Sorry for the details, but this is important news for your chameleon. How often do chameleons poop?
What do you need to know about chameleon poop and how will this make you a much more experienced reptile caregiver?
In this article, you will learn and hopefully not get too grossed out when we discuss, “How often do chameleons poop?”
How Often Do Chameleons Poop?
Juvenile chameleons eat more often and poop pretty much daily. Adult chameleons may not poo or drop feces for a day or two before you notice it. Defecation for reptiles like chameleons occurs every few days as little as once every 5-7 days.
The food you are offering, the age, activity and overall health of your chameleon will determine how often they poop. If you do not notice any feces in their enclosure for over a week, there might be other underlying issues that we should discuss further in this article.
Do Chameleons Poop A Lot?
Not really. My chameleon poos once every 2-3 days and sometimes even less than that. The intestines in a chameleon are built to hold onto their excrement to absorb as much nutrition as possible before releasing their droppings.
Do not expect your chameleons to poop every day. If you are noticing that your chameleon has a very active lifestyle, constantly moves around, eats often and eats a lot more than normal, they should be able to poop more often.
Finally, juvenile chameleons will poo almost daily compared to adult chameleons who relieve themselves after a few days.
When a chameleon has not gone to the bathroom or passed any stool for longer than 7 days, they may have gut impaction. Check for any evidence of dry, hard or chalky stool.
Cold temperatures also create unnatural environments for chameleons who depend on humidity and moisture in their habitat to keep things moving along.
Your chameleon’s intestines need to digest food properly and they might not be eating food without enough hydration in it. If you gut load mealworms with vegetables for example prior to feeding them to your chameleon, your lizard companion will receive more fiber to help excrete their poop.
Prolonged constipation reaching 2 weeks is an indication that your chameleon is unwell, conditions are not right and a possible trip to the vet is necessary. Fluid injections and other strategies to relieve gut impaction of your chameleon will be discussed.
Unhealthy Chameleon Poop
Chameleon poop look similar to human feces, but obviously much smaller in comparison. You’re looking for similar structure and color to what you are used to with other pets. Dark brown or black feces followed by solid white or yellowish urates is considered healthy.
Look closely to make sure there is no blood. Moist poop is fine as long as there is a solid shape and not runny. Watery stool is just as concerning as constipation. It means there are underlying issues with the intestines or exterior needs that are not meant with:
We can tell a lot about our chameleon pets when examining their poop. A sample could always be taken to the vet’s clinic for analysis to find out if there is something wrong.
It may sound gross to you at first, but normal chameleon poop is a sign of relief that you are doing your best work and unhealthy poo gives you an indication that changes need to be addressed.
How Often Do I Clean Chameleon Poop?
For best husbandry, enclosure maintenance and hygiene habits, it’s best to clean out the poop you see in your chameleon’s cage when you see it. Move slowly, wear gloves or use tools like a plastic spoon.
I like to wait until the evening when my chameleon is more relaxed. They could be in the corner, turned away or asleep. Slow and steady movements keep them calm, especially when they are used to you as the primary handler, caregiver and enclosure maintenance expert.
You will get better at this with time. A little bit of water on a paper towel is enough to wipe down areas of the enclosure that are stained with any poop or debris. I use vinegar to clean the enclosure out fully once a month.
You can do a deeper clean once a week or once every two weeks. You will not have to clean out poop daily for adult chameleons who defecate only every few days or so on average.
Do Chameleons Eat Their Own Poop?
Sometimes you may find your chameleon next to their own poop and other times, they may actually try to eat parts of it again. There could be 3 major explanations for this:
- Chunks of undigested food
- Bugs on the poop
- Parasitic infection
A chameleon may try to fully digest chunks of food that they notice on their poop. There could be parts of insects that are still visible and able to pull out of the feces.
Otherwise, a chameleon may notice actual insects crawling, hovering or flying around the poo. They may use the poop as a form of bait to catch more easy meals.
Finally, a parasitic infection means that your chameleon is acting strange and is uncomfortable. There could be internal parasites present in the poop or illnesses associated with abnormal chameleon behavior which may include this unsightly response to eating their own poop.
What Are Urates In Chameleons?
A chameleon will not only poop a solid dark brown or black tube, oval, cylindrical piece of poop, It will be followed by urates. Urates are:
- excreted alongside feces
You can refer to it as solidified urine. This allows chameleons to give up less water while letting go of what is not needed. Absorbing more fluids and not peeing them out allows them to prevent dehydration in dry climates.
This is a reptile that doesn’t drink nearly as much water as plenty of other pets. They retain water by releasing solid urates instead of urine. If urates are truly yellow or even orange in color, your chameleon could be dehydrated or sick.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a well hydrated chameleon may also release some fluids along with the urates to indicate that they are getting plenty of water in their daily habits and routines under your care.
Does Chameleon Poop Smell?
The feces that a chameleon releases or drops in the enclosure will not remain there long if you clean up after them.
Any poop that is moist (which it should be), not chalky or dry, should have a slight smell and it will worsen the longer it sits in their enclosure.
If you are noticing that their feces is smelling worse with time, make adjustments to the food they are eating. Soft bodied worms can cause their poo to be softer or runny and smelly.
Making some changes like switching to crickets may make their poop smell more normal. Overall, I don’t think that chameleon poop smells that bad compared to larger animals.
Factors Affecting Chameleon Poop
What your chameleon eats is an obvious cause for how long, how often, how many times and how healthy their poop is.
Other factors include:
- Humidity levels
- Misting the enclosure
- Colder temperatures (colder intestines)
- Dry vs wet food
- How long they are basking under heat lamps
- Parasitic infection
- Age of species (juveniles poop more often)
Intestinal problems are present when the poop smells worse, is impacted (constipation) where they don’t drop feces for 7-14 days or when it is runny.
Parasitic infections are a cause for concern if you do not notice healthy poops 1-2 times a week as least. Parasitic worms and eggs could be shed from their anus which can infect other animals or people in the home, if proper disposal is not hygienic and addressed carefully.
A visit to the vet is needed in this case. No matter what, always wash your hands after handling a chameleon or their enclosure.
Chameleon Fecal Exams
I take a sample of my chameleon’s poo once a year at least to the vet. They will look for parasites and early detection of other illnesses.
This act saves me time, worry and money and stresses my chameleon much less than if it became a full blown infection or disease. A fresh sample is needed and you can store it in a zip lock bag overnight in a fridge if necessary.
I would not store it longer than 8 hours. Too much heat or cold will kill off microorganisms that you wish to be examined. You do not need to bring the urates for testing.
They will test for worms in a fecal floatation test, intestinal protozoans and salmonella among others. Round worms, tapeworms, intestinal blockages and blood on their stool will all be looked at closely. This is always a relief for me when my chameleons passes his fecal exam.
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