There are a few things to look for when purchasing your chameleon. Any one or combination of these symptoms could be a sign of an existing problem or problems to come. If the animal exhibits any of these symptoms, you may be better off not purchasing it (unless you are prepared to deal with any medical problems which may arise).
Some of the signs of dehydration include fine wrinkles in the skin which appears dry, sunken eyes, lethargic behavior, weakness, and weight loss. The treatment is to try and offer the chameleon water several times per day if it is still relatively alert and active. If the chameleon has become too weak to drink, immediate medical attention is required.
This problem is caused by several reasons but is most often directly related to the chameleon's environment.
Symptoms include weakness, forced exhalation, loss of appetite, puffy eyes, inflated body, and noisy breathing.
The temperature of the enclosure should be kept at optimum levels. Schedule a visit to a qualified veterinarian who may recommend antibiotics.
This is another very common problem with chameleons. If caught early enough, you may be able to alleviate the condition yourself. Look for any foreign matter in or around the eye. A good long misting might help to flush the foreign matter. In some cases, the use of a small catheter or oral syringe to can be used to flush out the eye with water. Do this only on the advice of a veterinarian. If there seems to be a problem for an extended period of time, see your veterinarian.
Signs of this will be the outline of the worm just below the skin's surface. While these worms are most common in imported, wild-caught chameleons, there have been some cases in domestically raised ones as well.
The treatment requires that a small incision be made in the chameleon's skin. The worm is then removed will a set of very fine tweezers. While there are a few more experienced keepers/breeders who would attempt this, it is preferable to seek the services of a qualified veterinarian.
This is a very common problem among chameleons. Some possible causes are keeping more than one chameleon in the same enclosure, improper lighting, improper heating, to much human interaction around the enclosure.
Stress can usually be determined by the coloration of the chameleon. A darker than usual coloration for extended periods may be one indication. Another determining factor is the posture of the chameleon. If it spends a great deal of time tightly grasping, or holding itself close to branches or limbs in its enclosure (similar to the sleeping position) would be another indication.
The treatment is quite simple. Find and remove the source(s) of the stress. Chameleons will often refuse to eat while/after being stressed. This is not a serious situation and should remedy itself once the stress has been removed. It is important however, to keep the chameleon hydrated.
Any signs of swelling or infection along the gum line, black scabby matter along the mouth and/or gum line, yellow puss filled matter in the mouth, or difficulty to feed.
The treatment includes cleaning the infection site if the matter is easily removed and applying a topical antibiotic. As with any infection, it would be best to consult a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible.
Symptoms include failure to fully extend the tongue when feeding, swelling of the tongue, and/or a swollen gular area. Further symptoms include the inability to use the tongue to feed or even to feed at all.
To remedy this situation, consult a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible.
Metabolic Bone Disease
This is common in veiled chameleons as well as a few other species. Some of the symptoms include shaky or jittery movement or tremors, bowed limbs, bent casque, spinal deformity, soft lower jaw, inability to use tongue properly, inability to chew, and inability to feed.
A lack of calcium, D3, or UV-B light is often the cause of this condition.
The treatment includes a dietary supplement of calcium/vitamin D3. Exposure to unfiltered sunlight or a full spectrum light along with adequate heat is imperative. (Do not expose animals in glass enclosures to sunlight.) In cases where the chameleons is too weak, consult a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible.
Hyperextension of the Tongue
The main symptom is while striking with the tongue, the chameleon fails to fully retract its tongue to its mouth. While this is a fairly frightening looking situation, it is usually fairly simple to remedy.
The chameleon should be placed in a tank with a single low climbing limb to hang on to. Great care must be taken when moving the chameleon and its extended tongue, making sure to support the animal and its tongue so as not to damage the tongue. The tank bottom should be lined with moist paper towels in order to prevent the tongue from drying out. The chameleon will usually retract the tongue on its own within 24 hours without any assistance. If the chameleon does not do so within a day or so, consult a qualified veterinarian.