How to take care of a dying chameleon

It is not easy to find whether your chameleon is sick or not because they are good at hiding the illness. Chameleons die mostly when they are aged, but if a young chameleon falls ill, it may be because of the following reasons.

  • Dehydration
  • Stress
  • Parasitic infection
  • Metabolic bone disease(MBD)

This is why taking care of a chameleon seems complicated compared to other pets. It is challenging to restore chameleon’s health once they feel sick. Always go to the vet when your chameleon feels sick. When the chameleons are ill or die, they are in black or dull color.

How to know your chameleon is dehydrated?

You can know 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 know your chameleon is stressed?

Stress is another common problem that drives your chameleon to death. When the chameleons are stressed, their immune systems, growth, and blood flow are paused, and it may take a week to resume back. If a chameleon is under stress all the time, then eventually, they will die.

When your chameleon shows the following symptoms, then they are dying because of chronic stress.

  • loss of appetite and hunger strikes
  • darker or brighter coloring than usual
  • rocking back and forth
  • unusual aggression
  • keeping eyes closed
  • watery or very smelly feces
  • changes in body temperature 

When you come across these symptoms, it is better to call your vet for treatment at home because traveling may elevate your pet’s stress level.

To avoid this kind of stress problem for your chameleon, maintain the cage temperature, lighting and avoid too much handling. Remove if there are any other chameleons in the same cage and avoid glass cages. When they see their reflection in glass cages, they become stressed.

How to know your chameleon is infected?

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.

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 

What to do when your chameleon is dying because of old age?

You won’t be able to save your pet if they are dying because of old age. Usually, chameleons will live up to 5-8 years and may live beyond the years if you provide proper food, cage temperature, and lighting.

Common nameLifespan (years)
Veiled chameleonabout 5
Panther chameleonapproximately 5 (2–3 for birthing females)
Spectral pygmy chameleon3–5
Usambara pitted pygmy chameleon5–11
Bearded pygmy chameleonabout 3–5
Jackson’s chameleon5–10
Oustalet’s chameleon 3 to 7 years
Four-horned chameleon 3 to 5 years
Parson’s chameleon 15 to 20+ years
Carpet chameleon 2 to 4 years
Meller’s chameleon 5 to 10 years
Senegal chameleon 2 to 3 years
Fischer’s chameleon 3 to 5 years
Rudis chameleon 3 to 4 years
Giant spiny chameleon 3 to 5 years

Shower them with warm water for 15 minutes every day and check the cage temperature frequently.

They don’t have enough strength to move or to eat. They mostly sleep on the cage floor, and you have to force-feed them with the vitamin and calcium supplements with the help of the syringe without the needle. Consult the vet as soon as you identify their condition, and the vet will ease his death without pain.

Do chameleons play dead?

Yes, the chameleons play dead. This is because some animals try to attack chameleons; they curl into a tight fetal position, darken their skin color, and play dead to protect themselves from being threatened. Playing dead can also be used as a mating strategy.

How can you find out if your chameleon is dying?

Signs that your chameleon is possibly dying are as follows:

  • stress
  • loss of appetite
  • hunger strikes
  • darker skin or brighter skin coloring than usual
  • rocking back and forth
  • unusual aggression
  • keeping eyes closed
  • watery or very smelly feces
  • changes in body temperature
  • lethargy
  • sunken eyes
  • sleeping during the day
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What do chameleons do when they are left to die?

The chameleons turn very dark and dull-colored when they are distressed. They are

  • The color of their skin when they are dead.
  • Their eyes will screw shut.
  • They start to move barely.
  • They lay down instead of climbing the plants or trees.
  • They eat very rarely.
  • They get so skinny.
  • They suffer from hunger and thirst.
  • Do chameleons die easily?
  • If you take proper care of your chameleon, they do not die so easily.

How do I know whether my chameleon is dead or hibernating?

If a chameleon’s body temperature is less than us, chameleon seems to be cold to us. This is because of their cold-blooded.

So, that does not mean that your chameleon pet is dead. That means the chameleon needs to be in a place where he is as warm as he should be. The cold chameleon or dying chameleon, or ill chameleons will get slow down in their movement.

How do chameleons look after death?

Chameleons will go dark at or after death. They look pretty awful after death.

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How to help a chameleon when it is dying?

Soon after you become aware that your chameleon is dying, you need to take care as follows:

  • Shower it with lukewarm water for more than 10 minutes every day.
  • Don’t leave your chameleon pet alone.
  • Check the water temperature constantly.
  • Don’t let your chameleon get drown in the water.
  • Get a syringe to pour some water into his mouth. It is better to use bottled or distilled water to feed your chameleon pet.
  • Get a better supplement from the vet.

Read Also : How to Bury Chameleon

Final thoughts

Chameleons are the most sensitive creature as pets. So, you need to take good care as much as you are possible. When the disease is found in your pet chameleon, take your pet to the vet. If you neglect them, they can end up with a painful death.