Have you ever wondered just how often your chameleon poops? If you have, then we are together! Some months back, I became very inquisitive and wanted to know how often my chameleon pooped. This made me carry out extensive research on the subject and I found some very interesting facts. If you want to know what I found, read on!
So how often do chameleons poop? A young chameleon less than a year usually poops almost everyday while an adult chameleon will poop once every 5-7 days. How often your chameleon poops will depend on its age, what type of food you give it and also on how much you feed and moist it.
Let’s find out more about their poop.
How Often do Chameleons Poop and Pee?
A chameleon does not poop and pee separately. Just like most other reptiles and birds, a chameleon pees and poops in one load.
Depending on the variety of foods your chameleon eats and on how often it eats, it can poop and pee as frequently as once a day. Since a healthy chameleon eats very well, expect it to poop frequently too. It is a good sign when your chameleon poops because it means its bowel movement is still fine.
Usually, younger chameleons poop and pee more often than older ones. If your chameleon eats a lot, it will poo a lot. However, older chameleons usually poop less frequently than the younger ones. This is due to reduced rates of metabolic activities as they grow older. A chameleon that is between 3 to 8 months old could finish a whole box of crickets in about 5 days. However, when such a chameleon stops growing it will eat much less. It could eat as low as 3 to 5 crickets a day.
If your chameleon takes greater than 7 days or a little more to poop, then you may need to watch it more carefully for other signs of sickness. It may have constipation and you may have to induce it to poop. You can do this by keeping it in a plastic bin filled with a little warm water that it can’t get out of, and making it to stay there for about 10-15 minutes.
On the flip side, if your chameleon poops more than several times a day, it could be the sign of a disease. This is especially so if the poop is watery. Check out for signs of blood or pus in the stool and confirm if it has dysentery or diarrhea. Quickly visit the vet if you see these signs.
What is Healthy Chameleon Poop?
It is very important to be able to tell if your chameleon is healthy or not just by examining its poop. This is a very easy and cheap means of diagnosis. First off, you have to be able to recognize and tell what a normal, healthy chameleon poop is (Check out the video below.) When chameleons make a bowel movement, there are two parts of the waste excreted – a white part (the urates) and a brown part which is the real feces.
Urates constitute the white part of the excrement from a chameleon. It is usually present in the poop of most reptiles and birds. Urates are kind of a version of solidified urine and are usually excreted by reptiles who have evolved over the years and learn to make more efficient use of water. Therefore, instead of releasing urea, they turn it into a concentrated solid and excrete it as urates thereby retaining more fluid in their body and preventing dehydration. See more: Reptile Health: Knowing What is Normal
In a healthy chameleon, urates are white, firm and have a chalky texture. If there is a tinge of yellow in the urate excreted, it could be a warning sign of a disease but it normally resolves itself. However, if the urate released is orange, it is an indication that your chameleon is not getting enough water. If you intervene at this point, you could also stop other illnesses which stem from dehydration. See more: 9 Common Chameleon Diseases You Need To Know
If the urates stay long in the body before it is released, the body absorbs the fluid back when it needs it. The longer the urates sit in the body the more fluid is reabsorbed from them back into the body. If your chameleon is well hydrated, there will be some clear fluid coming along with the urates. However, this clear fluid may not always be present even in a well-hydrated chameleon.
Feces is the brown part of the excrement from digested food. This is just like the feces any animal will make and excrete. The feces of a chameleon should be brown or almost black in color, have a well-formed shape, and be soft but firm in texture. Chameleons usually don’t have smelly feces but even if they do smell, they do not smell much. If your chameleon constantly excretes smelly feces, then something is wrong with it.
A key feature to examine in the feces is how uniform it appears. If there are undigested insect parts in the feces, it could either mean that the temperature in the enclosure is not appropriate or that intestinal parasites may be altering digestion. For example, if you feed your chameleon with many soft-bodied worms, it may pass out runny feces because the worms have made it more hydrated.
Your chameleon may defecate very frequently or less frequently depending on how long it basks, how often it eats, how much it eats, and the general health condition of the chameleon. Because basking is very essential for good metabolism and also proper digestion of food, low temperatures can delay digestion and reduce the frequency of defecation.
Different chameleons have different patterns and frequency of defecation. Some chameleons defecate almost every day (this is especially true for younger chameleons) while others may defecate as frequently as once every few days, or as rarely as once a week or once every two weeks. Generally, most adult chameleons defecate once or twice a week.
When there are parasites in the intestine of your chameleon, its digestive process and bowel movement may be altered. Parasites can also affect the consistency and smell of the feces your chameleon passes out. If the feces your chameleon passes out is very soft and has a lot of fluid or smells really awful, it could have an intestinal parasite problem. If you find worms in its feces, then it indicates that there is a large parasite burden and it is necessary to visit the vet. However, it is very rare to find a large parasite burden in your pet’s feces.
Usually, the parasites in the feces cannot be seen without a microscope. This is because they are so small. They are usually detected by looking for the microscopic eggs (ova). These worms fully live in the intestines of a chameleon and periodically shed eggs which will then be passed in the feces. This is why fecal matter with worms is indicative of parasites in the intestine.
It is important to note that these worms can infect other animals or pets in the home and therefore care must be taken. Although most parasites which affect chameleons are not known to affect humans, one must take extra precautions and maintain personal hygiene by washing your hands well when you come in contact with fecal matter.
It is recommended to carry out a fecal examination at least once a year in order to detect parasites. This is because early detection of the parasites will save you a lot of costs and can even save your chameleon’s life. To help you detect parasites in feces, collect some of the fresh brown portions of the feces with a tissue or paper towel and keep it in a sealed bag. It is better to collect fresh fecal samples and not dry ones. If you will not be going to the vet immediately, store the fecal sample in a cool place, say the refrigerator. You can keep it in this condition overnight but not more than eight hours. It is important to note that excess heat or cold can kill the microorganisms in the feces. The urates can be discarded as they are not needed for fecal testing.
There are some basic fecal tests which the vet will do. The first one is usually the fecal floatation test. (Check out the video below) This test is done in order to test for the presence of the ova of worms. A specific mineral solution is usually combined with the feces in order to separate the ova from the feces. The ova when separated will now float to the top of the solution where they can be collected and examined under the microscope. Some intestinal parasites such as protozoans can be seen in the feces after preparing a direct smear from diluted feces and examining it under the microscope. After the causative organism has been found, medication is then administered depending on the type of organism found.
If you are a biological science enthusiast or know how to correctly use a microscope, you could decide to do this fecal examination yourself. It’s usually fun. However, if you are not adept at recognizing parasitic organisms, then a vet is in the best position to do this test. If you find some parasites which are harmful, don’t give medications to your chameleon. It’s better you take it to the vet for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment at the correct dosage.
How Often Should you Clean your Chameleon’s Poop?
Although you may not wish to stress your chameleon by appearing to invade its cage every day, there are some important things you cannot just do without. One of them is the cleaning of your chameleon’s poop. So it is hygienic and better for your chameleon if you clean its poop every day. One way to do so is to clean its cage in the night when it’s asleep so that you don’t make it stress out. Cleaning the poop is not stressful.
All you need is some paper towel and water to wipe down the bottom. Depending on your schedule, you can plan for a more thorough cleaning of the cage either once a week or fortnightly or as the case may be. Another alternative which works is to spot clean the poop daily with some paper towel, wipe down the bottom weekly, and vinegar was the bottom monthly or a couple of months. See more: How Often Should I Clean a Chameleon Cage? (Clean Guide)
Do Chameleons Eat their Own Poop?
Yes, a chameleon can eat its own poop.
Chameleons eating their own poop? Eww! Sounds disgusting right? Although this sounds surprising, chameleons do eat their own poop. If your chameleon eats its own poop, it is not a very good sign. As you may know, dogs sometimes eat their own poop when they feel the nutrients from their food is insufficient. There are a couple of reasons why your chameleon may be eating its own poop. It could be that its feces still contains some undigested food and there are still some chunks of insect parts. Furthermore, there is a possibility of bugs being attracted to the feces and your chameleons try to feed on them. It may be attracted to the movement of these bugs and while striking at them pick up its own poop. Also, it may have a parasitic infestation which causes it to behave this way.
Whatever the cause, try to feed it adequately and increase the variety of meals and gut load it receives. If it continues, monitor the cage to see if your chameleon’s feces attracts some other insects. If you improve on these areas and you will see your chameleon feasting on its poop, it is best you visit the vet for a proper examination.
So far so good, we have discussed many details about Chameleons poop. Your chameleon deserves to have a healthy bowel movement. Ensure it gets the comfort it needs!
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Thanks for reading.