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Mark Scherz

Ep 138: Species Talk With Dr. Mark Scherz

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Dr. Mark Scherz comes on and talks with us about his work in defining the species of Madagascar. What makes a species? It is if they can breed or not? And how does this affect us chameleon keepers? With such subtle differences do the chameleons get confused? He fields these questions and helps us understand evolutionary biology. This is the first of two parts. In the second part, which will launch next week, we dive into the details of the new species within the Calumma nasutum group.

Mark Scherz Blog and Website hub

Mark Scherz website

Do you see all those link icons? Go to the website and click on these to find his Instagram, Tumbler, Facebook, and other digital outreaches!

Awesome Madagascar Wildlife Posters

uroplatus poster

Mark has a poster for the frogs he encountered in Madagascar and the Uroplatus he encountered. Click. above to check them out!

The Official Paper of the Episode

Calumma nasutum paper

We don't dive too deeply into the paper in the first part of the two part series but here is a sneak peak.

Squamates Podcast

squamates podcast

You know I love podcasts! Well, Mark does too and he has his own. Check it out!

Ep 137 T. hoehnelii

Ep 137: Trioceros hoehnelii, the Helmeted Chameleon

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Mountain Dragons by Jan Stipala

Mountain Dragons

I have brought in a number of books from the UK where Jan Stipala is based so we can have easy access to this book here in the US. Click the image to go to the product page for ordering information.

chameleon keeping during a global pandemic

Chameleon Keeping During a Global Pandemic

The world is going through a tough time so I figured we may need a couple more chameleon touchpoints. So here is a daily short talk for people who enjoy podcasts. This is your daily communication from a chameleon keeper in Self-Imposed Social Isolation with a completely unofficial, informal, unscripted talk for podcast listeners. Maybe a little spirit lifting as we all support each other weathering this difficult time? Stay strong friends!

I'll just share thoughts and if you have questions you would like answered feel free to send them to and I'll do Q&A sessions! This is not in place of the official show episodes which will continue on as scheduled!

March 14, 2020, Self-Imposed Social Isolation: Working From Home

Here is a video of Italians making the best of their entire country being locked down. It is a heartwarming example of humans coming together to find a silver lining.

March 15, 2020, Self-Imposed Social Isolation: Shopping


And if you are interested in Calumma brevicorne or Trioceros melleri I have linked to the gentlemen to speak with below.

March 16, 2020, The Cracks Start to Show

SISI 3 Profile Image


So, you are wondering what a Metal cover of a Disney tune is? Feast your ears below!

March 17, 2020, Things Get More Serious

March 17 - Things get more serious

Check out the Song Salad Podcast Episode I was a guest on and the Modern Day Magic Dragon song was created in real time!

March 18, 2020, An Eerie Silence

An Eerie Silence

March 19, 2020, Productivity


March 21, 2020, Briana O'Brien Joins Me!

Briana O'Brien joins me

Briana O'Brien of Kammerflage Kreations joins me and we just talk the current events and how it is affecting us. This isn't an interview, just a discussion! We do slip in a very cool news item, but we didn't mean it! Yep, we uncovered that we are on the verge of a new branch supply company, ReptiBranch, run by Briana's husband and previous podcast guest Alec O'Brien. I'll be checking these out!

March 22, 2020, Dr. Sean McNeeley talks chameleons and coronavirus

Sean McNeeley

Dr. Sean McNeeley is on the front lines as a doctor in charge of a medical center dealing with the coronavirus preparations. He is level headed and a voice of reason. We are lucky to be able to claim him as part of the chameleon community. Today we talk about his breeding projects and get a perspective from him as to his day-to-day during this time.

March 23, 2020, Figuring out UVB for Chameleons

Figuring out UVB for Chameleons

We in the chameleon community are working to uncover the needs of chameleons with respect to UVB. We are exploring the minimum levels necessary and the psychological effects of higher levels. Today I talk about the thought process in working out these UVB mysteries.

March 24, 2020, A Reading from Mountain Dragons by Jan Stipala

Mountain Dragons Reading

Sit back, relax, and enjoy an excerpt from the forward of Jan Stipala's Mountain Dragons. Here we get a behind the scenes look at searching for chameleons in Kenya!

If you are interested in purchasing a copy you can find them available here.

Mountain Dragons

March 25, 2020, Analyzing Vitamin D3 in Chameleon Supplements

Vitamin D3 for chameleons

This episode is for people who are trying to understand vitamin D3 safe levels. I review the data we have and go over an exercise to translate that into real world supplement powder levels. There will be no quick answers here! Let's push for D3 from UVB, but let's also understand dietary D3 as much as we can. This episode is NOT for people wondering what supplement they should use. I focus in on one aspect of supplementation. This episode is for people who are wanting to understand supplementation to feel more comfortable helping people with their supplementation.

March 26, 2020, Chameleon Care Sheets

Chameleon care sheets

Care sheets are a high level summary and should be treated as such! Today I talk about how beginners should view care sheets and then speak from the of making a care sheet.

Here is a link to the page here on the Chameleon Academy where I store the care sheets. If you are a breeder and would like to pass them on to your customers feel free to do so as long as you do not modify them in any way. You can use them with the confidence that the link to the website that is on the care sheets will be constantly updated with the latest in information.

Chameleon Academy Care Sheets

March 28, 2020, Chameleon Eating Habits

Chameleon Eating Habits

We deal with chameleons refusing to eat anything but certain feeder insects to chameleons refusing to eat certain feeder insects to al out hunger strikes. Today I give an introduction to chameleon eating habits so we can understand how to work with these conditions!

Ep 136 Profile Image

Ep 136: Strengthening the Reptile Community

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Our place in the Reptile Community

In today’s day and age we are very familiar with community. In fact, there has been no time in history when there has been more community! We are able to tie together chameleon hobbyists, scientists, and veterinarians from around the world and share ideas and enthusiasm. This week I talk about the chameleon community and how we fit into the larger reptile community.

For all the community building the internet allows us it has a huge drawback. People end up being a screen name. If I was walking down the street and bumped into 80% of the people I interact with on social media I would not recognize them. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. We have a digital relationship which has its place and through which much can be done. But it is a shadow of what a face to face relationship can be. This is why reptiles shows and regional society get-togethers are so meaningful.

Today I want to introduce you to a special type of event, and that is the herpetological conference. These used to be common place before the internet age. They never went away, but they are once again now starting to gain some momentum and pop up back up in different corners of the globe. I’d like to suggest you consider one of these events. There are a number happening in different countries. At the release of this episode, we in the US are preparing for the Herpeton Herpetocultural Conference coming up at the end of April 2020 in San Diego, CA.  It will be four days of talks about a wide range of reptile topics with some of the most active names in the reptile community. I will be one of the speakers and will be talking on the importance of multigenerational breeders and of them leaving a digital footprint.

Herpeton Conference

Herpeton 2020

If you are within flying distance of San Diego then I invite you to join me and a host of speakers that I have looked up to throughout my reptile keeping life at Herpeton. Click the above image to go to the Herpeton website. You can register for the conference there.

And, definitely let me know if you are going to attend. I will be arranging a chameleon community get together so we can make our connections. Yes, it is important that we get to know other communities, but we ought to do that within our community too! And, heck, maybe we can do a goodwill outreach and do something nice for the leopard gecko people. You know, maybe a cricket gift pack or something. Check out for registration information. They sold out last year and so I am encouraging my listeners to sign up early for the completely selfish reason that I want a lot of chameleon people there. That way Allen has no choice but to schedule more chameleon speakers for the 2021 conference!

USARK - Protecting the rights of Herpetoculturists


USARK, the United States Association of Reptile Keepers, is fighting for our rights to keep reptiles and amphibians in the United States. I will be looking into organizations in Europe to highlight so that we can get a sense for our community as a global community. But for those in the US, you do not realize how under attack we are until you go to the USARK home page and read the long list of legislations that are being fought every day across the country. Please visit for a sobering look at what is going on. This is the reason why we need to be aware and be willing to financially support this organization. Without it, we will be defenseless. Once you look at this page you will realize how much is going on without us even knowing about it.

dew on chameleon plant leaves

Keeping Plants Watered

I’ll bring in experts to help us really dial in our plant skills, but I can cover one of the biggest killers of cage plants – dehydration. One thing that seems counterintuitive is when we look at our cage covered in water droplets from the misting we do every day and then our plants die. One thing to check off the top is whether any water is getting to the roots. Pothos is the biggest victim of this because they have such big leaves that are so beautiful at catching the mist! But they are so dense that the water does not necessarily make it to the soil. This is the main reason why a chameleon habitat can be perfectly healthy for chameleons, but deadly for plants. It may be that only the chameleon is getting a drink!

Check the soil moisture!

dry soil in goldfish plant

This GoldFish Plant gets misted every day and you can see the dew on the leaves. But a close look at the soil shows that there is no water that gets to the roots! This Goldfish Plant will die of dehydration while, all the while, providing water to your chameleons.

dry soil in pothos

The greatest victim of dry soil is our favorite chameleon cage plant - the Pothos. The reason why it is so effective as a chameleon cage plant is the huge leaves. Unfortunately, those large and dense leaves can easily shield the soil from any misting. This picture shows this exact dynamic. Notice all the dew on the leaves and the completely dry soil!

The Solution: Extra Watering For the Plants!

watering can

A simple garden watering can can be the solution to all the watering issues. Watering the plants thoroughly once a week with a watering can should solve most of the watering issues.

Dripper on top of cage

Sometimes with all the network branches in our cages it is difficult to reach the plants in back with a watering can. So a strategic placement of a dripper on top of the cage can reach those trouble areas. The slow drip is actually better for parched soil than the flow from a watering can. You can fill a dripper and put it above a different plant each day. That way you provide water for your chameleon and keep your cage green at the same time.

water squirt bottle

Another way to get at difficult plants is with a squirt bottle. This can go through branches or even a screen cage wall!


If you are having trouble keeping plants alive check the soil. Too dry and too wet are both problems. If it is too dry then the above solutions can be used. If too wet, then you'll have to move the plant, increase the drainage in the plant pot, or decrease the misting sessions. There aren't always easy solutions. If you need help with plants dying then this is the post to hang out at!

Chameleon podcast episode 135

Ep 135: Season 5 Kick-Off

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First Order of Business! The name of the podcast has changed!

Podcast Name change

Yes, the podcast name has changed from the Chameleon Breeder Podcast to the Chameleon Academy Podcast. I will be slowly transitioning all the previous episode show notes to this Chameleon Academy website. The website will still be active, but it will start redirecting people to this website for the episode show notes that I have transitioned. It will be a HUGE job so it will take a while! But, to be clear, you are able to listen to all the episodes, from 1 to 135 here at this time!


The iPhone app will be changing to the Chameleon Academy branding. There is nothing that you need to do at this time. Just be prepared for a different look to come when the app is refreshed!

NEW! There will be an Android app in the next few weeks. It is has been commissioned and development is ongoing. I will announce it when it is available, of course!

Welcome to Season 5 of the Chameleon Academy Podcast!

We have a great season ahead! In today's podcast I talk about the direction we will be going. I will have the standard wide range of episode topics that you are used to, but we will be hitting certain topics hard to try and get some results in our personal husbandry! If you have already listened to the podcast and are here wondering what the next step is then you have come to the right place! The two themes we will work on are Keeping Plants Alive and Understanding UVB.

Plants Alive! Keeping your chameleon cage green!

accent plants for a chameleon cage

In the Plants Alive! challenge you have the opportunity to select a personal goal for 2020 which relates to your level of plant experience. The object is for all of us to level up in 2020. Whether that means just keeping plants alive at all or becoming an expert on one species you are specifically interested in. We will be doing it all together on the Chameleon Academy Facebook page so we can all benefit from each other. I have a post dedicated to this challenge so you can get the details and get started with choosing your goal here: Plants Alive! Challenge.  And what if you don't have a goal or want to be doing this just yet? Well, feel free to drop by the Chameleon Academy Facebook page and just watch us with our projects!

Campaign to Understand UVB

UVI 3 at basking branch

We will also be focusing our efforts on learning about UVB. My goal is to provide clear, understandable presentations in all media types so UVB will be a more understood topic in the community. There is nothing for you to do at this time other than wait for regular educational outreach and just study the material presented! If you are anxious and want to jump in immediately then there are a number of educational opportunities available. We have been studying UVB for a number of years! The first thing to do is jump on over to the Replicating the Sun page in the academy and get those concepts under your belt.

Herpeton Conference

Herpeton 2020

Click the above image to go to the Herpeton website. You can register for the conference there. Take a look! I was there last year and was very much looking forward to going this year. I was then asked if I would be willing to talk about chameleons at the conference and, of course, I was honored to do so. So I will be there representing the chameleon community and would love to have a chameleon community get-together one of the evenings. Please let me know if you are going!

Arcadia ProT5 UVB light fixtures

John Courteney-Smith, MRSB, the Head of Science and Innovation at Arcadia Reptile joins me to talk about his new UVB fixture. Arcadia produces high quality UVB lights and it is encouraging that they are now producing a fixture to drive those lamps....although they have been doing it for years in the European market! So, this is the first tie us across the pond are enjoying the benefit of their expertise. I am excited to test these fixtures. Although I had one of the smaller products to look at during the interview I received my production lamps just a few days ago before the release of this episode. My excitement lies in the fact that it is exceedingly difficult to find out what protection circuitry is in the fixtures available to us so we can't know which ones will drive our light properly and which ones will shorten the effective life.  I, of course, will share my personal testing results!

At this time, you can find the ProT5 lights at LightYour and Reptile Basics in the US. Apparently, they are already in wide spread availability in Europe!

You can learn more about the ProT5 light fixtures at the Arcadia website

accent plants for a chameleon cage

Plants Alive!

Welcome to the Plants Alive! Challenge!

Our co-theme for 2020 is Plants Alive! which encourages the chameleon community to set up living plants in their chameleon cages. This is the first step towards creating environments for our chameleons instead of just cages. But plant keeping is as much of a skill as chameleon keeping! So it is understandable that many people have a difficult time keeping plants alive. So, this Plants Alive! Challenge is to pick a live plant based challenge commensurate to your skill to achieve by the end of the year!

How Do I Join the Plants Alive! Challenge?

Simple! Pick a goal and drop by the Chameleon Academy Facebook group where the group will offer their help so we all achieve our goals. The goal you pick should be challenging, but reasonable for your skill level. You can custom pick your own goal or else pick one of the following. Once you have decided which goal fits you then share it on the Facebook page and let's get started!

Step 1: Pick Your Challenge!

Beginner Challenges

If you are at the beginner level and just plain have trouble keeping a plant alive then your suggested challenge is to keep a Pothos alive. This is the hardiest plant we have available to chameleon cages and we will have plant counselors trained and ready to help you tweak your conditions to keep a Pothos alive in your chameleon cage! If you have struggled with plants then this is the challenge for you!

Chameleon in a plant

Intermediate Challenges

Specialize in a Special Plant!

Select an "exotic" plant that excites you and adopt that as your goal for the year. You will have that species of plant thriving in your chameleon cage by 2021! For this it is useful to have seen a certain plant that you are interested in. If you are not sure which plant to choose there is no problem with getting suggestions from the group! Here are some ideas:

NepenthesTropical Pitcher Plants: Carnivorous plants which hang down insect digesting pitchers

Maiden Hair Fern: A long time favorite. These delicate leaves bring a romantic touch to the cage. This is actually my choice for my 2020 Plants Alive@ goal! But you are welcome to choose this one as your's as well!

Satin Pothos: Not really a pothos, but has the same shape leaves. The leaves are a striking silver color!

Creeping Fig: This vivarium plant has a wonderful habit of covering a wall and provides a carpet of drinking surface.

There are so many to choose from. Pick a favorite or come by and ask for ideas!

Specialty Plants for Chameleon Cage

Get a Plant to Flower!

While getting leaves to grow is a huge milestone, getting your plant to flower is a sign you are doing something right. You can select a plant from the easiest ones below or else select one that is personally special. If you decide to take this challenge, make sure your choice is a reasonable one. Pothos will flower at about 40' long. I have never seen a Pothos flower and may never see one. I suggest you do not select Pothos for your challenge! So do a little research and make sure your plant will flower in indoor light and at a size that will fit in your cage.

Some fun ones to consider are Fittonia "nerve plants", Spider Plants, Maranta "Prayer Plants", or even a goldfish plant!

flowering plants in the chameleon cage

Advanced Challenge

If you are so skilled with plants that you yawn at making them flower and you are collecting obscure varieties of pothos then it is time for an over-the-top goal. I suggest researching the habitat of your chameleon and work on recreating the environment with the plants that come from their home town. This is beyond what I can guide so you are on your own independent study program. But please share progress on our Facebook page!

Step 2: Join the Chameleon Academy Facebook group and share your goal.

The Chameleon Academy Facebook Group

Head on over to the Chameleon Academy Facebook page, introduce yourself, and share what your goal is or ask for ideas!

I will also be posting on The Chameleon Forums. If there is enough interest there, I'll have two Plants Alive! groups going.

Chameleon Academy Facebook Page
Chameleon Academy Podcast host slide

Chameleon Academy Podcast Name Change

The Chameleon Breeder Podcast has been renamed the Chameleon Academy Podcast. This move has been made to make it clear that the podcast and website are common outreaches.

A name change has been on my mind for a little while as I noticed comments from people recommending the podcast, but adding "and don't worry, it isn't just for breeders"! After I saw this a couple of times I realized that the title was providing a metal speed bump for people who weren't interested in breeding. I advocate for enjoying chameleons as pets and not think you have to breed. And so, when my friend pointed out that I was the Chameleon BREEDER podcast I realized it was time to change to a more accurate title! I realize there will be a level of confusion that goes along with this change, but I feel it is for the best going forward.

The nae change ties it in intimately with this Chameleon Academy website which was, ironically, developed to provide a better platform for the podcast to operate from!

The Chameleon Academy Podcast is currently in pre-production and season five will start March 6, 2020!

Our focus this season will be on learning how to keep plants alive and understanding how to implement UVB in our chameleon cages. I am also excited to bring back the Outer Fringes feature. This feature highlights other reptiles and amphibians that take specialized arboreal keeping sills. These are considered advanced skills, but if you are a chameleon keeper you have them! Look for episodes on the Draco flying dragon and the Uroplatus phantasticus Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko!

branching in a chameleon cage

New 2′ x 2′ x 4′ Cage Build Guide Released

Dragon Strand Tall Screen Cage Build Guide

Tall Screen Cage

A new comprehensive cage build was just released which used the new Dragon Strand Tall Screen Cage System. This is the model I will use to teach the principles of how to set up a standard 2' x 2' x 4' cage.

The Dragon Strand Tall Screen Cage System is a full featured system which consists of a 2′ x 2′ x 4′ screen cage, six Dragon Ledges, a Hydration Mount for a mist head, a fitted Drainage Tray, and an additional screen floor.

There is a unique feature of this screen cage in that the back panel is actually solid to protect the walls and furniture from mist overspray. So, in this cage build, I use each of these features to their full benefit, but it is written in a way such that the principles can easily be applied to any of the commonly available 2′ x 2′ x 4′ cages.

You can check out the 2' x 2' x 4' cage build here.

Panther Chameleon logo

Welcome to the Chameleon Academy!

The Chameleon Academy has been created to be the center hub for the latest in chameleon husbandry information. This is a multi-media experience with an active weekly podcast and YouTube video outreach.

My name is Bill Strand and I have been working with keepers, breeders, and scientists around the globe to gather together the latest in husbandry techniques. I have been working with and studying chameleons for four decades and have been involved in public education of chameleons since 2002.

In 2015 I started the Chameleon Breeder Podcast as a new and innovative way of  being able to bring the findings of the community together in one place. While a strictly audio medium has enormous advantages, it is difficult to browse. And after over 125 episodes there needed to be a way to access the information easier than scrolling through episodes. Thus was born the Chameleon Academy where you are able to search for topics and do research that includes podcast audio, transcripts, video, and new content. The Chameleon Academy is designed to be a multi-media chameleon research tool.

The Chameleon Academy will be actively updated on a weekly basis and will be the store of my personal drive to discover the most I can about these incredible creatures. Through the podcast, video channel, and this Chameleon Academy I invite you along on my journey.


Bill Strand

Jackson's Chameleon male