Warning Signs That Your Chameleon is Sick

Chameleons are unique and fascinating reptiles that have gained popularity as an exotic pet in recent years. But like any other animal, chameleons need proper care in order to thrive and live healthy lives. That’s why it’s important to know how to tell if your chameleon is sick, so you can seek treatment immediately if needed. Here are ten of the most common warning signs of illness in chameleons, plus how to treat them if they occur. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible!

Skin issues


Some chameleons may show signs of skin issues. Just like people, they can develop rashes and infections if they are kept in a dirty environment or are exposed to anything that irritates their skin. Lack of Vitamin A: If you notice your chameleon isn’t moving much or his body feels softer than usual, it could be because he lacks Vitamin A. Start administering him an oral dose to make him feel better as soon as possible.

Unexplained weight loss

One of a chameleon’s favorite meals is flies. They spend a lot of time pouncing on bugs in their natural environment, so it’s not unusual for them to eat five to ten flies a day. If your chameleon isn’t eating regularly, and you can’t figure out why, it may be sick. A sick animal will usually stop eating as much because it doesn’t have an appetite or because he’s too weak to catch insects.


When your chameleon seems inactive, not showing any interest in food or interaction with you, it may be ill. If your pet normally loves to be held and petted, yet suddenly spends all day basking lazily on a branch, there could be something wrong. Lethargy is one of the earliest symptoms of illness in reptiles, so if you spot it in your chameleon or iguana, get it to a vet as soon as possible.

Losing interest in food

The most common sign of illness in chameleons is a decrease in appetite. If your chameleon stops eating its regular diet, it could be a sign that it’s sick and needs to see a vet right away. On top of not eating, you may notice your lizard’s normally vibrant colors becoming dull and listless, or even exhibiting unusual behavior like scratching at its cage or lethargy.

Moving less

When your chameleon seems to have a reduced appetite, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. A chameleon that isn’t moving around much could be conserving energy for an upcoming hibernation or other inactivity period, which may happen from time to time as your pet ages. These down periods can last anywhere from two weeks to six months. Younger chameleons tend to move about more and sleep less than their older counterparts.

Appetite changes

One of the first signs that something is wrong with your chameleon’s health could be a change in appetite. If your normally ravenous pet suddenly becomes finicky and will only eat certain foods, they might have an illness or nutritional deficiency. Some common things to look out for are lethargy and weakness, loss of muscle tone, decreased coordination or seizures.

Thick or clear liquid coming from nose, mouth, or eyes

One of a chameleon’s most defining characteristics is its prehensile tongue, which it can use to grab food. It also has an extendable nose and a third eye lid—the nictitating membrane—which also aid in gathering food. If you notice that your chameleon seems to be having difficulty eating, or if it’s drooling or leaking fluid from these areas, there may be an issue with his health. He should be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Difficulty breathing

Noticing that your chameleon is having trouble breathing could mean that he has developed a respiratory infection or an obstruction in his trachea. To tell if your chameleon’s breathing difficulty stems from a respiratory infection, look for excessive mucus production from his nostrils and watery eyes. If you notice these symptoms, it’s important to take him to a veterinarian immediately.

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