Neptune the Chameleon

Ep 216: Chameleons in Social Media

Today I talk with the creative force behind the Neptune the Chameleon show on YouTube and Tik Tok. We talk about what it takes to put on  show in good chameleon husbandry and what insights she has to the state of chameleon education on the frontier edge of social media platforms.

I highly recommend checking out the Neptune the Chameleon content. You can easily search for Neptune the Chameleon in YouTube, TikTok or Instagram. Or else click here

Neptune the chameleon
Neptune the chameleon on tiktok
Neptune the chameleon Instagram

Veiled Chameleons and Bill

Bill Strand Interview on Animals At Home Podcast

I’d like to invite you to check out the Animals At Home Podcast, episode 92 where Dillon Perron interviews me about the chameleon community, Chameleon Academy, and Dragon Strand.


This is a very good interview where we touch on important topics regarding where we are going as a community. We talk about the Panther Chameleon Breeding Lifecycle project I have been working on where I am modelling a breeding model that is specifically designed for optimal chameleon care and breeder happiness/satisfaction. That is the way we can expand and maintain the experience and knowledge base in our community.


I got excited about the Animals At Home podcast when I listened to episode 86 with TC Houston where he talked about small batch breeding. This was about keeping your breeding operation purposefully on the small side. Although, if what TC was talking about was “small” then what I am talking about doing is “micro”! Of course, once you have the micro aspect down, scaling up to whatever is appropriate is no problem! But this episode resonated with me and I loved hearing the concepts I had been thinking said out loud by someone else. One of the most powerful discussion topics on this episode was the talk about reaching a critical mass with the size of community. To survive we need to grow. This applies politically, in buying power, and demand for basic infrastructure such as availability of vets with reptile experience. You know how hard it is to find reptile experienced veterinarians? This is because we are coming out of a time period where reptile experience was a side business and something taken on because of the vet’s personal passion. But the vet would have to see cats and dogs to pay the bills. When we grow as a community it becomes possible for vets to be dedicated to reptiles and that makes them better at serving us which makes us more successful and strengthens the community. So it is in our best interests to grow.


Next was episode 88 with Chelsea Isdaner where she talked about her breeding operation where she has her breeding group in naturalistic cages. Each breeder is treated as a pet. And this is the next step for us in the chameleon community. I think we have achieved the first step which was to make naturalistic keeping the norm for beginners. And we have achieved that beautifully. Now it is wide spread for chameleon cages to be lush with natural plants. The next step, in my mind, is to bring that into our breeding set-ups. We have done well mass producing panther chameleons in sterile, easy to clean environments. And this is necessary if you have a lot of breeders. I’d like to bring the spotlight to craft breeding where each breeder is set up in a large size cage filled with live plants and treated like a pet. My purpose in this is to raise the life quality of the chameleons and maintain the happiness level of the human. This strengthens our community.


So I invite you to listen to these episodes. You can get on the new wave as it builds! I’ll be doing a complete podcast episode fleshing out these thoughts soon so we can continue this conversation.

Ep 92: Bill Strand Interview

Bill strand

Bill’s podcast, YouTube channel, website, and care guides are a staple among chameleon keepers and he has been a catalyst in the movement towards natural keeping and breeding. In this episode, we discuss Bill’s history keeping chameleons, his caging company, Dragon Strand, and of course the Chameleon Academy.

Ep 86: Small Batch Breeding

We must re-think reptile breeding to promote methods that are both respectful to the reptiles we keep and that make our value clear to non-reptile-keeping folk. In this episode, TC Houston and I discuss the concept of small-batch reptile breeding and how it will save herpetoculture from self-destruction.

Ep 88: Breeding Reptiles in Complex Setups

In the episode, we discuss Chelsea's diverse group of snakes, DIY enclosures, and the process of advancing husbandry. She also talks about how she successfully breeds snakes in complex habitats and we analyze the myth that small snakes fail to thrive in large enclosures.

Jacksons Chameleon with a Temporal Gland Infection

Ep 166: Temporal Gland Infections with Dr. Tom Greek

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If you are a keeper of the Jackson’s Chameleon, you may be familiar with the temporal gland. It is a gland at the corner of the mouth that seems prone to infection. When husbandry is off. This is a significant health issue with Jackson’s Chameleons and one that is worth being familiar with. If you do not have a Jackson’s Chameleon, fear not, the review on bacterial infections can apply to any of our chameleons, temporal gland or not. To review the Temporal Gland Infection, or TGI in abbreviation, I am bringing on Dr. Tom Greek of Greek and Associates Veterinary Hospital in Yorba Linda, CA which is on the edge of Orange County. He is one of those more-valuable-than-gold vets because of his extensive experience with chameleons.  I know this first hand as he has seen my chameleons from the Brookesia Madagascar stump-tailed chameleons to the giant Parson’s Chameleon for over two decades. Let’s bring him on and talk about Temporal Gland Infections.


Chameleon keepers are well aware that we need to provide the correct environmental conditions or else our chameleon’s immune system will be compromised, possibly leading to a bacterial infection. This is common to all of the species. Jackson’s Chameleon keepers have an extra area that is prone to these infections, but it shouldn’t be something that keeps you from considering a Jackson’s Chameleon. With all chameleons, proper husbandry will be what keeps them in health with or without a temporal gland. In fact, with the three Jackson’s chameleons I have had an issue with in the last year, they have all been in the lacrimal nasal duct, not the temporal gland. They are all treated the same way. And I know exactly what caused them – temperature spikes due to the recent heat waves. This of course has got me thinking that the days of easy outdoor keeping of Jackson’s Chameleons for me in Southern California may be waning. I used to have two cages for each chameleon – an indoor cage and an outdoor cage and it is time for me to return to that very good policy.


As for what you should do. If you have a Jackson’s Chameleon – or any chameleon – look for slight swelling along the lip line. If you catch it early, which let’s hope you do, it will be so slight that you wonder if it is your imagination. This is the perfect tie to go with your gut feeling that something is off. Check the other side and see if there is any difference. See if you can get him to open his mouth so you can see if there is any swelling on the inside. Here is the big problem with chameleon veterinary medicine. The condition is most treatable when you can’t be sure if it is really a problem or not. But if you wait until there is no doubt then your chances of beating it are reduced. So, this is where being laser focused on any subtle changes in your chameleon’s appearance or demeanor pays off. And I always say, I hate wasting money going into the vet, but the best news I can get is that there is nothing wrong. Now there is one caveat. And this is where it is tricky. You have to have a realistic sense of how good you are in determining something is off with your chameleon. A physical swelling is easy. The vet may be even better to diagnose it than you are. And, this covers the TGIs that this episode is about. But if we are talking about infections on a higher level then we are including in our discussion other infection areas. And if you see your chameleon being lethargic, sitting with his eyes closed, or nose pointed in the air he is giving behavioral signs of an infection taking hold. The infection may at such a level that your chameleon will be able to totally mask it at the Vet office. When your chameleon is hyped up on adrenaline he isn’t thinking about acting sick. So he could very well be acting totally healthy when your vet gives him an exam. At this time it may be a blood test that is needed to definitively prove thee is an infection going on. Experienced reptile vets will know how well reptiles hide their sickness and will consider your behavior report an important part of their diagnosis. And the broad spectrum antibiotics have a high level of safety. You definitely do not want to give medications unless they are needed, but the vet, may decide that the minor consequences of giving the antibiotic Baytril on a behavior-based suspicion are usually a better risk than waiting for more definitive physical sign. Once again, in the chameleon world, a reptile experienced, or better yet, a chameleon experienced veterinarian is gold. It is 100% worth it even if you have to drive a distance to get to them.

If you are in the Orange County area of Southern California, you have access the Dr. Greek. He is in the city of Yorba Linda.


But even vets that say they see exotics are not always chameleon experienced. So I will be starting a veterinarian list on the Chameleon Academy website of offices that my listeners have verified are good chameleon experienced veterinarians. Not just exotics and not just reptiles, but chameleons. And I am looking for personal experience. I’d like for this to be a global resource so please share your vet names no matter which country you are in!  If you are a vet listening and you are experienced with chameleons please get in contact with me so I can list your office as well. We are constantly helping people around the world find a vet. Bottom line – if you see chameleons please let me know. And I am confident that if you are listening to this podcast you have already shown an above average dedication to chameleons. Whether you are a vet that works with chameleons or a keeper that has a chameleon vet you are happy with, please email names and/ or links to  and I will create this resource for our community.

Thank you Dr. Greek for joining me here today and sharing your experience with the community. And, I personally thank you for the decades of being part of the community. And to you listeners, I thank you for joining me and Dr. Greek for our talk on TGIs. So go out into the world and keep a close watch on the jawlines of those three horned mini-tree dragons….Wow, you know you are part of a ultra-specialized community when that constitutes as a good sign off.

Chameleon Veterinarian


Panther Chameleon

Ep 165: Chameleon Photography with Briana O’Brien

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Anyone who has tried to take a picture of a chameleon has found out that it isn’t that easy. They actively plot against you and your Instagram aspirations. So, in an effort to figure out how I can take better pictures of my chameleons I searched out the person who is not only the most prolific chameleon photographer of our time, but her work looks great. Perhaps some of that could rub off on me with just a podcast interview and ten short years of dedicated practice. Of course, I speak of Briana O’Brien who is the photographer from Kammerflage Kreations. She fills their social media accounts with a great deal of eye candy every week. Those with a photographic eye will notice an evolution of style, skill, and technique. So, can a talk with Briana change this iPhone wielding chameleon wrangler into a photographic artist? I will bring her on and we shall see

Trioceros ellioti

Ep 157: Trioceros ellioti with Michael Nash

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Trioceros ellioti is a  small chameleon from Eastern Africa that is a livebearing species with the typical care requirements of montane chameleons. It is a charming species where the males and females are equally desirable as far as color and shape. Ease of husbandry and hardiness of this species make it a prime candidate for establishing in captivity. Today, Michael Nash comes on and shares his insight into breeding this species. It is hoped that this will help increase the number of breeders working with T. ellioti and raise awareness for this species.

If you would like to contact Michael about obtaining some of the babies he produces you may contact him at .

To learn more about Trioceros ellioti and its husbandry please visit the Chameleon Academy Husbandry guide which was based upon the experience of Michael Nash. You can find it here: Trioceros ellioti Husbandry Guide

Abronia Alligator lizards

Ep 156: Abronia Alligator Lizards and Jason Wagner

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In the high mountains of Southern Mexico down through and beyond Guatemala, there exits cool mist enshrouded highlands. Living in the tall trees are a special type of alligator lizard. Often known as Mexican Alligator lizards, the members of the genus Abronia are a beautiful and charming lizard. They are arboreal with prehensile tails and giving live birth. Jason Wagner is  hobbyist and conservationist that specializes in the Abronia alligator lizard. Jason joins me today to tell us about these amazing creatures.

A regular episode series on this podcast is exploring other reptiles and amphibians whose arboreal husbandry is similar to that which we learn for chameleons. The Abronia alligator lizard would do great in conditions very similar to Jackson’s or quadricornis chameleons. But, I would like you to hear that from Jason Wagner. Jason is a reptile hobbyist that developed a deep love for the Abronia genus. That love led him to the Southern Mexican highlands and a friendship with a biologist there. Together they studied Abronia in their natural habitat and even purchased land to protect them. It is a testament to what good can come from our hobby and an example of what we can do. Please join me in welcoming Jason Wagner to the Chameleon Academy Podcast!

Tyrone Ping

Ep 155: Tyrone Ping and South African Herp Photography

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Today I am joined by Tyrone Ping who is a herpetological photographer from South Africa who achieved his six year goal of photographing all the chameleon species of his home country. Tyrone comes on and shares with us a little bit about what life is like in South Africa and introduces us to his country’s chameleons and the adventures he has had recording them.

Welcome chameleon wranglers to the Chameleon academy podcast! I just had the most enjoyable interview talking with Tyrone Ping. It is such a pleasure connecting with chameleon enthusiasts from around the world. Tyrone hails from South Africa. This is where you find the diminutive  Bradypodion chameleons. So Tyrone’s personal goal to photograph each of the species of South African chameleons has made him a valuable source of knowledge.

Cristatus Chameleon

Ep 154: Allen Repashy and Reptile Supplementation

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Supplementation powders are a cornerstone of our captive reptile nutrition. One of the most prominent supplements in our community has been the Repashy Superfoods line. In today’s episode, Allen Repashy, the founder and formulator, comes on and shares with us what got him started in reptiles and how that led to creating a diverse line of nearly 50 specialty supplements and diets.

Supplements changed the reptile keeping hobby. Now we can add calcium to our feeder insects to create strong bones. We can avoid vitamin deficiency. But for every advantage there are dangers. Both D and A are fat soluble and can be overdosed. Vitamins and minerals are meant to be ingested in a certain balance so the formulation must be intelligently approached. The research behind reptile nutrition is spotty at best so no small amount of testing must be done. Thus it is well worth our time to learn about the formulator and strategy behind formulation of our supplements.

Repashy Calcium Plus

Repashy Calcium Plus is a general purpose multi-vitamin supplement. It has moderate levels of vitamin D3 and preformed vitamin A. Within the chameleon community it has been used successfully as an every feeding supplement by some panther chameleon breeders. The most high profile breeder is Kammerflage Kreations. For more information on what has been done, an interview with Ed Kammer can be found here


Though more testing would be appropriate to confirm the suspicion, it appears that this formulation has a balance of vitamins and minerals that produces edema in certain montane chameleon species. These issues seem to clear up with Repashy Calcium Plus LoD. Presumably, this is due to the lower levels of both vitamin D3 and A. But, once again, these are best guesses based on anecdotal testing and more rigorous methods must be applied to speak with certainty.

Repashy Calcium Plus LoD

Repashy Calcium Plus LoD has become a common supplement used as a bi-weekly/monthly "top-off" for husbandry strategies that focus on strong UVB for D3 production. This is often used in chameleon husbandry a few times a month for the presence of preformed vitamin A.  Since the chameleon gets their vitamin D3 consistently through daily UVB exposure the D3 inclusion is merely a bonus. We still are careful for a number of montane chameleons, such as Jackson's Chameleon, as they appear to be sensitive to our vitamin D3 and A supplementation. But the LoD formulation appears to sit with them better than the regular Calcium Plus. This shows off the convenience of the Repashy line as it has great flexibility so that you can find a formulation and dusting schedule to match the needs of your specific reptile.

Repashy Supercal NoD

Of course, what supplement line would not have plain calcium? Plain calcium is used as an every feeding base in many caresheets. When selecting a plain calcium, read carefully both the front and the ingredients. Verify if vitamin D3 has been added. Ensure that, if it is present, that you intend to be using that level of D3. The Repashy line contains a number of calcium/vitamin D3 formulations. If you are purchasing for your chameleon and are looking for a plain calcium, ensure that you are buying the one with the green monitor on the front label.

making UVB work for chameleons

Ep 131: Making UVB Work For Chameleons

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There is a lot of information about using UVB with chameleons bouncing around the internet. But how is it in execution? Today I bring you a discussion with Pete Hawkins who has raised a female veiled chameleon with UVB light and completely without dietary Vitamin D3.

Check out the links below to learn more about Pete!

Pete Hawkins' Website
Chameleon Network Facebook
Pete Hawkins Facebook

Transcript (More or Less)

The whole purpose of providing UVB light is to allow your chameleon to make vitamin D3 naturally through their skin. Although it is common to give D3 through the diet, this is not natural and we can overdose if we give too much. How much is too much is unknown. But instead of researching to figure that out, we are going to focus on researching how much UVB a chameleon needs to do D3 synthesis. As with every exploration there needs to be a starting point. For this starting point I talk with Pete Hawkins who was helping test the Arcadia EarthPro-A supplement which has no vitamin D3. His task was to raise a chameleon completely on UVB with no dietary D3.

Now, I want to give an introduction to what constitutes data in the search for UVB answers. Because there is enormous ambiguity and almost no hard data people in the social media echo chambers have become quite attached to their personal views, which, frankly, are based on nothing more than ideas pulled out of the air. Hard data is very difficult to come by as it takes years to pull together. So, let’s lay the ground rules for what constitutes solid information in the realm of UVB. For us to have a valid test as to whether a certain level of UVB is effective a female chameleon must be raised with no dietary D3 and then lay calcified eggs. That would be the top test as to whether the UVB level was sufficient. And, I am reporting today that we have a data point that fulfills that requirement. It is only one data point and we in the community must continue to test. Although, I will say before I bring on the interview with Pete, I have duplicated his findings with a test of my own. So, like any thing we accept as fact, it must be repeatable. Perhaps after listening in you would be interested in validating the test yourself.

And this is what we need to do to slowly crawl forward. We put together a feasible hypothesis and test it. Pete decided UVI3 was a valid level and proved it out. Building on this I did a test with two pairs of veiled chameleons with one pair being raised up with UVI 3 and one pair with UVI 6 to see if there was any difference. There was none and I am raising up the babies from that test right now. In addition to the test I ran, I validated the test Pete ran.

And what is the significance of these findings?

Well, within our UVB husbandry there are two important levels. The first is the minimum effective level which is the minimum level at which the chameleon can successfully synthesize enough D3 to not only grow up strong, but create calcified eggs. The next level is the maximum safe level. UVB will kill your chameleon. It burns and will produce cancers just like in humans so we  do NOT want to give them more than we need to. Between the tests that both Pete and I ran we can tentatively place UVI 3 to UVI 6 between the minimum effective and maximum safe levels for Veiled Chameleons.

Since there was no benefit to increasing from 3 to 6 we should now turn our minds to refining the minimum effective level. Could we get the same results with UVI 2? Maybe UVI 1? And this is where we can grow as a community. Of course, this is where I am placing my efforts and will let you know what I find out!

At this point we experiment more. If this interests you at all then please contact me. The more experiments we have running the better our data. But it is a touchy topic to test. Failure to synthesize D3 results in Metabolic Bone Disease. So anyone working with this should be ready to spend the money for blood tests to verify D3 levels and have an experienced keen eye to identify when things are not working out.

For the rest of the community, thanks to Pete, we know that UVI 3 is a safe level for veiled chameleons to live without dietary D3. I have duplicated that result in two animals so our confidence can grow. It is true that any scientific study would scoff at using three animals as an indication of anything. But, I will say that our community has gotten into the most heated battles being 100% sure of UVB husbandry even with the loudest voices not even having the benefit of a UVB meter so I think we can agree this is a step in the right direction.

So, where do we go from here? I give you no action item. At this point I am just making you aware of what is going on that is pushing us forward. You are welcome to use this information however it most benefits you. And, for my part, I will continue to bring you the latest advancements from every corner of the chameleon world.

Reptile & Relationships

Ep 12: Reptiles & Your Relationship

Summary: Introducing the love of your life to your reptile passion is not always an easy process. Not everyone warms up to the idea of living with reptiles in the house quickly! But there are ways that you can ease a partner, who is new to this, into the idea. And maybe they can even find the same passion you have! But it may take some patience and understanding on your part to make this fly. In this episode we talk about the ten steps to introducing your partner to the world of keeping reptiles.

You can listen here:

Transcript (More or Less):

Ah, love. With Valentine’s Day around the corner our thoughts turn to crazy ultra-expensive ways that we can woo that wonderful person in our life. Well, I say have at it and enjoy. Now, there will be some of you out there who are, right now, trying to find a way to introduce your partner to the world of reptiles. And by “introduce” I mean get them to accept reptiles into their living space so you can be curator of your own Jurassic Park. Adding a pet to the family is a big thing. Adding a reptile or amphibian can be a bigger thing because of traditional fears. But now you have fallen in love with these incredibly fascinating beasts and want to include them in your life. There is just one hurdle here –that wonderful Valentine of yours! Finding a partner that embraces or even just tolerates living with modern day dragons in their home isn’t as straight forward as we would like. If you are single then it is easy to ensure that whomever you commit to will be part of your reptile interest. But if you have found your partner before you started your interest in keeping a mini-dinosaur you may have to incorporate some strategy to reconcile the two! Although this is a chameleon podcast, today I am going to talk about reptiles and amphibians in general.

Now, when two reptile hobbyists find each other, watch out! The mutual passion can create a wonderful relationship and turn the living room into a slice of Madagascar. You’ll find the Amazon in the spare bedroom and New Caledonia in the dining room! They can’t go on vacation because of all their care responsibilities, but they kind of consider coming home their vacation so where else would they want to go anyways? They have moved their celebration of Christmas to coincide with the annual reptile show and a cup of green cockroaches is considered a cool birthday present.

But, our hearts do not always find someone with the same love for reptiles, amphibians, and the invertebrates that find their way in there. This can be somewhat negotiated before a committed relationship is entered into so each party has time to adjust or decide to find a more suitable match. But what happens when you discover an interest or passion for reptiles after you are in a committed relationship? You are one of the lucky ones if your partner shares your new found interest. For many new reptile enthusiasts an established relationship is a minefield for your exploration of this fascinating world.  Your loving partner is suddenly wondering what happened to the you they used to know as you are slowly (or not so slowly) consumed with a new obsession. Your sudden interest in Bavarian cuckoo clocks was an amusing phase, but thisnew world of yours has living, slithering dinosaur-like things that bite and most of them eat other living things that are even more icky and skitterish.

How you approach this new found interest of yours can make all the difference in the world for how your partner will accept your reptilian friends. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day I am going to go over 10 steps to easing your partner into living in harmony with reptiles and amphibians.

And just a note, you may catch me referring to the non-reptile partner as “she”. This is because my partner prospects have been female. There are just as many males being exposed to reptiles through their partners so when I say “she” just know that that is my reality and that your situation may have a “he” on the other end! The steps are the same either way.

I’ll start this off with a story taken from the pages of my own life. My first real introduction to the fear of reptiles being a real thing was in college. I had adopted a leopard gecko which I named Flavia. Flavia was a mild mannered gecko and a wonderful pet. I also had a huge crush on this girl and was understandably excited when she was going to come over to the apartment before going out to see a show. My supportive roommates and I spent the day cleaning the apartment for this great event in my life. I had told her about meeting Flavia and there was no indication this would be more than just a “oh how cool!” type moment. When she got to the apartment I showed her around and told her I’d get Flavia while she talked to my roommates. I picked the cute little guy up, returned, and patiently held him in my hand waiting for a break in the discussion. Well, that break in discussion happened when she happened to look down in my hand and, in mid-sentence, screeched and literally plastered herself against the far wall wide-eyed and face pale. There was a shocked moment of silence as my roommates and I wondered what horrible thing was behind us.

Ummm, Flavia? It’s a leopard gecko. How can anyone be scared of a leopard gecko….named Flavia?!? Yes, I had a lot to learn.

So let’s get on with it. The ten steps to easing reptiles into a relationship with a reptile-unsure partner.

1) Understand your partner’s background and feelings.

Some people have had a bad experience in their past that gets in the way of rational thought. Even if there is no specific event, how many of us grew up in an environment where snakes generated panic? I remember walking along my cul-de-sac with my 2 foot long red-tailed boa and a neighbor lady screeched from the top of her driveway to keep that snake away from her. There is a general fear of snakes. If you are not going to take the time to learn all about which snakes are dangerous and which ones aren’t then it is safest to just be scared of all of them. And when venom is involved, studying head shape or running rhymes through your head may not give you the right answer. It is easiest to broad brush and be done with it. While lizards and amphibians don’t generally have a deadly venom to deal with they are just snakes with legs, right? At the very least, they are fierce looking and have teeth. The point of all this is to respect that your partner may have spent their life around people who shunned reptiles. Respecting your partner’s background means not belittling them for their fears, cautions, or just plain non-interest. It means not forcing an interaction with a reptile before they are willing. Sticking a reptile in the face of someone scared of reptiles or chasing them around the room is not acceptable. This immature action not only damages your partner’s trust in you, but is abusing the reptile who, by the way, often has an innate fear of humans and is adjusting to life with humans just as much as your partner is to reptiles.

Now, you may be justifying that a boa is not venomous and a lizard isn’t even a snake so why should they care. That comes down to motivation to be educated. If this is an interest of yours, you are motivated to learn the difference in danger levels between the various members of Class Reptilia. You have reduced your Danger ID chart to just the venomous members. The key is that you were motivated to do so. Your partner has a Danger ID chart in their head of anything remotely close to a snake or biting animal. It will take a bit of effort for them to take creatures off that list. How do you do that? You need to provide that motivation. You can’t just remove something from someone’s life. You have to replace it with something first. Although you may be lucky to get just tolerance from your partner, let’s go for the gusto and see if we can get them as excited as you are. Give them the same excitement you have. To do this we go to the second step to Successfully introducing your reptile keeping interest to your partner …

2) Replace Fear with Wonder

You cannot tell someone to feel something or not feel something. This is a general life truth. It is your job to show your partner the beauty of reptiles. It is an incredible world. Replace their fear, or indifference, with wonder. When people think of reptiles a common first thought is of a huge constrictor, a venomous snake, an alligator, or any other large, perhaps dangerous herp. But those walls have a good chance of melting down when your partner comes face to face with dart frogs hopping through a naturalistic vivarium. Even if they are scared, it takes effort not to be enthralled when seeing an adult male panther chameleon flashing that rainbow of colors. And who can resist letting out an “awww” when seeing a baby tortoise bite into a strawberry? They’ll giggle despite themselves seeing a huge leichianus gecko sprawled out on its owners forearm while drinking fruit mix from a squirt bottle.

The best way to do this is to expose your partner to the reptile world before you bring a reptile home. Let them warm up to the idea. If you are not incessantly begging, you are giving them a chance to develop their own comfort level. This is where a reptile show is perfect. At a show you both will be able to see not only reptiles, but how humans interact with the reptiles. Seeing the reptile in another non-panicking person’s hands goes a long way to replacing the belief that reptiles are to be avoided. It is kind of hard to maintain a fear when you see a little five year old girl walking around a show with a dog tame tegu half her size draped over her shoulder. Just remember, find ways of replacing fear or indifference with wonder.

To replace fear with wonder, introduce your partner to this world slowly, outside of their living space, and preferably, with herps that can show them a different side of reptiles than they have been raised with.

3) Don’t talk about reptiles all the time.

This is true just as much before you get your first reptile as after you get your tenth.

You have entered into a new and exciting world. Whenever we do that we have the possibility of getting obsessed to where we continually think about new ways to set up the cage, new reptiles that we can collect, and the wonderful things we will do with a breeding colony of chameleons on a free range in what used to be the spare bedroom. It is all so exciting isn’t it? It is exciting to the point where we talk about it all the time when we are not actually working on the set-ups or the maintenance or online sharing on the forums about it.

If your partner does not enjoy talking about reptiles, then any time spent talking about reptiles is selfish time for you. In your partner’s eyes, you could better spend that time expounding on how gorgeous they are. But seriously, there is now something new in your life which is competing with them for your attention. And it is winning. This is just natural when we get excited about a new interest and we reptile people tend to jump in with both feet. And yes, it goes both ways. Just remember the last time they got interested in something. But we are dealing with you now. Your new softball team or boats or new dietary regimen are things which your spouse has at least a conceptual cultural familiarity with. Keeping scaley things, intentionally breeding cockroaches, and using cute, fuzzy things as food are very, very new concepts for many people and it is easy to go too fast with this. You talking incessantly about this bizarre lifestyle has not only replaced them as the attention point in your life, but has replaced it with a topic just slightly more palatable than moving the family to Greenland. Not that there is anything wrong with Greenland. But I hear WiFi is iffy there and life without WiFi may be the only thing worse than finding out that their spouse now keeps frozen rodents next to the ice cream.

We all like the new shiny thing. And you can probably have this new shiny reptile-interest thing. Just go slow. Make sure you spend quality time with your partner that does not include mentioning reptiles unless they start it! And if they do start it make sure they are the ones continuing the conversation if you keep talking about reptiles. In this you are letting them know they still have the main place in your heart and mind. And, once again, you can apply this to anything. The work you talk about, the politics you talk about, and anything else. Make sure you are listening to them and what they want to talk about. It will go a long ways towards happiness in your relationship whether reptiles are involved or not.

4) Pick a good intro animal

Presumably, you are discussing this with your partner before going out and getting said animal. If you have surprised your partner by bringing a reptile home then you have taken the accelerated class schedule. (You like a challenge, don’t you) But let’s assume you are communicating before hand at this point. If you have a number of possible reptiles you’d like to start with then there are number of selection items you can consider that will make the whole reptile-at-home experience much smoother.

The first is, What does it eat? Most reptiles either eat insects, rodents, or vegetable matter. Which is most acceptable to your partner? My wife is just fine with anything that eats insects, but, having worked a rat race booth where there rats were highly affectionate and intelligent, has a real problem with rodents being used for food.

Insects may be more palatable to your partner, but this could mean chirping noise at night. You will need a variety of feeders to provide good nutrition so you will be tempted by cockroaches. And arboreals always love flies. If there are difficulties with these main food items there are alternative reptiles that may be a good start for you. Tortoises eat vegetable matter and dart frogs eat flightless fruit flies. The Day geckos and New Caledonia geckos (crested, gargoyle, chewies, and leachies) will have a diet that can include yogurt or a powdered mix – so less on the insect side than a bearded dragon.

The second is, Does it stink? Try to avoid individuals whose husbandry conditions will be prone to stinking. A pretty accurate rule is that if the reptile eats birds, mammals, or reptiles it’s poop will stink. Insect eaters have much less odor.

The third is visual appeal. A pet that is visually attractive is much more likely to be the source of showing off. A Bumble Bee dart frog (dendrobates leucamelas) jumping around a mossy bank flashing its yellow and black bands can actually be a source of peace.

The fourth is personality. There are some reptiles that are just not fun to interact with. They can be fascinating, but if they have sour dispositions, you are going to have an uphill battle with your partner. You’ll have an easier road if you save the nile monitor or anaconda for later. A sweet leopard gecko or mild-mannered bearded dragon would be a great first experience. If your mind is set on a certain species that is known for having a miserable personality then that is the one you should look at, but if you are selecting from a wide range of choices that interest you consider one with a good personality.

I’ll give you a non-exhaustive list of good first reptiles.

Dart Frogs. These little guys are the epitome of cute. You’ll have bright colors jumping around a naturalistic setting with periodic jungle noises if you get the ones with the louder calls. They eat flightless fruitflies so escapees are not that big of a deal on the annoyance scale. I remember a phyllobates terriblis (or Golden poison dart frog) we had which would call during different times of the day. Whenever the family would hear him across the house we would all stop to listen. That was a wonderful family experience!

Tortoises. Tortoises have their own appeal. They are considered cute and move slow. They eat vegetable matter so, of all these choices, their food is the least likely to escape.

Chameleons. They have bright colors and awesome ornamentation whether horns or awesome casques. Most intriguing about the chameleons is their ability to change color. They do not change color for camouflage, but instead it is based on temperature and mood. This means you have a reptile that can communicate its feelings. It literally wears its heart on its sleeve! This appeals to us humans that need these communication cues and we build relationships with things we can communicate with. Unfortunately, they are a challenge for the first time keeper because of their arboreal lifestyle, need to drink water rained down on them, and daily husbandry requirements. There are many good resources on their care and kits available to make set-up easy.   Chameleons are definitely an investment of money and time. I include them on this list only because of all the reptiles, chameleons are the most communicative of their emotions in a way that we humans can understand. So they rank high in being a gateway to the reptile world.

Bearded Dragons, Leopard Geckos, Crested Geckos, Ball Pythons…these all have tame personalities and qualify as good first reptiles. Choose one depending on what you have determined your partner will be most open to. Rate your choices by what they eat, do they stink, personality, and visual appeal. It doesn’t hurt to stack the odds in your favor.

5) Be realistic with budget and stick with it

If you have a shared financial account with your partner then the one thing that will sink their acceptance of this new interest of yours is to see their account dwindle unexpectedly.   Honestly, this applies to everything in life when you live with someone else! But especially something where you are trying to get them to focus on the excitement and wonder that you already have. Don’t add the complication of “wait, we can’t pay the electricity bill why?” to the mix. Just make sure you can afford to get the equipment necessary to start off the right way for your animal of choice.

6) Make the cage a thing of beauty

Utilitarian may be the minimum necessary for the animal and may have saved the budget, but it does not give any points as far as appeal. Can you set up a naturalistic vivarium that is just as much a joy to look at as is the animal? The dartfrog community leads in how to pull this off effectively. You could look at one of their cages and feel immediate peace, serenity, and wonder. And that is all before you notice the frogs. Take a page out of their book and make a cage or vivarium that makes non-reptile people stop and appreciate. Your guide? Make this cage something that your partner would be proud to show their friends. Your enjoyment aside, if your partner is showing off your reptile and their friends are impressed, you have achieved your goal. It is amazing how achieving this level of presentation will give you breathing room in almost all other areas that you may not have earned full points! In fact, presentation is so important for your new herp to be accepted into the household that it is worth allocating budget specifically for presentation. This really is not the area to be saving money because the satisfaction from a professional and visually pleasing cage presentation will last years where the satisfaction of having saved $20 or even $100 will fade quickly.

7) Start slow with NO surprises

If you get the go ahead for a nice panther chameleon then don’t come home with a pair. If you have agreed upon using the space on the dresser, don’t take the nightstand too.

The guy at the show may be offering a deal you can’t refuse on a pair, but if you have only discussed a single animal with your partner then come home with a single animal!

When given an inch take an inch at most and a three quarters inch if possible! You are building a trust here. That trust will carry you far in the months and years ahead. Don’t treat it lightly! Consider that you may wish to add another reptile in the future. The way that discussion goes is highly dependent on how you treat this initial “agreement”.

If we have gotten to this point and you are bringing a reptile home then you are doing pretty good. Our steps now are focused on building the good feelings associated with your reptile. Bringing home your new friend is just the first step. Now it is time to show your partner that this will be a positive experience for you both! You have made a beautiful cage environment and the first impression was hopefully good.

So let’s keep it going with…

8) Keep the cage spotless

Never make your partner feel sorry for the creature in the cage!

This is the brother to making the cage beautiful. If the cage is not maintained to the highest standards of cleanliness or the animal is not in the top health there is no way to impress anyone. Your partner will be looking to the opinions of friends (regardless of what they know) and other experts as to how well your care stacks up. Make sure you are at the top of your game. This especially means two months after you have set everything up and things are not as “fun” any more! Keeping any sort of pet is a long term commitment and you need to maintain a top level for the entire time. Realize that a non-herp spouse will be challenged if their friends are not impressed with your set-up. It will just be your stupid hobby. A basic fact of human social interaction is that your spouse will be judged by your actions. If one of their non-herp friends comes over and is amazed by the little slice of nature you created and asks all kinds of questions then your spouse will be able to take pride in this hobby of yours. Think of impressing your spouse as only the first step. Your ultimate goal is to impress their friends. See how that works. You’ll be surprised how quickly your partner comes around when they unexpectedly find themselves bragging about your hobby to their friends instead of explaining it away.

9) Contain your feeders

If you have an animal that eats live food whether insects, rodents, or lizards, make sure those feeders stay where they are supposed to be. That means no escapees. Nothing ruins a day more than finding mice running around the house, cockroaches in the corners, flies buzzing the dinner table, or that male cricket singing the song of his people….. behind the clothes dresser… 2AM in the morning. Although you can just assume that there will always be an escapee every now and then, do your best to make sure this is few and very far between. Laxness in this area will raise stress levels sky high.

Anything that needs to be in the refrigerator or freezer like bloodworms or rodents. Have an agreed upon plainly marked container that is to be opened by you alone. Avoid any emotional scarring that comes from a person just barely accepting of this new hobby opening up the wrong bag.

10) Community

Eventually, your spouse will run into members of the reptile community. Either directly at shows or indirectly through what you say about your experiences online. I would caution you to stick with sharing the positive things about the community. Surround yourself with positive elements and avoid the negative. Unfortunately, you can’t totally get away from conflict because human nature is to fight and whatever you post there is always someone who has to show how knowledgeable they are by annoyingly inserting themselves in to get attention…under the guise of “just being helpful”, of course. Now don’t write off anyone giving you help as causing trouble for self-glorification. You might be “that guy” that is doing things so wrong that it is painful to watch and the community cannot responsibly stay silent. But when you inevitably run into friction online, your fault or not, be careful how you paint the community to your partner who knows it only from what you say. Make friends of good people. You can start by getting to know the breeder of your chosen animal in person at a show and develop a friendship. Having show vendors know you by name (and not avoid you) is a good way for your spouse to feel like there is a safe, respectable group that they are joining vicariously through you.

And that is ten things to try. You know your situation best. In my case, I am incredibly lucky to be married to a lady that has been a real trooper. And I am bringing her on to meet you all. Welcome, Yvette Strand to the Chameleon Breeder Podcast!

And it is time we bring this episode to a close. I wish you the best as you introduce your partner to your love for reptiles! Respect for your partner’s background is the first step in a long, but doable list of things to keep in mind.

You can find this episode and its show notes online at the website Chameleon Academy. Here you will find appropriate links and a transcript. Just look for Episode 12: Reptiles & Your Relationships and you’ll get what you need.

This episode is sponsored by the Dragon Strand caging company. Check out the new Large Atrium Enclosure.   At 44” tall and 45” wide it is the best commercially available enclosure for panther or veiled chameleons. It comes standard with eight dragon ledges and is available in both screen and clearside versions. Check this cage out at or just find the link in the episode show notes.

Thank you for joining me, and my special cameo appearance guest, Yvette, my wife and chameleon wrangling partner, for this special Valentine’s Day relationship episode! Go and get your roses and/or cards for your special someone. Of if your special someone is that reptile enthusiast well then you may still may be able to get that cup of green banana roaches overnighted just in time. So, until next episode – that’s a wrap.

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