surgical removal of the infected bone or teeth.

Respiratory infection

Respiratory infection in chameleons affects the respiratory tract and causes either upper or lower respiratory infection.

It causes pneumonia by affecting the lungs, and it is called a lower respiratory tract infection.

If it affects the nasal sinuses and mouth, then it is called an upper respiratory infection.

Causes:

When the temperature of the cage is too low or when the cage is too wet or dry, this infection can occur in chameleons.

Upper respiratory infection is the most common infection, and it is caused due to the cage environmental factors.

Symptoms:

  • Gasping,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Labored breathing
  • Lethargy.
  • Popping or wheezing sounds,
  • Inflammation, bubbling around the nose and mouth, excessive mucus.
  • If your chameleon snores while sleeping, it may be a sign of this disease.

Prevention:

If you maintain the cage’s proper temperature and humidity levels, you can prevent most of the infections.

Clean the cage regularly and remove leftover food and chameleon poops because they are the primary sources of any type of infection.

The cage temperature should not fall below 77 degrees in the daytime and 65 degrees at night time.

Treatment:

Respiratory infections are fatal, and we should detect the infection at the earliest.

When your chameleon makes noise or shows any of the mentioned symptoms, take them to the vet immediately without any delay.

As mentioned, this type of infection is fatal, and if you delay, there is a lot of possibility of losing your pet.

The treatment would last a month by providing antibiotic shots like Baytril or Fortaz.

During the treatment period, the vet would tell the optimum cage temperature level for the chameleon. Make sure you maintain the temperature, which helps your pet to fight the infection more effectively.

Edema

When your chameleon develops swelling over the head, neck, or below their front legs, this type of disease is called edema.

Edema is an abnormal excess accumulation of serous fluid in the cavities and intercellular spaces of the body.

Causes:

When you provide excess vitamins to your chameleons by gut loading or when the humidity level of the cage is high, there is a chance for this infection to occur. It is also caused lymphatic blockage and renal disease.

Symptoms:

Excessive swelling, which closely resembles a goiter, can occur in many visible areas, including the chest, throat, and neck.

Treatment:

Remember, ” Too much of anything is good for nothing.” You feed your chameleon often, thinking they would gain strength and would be healthy. But it is not, for chameleons digestion of the food may take place up to 2 days. When you feed them excessively, the digestion period also takes longer and may cause edema.

The only way to prevent edema is to provide the appropriate supplements to your chameleons and maintain the cage’s humidity level.

Gout

Among all the diseases, gout is a dangerous disease in chameleon which causes kidney failure. There are two types of gout primary and secondary gout.

This disease would be very painful to your pet which is caused due to the excessive accumulation of uric acid and salt-forming into crystals which results in the swelling of joints.

Primary gout is caused by too much protein in a chameleon’s diet. Secondary gout is caused by dehydration or, worse, kidney dysfunction and failure.

Symptoms:

  • Reduced mobility,
  • It is swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, and elbow joints.
  • Excessive drinking,
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme aggression, especially when the joints are touched.
  • Your chameleon may also show signs of pain when walking, climbing, and maybe seen stand on three legs instead of four (will usually not stand on one of its hind legs).
  • Chameleon will also hang their legs off the branch to prevent pressure on their joints.
  • Clumsy climbing and falling may also be a sign.

Prevention

Kidney stones and gout are usually caused by low-level dehydration, which may not be easily detected. To prevent this, maintain appropriate humidity in the enclosure (between 50-70%) and ensure the drip system is functioning well to ensure adequate humidity levels.

Also, since the chameleon is a low protein animal, avoid feeding it with lots of protein. Feed it instead with lots of fruits and vegetables and ensure it drinks sufficient water always.

Treatment:

The treatment should be given by the vet, which involves dissolving the uric acid crystals or surgery to remove those crystals. This method may or may not be effective.

Unfortunately, other than this method, there is no other effective treatment of gout. It is better if you prevent the disease in the first place.

Vitamin A deficiency

It is one of the common deficiencies caused in pet animals. Improper supplements may lead to vitamin A deficiency.

Symptoms:

  • Puffy, teary, and crusted eyes,
  • Shedding problems like those indicated earlier,
  • Small lumps on the head and
  • Casque indicating a sinus infection,
  • Respiratory problems and
  • Inability to use the tongue properly.

Prevention:

Make sure you provide vitamin A supplements once a week by gut loading the insects with vitamin A-rich foods like carrots, Sweet potato, etc.,

This disease will happen when there is no enough supplement as well as when the supplements are overdosed.

Treatment:

The only way to treat this disease is to balance the Vitamin A supplements and consult a vet if the problem persists.

How does Skin disease is caused in the chameleon pet?

The skin disease in the chameleons is the most common thing. They may appear as white bumps which are caused by fungal and bacterial infections, with Chrysosporium species and Nannizziopsis draconic. And sometimes it may appear as dry skin.

The symptoms of the skin disease are as follows:

  • White bumps
  • Patches of dry
  • Flaky skin
  • Poor shedding or not shedding at all

How to get rid of skin disease in chameleons?

When you find that your chameleon is having a skin disease, you need to consult your vet. Skin disease is a serious disease that can not be cured by home treatments. Because they can spread soon with very serious results.

The chameleons should be properly diagnosed and get systemic treatment from your vet as they have experience in curing the skin diseases of reptiles. The medicine that your vet can suggest to get rid of Mouth rot are as follows,

  • Betadine: You need to dilute Betadine with water. This is because Betadine is hydrogen peroxide. This creates a burning sensation on the chameleon’s skin. When you dilute it with water, the burning sensation is not seen on the chameleon’s skin. Apply the solution with a cotton swab once a day or as suggested by your vet.
  • Chlorhexidine: You need to dilute the Chlorhexidine before you apply it to the chameleon’s mouth. It should be applied once a day with a cotton swab.
  • Terramycin & Nature Zone Rot Guard: You need to mix these two solutions into a thick paste and apply them every two to three days once.
  • Vetericyn Plus Reptile Wound: This can be sprayed directly on the skin or can be applied with a cotton swab 3 to 4 times daily.
  • Silver Sulfadiazine Cream: You can apply this directly to the chameleon’s skin once a day or as your vet suggested.

How to give medicine to the chameleons?

Giving medicine to your chameleons is a little bit tricky. The tricks are as follows,

  • Keep your chameleon pet in front of the mirror. As your pet sees its own reflection, it starts to open its mouth widely thinking the reflection is another chameleon. You can easily feed your pet by this time.
  • Tap him gently on the top of your pet’s snout and it will open his mouth.
  • Pinch your pet’s nose lightly. In a few seconds, your pet will open the mouth and you can easily feed the medications.
  • Inject the medicine into the worm and feed it to your pet before the worm dies.
  • Rub the side of their mouth very gently that makes your chameleon pet open their mouth.