It sounds paradoxical, but of all the variety of reptiles, perhaps it is chameleons who can claim to be true pets.
They are easy to tame. They are unusual and beautiful. It is very interesting to watch them. Carefully grown chameleon recognizes the owners, willingly goes to his hands, takes food from the tweezers, and drinks from the pipette. If you want to have such a companion, go to the Animal Market. We hope that you will find our advice useful.
Some details about chameleons
Chameleons are some of the most amazing modern reptiles. They lived even in the Cretaceous period. These animals are classified as a family of lizards and sometimes separated into a separate subdivision. There are about 90 species of chameleons. Most of them live in Africa, on the island of Madagascar and other neighboring islands; one species occurs in the south of Spain, some islands of the Mediterranean Sea, the south of Asia Minor and Syria, two species – in the Arabian Peninsula and one – in India and the island of Sri Lanka. Chameleons mostly lead a woody way of life, and only some of them live in burrows and forest litter.
The largest member of the family – Chamaeleo oustaleti – lives on the island of Madagascar. In length it reaches 50 centimeters, sometimes a little more. Not far from Madagascar, on the island of Nusi-Be, lives a small brookesia (Brookesia minima) – the length of the body of this chameleon together with its tail is only 4 cm.
Chameleons have a very tight torso from the sides, a short neck, a very long, clingy tail that can be rolled up many times like a belt, and five-fingered paws. The whole body of the chameleon is rough. The eyes are round, mobile, surrounded by the same skin with colorful flakes as on the rest of the body. The small central hole for the pupil is never closed by the skin.
The color of the chameleon body may vary depending on its emotional and physiological condition, as well as the temperature of the environment. From grayish-green, merging with woody leaves, it is suddenly yellowish or bluish-green, grayish-brown, black, milk, or purple with all shades.
Chameleons are sedentary. They can sit in one place for a long time, wrapping their fingers and tail around a branch and from time to time grasping their prey with their tongue. But if necessary, they can run quite quickly and jump on branches.
Most chameleons are egg-laying. Eggs are laid on the ground in a specially dug hole. The number of eggs in different species ranges from 15 to 80 eggs, and the duration of incubation is from 3 to 10 months.
There are few animal species, more often – are animals that live high in the mountains. Female gives birth to up to 14 calves. It happens directly on the branches of the trees. Newborn babies do not fall thanks to the thin and sticky eggshell, which attaches them to the branches for a while.
Among the chameleons there are parthenogenetic species – they have no males as such, females lay unfertilized eggs, from which, however, hatch a perfectly normal offspring.
In captivity, many amateurs regularly breed such species as Chamaeleo calyptratus.
The life expectancy of chameleons depends on their size. Small species live for 2-3 years, large ones, such as Jackson chameleon or panther, – up to 10 years.
You decided to have a chameleon
Before you start a chameleon, think about whether you can give it the right conditions. It is better to buy an artificial breeding animal. You should not buy exhausted or sick animals, they usually can’t be cured.
It is better to gain experience in “simple” species, such as Chamaeleo chamaeleo or Chamaeleo calyptratus. The more rare a species, the more difficult its conditions are. Thus, beautiful high altitude chameleons need a special terrarium with an expensive cooling device.
If possible, check whether the purchased animals have no external or internal parasites. As a rule, any chameleon captured in nature has several types of internal helminths. These helminths, combined with the stress and dehydration to which the animal is exposed during prolonged transportation from continent to continent, weaken its immune system. Such chameleons require especially careful care.
Vertical terrariums of rather a large volume (from 200 liters) are used for keeping chameleons.
When manufacturing or purchasing a terrarium should take into account several points.
The terrarium should be spacious enough and equipped so that its different levels of temperature and humidity are different. This will allow the animal to always find the most comfortable conditions for itself.
Inside, the terrarium is best decorated with live plants in pots. It is also necessary to have an artificial reservoir.
There should be a door or a removable front wall in the terrarium, then it is convenient to clean and spray plants. Also, there are no problems with feeding the animal and irradiation with an ultraviolet lamp.
The area of maximum heating should not be on the ground, as it is done with ground reptiles, but on one of the ornamental branches.
Since in natural habitats, most chameleons practically do not go down to earth, they are used to drinking water only in the form of droplets flowing down from the leaves of plants in the morning dew. To simulate this situation, you need to install a small pump in the chameleon’s home, which would create a falling trickle of water.
Many species of chameleon need a fairly large difference in day and night temperatures. In winter, in apartments with a central heating terrarium is better to place on a cold window sill (where the sun rarely happens), and in the afternoon to turn on electric heating.
Chameleons are territorial and aggressive towards each other regardless of their age. When they meet, they change color, ivy the body, open their mouths, and hiss on each other. If young chameleons are kept one by one, they grow faster. In group maintenance, to avoid conflicts between individuals, you should create conditions that prevent frequent contact. For this purpose, very dense thickets are arranged inside the terrarium.
Feeding and care
Young chameleons are fed twice a day with flies, newborn or weekly crickets, sprinkled with a mixture of 50% reptile vitamin powder and 50% calcium carbonate or phosphate. The feed should be plentiful and the animals will adjust how much they eat. Two or three times a day, the terrarium should be sprayed with warm water, as young chameleons dehydrate very quickly. It is also necessary to strictly dose ultraviolet lamps.
Adult animals do not require special care. Feed them with tweezers or from a feeder with large tropical cockroaches and crickets, many individuals willingly eat pieces of sweet fruit and fleshy leaves of some species of indoor plants. The trough is made of any plastic or glass jar with low edges. To prevent insects from scattering, the inner edges of the can are oiled.
As already mentioned, most chameleons can not drink from ponds. Therefore, in captivity, they can be trained to drink from a pipette or a syringe with a blunted needle. Aggressive and untamed animals are injected with water in the open mouth when they demonstrate the threat. Hand-held animals themselves run to the pipette, seeing a drop hanging on it.
In addition to water, chameleons willingly drink a variety of juices, as well as honey solution – in the amount of 2 to 20 drops, depending on the size of the animal.
In summer, during the daytime, adult chameleons can be kept outside in cages or enclosures. Flying insects easily penetrate there, which serve as additional food for animals. To attract insects in the cage on a saucer put rotten fruit or other food baits.