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How To Treat A Chameleon With It’s Tongue Out!

Although chameleons are generally considered as a relatively easy pet to keep but they can still have issues with some of them potentially being serious issues.

We do see a number of questions every month from people who are having issues with their chameleon’s tongue swelling up and sticking out and due to it being difficult to get reliable information on what can cause this online, we wanted to publish our own article going over the more common causes.

Please keep in mind that this really is a serious issue in chameleons though and you should really be booking a video call with a veterinarian to have them give your chameleon the once over.

Once whatever is causing your chameleon’s tongue to swell up you really should be looking to get assistance from a vet as soon as you possibly can to get a specific treatment to help with the issue.

Our article can be used as a way to get some general pointers on the main causes of your chameleon’s tongue swelling up but the actual treatments for each condition can be a pain to diagnose without seeing the chameleon as there can be subtle differences that require slightly different treatments.

If you do notice that your chameleon’s tongue is swelling up then try to keep the tongue as wet as possible to prevent it from drying out and letting the condition get worse.

Why Is My Chameleons Tongue Hanging Out And Swollen?

The four most common causes of a chameleon’s tongue swelling up are allergies, injuries, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and dehydration.

Some of these causes are much easier to treat then others with some not being very serious while others can be potentially life-threatening if your chameleon is not treat quickly.

As we touched on earlier, you really should be trying to get a vet to check your chameleon over if possible even if you do think that you know what is causing the swollen tongue in your chameleon.

This is due to it being so difficult to specifically diagnose what is causing the swollen tongue in your chameleon and many of the symptoms being present in multiple causes.

Still, we will go over the four most common causes of what may be causing your chameleon’s tongue to stick out and swell up below to try and help you narrow down the potential issues that your chameleon may be having.

There are some less common causes that may result in your chameleon’s tongue swelling up though but these are very rare so it is usually easier to try focus on the main four causes.

A Problem With Allergies!

Chameleon’s can have issues with various issues that may cause their tongue to swell up in some situations.

The most common allergies are usually specific to various types of protein so if you have tried different types of meat in your chameleon’s diet recently it may be the cause of the tongue swelling up.

This is generally easier to identify as the swelling will be less than some of the other causes in our article. With most allergies causing your chameleon’s tongue to swell up the chameleon will usually still be able to close its mouth normally due to the level of swelling on the tongue being considerably less than some other issues.

Please keep in mind that there is a large amount of misinformation on social media about chameleons and their allergies.

People constantly say that chameleons can’t have allergies but this is not correct and usually due to them not understanding that it is rare for chameleons to cause allergies in humans similar to how dogs can cause allergies in some people but chameleons can still have allergies to things that will cause themselves to flare up.

The Tongue May Be Strained Or Injured!

It can be common for some chameleons to end up straining their tongues when they strike at their food and this can result in their tongue swelling up due to the strain or other potential injuries.

This is generally one of the worst injuries to have in your chameleon as it can be very difficult to fix in some situations.

Although this can happen with a wide range of food types, it does tend to be more common with hornworms as they really can lock onto branches in your tank making it harder for your chameleon to pull them off with its tongue.

This may need some chameleon’s to strike multiple times with each strike increasing the chance of your chameleon harming its tongue and causing it to swell up.

Although hornworms can be an excellent treat food for your chameleon, some people who own chameleons will refuse to offer hornworms to their chameleons because of this.

Over the years, it is suspected that a surprisingly high amount of injuries have been cause to chameleon’s trying to strike hornworms with their tongues and not being able to drag the chameleon off whatever it is standing on.

Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies!

A less common cause of a tongue swelling up in reptiles can be various nutritional deficiencies in their diet with Vitamin A usually being the main problem.

You are usually able to use a reptile vitamin suppliment as the Beta Carotene in the supplement is an excellent source of Vitamin A with the rest of the ingredients often making your chameleon’s diet nutritionally complete.

Perhaps Its Due To Dehydration

A very rare reason that your chameleon’s tongue may swell up is dehydration with the dehydration itself usually being a symptom of a more serious problem.

You will usually be able to work out if your chameleon is drinking less than usual but if you do suspect that your chameleon is dehydrated you should definitely try to seek assistance from a veterinarian as soon as possible as it is usually due to to a serious problem.


That brings our article going over the four most common reasons that your chameleon’s tongue may be out due to swelling to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand why your chameleon’s tongue may be swelling up but you really should be getting a veterinarian involved as soon as possible to help offer a specific treatment to your chameleon’s needs as soon as possible.