A few chameleon natural history questions

Josh Holbrook

New Member
Hey all,

My name's Josh - I'm a wildlife biologist and am investigating a few different species of chameleon populations in Florida for an upcoming paper on dietary habits and range in Florida and figured I'd ask this question here because of the number of cham keepers here. So, but the recent cold snap has raised some questions. I know such cold by no means kills off most chameleon populations; as the southern Florida populations of veileds and Oustalet's survived just fine last year's (and this year's) bitter cold - but my questions are thus:

1.) Do veiled chameleons (or any other cham species) go into underground (or any) refugia during the cold?

2.) Are there any activity changes during cold weather?

3.) What color do pygmy chameleons change to when they sleep? What's the best field method for observing them.


As much as I appreciate captive observations, I'm more looking for field expertise on the subject. And if anybody is willing to contribute any chameleon spot leads to my research it would be much appreciated - specific localities will NOT be published anywhere, just a couple voucher photos and which county.

A bit of contribution to the forum as well:

Glades County, FL





Thanks in advanced everybody. Happy New Year!

-Josh Holbrook
Palm Beach Zoo
 

Hoj

Friendly Grasshopper
sorry i dont know any of the anwsers to your questions but really nice pics, are those wild chams you found and took the pics.
 

Jimturner

Established Member
I have no field experience but have housed veileds out doors during the summer here in southern Alberta.. 200 miles north of Montana.. On colder nights I observed some of my chams digging burrows and nesting below ground level. Only a few did this, not all who were kept out doors. They would use the same burrow repeatedly after building it. Also a female who was freeranged in my home dug a burrow in a wall sconce that held a pothos and slept there nightly.
 

eisentrauti

Avid Member
I am no calyptratus expert so I can only help you with question 3: Nearly all chameleons get brighter colors at night. Rhampholeons too. Nearly all species search before they sleep for the ends of branches or if they are thin even for the end parts of high grass leaves. Just google "sleeping chameleon" and you will see what I mean.
The combination of the bright color and the calculable sleeping places make it more easier to find chameleons in the wild during the night than finding them during the day when hide actively
 

Julirs

New Member
OK-Southern populations of Oustalets? Seriously? It makes sense to me because mine did exceedingly well outside here, better than the Veileds I would have to say. Please-more info...
 

eisentrauti

Avid Member
Oustaletis live in Kenya too - they seem to be very adoptable for new habitats. I can imagine that some pardalis localities can survive too in Florida
 

Josh Holbrook

New Member
Jim - thanks for the info

Eisen - Thanks. I knew it is the case with the couple species I've found in Florida, I've just never seen pygs in the wild so I was wondering if it was true for that genus.

Julirs - Can't give much more info than that...yet. Some friends of mine are writing a paper on them; and it should be out soonish. Can't give too much other info other than that. Let's just say the population is stable and breeding. I know people always say chams are delicate - but in my opinion they're the rats of the reptile world, reproductively and hardiness speaking - the vieleds survived (and thrived) through one of Fl's worst winters in years last year. . . This comes from a field biologist, and not a big keeper, though.;)
 

luvmypets

New Member
Great pics you took.. love em' (I love photography too..and WISH I'd see some of those Chameleons you have seen in the wild!)..I have many pics of Green and Brown Anoles' though.. and I have observed their rituals if you ever wonder about them.lol.
My Panther Ambilobe stays indoors..sorry can't be of more help but I do imagine in the cold they become rather quiet and still...
 

Josh Holbrook

New Member
A quick bump and plea for more info; and some more contribution, since it seems some people enjoy the wild cham shots:












Exotics are everywhere in South Florida, and my research has afforded me the opportunity to see a couple...






I have a couple captive chams, but being a field biologist; I only ever break out my camera in the field :D

Thanks for the information all, and keep it coming ;-)

-Josh
 

Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
Jim - thanks for the info

I know people always say chams are delicate - but in my opinion they're the rats of the reptile world, reproductively and hardiness speaking - the vieleds survived (and thrived) through one of Fl's worst winters in years last year. . . This comes from a field biologist, and not a big keeper, though.;)
I wouldn't say they are as adaptable as rats, but that FL appears to have some microhabitats for which those species are well suited. And, as chams can go quite a while without much food, they could survive a cold spell metabolic shutdown if it didn't last too long. Possibly better than terrestrial species who get some of their body heat from the ground. Arboreal chams who do NOT go to ground to burrow have got to be able to handle chilling. There are quite a few stories about escaped chams surviving winters in other states too.

And, no, Alaska isn't one of them!
 

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
1.) Do veiled chameleons (or any other cham species) go into underground (or any) refugia during the cold?
There are a lot of anecdotal reports about chameleons seeking out refugia in the winter or dry seasons, but few published studies, particularly with species specific reports. Some of the reported winter refugia include weaver nests, rock crevices, under rocks, in flower pots, holes in trees, burrows, etc. I'm not aware of any published reports of this behavior in Ch. calyptratus, however.

2.) Are there any activity changes during cold weather?
Most chameleons become less active during cold or dry periods. In most cases they move less, sitting instead in a single place for long periods of time. Often they tend to retreat deeper within trees and bushes rather than on their fringes where they would be exposed to frost and cooler temps.

3.) What color do pygmy chameleons change to when they sleep? What's the best field method for observing them.
Pygmy chameleons do become lighter in coloration when they sleep making them easier to pick up with a flash light, much like other chameleons.

I'll send you a PM about your population lead question.

Chris
 

Josh Holbrook

New Member
A little bump with an update. A friend of mine found a new population of Oustalet's chameleons in Florida and I've been able to get down there and grab some pictures. Like I said, if anybody can help me out; the spots will stay with me and a couple of co-researchers.

Here's one of the WC Oust's
 
Top Bottom