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Severely Dehydrated Veiled Cham

Discussion in 'Chameleons' started by gijotozier, Sep 23, 2008.

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  1. gijotozier

    gijotozier Member

    Hi there. I am new to this posting but have been reading a lot lately. Back in early August, my husband and I were in a complete panic about what to get our daughter for her 8th birthday. Well to make a long story short, we were roped into buying a $300.00 veiled chameleon (with supposedly complete set-up) that was on consignment because the boy didn't want him anymore. It's a 3-ft tall, 2-feet wide and 1-ft deep wire meshed enclosure, with a Ficus and a water bowl with a bubbler in it. Well, last Friday he just fell out of his tree and laid there. Freaked us out! We took him 20 minutes away to a vet, and was told he was severely dehydrated and had a one in ten shot at staying alive. He gave us some meds to give him a shot twice a day, and hope that by today he would be well enough to hold himself in the tree. Well...he's still REALLY weak, but I have gotten him to eat some meal worms and two small crickets. I am hand misting every 1-3 hours as much as I can. I also got some reptile drops to put in the misting water, and some coconut shell husk to go on the bottom of the cage. The temp just dropped in our house and we think he might have gotten cold, so we use a heating pad at night to warm the enclosure. The Vets assistant was pleasantly surprised that he was still alive today, and I am awaiting a call from him now. He is just so weak, and doesn't really seem to have in interest in eating. I even tried some veal babyfood, he didn't like that! Does anyone have any advise for me now? Thanks so much.

    Oh, his name is Buddy, and he is an 11 month old Veiled Chameleon.
  2. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Mist, mist and more mist. Get a humidifier for that room too. If it's getting too cold at night you need some more supplemental heat. Chams are one of the most difficult herps to keep, unless you live in their climate year round.
  3. gijotozier

    gijotozier Member

    Thanks, I wish the pet store had informed us more about what we had to do and how hard it was to keep them. I feel SOOO bad for the little guy and want to do everything to save him. (even if his chances are slim!)
  4. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

  5. MoogleBass

    MoogleBass Kittes are so nice! Premium Member

    Since he can't hold himself up in the tree, my idea won't work. The best thing that needs done is to stick the ficus in the shower, put the cham in the ficus, turn on some warm water, and point the shower head at a wall so it wont be a full force spray. It will raise the humidity in the bathroom and shower area, which will help rehydrate him.

    I have to agree, going from no reptiles to a cham is a huge leap and comes with a high learning curve. They aren't nearly as forgiving as some other reptiles. You've done the right thing in going to the vet though. Good luck.
  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Chams are a very touchy species when it comes to their husbandry and are easily stressed. Were you using any sort of UVB bulbs?
    Was this a vet that specializes in herps or a dog and cat vet that just agreed to see the cham?
    What were the medications and what were they for?
    Set cage and all (remove electrical devices) in the shower with the water on lukewarm and direct the shower spray on the wall so that the cage is getting wet but not in the full force of the shower spray
    A waste of time. Chams don't absorb anything thru their skin.
    You have to be very careful what you put in the bottom of the enclosure. If the cham can swallow it it could pose a risk of impaction. Whenever I have to treat any sick animals I just use a sheet of newspaper to line the bottom.
    How cold did it get and for how long? What were the normal temperatures in the cage?
    A heating pad only warms the surface its against and does nothing to warm the enclosure itself. Did you have any other heat source?
  7. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The heat pad is not going to cut it when he is climbing. They are ideal for animals that will lay on them, but they do not do anything to raise the temperature within the enclosure itself. For that you will need to use overhead heating elements. If the Cham is too cool (day or night) it can lead to eating issues.

    Also, if the cham is not getting adequate UVB exposure, it can lead to eating disorders.

    There is a trick with the shower users have reported using to help raise the humidity, though I have never done it and will not state how to do it. ;)

    Hopefully someone with some experience with this will be along to assist you.

    Edit: It appears other were posting while I was. lol
  8. gijotozier

    gijotozier Member

    Wow...thanks for all the great's answers to the questions:
    He does have a UVB bulb and a 75 watt "heat lamp"
    The vet we took him to has raised chams himself, and was recommended by another local vet.
    The shots are saline I believe, administered subcutaneously, and his skin is already becoming more "taught"? (I think the more hydrated he becomes the better)
    He is laying on a cut out paper bag, not in the husks. (they are already helping to keep the humidity up)
    I think his enclosure was about 70-80 during the day and 60-70 at night for about two days. We put the heating pad on top of the cage at night and cover with mildly wet has kept it at about 70 the last two nights. During the day it has been between 80-90 now that I am monitoring it more closely and bought a thermometer and a humidity gauge.
    We have a local reptile place and they have this round lamp with a heater in the middle that I will probably invest in if he makes it a couple more days, it can stay on at night with no light.
    Thanks again for all the info
  9. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Get yourself a few good digital thermometers/hygrometers. You can get them at Walmart in the hardware section for about $7 each. Between 70 and 80 is a HUGE difference, and you need to work on keeping the temps more steady.
  10. gijotozier

    gijotozier Member

    Well...unfortunately Buddy did not make it. I am so heartbroken and feel so horrendous....I did EVERYTHING to try and save him, and it was so weird because he was doing better, he was fine when I left to pick up my kid from school and 45 minutes later I came home and he was dead. It is so killing me right now....I am so mad at the pet store, even though its not completely their fault, but they made it sound SOOO easy and that we wouldn't have any problems. We buried him under the Peach tree last night, my daughter cried all night, and I couldn't stop either. Thanks for all the advise, I will miss him so much.
  11. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Now that you are more educated on what they need, you can work on getting the setup up and running and correct, then get a new friend. Sorry for your loss.
  12. Moshpitrockchick

    Moshpitrockchick Subscribed User Premium Member

    I am sorry to hear he didn't make it. You may be able to adapt his cage to accomodate a new friend who is easier to maintain. You might look into Crested Geckos, I believe they are more hearty.
  13. gijotozier

    gijotozier Member

    Crested gecko huh? Now that we have this set up....what else can we put in there? Some info would be great! Thanks...
  14. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    The only problem I can see, is that your enclosure is mesh, which its one downfall is that it doesn't hold humidity well.
  15. Moshpitrockchick

    Moshpitrockchick Subscribed User Premium Member

  16. fire2225ems

    fire2225ems Subscribed User Premium Member

    Cresties are GREAT! They don't need the uvb, they need a moderate amount of humidity, not a lot of heat (some even do well at room temp depending on where you keep your house), they are fun to watch, can survive on a Crested Gecko diet (kinda like baby food) and while some like insects they aren't necessary. Definitely an easy starter animal. And with the size of the enclosure you have you could fit 2-3 in there. Like Liz and Lacey said, you would want to cover at least a few of the sides, but you could probably do that with a thin sheet of plywood and then use the greatstuff technique to the inside for 3 of the walls. Depending on what the humidity is like then, you MIGHT be able to get away with leaving the front and top as the mesh, if not then just cover the front with plexi.
  17. Dominick

    Dominick Founding Member

    I'm sorry for your loss. Chams are a very difficult creature to keep in captivity. Everything stresses them.

    I agree that you should look into Crested Geckos. They are a wonderful pet and very easy to keep. I think perhaps they are my favorite lizard.
  18. titus

    titus Elite Member Premium Member

    Sorry for you loss. In the last month I also lost a Veiled after three years of age.

    I wouldn't go so far as to say Chameleons are hard to keep. Veiled and Panther Chameleons are about the only ones I would recommend for the average keeper. For both of these I would not recommend a screen cage. The heat and humidity loss is too high with out a misting system. For other chameleons that require more of a temp. drop at night they are a need. For Veileds and Panthers, a small fan is adequate. Aside from this, they need what every herp needs: Heat, Light (UV for diurnal herps), Food, Water, and security. Most tropical herps need a humidity between 50-80%. So to say chameleons are harder than any other herp is a bit unjust.

    I will say I haven't been too impressed with the Chameleons that have been available in the last years. You really have to have a good eye out that they are in good heath. If you were to buy another go to a breeder and look to pay a bit more then average for an older chameleon and not risk a young one. IMO lots of the ones you see for sale shouldn't be.
  19. Dominick

    Dominick Founding Member

    Grüße Titus-

    I have read in many places and been told by several responsible breeders that Chameleons get very stressed by handling. It takes a lot of work and patience to help them tolerate handling. If a Cham stresses enough, it could die.

    I'm not so sure that is the case for all other herps. Certainly, my 9 year old iguana is very difficult to keep also, considering all the special requirements he has, but he tolerates handling very well and is otherwise a hearty iguana.

    BTW, I don't recommend getting an Iguana either. If you are thinking about it, I will lend you Rex for a week and he will change your mind. :p

    I have also come to understand that Chams have rather exacting requirements (including temperature drops at night and very high humidity), so that would indicate that they are more difficult to keep than other reptiles.

    The only reason I even voice this opinion is because years ago I really, REALLY wanted a Chameleon. I would have done anything necessary to keep one. I think they are one of the most amazing creatures. So, I began my research into their care and contacted several different breeders to discuss how to successfully keep one in captivity. In the end, I decided that it was just too difficult to keep (afterall, I already had an adult iguana). The thing that troubled me most is the handling-stress issue. I want a reptile that I can handle and enjoy. I don't want it to be on the verge of a heart-attack each time I do so. ;)

    mit freundlichen Grüßen,
  20. titus

    titus Elite Member Premium Member

    Hello Dominick,

    Thank you for your post. I think the statement you made above is the main reason that chameleons are thought of as hard reptiles to keep. As far as actual requirements, I would place them no harder to keep than a Phelsuma m. grandis as panther chameleons are from the same region and requires the same temperature and humidity requirements. So what makes this an easier reptile to keep? In my opinion it's simply the stress factor, though both are considered display animals. People tend to want to handle chameleons, without much thought of the stress it causes.

    Working with both Veiled chameleons and Panther Chameleons. I've seen that Veileds react more to stress as Pathers can become rather social. Though unneeded handling should be avoided with both species (not hard with Veileds as they can become rather territorial, that could be a factor on why they react more to stress situations).

    An while I love Iguanas and have enjoyed working with them the few chances I've had to, I don't believe I would get one even if I had the space.

    As with any animal going in fully informed is key. An everyone has different opinions on what they want and what is difficult. For me providing a proper enviorment for different reptiles isn't difficult though requires proper planning and equipment. I'm also content to pull up a chair, sip coffee and just watch my reptiles interact in their enviorment.

    I'd just like to thank you again for your post. Its been a pleasure to exchange opinions with you. And all in all that's what this hobby is about and we all have something we can learn from another.

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