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 result of captivity-related stress, injury, diseases, parasites, and failure or inability to meet the highly specialized environmental and nutritional requirements necessary for survival in a captive setting. For humane and conservation reasons, chameleons should not be considered appropriate as pets.
1. Male Parson's chameleon (Calumma parsonii); 2. Common chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon); 3. Male veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo ca-lyptratus); 4. Male Jackson's chameleon (Chamaeleo jacksonii); 5. Male panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis). (Illustration by Joseph E. Trumpey)
1. Male KwaZulu-Natal Midlands dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion thamnobates); 2. Armored chameleon (Brookesia perarmata); 3. Female minor chameleon (Furcifer minor); 4. Short-tailed chameleon (Rhampholeon brevicaudatus) hatchling; 5. Female jeweled chameleon (Furcifer campani). (Illustration by Joseph E. Trumpey)
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