Although chameleons are not one of the more commonly kept reptiles within the reptile keeping community, they have been seeing a slight increase in their popularity over the last decade or so.
One thing that we have seen people new to keeping chameleons reaching out to ask for advice on recently is about their chameleon laying on the bottom of its cage for no apparent reason.
There are a number of reasons that your pet chameleon may lay on the bottom of its cage for an extended period of time and it can be difficult to diagnose the specific cause of the behavior.
Some of the more common reasons can potentially be serious and cause real issues with a chameleon though so it is usually recommended that you go to a veterinarian to get a professional diagnosis.
Some of the less serious reasons that a chameleon may be laying on the bottom of its cage include dehydration, stress, and a poor diet.
The more serious causes can include MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease), gout, kidney failure, and an upper respiratory infection. Although less common and not as serious, some internal parasites can cause a chameleon to lay on the bottom of its cage too.
Do I Need To Take My Pet Chameleon To A Vet If It Is Staying On The Bottom of Its Cage?
As we mentioned before, it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of your chameleon laying on the bottom of its cage without taking it to a professional.
If you are concerned that there may be an underlying health issue, then the best course of action is to take your chameleon to a reptile veterinarian.
They will be able to perform a physical examination on your chameleon and may need to run some tests in order to get a definitive diagnosis. If the issue is something like dehydration, stress, or a poor diet then they will be able to give you some advice on how to correct the problem.
If the issue is something more serious like MBD, gout, kidney failure, or an upper respiratory infection then they will be able to provide the proper treatment.
These conditions can be serious if left untreated so it is important to get your chameleon to a vet as soon as possible if you think there may be an issue.
Why Is My Pet Chameleon Laying On The Bottom Of Its Cage?
Common reasons that your pet chameleon may be laying on the bottom of its cage include dehydration, stress, a poor diet, and MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease).
Less common reasons also include gout, kidney failure, and upper respiratory infection, and an internal parasitic infection.
It can be surprisingly difficult for a trained veterinarian to be able to correctly diagnose the reason behind a chameleon laying on the bottom of its cage.
If you are concerned that there may be an underlying health issue, the best course of action is to take your chameleon to a reptile veterinarian for a professional diagnosis where they will be able to take bloods and do a range of tests on your chameleon.
Even problems with the diet of your chameleon can be difficult to confirm in many cases as random insects can end up accidentally getting into your chameleon’s vivarium.
Something as simple as a ladybug accidentally flying into your chameleon vivarium and being eaten can sometimes be enough to cause your chameleon to get dizzy due to the toxins in the ladybug and lay on the bottom of its cage.
If you think that your chameleon may be dehydrated then you should take a look at its skin and see if it is loose or wrinkled.
Chameleons that are well hydrated have nice and tight skin that isn’t wrinkled. If you think that your chameleon may be dehydrated then you should try increasing the humidity in its vivarium and see if that helps.
If your chameleon is exhibiting any other strange behaviors like excessive shedding, runny nose, lethargy, or wheezing then it is definitely time to take a trip to the vet as these can be signs of a more serious health issue.
Is There Anything I Can Do To Treat A Chameleon Laying On The Bottom Of Its Cage?
Making sure that your chameleon is properly hydrated and eating a suitable diet is the main thing that you are able to do to try and help your chameleon laying on the bottom of its cage.
The majority of other potential problems that can cause this behavior will usually need medication from a veterinarian to treat.
We have seen some DIY remedies for various issues in a number of commonly kept reptiles shared on social media but we would never recommend that you actually try any of them unless a vet also recommends the treatment.
The only thing that you can do at home to try and help a chameleon with MBD is to make sure that it has a calcium supplement in its diet and that the UVB lighting in its vivarium is working correctly.
Even then though, this is often not enough and you may require a specialist reptile vet to give your chameleon injections of calcium.
If you are giving your chameleon a calcium supplement then you should make sure that it also has a vitamin D3 supplement as well.
This is because vitamin D3 helps the chameleon to absorb the calcium which otherwise would be wasted but too much vitamin D3 can also cause issues so it really is a delicate balancing act.
Should I Be Worried If My Chameleon Is Laying On The Bottom Of Its Cage Often?
If your chameleon is generally healthy then there is no need to worry if it occasionally lays on the bottom of its cage. This could simply be a sign that it is basking and enjoying the heat from its basking bulb.
However, if you notice that your chameleon is laying on the bottom of its cage more often than usual then this could be a sign that there is an underlying health problem.
If you notice other, secondary symptoms of a potentially serious issue then you should definitely be worried and seek advice from a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Older chameleons are also more likely to spend time on the floor of their cage as they become less active.
This is perfectly normal and nothing to be worried about but if you are concerned then you could always take your chameleon to a reptile vet for a check-up. One thing you can check is if your older chameleon is on the floor of its vivarium near a lamp or some other source of light or heat and is just basking.