How To Take Care Of A Dying Chameleon?

Death is inevitable and not even our favorite pets can skip that. But that doesn’t keep us away from making their last hour their best and taking care of them, does it? Well, it’s easy to do that when you’ve got a dog or cat as a pet. But what about taking care of a dying chameleon? How are you going to do that?

If the chameleon is on the verge of dying, you can do two things. One, trying to fix the that is causing the lizard’s death unless it’s dying due to old age. And two, you can simply wait it out till the reptile closes its eyes for the final time and do everything to keep it happy till then.

Now the question is – what if it’s not the age that’s been killing your chameleon? Can you do something to undo the suffering? Let’s find that out!

4 Ways To Take Care of a Dying Chameleon

Seeing your chameleon dying indeed is a painful view. But who said you can’t do your best to make the lizard feel better or at least secure at the last minute? When you’re favorite reptile is on the verge of death, you can try the following things as a part of taking care of them –

1. Giving Them the Best Environment

Probably you’ve been trying to do this for a long time. But when the reptile is waiting for its last breath, make sure that it’s getting everything that can make it happy. Yes, we’re talking about giving it a perfect place to live in with a balanced temperature/humidity level, and of course, its favorite food. 

2. Keeping the Well-hydrated

At the time of dying, like lots of animals, chameleons too can be a bit thirsty. So, make sure that they’ve got a source of clean drinking water nearby them. Don’t just throw a bowl of water at them as they can’t drink out of it. It’d be better if you could just add a dripping system around from which they can easily take their sip.

3. Taking Out the Possible Threats

A sick or dying chameleon won’t be that much aware of the surrounding and can get itself hurt, especially when there is any kind of sharp objects lying around. So, if there’s anything like this catching your eye, get rid of it ASAP.

4. Talking to the Vet

Not always you can save your reptile from death. But what if it’s dying out of a curable disease? To be sure, consult with your vet and get it the required treatments. And if there’s no good hope here, ask the vet what you can do to make its last moments better.

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What Can Kill A Chameleon?

Nothing in this world happens without reason, and the same goes for your chameleon’s death too. But what are the most common ones on the list as the potential killer of these color-changing reptiles? Well, let’s start with –


You probably already know this if you’re the proud owner of a chameleon, but they don’t drink water like your regular dog or cat. This means while being thirsty, chams don’t reach for a bowl; but just lick the water off the leaves.

And guess how it all can lead the reptile to dehydration? Well, unlike regular pets, they won’t automatically head to the water dish. So, this can obviously be another potential cause of dehydration, especially when they don’t have access to adequate safe drinking water with drinkable arrangements.

A chameleon’s dehydration might reach a point where it slowly kills the reptile. Examining the urate in a cham’s urine is the quickest and most reliable way to tell if it’s dehydrated. In case you were wondering, it’s the white stuff you find in a lizard’s waste.

White urates can be seen when a reptile is well hydrated. However, the color changes to yellow when it’s dehydrated. The orange hue indicates a ‘severe enough’ level of dehydration, and you probably should contact your veterinarian. Sagging skin, sunken eyes, lethargy, and loss of appetite are a few other symptoms that may appear around the same time.


As for the next most likely cause of your lizard’s demise, we have to say it’s stress. And what do you know? It’s also one of the most frequent causes of cham deaths.

When the lizards are put under stress, their stress hormones kick in to help them to cope. The bad news is that it may take up to a week for them to return to a normal level. As a result, the lizard might become ill and finally die from the effects of prolonged exposure to stress.

The presence of other animals in the cage, loud noises, and even the confinement to a smaller space can cause stress in a chameleon. Look out for indications like a loss of appetite, darker coloring, unusual aggressiveness, etc., to determine for sure if the lizard is suffering from stress.


The chameleon’s ability to fight off mild parasites is one of its strongest features. So, even if they are parasite carriers, their immune system manages the problem perfectly. However, this is not always the case, especially in stressful or unsanitary environments.

Such an environment is ideal for parasite reproduction, which can quickly lead to the lizard’s demise. The chameleon may pick up parasites from a wide variety of sources. Some examples of such factors are the store from where you bought them, the type of food they are being fed, and the location of their enclosure.

It’s true that parasites may affect both wild-caught and captive-bred animals. However, as they naturally coexist with parasites, wild ones are more equipped to deal with them. As their immune system naturally controls parasite reproduction, this is quite normal for them.

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But there’s no guarantee that the captive-bred cham’s immune systems will function as well as those of their wild counterparts. Therefore, don’t get shocked if you notice your captive-bred lizard is battling with parasites and eventually dying as a result of the invasion.

Parasites can even thrive in the food they eat. Providing them with wild-caught insects is a common cause of this. If your lizard shows signs of malnourishment, loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal swelling, and fatigue, it’s probably battling parasites that will eventually prove fatal.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Have you heard of Metabolic Bone Disease (often abbreviated as “MBD”) before? This is the second most common cause of mortality in captive chams, right after parasites. Failure to diagnose this ailment can lead to the horrible death of your lizard.

Your chameleon will get this condition if its food is deficient in calcium. The condition can also be brought on by a lack of UVB light. Just so you know, a cham requires UVB light for at least 12 hours since the body uses it to metabolize all the calcium it takes in. Broken bones, dislocated joints, a mouth that won’t shut properly, swollen limbs, muscular spasms, and apatite loss are all signs that your lizard has MDB.

Old Age

Like the other pets, a chameleon tends to wear out and weaken as it ages. Not much can be done at this point to save the lizard. Most chameleons may expect to live between five and eight years.

However, if healthier food is made available to them, they have a good chance of surviving considerably longer than their regular life span. Also, male chams have a longer lifespan than females. Therefore, their life expectancy also varies according to sex.

Can You Prevent the Death of Your Chameleon?

Sooner or later, your chameleon is going to die. That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to ensure your cham better health so that it can enjoy a long and healthy life till that day arrives. So, what you can do is, when the causes of death start showing up, try your best to keep your pet reptile alive by –

Preventing Dehydration

Maybe it’s tough for you to wait to give your chameleon its first bath. Well, we’d say hold yourself back until your baby is six months old. But first, you should know that chams dislike water. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to spray chameleons directly with water. The situation can get so terrible that the lizard can become stressed out and even get ill as a result.

So, what you can do is replicate their natural habitat. But how are you going to do that? Well, the best way to pull that off is by adding plants to the shower. This will prevent them from being dehydrated and will also save them from stressing out. Consult your reptile vet about inspecting the temperature, humidity, and misting to determine if they are adequate for your pet’s needs.

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Lessening the Impact of Stress

As a rule, chameleons only experience stress when particular conditions and causes collide. If you notice your lizard becoming agitated while out on its daily stroll, make no delay in investigating the underlying cause. Just take your time and look around you to see if you can figure out what’s going on.

The stress levels of your cham can rise for a variety of causes. Minor problems, such as faulty heating lights, can have a significant impact. In such cases, determine the bulb’s expected lifespan to prevent any unpleasant surprises.

They may also experience stress due to frequent changes in location. If this happens, returning them to their original spot may help in reducing their anxiety. Talk to a reptile vet if you’ve investigated all other possibilities and still don’t know what’s wrong. Having him come to your home will simplify the process. So, don’t hesitate to give him a call.

Parasite Control

Once you’ve discovered where the parasite is, the first step in the process is to identify and eliminate its point of origin. In any case, without it, you won’t be able to resolve the problem in the long run, and the parasites will eventually return.

When dealing with a wild-caught specimen, extra care must be taken to prevent the spread of parasites. After purchasing the lizard, it is necessary that you thoroughly examine it for parasites.

Make sure the reptile is being fed clean, sanitary food. If not, it can become a breeding ground for parasites. And please also do your part to maintain a clean atmosphere. Along with that, maintain a weekly schedule of enclosure cleaning. To make things better, use a high-quality veterinary disinfectant to kill any parasites if there are any.

In the event the lizard has already contracted parasites, prompt veterinary care is more than important. This way, you might be able to find treatment before the attack reaches a severe stage.

Dealing with MBD

You’re already aware of how quickly and easily MBD or Metabolic Bone Disease can end the life of your reptile. So, you should get your pet to the vet as soon as you see any of its symptoms. However, before proceeding, make sure the cham’s bones and other body parts aren’t broken due to the deadly disease. Because if anything like that pops up, surgery will be your only option.

However, if you are not witnessing such behavior, you should concentrate on providing adequate UVB lighting and calcium for the lizard. A cham’s chances of survival against an MBD are greatly increased once these two have been acquired.

Final Words

Like any other pet, it’s quite obvious to feel sad when your pet chameleon dies. So, what you can do is take the best care of them till they’re gone. And who knows? With proper care, they might live longer than you expected. Along with that, also keep your eyes open for the possible causes that can leave your chameleon lifeless.

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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