Monthly Archives - April 2021

Veiled Chameleon male

Ep 203: Considerations when getting a Veiled Chameleon

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The most common chameleon to be kept is probably the veiled chameleon. But it is one of the most impressive of chameleons. Today I talk about what you should consider when considering a Veiled Chameleon.

Considering how wide spread veiled chameleons are one might think there isn’t much to think about when getting one. And, that is why so many people have trouble with Veiled Chameleons! So, this episode is going to parse apart the situation. I would love for people to be able to start off right with this incredible chameleon.

Link Resources

The following links will help you research Veiled Chameleons:

Chameleon Academy Veiled Chameleon Profile

Ep 107: Keeping Chameleons Together (learn why cohabitation doesn't work!)

Chameleon Academy YouTube Channel

 

The Chameleon Academy merchandise store!

Transcript (more or less)

Introduction

To start off with, finding a Veiled Chameleon won’t be an issue It is the most prolific chameleon to the point where vendors at reptile shows who have no business offering chameleons can purchase an aquarium full to sell over the weekend. Pet stores often have them and now that they are well established in Florida, wild caught individuals are available. All of these are of equal pet potential. They originate from a country called Yemen in the middle east, but we have not seen new bloodlines for many years due to armed conflict in the region. Thus what we have in captivity has been from a limited number of bloodlines. The specimens that have populated areas in Florida are from this genetic bottleneck, but do have natural selection. The genetics may be strained, but this keeps them from being weak. All in all, I would love for new bloodlines to be made available and I will be first in line when that happens.

Price Considerations

The big issue with Veiled Chameleons is the price. The problem is with how low it is. What this means is that the only way to make money selling Veiled Chameleons is to cut your care of them to the bare minimum and rush them out the door as soon as possible. The number of veiled chameleons that grow to adult size under these conditions is a testament to their hardiness. But when you are looking for a veiled keep in mind that the cheaper the price, the rougher the life your baby has had.

Unfortunately, the wide availability of cheap veiled chameleons has made it difficult for serious breeders to give this species the attention they deserve. This is a case where the chameleon community has shot itself in the foot by price shopping chameleons. If we insist on paying corner cutting prices because that is what the meat market companies offer then we will remove the option for quality chameleons from reputable breeders.  Occasionally, a reputable breeder will offer veiled chameleons as a passion project. If you are lucky enough to run across this opportunity, jump. Do not hesitate. Do not squabble about the price. Believe me, they could charge twice what the large companies do and they are still lucky to break even. This is because it takes time, space, and money to raise them up responsibly. But what you are getting is a superior quality chameleon. Both the mother and the baby were given the special attention that comes with being part of a reputable breeder’s program. And, yes, this does take some effort on your part. You have to be able to research the breeder to make sure they are reputable.

Just because the veiled chameleon is available to casual chameleon people, don’t let that dissuade you from being a serious chameleon herpetoculturist with the species. There are others like you and we all need to realize we are not islands.

Morphs

Now the subject of morphs. The only reliable color morph I know of is, the Translucent or pied. This is where there are varying levels of white and pink blotches. If this is to your liking then getting a baby translucent will likely get you what you are expecting. There are many other morphs advertised like sunburst or lemon or high blue or high yellow or any number of creative names. It is more murky as to whether these are truly morphs you can count on. While some people say they got the color they were expecting, others do not. What I can personally say is that if there were established morphs of Veiled Chameleons that were true to color, I would expect that there would be an industry developed like we see with panther chameleons and a network of breeders specializing in certain morphs. We do not. Variations in color obviously happens. But it isn’t obvious to me that there are reliable true-to-color morph lines. I welcome the proof that they do exist and I would happily report that here.

 

Caging

The next consideration is the cage you buy with your Veiled Chameleon. We have an epidemic of ZooMed Chameleon Kits being sold with pet store chameleons. As enticing as the marketing and box text, and what the pet store employee says, the ZooMed Chameleon Kit is not acceptable for a Veiled Chameleon. Followers of this podcast will recall an episode I did previously where I said that the kit would work for small chameleons, including young Veiled Chameleons. Yes, in the academic sense it is true. But practically speaking your veiled chameleon will grow so fast that even if you did get it when it was small enough to live in the 16x16x30 cage included, it would out grown the cage so quickly it isn’t even worth getting it as a temporary cage. If you listen to those podcasts, my entire reason for doing those was to educate people with the kit as to how to create a stop-gap measure until they could get an appropriate cage set-up.

No matter what size or age your veiled chameleon, get the adult size cage and set it up as you would an adult. Your baby will flourish under those conditions. Once again, people selling cheap chameleons are conditioned to sell cheap equipment because the majority of consumers will not want to pay more for the equipment than they did the chameleon. It is a completely ridiculous standard. Very much like people refusing to pay more in shipping than they do the product. All these things are completely independent, but, in our minds, we base the value of the transaction by the piece which we deem the focus.  Once again, if you are getting a cheap chameleon, do not let that devalue its life. Put your savings in equipment. Get the proper equipment as if the chameleon cost you $500.

Once again, people selling veiled chameleons are conditioned to offer you cheap and inadequate equipment because that is the kind of customer they are used to dealing with. Break that mold. You have a 7 to 10 or even more relationship with your chameleon. Treat the entire relationship with respect and your chameleon will thrive.

The Cheap Mindset

So, if the cheap mind set is what the reptile show vendors have for veiled chameleons, what kind of care do you think they got? Just look at the aquarium with wood chips on the bottom and two sticks thrown in for 30 veiled chameleons to crawl all over each other. This is pretty disgusting. The best option is to pass this up and do not patronize that business. If you have to choose one out of that mass of green bodies then pick the one most active. Everyone of them is in a state of high stress and adrenaline. The ones sitting still or with their eyes closed have used up all their energy. It is best to pick one that is still showing it has fight in it. And, if my Hunger Games description takes the fun out of it, then I am glad I have been able to communicate the situation they are in. These are animals that need their own space.

Picking a Baby

And to address the reason why people pick the calm ones. I know, you want one that will be passive and friendly. The bottom line is that is not what a chameleon is. You may get a chameleon that is not fearful of humans. Go ahead and stick your hand in the cage and see if any come towards you instead of running away from you. Select that one. But do not take the behavior of not running away from you as a sign they are friendly. They are likely at the end of their stress rope and have given up. This is not the same as friendly.

Now, I am not saying that you picking one that doesn’t run means they will die on you. While they could and not running is a bad sign, these chameleons often bounce back once they are in proper husbandry conditions. Of course, some just continue their crash. It all depends on the individual. To be fair, Veiled Chameleons are much more likely to be able to recover than, say, a Jackson’s Chameleon, but still, make wise decisions in your selection process.

The fact that people inexperienced with chameleons are able to sell veiled chameleons greatly increases the chances that they will try and sell you a pair or two females or two or more and tell you they can live together. This is incorrect. The number of chameleons you can come home with has to match the number of cages you come home with. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Male/female…two females…bonded brothers…a pair that has grown up together….no. If you want to dive into the details of cohabitation I have a podcast for that. I’ll link it in the show notes. But, spoiler alert, even though it explains all the reasons and details the end result is still, one chameleon per cage.

If you decide on a juvenile it is time to strap in your seat belt and get ready for a ride. Veiled Chameleons grow very quickly and can show mature colors at 4 ½ months. Your females can be laying eggs at six months. It is a good thing to feed your growing veiled chameleons as much food as possible, but to pull back when they are full grown. Obesity is a huge problem with Veiled Chameleons because they don’t have a stop signal when it comes to eating. – especially if they are kept hot like may caresheets direct. So, in addition to learning about general chameleon care, you need to get familiar with the special conditions surrounding Veiled Chameleons.

MBD

All chameleons are susceptible to Metabolic Bone Disease. This is where animals do not get enough vitamin D3 and cannot absorb calcium. Bones are brittle and weak. So why do we see it in Veiled Chameleons the most? Well, it is the combination of 1) the chameleon growing so fast (so there is little time to figure out something is wrong) and 2) The veiled chameleon being sold to people with little to no experience and selling them cheap and inadequate equipment to go along with inadequate information. So, a bad start with a race to maturity that does not allow for a lot of time to integrate with the community and learn that something needs to change in the husbandry. The solution is a simple application of sufficient UVB light. Even if they are told this, how could they know that the UVB light they came home with in the Chameleon Kit is entirely inadequate? The lack of good information and the expense of proper equipment is a potent cocktail that spells trouble for newcomers getting their first chameleon. This is why listening to this episode and, at least knowing what you need to know, is so important at the beginning. And I wish I could get it in the hands of every new chameleon owner.

Special Considerations for a Veiled Chameleon Female

You can sex Veiled Chameleons from birth by the spur on the back of their back ankles so you have a choice between the two. Either makes a good pet, but the females are geared to laying eggs. They have to in order to make sure the next generation is safely in eggs under ground before the dry season comes. This genetic drive combined with the less than ideal husbandry given to them turns them into egg making machines. The excessive diet and heat supercharges their body into gaining unhealthy weight and activating massive amounts of eggs to be developed. And this can happen even if she is not mated. It is so prevalent, that some veterinarians are suggesting proactive spaying to avoid the stress of egg laying. While it does fix the problem it does not eliminate the cause of the problem. The cause is improper husbandry. And the reason why it is so difficult for the community to change their ways is because the unhealthy part of this makes them grow bigger and faster.

There needs to be an education that there is a good “big” and a bad “big”. Veiled Chameleons that are large in healthy proportions are no problem. In other words, they are long. Veiled chameleons that start having fat bulging out of the casques and large fat pads that end up restricting the oviducts are not only not healthy, but they can be deadly. If you have heard of egg binding, that is a condition that can be caused by overfeeding and overheating. Too many eggs and fat pads that are too big can easily equal your female chameleon’s death. This is a difficult thing to educate on because bigger and egg production have traditionally been markers of health in our community.

So you can see why it is so hard to get the community to change course from the advice they have been giving all this time. It is a lot easier to prove that overfeeding and over heating creates big chameleons and that high egg production is a sign of extra good husbandry than it is to put numbers to reduction in lifespan. So this will be a long road.

Add this this that we are still figuring out the right numbers to tell people. This revelation is relatively new so only the people on the cutting edge of chameleon husbandry are working with it. This is ambient temperatures in the mid 70s with a basking temperature in the low 80s and a couple of food items every other day for adults. But we are showing promising results as far as decreased egg production and decreased production of infertile clutches.

To be fair, this is something we need to proceed with caution. Cold and underfed chameleons will be stunted so, like everything, it is possible to go too far. So, this change isn’t something to be done without a firm respect for consequences. But we must go forward considering the health crisis we are experiencing in female veiled chameleons. It is so normalized that most chameleon keepers do not recognize obesity.

 

This particular episode was meant to help you make decisions in how to obtain a Veiled Chameleon. I’ll link to a flight of episodes in the show notes where you can dig deeper into all the episodes on husbandry which is part of the preparations that are appropriate to do before bringing one home.

Veiled Chameleon Mis-information

The last thing I need to prepare you for is that there is an unfortunate amount of misinformation about Veiled Chameleon natural history. It isn’t surprising considering that their native Yemen has been in civil war and you can’t just go visit their homeland. In fact, it took me years of searching before I finally found eye witnesses that I could interview on this podcast. And once I did, I found that much too many of my previous assumptions were wrong. Amazing what happens when you step outside the echo chamber of our assumptions and go to the source. I am going to list the major revelations, but in the show notes I will link to the interviews themselves so you can hear for yourself. Understand that this information is only slowly making its way through the community.

  • Veiled Chameleons are not from hard arid lands. They come from high altitude mountain valleys called Wadis that are lush with vegetation during the wet season and get clouds of fog rolling into the wadis at night. The idea of hot and arid comes from photos and videos taken during the dry season when nature is killing them off. The populations literally crashes every year at the beginning of the dry season and is reborn when eggs hatch at the beginning of the wet season the next year. So, now you know why they have to grow as fast as they do.
  • Veiled Chameleons are not a high UVB species. Like most chameleons, they get warmed up in the morning and hide from the hot afternoon sun. Veiled chameleons are healthy at a UV Index of 3 and there has been, to date, no evidence they need higher UVB.
  • Veiled chameleons do not need high heat. If you want to check their weather conditions yourself check the weather stations for Ibb, Yemen. You will find a standard montane environmental condition on par with what you would expect for a Jackson’s Chameleon. The difference is that Jackson’s will die at higher heat and Veiled chameleon will just get bigger and unhealthy. We humans like bigger so we have made a negative a false positive.

This episode is not about diving into each of these issues. This is more of a warning that there is more misinformation about this species than there is for other species. So, you are lucky that you can start off on the right foot. When in doubt, listen to the people who have been there, not the ones who have just memorized internet talking points. It took me years to find eye witness sources to get my information straight. Take advantage of that effort and start off right to begin with. And don’t argue with people who haven’t yet updated their information. It will be a waste of your time.

I have integrated all the latest husbandry information on the Chameleon Academy care sheets and you are welcome to base your start there. A link in the show notes goes to a full description of husbandry.

And, this all gets you started on the right foot. Veiled Chameleons are great chameleons. The colors and casque are impressive. The personality is usually shy and defensive, but if we are getting a chameleon with the intention of letting him be a chameleon this shouldn’t be an issue. If you need to hold your chameleon to be happy then a chameleon is not the best choice. I have enjoyed working with Veiled Chameleons over these may years and have dedicated much time on the podcast to support the proper care of the species. Everything you need to have a wonderful, long term experience with your veiled chameleon is available to you. Your job is to make sure you get the best little guy or girl to start off with.

 


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Machakos Hills Jackson's Chameleon

Ep 202: Considerations when getting a Jackson’s Chameleon

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There are special considerations when buying each species of chameleon. But the Jackson’s Chameleon has more pitfalls than most. Today we will go into what to consider when buying a Jackson’s Chameleon and how to avoid making a mistake that could bring an unwelcome surprise or even heartbreak.

Link Resources

A fun video about finding my Jackson's Chameleon gave birth!

Transcript (more or less)

Introduction

If you are listening to this while you are in the planning stage of getting a chameleon you will be well prepared to buy strategically. If you are listening to this after falling in love with a Jackson’s Chameleon while out shopping for dog food then things are a little more on the fast track for you! Either way, we will start at the beginning and cover all the bases.

 

What Sub-Species are Available

First of all, in the market right now, circa 2021, you have ample access to two subspecies of Jackson’s Chameleon. The most common one is the largest, the Yellow-crested Jackson’s Chameleon. In the community we usually call them xanths after their scientific subspecies name xantholophus which, in latin, means yellow-crest. Nice how that works, isn’t it? The males are bright green with three horns while the females are bright green with no horns. And this is how most pet store people know Jackson’s Chameleons.

Xantholophus has an interesting background in that, in the US, we have a consistant supply of specimens that originated from Hawaii. Details are hazy, but there are rumors of now Jackson’s Chameleon populations set up on the US mainland specifically for supplying the pet trade. Details are hazy because the legality of this is questionable. But so is bringing them in from Hawaii. So there is some gray area here of which I do not have an answer. The significance to you making a decision on what chameleon to get is that the Hawaiian population is in a sort of genetic bottleneck as they all originated from a few dozen individuals imported there in the 70s and escaped. This has no bearing on their suitability as a pet, but if you have any aspirations of breeding your chameleon I highly encourage you hold out for a specimen from Kenyan bloodlines. These are harder to find as adults, but if you plug into the dedicated community, such as is on the Jacksons Chameleon Community group on Facebook, you will find that serious breeders tend to work only with the Kenyan bloodlines. Since Kenyan bloodlines are harder to find and more expensive to start with, a breeder with Kenyan bloodlines will be well aware of what they are doing and can share that with you. If the breeder is not sure whether they have Hawaiian or Kenyan then you should assume they are Hawaiian in origin.

 

So, enter in a second subspecies that has become more common lately called the Machakos Hills Jackson’s Chameleon. This ones’ scientific name is Trioceros jacksonii jacksonii and it has a myriad of common names. It is called the true Jacksons chameleon, the Kenyan jacksons chameleon, the rainbow Jacksons, and, at one point it was called the willigensis jacksons chameleon. This was confusing because it sounded scientific, but it was never an official scientific name. We generally don’t like to use it because it tries to sound scientific and is deceiving. The males have three horns and a bright yellow and green flank with blue cheeks while the females mess everything up and show one or three horns. This is very important because anyone who believes that you can sex jackson’s chameleons by their horns will incorrectly identify a female Machakos Hills Jackson’s Chameleon as male. This wouldn’t be such a big deal as the females are wonderful chameleons to keep.  Except for the next big thing to take into account. And that is that female Jackson’s chameleons often come to you pregnant. And if they aren’t now, if they have ever been exposed to a male in their life, they usually will be later when you least expect it. Especially if you think it is a male! The universe just works that way!

 

So, before we even get into how to get a hold of a healthy chameleon you have to know what subspecies and sex you are even getting! And this can get tricky. The best thing to do is to go to the chameleonacademy.com website and get familiar with the photos there of males and females. Alternatively, you can go to the Jackson’s Chameleon community Facebook group where there is a team of Jackson’s keepers that can do an ID for you. As the care of the xantholophus and the Machakos Hills subspecies are essentially the same, the real importance in getting a accurate identification is for whether you have a female or not. Because that has important future significance with how much of a surprise a sudden baby-filled cage would be.

 

Pet Potential of Subspecies, Gender, and Age

As far as pet potential, the choice between subspecies or male/female is a personal one. The differences in the subspecies are mostly cosmetic and you can decide whether you like color or size more. Both males and females make equally good choices. The males have the prominent horns which attract many people, but I have got to say that I greatly enjoy the personality of the female xantholophus. I have found them quicker to adjust to humans. I like the female Machakos Hills Jackson’s because they have the horns and interesting patterns. They are a little smaller so a standard cage looks bigger on them.

 

The Special consideration of babies

Of course, there is a major consideration with females with the possibility of babies in your life. The younger you buy her the more likely she will not produce babies. If you are buying an adult you are almost guaranteed to have babies come your way. It isn’t certain. It is just a high enough probability that you should be, at least, looking for physical and behavior signs that you should start preparing for babies.

 

The issue of whether you are ready to take care of chameleon babies is one of the more unique considerations that buyers of Jackson’s Chameleons need to consider upfront. Though this is true of any live bearing chameleon species, it must be highlighted more for the Jackson’s Chameleon because it is the species that commonly finds itself in big chain pet stores and other retail outlets that attract people who are the least experienced with chameleons or even reptiles. Most chameleons are egg layers and a long incubation period buffers beginners from suddenly finding a mini-horde of babies in their care.

 

The potential of babies may make you hesitate to take a mature female chameleon home with you and this is appropriate if you are not ready for that next step in chameleon keeping. But there are people like ten year old me who think having babies is a plus for getting a female. What could be more fascinating than raising up baby chameleons? The answer, of course, is that raising up baby chameleons is exactly the incredible experience you think it is! It is also an enormous amount of work and expense if you want to do it right. So, for those who are excited about the possibility of raising baby chameleons I will say this: I absolutely encourage you to get the experience of raising baby chameleons. It will truly be an incredible memory. But…and this is a big but….you have to commit to doing it right. The information is easily obtainable on chameleonacademy.com on how to do it. And I have podcast episodes on how to do it. And I will be doing more educational outreach to make sure the information is easy to get a hold of. So the information on breeding and raising chameleon babies is out there. Review it and know what you are getting into. Unfortunately, doing it right with chameleons is more involved than most people are willing to take on for a one shot experience. And if you cut corners you will, most likely, end up with dead chameleons. And that is not the positive experience you are looking for. So, go into it with eyes wide open.

 

The Best Approach: Find a Breeder

The best approach to getting a Jackson’s Chameleon will surprise no one. Find a breeder and get a 4 month old juvenile. At this point you can safely get any subspecies or gender and be assured you will have a quality start. Recognize that there will be a higher price point for a captive bred specimen and price will increase with age.

 

 

The Four Month Mark

 

Now, you may ask, why the four to six or even more months for a Jackson’s Chameleon when a veiled can be sold at six weeks or a panther at three months? Before I jump into that I want to do a sidebar here. Age of the chameleon really isn’t a good gauge of when a chameleon is ready to go. Each bay and each brood of babies grows at a difference pace. The most accurate way of determining when a baby is ready to go to a new home is vigor and body size. The reason we give it a month rating is because that is much easier to understand. That would be when a standard brood of babies would be ready if they grew at the average pace. But, really, the judgement of the breeder as to when the baby is well started is key. If someone is selling you a baby younger than four months then they should have a decent explanation as to why that shows they made a solid judgement.

 

And, here is the reason,

Jackson’s Chameleons grow at a slower pace and tend to be less hardy in the typical human house environment. Obviously, they are just as rugged as any other chameleon baby expected to survive in the wild, but they are less adaptable to the conditions we have in our homes. So there is this strange phenomena where some broods of Jackson’s have this die off at around the three month mark. Not everyone experiences this, but until we have a firmer handle on what is going on, the Jackson’s community is pushing for four months to be the standard.

What could be the reasons for this die off? It is almost assuredly two reasons. Cohabitation and lack of a nighttime drop. Babies born into captivity are usually kept in groups which causes constant stress.  Jackson’s do not show stress as obviously as other species so it is often missed that this is happening right under our eyes. Add that to lack of good sleep if they do not have a distinct nighttime drop and you have stress points compounding on each other. The present working hypothesis is that the cumulative effect of these stresses becomes overwhelming at about the three month mark. Obviously, this will play out differently in each situation depending on how the babies are cared for.

With so many variables it is difficult to have long term testing to put numbers to these, but you can prove some of it out yourself. If you find yourself with baby Jackson’s Chameleons you can take out a few individuals, raise them in their own cage, and keep the rest in a group setting. You will see for yourself the difference after a couple months.

 

But back to you and your first Jackson’s! So, how can you avoid getting a stressed baby? Once again, work with a reputable breeder. Even if that breeder does do group raising, they should be monitoring the situation every day and removing trouble makers. It is this constant monitoring and care that you won’t get with the larger retailers selling babies…or even adults.

 

Cautions when buying a Jackson’s Chameleon

So let’s get down to brass tacks about finding a source for Jackson’s Chameleons. This species is widespread and has found its way into pet stores, reptile expos, and online retailers. Thus, I need to give you three major cautions about dealing with sellers of Jackson’s Chameleons.

 

First, Beware of companies selling young babies.

 

With Jackson’s Chameleons there is an epidemic of babies being sold too early – especially from online companies. And there is a reason why live bearer chameleons are so susceptible to this. When the chameleons come into an import facility or are held for transport there will always be a female who gives birth at the facility. These babies are then sold as soon as possible which means too young and at a cheap price. There is nothing we humans love more than a cheap price! At least in the moment. You can easily guess the outcome. And this scenario plays itself out on a regular basis on the Jackson’s Chameleon Community Facebook group. A new member comes on wanting help with their baby chameleon that isn’t doing well. We do our best, but we watch as these new keepers learn the hard way how much a cheap baby chameleon is not a good deal. Of course, they are not to blame. How can these new keepers know the lay of the land and where the pitfalls are? The definition of being new is you don’t know the area!

 

So, why don’t these places hold onto these babies longer? Well, that costs money and takes space. Unfortunately, $150 - $200 USD is about the minimum you can sell a baby chameleon for and hope to at least break even. Chameleon babies don’t like to be together and the eat a lot. So a breeder needs to have ample caging and a constant supply of food. This is expensive. If you are buying a chameleon for less than $150 then either the breeder is not making money and will soon fade away (because spouses are not impressed with a business that losses money) or else they are not caring for that chameleon for any appreciable length of time.

 

There are a few breeders of Jackson’s Chameleons. The serious ones breed the Kenyan bloodlines of the xantholophus. And since these babies grow slower and tend to be more sensitive than veileds or panthers, Jackson’s babies are usually sold at four months old or even six months old. At this point there is a respectable bit of money invested in this baby. Not only that, but there was significant money invested in the mother while she was pregnant. See, there is much more to a healthy baby than how it is taken care of once it is born. So, if you want a good healthy baby – and , yes, you do – plug into the Jackson’s Chameleon community, find a breeder, and be willing to pay the $150-$200. It is 100% worth it.

 

 

Second, Beware of people pushing cohabitation

it is way too common for sellers to tell you you should buy a pair and that they can live together. Jackson’s Chameleons are much more subtle in their communication than, say, veileds or panthers. And so they appear to be living in peace. This is not the case and cohabitation is a stress situation which will lead to stress. I hate to say this, but I have even heard of breeders being unethical in their attempt to sell more chameleons. They would be immediately banned from any group I am in charge of, but there is nothing I can do about a reptile show. Unfortunately, this isn’t just from unethical people. It is also from people with the best of intentions that just got the wrong information. The reason why you should immediately go elsewhere is because someone that tells you Jackson’s Chameleons can live together is either trying to take advantage of you or else keeps their chameleons that way and your baby has been the result of a mother that was stressed during pregnancy. That is an unseen strike against you that you would never be able to know about. So it is best to steer clear of any entity that supports cohabitation of chameleons.

 

 

Third, Avoid group cages

It is too common for pet stores and reptile show vendors to buy a bunch of cheap chameleons and throw them into a screen cage and sell them like fish in a barrel. This is an incredibly stressful situation and shows that these chameleons got no care before being presented to you. Yes, this is why they are so cheap. And when it comes to buying chameleons anything cheap should sound loud warning bells. The reason why anything is cheap is that no care has been given to them. The amount of care given to them is the quality you will be getting. Chameleons do their best to look healthy because that is survival to them. But you will often find a quick crash once they are alone in a cage in your home and they have spent their remaining energy trying to defend against all the chameleons they were stuffed in a cage with. Everyone loves to spend less money. When you are buying animals turn off the thrill of feeling like you got a good deal. It will trick you into a bad decision and there are no end to people that will love to take your money and run.

 

In summary,

  • Beware of cheap babies from big companies.
  • Actively avoid people, even breeders, supporting cohabitation.
  • Do not buy a chameleon picked out of a group cage.

 

Wild Caught Jackson’s

I am a strong proponent of buying a captive born babies from a reputable breeder. But I would not be doing my job if I did not acknowledge the situation where you are heart set on bringing home the chameleon that looked you in the eye while pawing at the cage door.

 

At this point you need a general guide for picking out wild caught chameleons. So, here are a list of tips

  • Know that if you get a female that the chances are you will have babies in your future. Female Jackson’s Chameleons have been some of the coolest chameleon pets I have had so there should be no blanket advice against them because of the baby potential. They have exceptional personalities. And it was always female Jackson’s Chameleons that got comfortable enough with me that they ate garden bugs while sitting in my hand. But the reality is that the likelihood of babies needs to be a serious consideration when getting a female.
  • You will need to do a fecal check for parasites. Sometimes the establishment you are purchasing the chameleon from will have a phone number for a local reptile vet.
  • Go for the feisty one. So many people want the calm one. Well, in the wild, calm ones don’t survive and it is the ones actively telling you they don’t like you in their cage that have the spunk to make it. My friend, Patrick Holmes, who works with snakes gave the hilarious story of how when he is picking out the baby snake to bring home he puts his hand in the cage and the first one to bite his hand is his choice. This is because the strongest of the babies will stand up to the king kong hand in their space. Jackson’s are a calm species so we won’t get them jumping out of the trees at us, but there is enough in them to gape and threaten us. Don’t get a chameleon if you want a good holding pet.
  • Remember that the seller may be totally confident that you are getting a male, but you get babies the next month. Welcome to the Machakos Hills Jackson’s Chameleon!

 

You should make sure that there are no wounds on the animal and no broken bones. Chameleons help with this as often a new injury will show up as a dark or sickly yellowish spot, but check that each foot has a strong grip and the tail curls with strength until the tip.

A chameleon with internal distress will sit with its eyes closed. This is often covered up by the high stress situation of being in a showroom cage with a bunch of other chameleons. So if you see a chameleon in a group cage with its eyes closed you know the situation is very bad.

We have actually been lucky with the quality of wild caught jackson’s chameleons. Whether Hawaiian or Kenyan they have not been the mess that other chameleon species have been. But this is 100% dependent on the people involved in the process and this can change at any moment. So, even if you have had a good experience or know people who have had good experiences with wild caught Jackson’s Chameleons, keep your guard up.

 

Conclusion

 

If you continue on with the plan to get a Jackson’s Chameleon the next steps are to review their care requirements and compare them to the environment in your house to make sure you are set as far as their needs. On the chameleonacademy.com website I have an extensive care section. And, in the show notes, I have a link to the Jackson’s Chameleon Community Facebook group where you can get more support.

In other news, I am having a blast with my Chameleon Academy YouTube channel. Although I have a number of educational videos planned I am just having a lot of fun making chameleon keeper vlog videos. You can come along with me as I go branch hunting, show you around my special bank of outdoor cages for pregnant livebearing female chameleon, and I even turn a Chameleon Kit cage into a very cool plant filled garden for a newborn Machakos Hills Jackson’s Chameleon. Just search for Chameleon Academy on Youtube and you should find it. And I finally have T-Shirts and mugs available. If you go to the Youtube channel just click on the menu item that says Store and you’ll see the merch.

 

Thank you very much for joining me here! And it is time for me to get to work on the next podcast and video!

 


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