Dehydration is the #1 most common cause of death in pet chameleons. If you pay attention to anything in this care guide, please look at the page on Humidity & Water for Jackson’s Chameleons.
- Sunken eyes*
- Skin folding
- Dry poo
- Yellow/orange urate
- Loss of appetite
- Low humidity
- No humidity gauge in use
- Too hot
- Limited access to drinkable water
If your chameleon is dehydrated, make an appointment with a certified reptile veterinarian immediately. This is especially important if your humidity, misting practices, and drinking water availability are correct.
When dehydration is noticed early, misting more often, prolonging the misting periods, and providing leaves for the water to collect will usually solve the problem. You can also provide water via syringe — this is the most reliable way to make sure your cham is drinking. However, droppers are safer than syringes, because squirting with a syringe can cause accidental aspiration (choking) and death.
If your chameleon is 5 months or older, you can also give them a 30-45 minute “shower” for intensive rehydration. Simply place a fake or live plant in your shower, adjust the showerhead so the water hits the wall (not the plant!), make sure the water is cool (not lukewarm), and your chameleon will enjoy a fine mist. This can be repeated daily or every other day, depending on your chameleon’s condition.
→ Do not attempt this with young chameleons, as the droplets are too large for them and may actually cause drowning.
Read more at Chameleon World.
*Note that sunken eyes do not always indicate dehydration, especially if this is the only “symptom.” Stressed or nervous chameleons will voluntarily retract their eyes, creating the same effect.