Chameleon Care Guide

Chameleon Care Guide

Thinking of buying a chameleon or already own one? This book will save you hours and hours of frustrating research and will also eliminate the worries and stress that come with reading something online and not knowing whether to trust it or not. Discover what is involved in keeping and breeding healthy chameleons! Here is just some of what you will learn: How to keep chameleons healthy and happy. What kinds of food they like and don't like (and what food is toxic to them!) How to create an ideal environment for your pet chameleon and the one object you should Never place near your chameleon! How to set up an efficient watering system and ensure your chameleon stays hydrated. How to feed your chameleon and what you should Never feed them! Things you should never do with a chameleon. How to bond with your chameleons and how to handle them properly and safely. How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent Medical Conditions, Including Metabolic Bone Disease, Mouthrot (Stomatitis), and Egg Retention. Continue reading...

Chameleon Care Guide Summary


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Shorttailed chameleon

OTHER COMMON NAMES English Bearded pygmy chameleon. The short-tailed chameleon lives in grasses, bushes, and leaf litter in humid forests. It is semiterrestrial. The short-tailed chameleon preys upon very small invertebrates. The short-tailed chameleon has been captured for the commercial pet trade since at least 1990, but recording export quantities has not been required, and the total number exported is unknown as of 2002.

Kwa ZuluNatal Midlands dwarf chameleon

These chameleons live among shrubs, bushes, and anthropogenic vegetation, including gardens and hedges in residential areas. The dwarf chameleon preys upon small crawling and flying insects. These chameleons are used occasionally in traditional medicine by indigenous people in Africa.

Common chameleon

Chamaeleo (Chamaeleo) chamaeleon Chamaeleo (Chamaeleo) chamaeleon Linnaeus, 1758, Europe, Middle East, Greece, northern Africa, Egypt (Sinai Peninsula), southwestern Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Two subspecies are recognized. English European chameleon, Mediterranean chameleon French Cam l on commun German Europ isches Cham leon, Gemeines Cham leon. Ch. c. chamaeleon occurs in southern Portugal, southern Spain, Canary Islands, Sicily, Malta, southern Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, southern Peloponnese, Samos, Chios, Crete, western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Ch. c. musae inhabits the Sinai Peninsula and Egypt. Ch. c. orientalis is found in southwestern Saudi Arabia and Yemen. This chameleon is fairly aggressive toward conspecifics. The common chameleon feeds on a wide range of invertebrate and vertebrate prey, including young birds and reptiles, and some vegetation. The common chameleon was exported from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco in...

Jacksons chameleon

Chamaeleo (Trioceros) jacksonii Chamaeleo (Trioceros) jacksonii Boulenger, 1896, Uganda, later amended to Kikuyu, near Nairobi, Kenya. Two subspecies are recognized. English Mt. Meru chameleon, three-horned chameleon French Cam l on de Jackson German Ostafrikanisches Dreihorncham leon. Jackson's chameleon is docile and gentle. Males settle territorial and mating disputes by engaging in pushing contests with their horns, but they rarely resort to biting or inflict injury. Females generally are very calm and tolerant of conspecifics. Jackson's chameleon preys on a wide variety of invertebrates. Jackson's chameleon is listed on CITES Appendix II. Kenya ceased exporting specimens of Ch. j. jacksonii and Ch. j. xan-tholophus in the early 1980s. Hawaii considers feral Jackson's chameleons detrimental to the ecosystem. The species lives mainly in highly degraded habitat and exotic plantations, where it is believed to have adapted successfully to living in close proximity to humans.

Armored chameleon

OTHER COMMON NAMES English Antsingy leaf chameleon. The armored chameleon inhabits bushes, shrubs, and leaf litter in or near dense, dry, deciduous forest, where it is primarily terrestrial. According to E. R. Brygoo, three specimens were collected in 1952 on the trail from Antsalova to Tsiandro, at the level of the Ambodiriana clearing, in the rocks to the north of the road, among the vegetation between the stones. The armored chameleon feeds on invertebrates within its prey size range. The only member of the genus Brookesia, the armored chameleon is in high demand for the commercial pet trade. Longevity and reproduction in captivity are poor.

Veiled chameleon

Chamaeleo calyptratus Chamaeleo (Chamaeleo) calyptratus Dumeril & Bibron, 1851, Yemen and southwestern Saudi Arabia. One subspecies is recognized. English Cone-head chameleon, Yemen or Yemeni chameleon German Jemen-Cham leon. The species grows to 10-24 in (254-610 mm) in length. The most prominent feature is a high, prominent casque that is much larger in males than females and the tallest of any chameleon species. Male coloration is shades of green, turquoise, yellow, orange, white, and black with bold stripes and spots. Nongravid females are green with pale patterning, but gravid females display vivid yellow, blue, and green spots and patterns against a dark background. Juveniles are green at birth, and their sex is distinguished easily by the presence of a short, fleshy projection called a tarsal spur on the hind feet of males. It produces audible sounds. Although the subspecies Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer (Peters, 1871) was still considered valid in 1997, there is anecdotal...

Diversity of reptiles

Parson's chameleon (Calumma parsonii parsonii) has a prehensile tail as long as its body length that can be used for climbing, grasping, or perching. At rest or during sleep the tail is coiled, as shown here. The specialized feet are divided into two bundles of fused toes, consisting of three on the outside and two on the inside of the rear feet. This is reversed on the front feet, giving them the ability to grasp, perch, and climb, and facilitates their largely arboreal existence. They are also able to use their highly dextrous feet to remove shed skin and put food into or take objects out of their mouths. (Photo by Ardith Abate. Reproduced by permission.) Parson's chameleon (Calumma parsonii parsonii) has a prehensile tail as long as its body length that can be used for climbing, grasping, or perching. At rest or during sleep the tail is coiled, as shown here. The specialized feet are divided into two bundles of fused toes, consisting of three on the outside and two on the inside of...

Behaviors guided by vision

Visual cues, usually in the form of prey movement, have long been known to attract a snake's attention and to elicit predatory responses in insectivorous lizards. Equally interesting is the role of visual information in social and reproductive behavior of lizards. Chameleons exhibit emotional colors that involve changes in brightness during agonistic interactions and culminate in victory or submission, each with a characteristic pattern. It is partly through these color changes that chameleons have acquired their protean reputation. Iguanian lizards execute a set of movements, including head bobs, pushups, and dewlap extensions, combined in particular sequences that are species specific not only with respect to sequence but also with respect to cadence. Females of sympatric species can discriminate conspecific from het-erospecific males on the basis of these display properties. Males use the displays to advertise territories and to settle boundary disputes with other males.

Nervous system and sensory organs

Snake Vomeronasal Organ

Photoreceptors consist of rods and cones. These structures bear protein molecules that capture light energy and convert it to nerve signals. The rods function best in dim light, whereas the cones function best in bright light and provide higher resolution. Varying abilities to differentiate color depend on the possession of multiple visual pigments, each of which absorbs maximally at different wavelengths of light. Some reptiles, such as arboreal snakes, have keyhole pupils, which enhance binocular vision (similar images are formed simultaneously on both retinas of the two eyes), and a fovea, where high densities of cones on the retina provide high visual acuity. Slender head shape, especially an attenuated snout, confers considerable overlap of vision in the two eyes. The eyes of chameleons are unique among vertebrates in their degree of movement and ability to scan the environment. Each eye is located on a turret and moves independently of the other. The lens of the chameleon's eye...

Phylogenetic relationships among major groups of snakes

When the northern Laurasian plate separated from the southern Gondwanan plate in the mid-Jurassic, two isolated landmasses were formed. Gondwana presumably held primitive iguanians and gekkotans, whereas Laurasia must have contained ancestral eublepharid geckos, scincomorphans, and anguimorphans. When Gondwana broke apart, its iguanians and gekkotans became isolated on the three large southern landmasses, Africa (agamids, chameleons, and gekkonids), South America (iguanids and sphaerodactyline geckos), and the Australian region (agamids and diplodactylid geckos). Gekkonids and skinks dispersed widely and became virtually cosmopolitan. Both crossed oceans by rafting and moving across land bridges. Other groups either remained confined to the landmass of origin (cordylids, corytophanines, crotaphytines, diplodactylids, gymnophthalmids, heloder-matids, hoplocercines, lanthanotids, leiocephalines, leiosaur-ines, liolaemines, oplurines, phrynosomatines, pygopodids, sphaerodactylines,...

Evolution and systematics

Agamids are derived descendents of ancestors of New World Iguanidae. They are Old World ecological counterparts of iguanids, with numerous highly convergent ecological equivalents, such as Phrynosoma and Moloch, Hydrosaurus and Basiliscus, Ctenosaura and Uromastyx, Pogona and Agama, and Corytophanes and Acanthosaura. A unique shared derived feature that ties Agamidae to Chamaeleonidae (chameleons are derived from within agamids) is acrodont dentition, in which teeth are fused to the top of the jawbones and are not replaced after they are formed. As a lizard grows, new teeth are added posteriorly. Agamids also have caniform (sometimes fanglike) pleurodont teeth set in sockets anteriorly, which are replaced continuously. Two subfamilies are recognized

Unexpressed ChromatophoreB Expressed Chromatophore

Chromatophores are found in chameleons' skin. (Illustration by Joseph E. Trumpey) because its hearing is very poor. It scans the surrounding environment with telescopic vision that enables it to plan and execute a defense (usually concealment or flight) well in advance of the predator's approach. Phenomenal eyesight also facilitates locating prey from a great distance. As chameleons target prey, two separate images merge into one to gauge distance. Then chameleons engage their most fascinating feature the tongue. In 2000 a group of researchers published the results of a study on the mechanics of prey prehension in chameleons that unraveled the mysteries of how a chameleon's tongue really works. The hyoid bone is a piece of cartilage that extends into the mouth from the throat bones (called the hyolingual apparatus) and is attached to a chameleon's long tongue. This is where the tongue rests when it is not in use. The tongue is launched from the hyoid bone with the use of ringed...

Feeding ecology and diet

Chameleons consume a wide variety of flying and crawling insects, butterflies, moths, larvae, snails, and spiders in nature, and larger species consume some vertebrates as well. Chameleons prey on smaller chameleons, lizards, birds, and even snakes. Captive chameleons will accept young mice, but it is unlikely that this is a natural prey. Chameleons also ingest vegetation, including leaves, flowers, and fruits. Other organic matter, such as bark, twigs, moss, and soil are sought out and consumed by chameleons, but the nutritional or medicinal value of some of these items is unknown. Chameleons are sit-and-wait ambush predators, but many species are quite mobile and travel long distances seeking prey along the way, while others are much more sedentary and utilize a smaller range. There is anecdotal evidence that chameleons congregate in areas where insects appear only at certain times of the year, such as when insects are attracted to coffee blooming or when cicadas hatch. When these...

Conservation status

In 1996 three chameleon species, Furcifer campani, F. labordi, and F. minor, were classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, based on a 20 population decline in 10 years, or three generations. A fourth species, Brookesia perarmata, was classified as Vulnerable for this reason and also because they occupy an area of less than 39 sq mi (100 sq km) and fewer than five locations. All chameleons in the genera Bradypodion, Calumma, Chamaeleo, and Furcifer are listed on CITES Appendix II, indicating that they are threatened with extinction unless commercial trade is tightly controlled. A moratorium on importation for commercial trade of all but four species of chameleons (F. pardalis, F. lateralis, F. oustaleti, and F. verrucosus) from Madagascar was imposed by CITES in 1995, owing to escalating levels of trade and concerns that extinction might result. This moratorium remained in effect in 2002. Although Brookesia perarmata is included on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable, no members of the genera...

Bioinformatics With Biological Sense

Just as chemoinformatics and molecular visualization depend on chemical sense, the execution of a computational biology approach that attempts to integrate all relevant information in a biologically holistic and comprehensive way, with biology and not computational tractability as the final arbiter, is bioinformatics with biological sense. Biological sense would suggest that the chameleon reactivities of cysteine residues, ranging from the textbook definitions of simply structural to the highly reactive chemistries of enzymatic activity and redox modulation of protein function, is a potential that nature cannot fail to exploit. By knowing the mechanism of receptor activation, drug discovery initiatives can also exploit this potential.

Physical characteristics


The highly successful Chamaeleonidae (about 130 species) set their own direction in lizard evolution, taking lingual feeding and sit-and-wait ambush foraging to their logical extremes. Ballistic tongues allow chameleons to capture prey more than a body length away without moving, and having their toes bound together (zygodactly) permits them to hang on to and balance on thin branches to exploit arboreal habitats. Prehensile tails facilitate climbing and are used as a fifth leg. Independently moving, turret-like eyes allow chameleons to look all around without even moving their heads. By capturing their prey without moving, staying completely concealed in vegetation, chameleons have eliminated the riskiest aspect of sit-and-wait ambush foraging pursuit movements.

Significance to humans

Joe Pangrace Medical Illustrator

There are relatively few traditional uses for chameleons by local people within their range of distribution, but these uses generally involve burning or killing chameleons for folk medicine or to ward off evil spirits. Some cultural traditions dictate that chameleons must not be harmed. Chameleons are not used very often as food. The major consumption of wild chameleons is for the international commercial live pet trade that reached its apex in the 1990s, when more than 260,000 chameleons were exported from Madagascar and 345,000 from Africa and Yemen. The major consumers are the United States, western Europe, and Asia. The commercial trade in reptiles, particularly those captured in the wild, has been criticized by conservation, scientific, and animal rights organizations as inhumane and because it is detrimental to the survival of wild populations. It has been estimated that less than 1 of chameleons taken in the wild live longer than a few months in captivity. This is primarily the...

Reproductive biology

Chameleons Two Eyes

Reproduction in chameleons typically begins with ritualistic courtship displays by males. In many species this entails the display of bright colors and a series of jerking or bobbing head movements while advancing on a female. Some males advance slowly with a halting or jerky gait, but others move very quickly and can be aggressive toward females. Females that are unreceptive or gravid may flee or may face the suitor with gaping mouth while hissing, rearing up on the hind legs, and rocking to discourage the male's advances. Females are known to approach males and grasp their forelegs or horns A flap-necked chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) seen in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Chameleons can move their two eyes independently. (Photo by Nigel J. Dennis Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.) A flap-necked chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) seen in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Chameleons can move their two eyes independently. (Photo by Nigel J. Dennis Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced...

Figure 239

Microtubules observed in cultured cells with real-time video microscopy appear to be constantly growing toward the cell periphery (by addition of tubulin dimers) and then suddenly shrinking in the direction of the MTOC (by removal of tubulin dimers). This constant remodeling process, known as dynamic instability, is linked to a pattern of GTP hydrolysis during the microtubule assembly and disassembly process. The MTOC can be compared to a feeding chameleon, which fires its long, projectile tongue to make contact with potential food. The chameleon then retracts its tongue back into its mouth and repeats this process until it is successful in obtaining food. The same strategy of firing microtubules from the MTOC toward the cell periphery and subsequently retracting them enables the cell to establish an organized system of microtubules linking peripheral structures and organelles with the MTOC. As mentioned above, association of a microtubule with MAPs, such as occurs within the axoneme...

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