Chameleon Medical: Stomatitis – Mouth Rot

Stomatitis - Mouth Rot


The mouth area of the chameleon is one of the most injury prone areas due to the constant introduction of prey items that resist being eaten. Though that first chomp is highly effective, bites can occur. And even if the prey item is not resisting, natural spines such as are found on certain roaches, grasshoppers, and even crickets can nick the inside of the mouth. If a bacterial infection takes hole in the cut it can grow to the point where it is eating away bone.


Stomatitis is identified by a swelling of the jaw or the presence of greenish or yellowish puss inside the mouth It can be difficult to detect as chameleons do not often volunteer to show you the inside of their mouth, but it is a very good idea to check the mouth area on a regular basis. This can be done if a chameleon will eat in front of you and you can catch glimpses during chewing.

Prowlpuss was a male Trioceros quadricornis (Four-horned Chameleon) who came to me with multiple issues. A respectable number of issues came from a raging mouth infection that mutilated his mouth and teeth. You can see where the teeth should be. These were lost to the bacterial infection. This chameleon went on to live years after this image was taken which goes to show you how strong chameleons really are!

stomatitis in a chameleon
mouth rot in a chameleon
mouth rot on a chameleon


A veterinarian is necessary for cleaning the infected area and for antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics are usually given in oral or injectable forms. The best way to go about treatment is to get the bacteria cultured and the correct antibiotic prescribed. Usually, though, the vet just prescribes a “broad spectrum” antibiotic that has a history of being effective with the most common strains. It is critical to follow through the entire antibiotic course even if improvement has been shown in order to reduce the chances of producing antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Bacterial infections ave a great chance of recovery if they are caught early. The more advanced the infection the harder it is to beat it back.