So you have a chameleon and everything is going great. That is until one day you notice that your little friend is not eating as much. There is a chance that he/she has coccidia. So how do you treat for this? There are several steps that should be taken in the treatment of coccidia.
First, you are going to want to take your chameleon to the vet. The more experience your vet has with chameleons the better. Let them take a look at it to confirm that it is coccidia. To do this they will need a fresh fecal sample. Get a plastic bag and a paper towel. Grab the sample with the paper towel and place it in the bag. Get as much air out as possible and place it in the fridge until you are able to go to the vet.
Once they have confirmed that it is coccidia it is time to get the medication for treatment. There are several different medications out there to treat this sickness. However, not every one of these is suitable for a chameleon. Albon, for instance, is used by many to treat coccidia. Although it is popular, it is not the best choice. If you use this you will find that by the second or third day your chameleon is no longer eating at all. Medications, such as albon, can cause more harm than good.
There is a medication out there that is perfect for treating coccidia. It is called ponazuril and is the best at its job. Most of the other medications will only decrease the number of coccidia present, but ponazuril will actually kill them. There are usually no side effects of this drug and it is fairly cheap to purchase. Usually it is used on horses and therefore it can be expensive. Just tell your vet that it must be specially compounded to be able to use for your chameleon. Don’t take anything else that is recommended to treat coccidia. You will be able to both take care of the problem as well as shorten time of treatment by using ponazuril.
So now that you have the drug it is time to use it. There are two ways of doing this. The first way is to allow the chameleon to climb onto you. You will take the syringe and measure the directed dose. You must now get the chameleon to open its mouth. This can be tricky at times. You can try squirting it into the mouth when it is eating food or just inject the food itself with the medication. If you choose to inject the food you will need to make sure that the bug itself is large enough. Larger silkworms and larger crickets are great for injecting into. There is actually a third way of getting the chameleon to take the ponazuril. By getting it to hiss and open its mouth the medicine can easily be delivered into the open mouth. However, I would not recommend this technique because of the stress it can cause.
While the chameleon is being treated, it is important to make sure the area in which it is being kept is constantly clean. Any fecal matter that you see needs to immediately be cleaned. Once a week you should empty the entire enclosure and clean everything thoroughly. For this step, you will need to purchase a forty volume clear developer solution. This can be purchased at your local beauty supply shop. Poor into a spray bottle and spray everything down outside with the solution. Let it sit in the sun for ten minutes. After it is done sitting, scrub and rinse. Continue these steps as much as desired…the more the better. It may make the cleaning process easier by having just the basics in the enclosure. Something to climb on and a place to hide as well as a basking spot. By doing this you will decrease the time it takes to clean the enclosure as well as the amount of areas that could possibly house the coccidia.
After about two treatments, take another fecal sample back to the vet to see the progress that has been made. There may need to be continued treatments, but coccidia can usually be taken care of by two good treatments with ponazuril. After the coccidia is gone continue the cleaning steps for another month or so. You will be surprised what these simple steps can do for the health of your chameleon!