Signs of a healthy chameleon

What does a healthy chameleon look like?

  • Clear eyes that turn well and are round and inflated
  • Eyes are open and without liquid coming out
  • Nose without liquid or weird growths
  • Completely closed mouth
  • All toes with nails (5 nails per foot)
  • Normally shaped feet
  • Skin free of old skin
  • Balances well
  • Proper body size for its age, also a casque (crest) with the right size for a chameleon of its sex and age
  • Alert and responsive to touch
  • Clean cloaca
  • Bright green color or color pattern, no constant grey or dark green color

A chameleon that is healthy and is kept in a terrarium with proper air humidity will shed its skin pretty quickly. If you see a chameleon that does not seem to get rid of its skin, it is unlikely that you just caught it in the middle of a molt. It is probably shedding its skin slower than it should because of low air humidity or weakness. If this is your chameleon you should make sure it has enough calcium and air humidity. If you are planning to buy this one, better make sure it is healthy or that you have some guarantee.

A healthy 3-month old veiled chameleon.
A healthy 3-month old veiled chameleon.

Signs of unhealthy chameleons

The other way around, what are the signs of an unhealthy chameleon? Those are basically the same but then the reverse of what is mentioned above:

An unhealthy veiled chameleon
An unhealthy veiled chameleon
  • Closed or half-closed eyes
  • Eyes that are not rounded but more dented, as if they are not under pressure
  • Liquid coming from the eyes
  • Liquid coming from the nose
  • Breathing with open mouth
  • Missing nails or toes
  • Bumps at the wrists or ankles
  • Bumps on the legs
  • Old skin hanging from the new skin
  • Balancing problems or problems moving
  • Growth retardation: too small for its age
  • Misshapen crest (casque) / too short crest for its age and sex
  • Sleepy or dreamy looking
  • Feces hanging from the cloaca (anus)
  • Dark green or grey-ish color without immediate reason

When you see a chameleon with one or more of these traits, you know it is sick. Sometimes its just a little sick, sometimes it has a disease or malnutrition for a long time.

This veiled chameleon is severly misshapen. Who knows what problems it has next to rickets and MBD.
This veiled chameleon is severly misshapen. Who knows what problems it has next to rickets and MBD.