Chameleon Dehydration Care Guide (+ How to Prevent It)

Interested in Chameleon Dehydration Care? This guide is for you!

Your chameleon pet can be dehydrated for a number of reasons. Dehydration is a killer if it is not corrected immediately.

If your humidity and misting practices are on point, it should be a serious concern if your chameleon becomes dehydrated.

Take your chameleon to the vet immediately after you notice this abnormality.

The problem of dehydration can be reversed if it is noticed early. You need to mist the enclosure more often, make drinking water available, and provide water orally to reduce dehydration’s impact. If you don’t arrest the problem within the first few attempts, make an immediate appointment with a certified reptile vet.

chameleon dehydration

How to Know Your Chameleon is Dehydrated

#1 – Dry, Sunken Eyes

You can tell from early on that your chameleon is dehydrated by looking at its eyes. The eyes will look dry and sunken.

Typically, your chameleon’s eyes will protrude from their sockets a bit. So confirm with other signs that your chameleon is suffering from dehydration and not something else.

On its own, sunken eyes could suggest that your pet is stressed.

#2 – Orange or Yellow Urates

Generally, the condition of feces tells us about an animal’s health. This is true of humans, chameleons, and other animals.

Ordinarily, chameleons discharge their urine together with feces through the cloaca. The urine comes out as urates – a solid substance that’s soft, white, or slightly yellow.

When the urates are a solid yellow or orange, this indicates that your pet is dehydrated. You should be particularly concerned if your pet discharges orange urates, which means severe dehydration.

An exotic animal vet should take care of a severely dehydrated chameleon with immediate effect.

#3 – Loose Skin

A chameleon’s skin is ordinarily taut around its body. This reptile does not have extra folds on its skin. If your pet’s skin is loose or sagging, this indicates dehydration.

You can verify this by conducting a simple test. First, gently pinch your pet’s skin with the thumb and index finger.

Release the skin and observe how it behaves. If it’s elastic and bounces back to its normal position immediately, your chameleon is not dehydrated.

However, this reptile is dehydrated if the skin remains pinched and doesn’t bounce back immediately.

In this case, your intervention is needed.

#4 – Weak and Lethargic

Does your chameleon seem fatigued, weak, and lethargic? Does it spend most of its time in its hide, unwilling to come out to carry out its usual activities?

If this is the case, you may be looking at a case of dehydration. However, on its own, lethargy is not an absolute confirmation of dehydration.

Lethargy and weakness could indicate another problem, such as elevated stress. Check for other signs to confirm dehydration.

#5 – Loss of Appetite

Chameleons get water from some of the food they eat, such as moisture-rich fruits. Therefore, if your pet loses appetite, it follows that he will be dehydrated.

Treating a chameleon that won’t eat for dehydration at home becomes almost impossible.

Your best option is to see the vet, so fluids can be re-introduced into the body using syringes or droppers.

What Causes Chameleons to Be Dehydrated?

Your chameleon can be dehydrated because of either an illness or poor husbandry practices. Here are the more common causes of dehydration in chameleons:

Inappropriate Hydration Sources

Chameleons don’t drink water from a drinking bowl for the simple reason they don’t notice still water. So to hydrate this reptile, you must regularly mist the enclosure to create droplets in the plants within.

A good number of seasoned keepers use misting systems that mimic the chameleon’s natural environment.

Look for a system that forms droplets on leaves and other objects in the enclosure your pet can access.

Use a bowl to catch any water falling to the enclosure’s bottom to prevent water logging and untenable humidity levels.

Poor Humidity Level

Depending on the species of your chameleon, the ideal humidity level should be between 50% and 80%.

If the humidity level is too low, your pet will suffer from dehydration. However, too-high humidity levels are also inappropriate as they cause respiratory complications.

Invest in a high-quality hygrometer to monitor and control the humidity in the enclosure. Also, consider installing an automatic fogging or misting system to keep the appropriate humidity level.

Flawed Temperature Level

If the temperature level in the enclosure is incorrect, the water you mist will evaporate before it benefits your chameleon.

The ideal temperature level for a chameleon tank should be between 200 C and 280 C (680 F and 820 F).

Invest in a high—quality thermometers and thermostats to monitor and maintain the temperatures at an acceptable level.

The Chameleon Is Unwell

Several diseases and health conditions can contribute to your chameleon being dehydrated.

For example, if your pet has diarrhea due to parasite infestation, it will lose body fluids and dehydrate.

Other diseases cause the chameleon to lose its appetite. An animal that doesn’t eat or drink gets quickly dehydrated.

If your chameleon refuses to eat, take immediate action to see the vet about it. Indeed, the vet will get to the root of the problem and help your chameleon improve.

How Is Dehydration in Chameleons Treated?

Mild to moderate dehydration can be treated at home. However, only attempt to do so if your pet is eating and is not lethargic.

Here are common ways of rehydrating your chameleon at home:

Properly Mist the Terrarium

Proper misting is often enough to rehydrate your chameleon and nurse him back to health. Thoroughly mist the enclosure for 30 minutes until all the plants and objects are drenched.

Also, encourage your pet to drink the droplets of water dripping from the drenched plants.

Once the chameleon has quenched his thirst, dry the enclosure because too much wetness can be counterproductive and cause health complications.

Bathe Your Chameleon

This is the second step towards rehydrating your pet and nursing him back to health. You should carry out this step if the misting session did not achieve what you wanted.

How to Give Your Chameleon a Shower

  • Secure a perch in your shower for your pet to hold on to. Ensure it is firm enough not to accidentally fall, injuring your chameleon.
  • Ensure the water is neither hot nor cold; it should be slightly warm.
  • Alternatively, put a potted or fake plant in the shower for your pet to perch.
  • Turn on the shower, spraying the walls so only the mist lands on your chameleon. Spraying your chameleon’s body directly can injure him.
  • Don’t let your pet come into contact with soap, shower gels, or other chemicals in your bathroom.
  • A 45-minute shower per session should be enough to properly correct your chameleon.
  • Don’t leave the chameleon alone with a child in the shower room.
  • Baby and juvenile chameleons should never be showered as they can easily drown.
  • If the chameleon seems agitated in any way, get him out of the shower.

Offer Your Chameleon Fluid-Rich Fruits

Fruits such as grapes, blueberries, peaches, mango, honeydew melon, and seedless watermelon go a long way in hydrating your chameleon.

Fruits have the added advantage of providing much-needed nutrients.

Ensure the fruits you offer your chameleon are seedless. Also, cut out the stems and pits, and chop the fruit into the size of insects.

If the pieces are too big, your pet risks choking. You can gauge the correct size by ensuring each piece is no bigger than the space between your chameleon’s eyes.

Limit the frequency of the fruits you offer your pet because they contain sugar. Too much sugar is not good for the overall health of your pet.

Use Electrolytes in Drinking Water

Adding electrolytes to your chameleon’s drinking is an excellent way to boost his hydration. Some natural drinks are naturally enriched with electrolytes.

You could use coconut water or watermelon juice to boost your pet’s hydration. Use a sugar-free sports drink to nurse your chameleon back to health in an emergency.

A water-electrolyte drink ratio of 1:1 is adequate to rehydrate your pet.

Use a Dropper to Rehydrate the Chameleon

If your chameleon does not eat or drink willingly, you can use a drop to give it clean, fresh water to drink.

Some hobbyists use syringes to give their pets water in this way. However, seasoned breeders will tell you that using a syringe is risky as your pet could accidentally choke.

Droppers and pipettes are safer because they are made of soft plastic. Don’t go for the glass ones, as the chances of injuring your pet with broken glass are high.

The water from the dropper or pipette should be given in droplets. Drop the droplets into your pet’s mouth gently, and repeat as many times as necessary.

How Can You Prevent Dehydration in Your Chameleon?

Good Husbandry Practices

Chameleons are low-maintenance pets that only require love and care. With proper husbandry practices, you’ll keep many problems that affect other pets at bay.

Keeping the enclosure in the right conditions can prevent your chameleon from being dehydrated.

Use the right devices to maintain the proper temperature and humidity levels. Also, ensure that this reptile is properly fed with nutritious and succulent food to keep him hydrated.

In case you suspect anything wrong with your pet, don’t hesitate to contact your reptile vet for advice and guidance.

Use Real Plants in the Terrarium

Natural plants are better than fake plants because they help maintain proper enclosure conditions.

For example, natural plants maintain humidity levels while fake plants cannot.

Also, the leaves of real plants hold water longer than fake ones. Therefore, real plants provide your chameleons with ready-to-drink droplets whenever he is thirsty.

In contrast, synthetic plants dry quickly and must be misted more frequently.

Use a Hygrometer

A hygrometer monitors the humidity level in the enclosure. Depending on your chameleon species, the ideal humidity level in the tank should be between 50% and 80%.

Invest in a high-quality hygrometer that won’t fail you after a few days or weeks. You can use customer reviews to determine a product’s quality before buying it.

Use an Automatic Fogging System

Automatic fogging systems are misters that provide the enclosure with a continuous mist source. Ensure the device is well-adjusted to supply the proper moisture at any given time.

Also, constantly check to see if it is clean; you don’t want it supplying the enclosure with dirty or contaminated water.


Reptiles get easily dehydrated when sick or if the husbandry practices are improper.

Your chameleon pet can suffer mild, moderate, or severe dehydration, depending on the source of the problem.

It’s essential you acquaint yourself with all the husbandry practices regarding the species of chameleon you plan to bring home.

This will put you in a unique position to take care of this cute creature when he eventually becomes part of your family.

Hopefully, this post has opened your eyes to how best to identify and handle dehydration in your chameleon.

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