Chameleon Enthusiast
Noticed this subject questioned in a few different threads today...

Credit: Petr Necas
Why the belief “the chameleon can auto-regulate, It knows the best what is good for it and what not” is an absolutely misleading nonsense...
Why chameleons can overheat, overeat and over-hydrate?

Evolution is a fantastic process. It makes some individuals and entities survive and get stronger and it makes some to become extinct.

Evolution makes animals able to adapt to environment and its vital and lethal factors and get more efficient, faster, bigger, thinner, tinier, stronger, invisible etc etc all in dependence from what is really the winning-formula in the defined time and set of surrounding factors.

It works fantastic. And, it has a great limitation.
It can fix a feature/trait and a regulation mechanism ONLY IF IT WAS EXPOSED TO A ENVIRONMENTAL FACTOR INFLUENCING IT.
It is blind towards future, it can not foresee, it can not prepare deliberately and purposefully any organism, any evolutionary lineage to anything unknown, what will happen only in the future...

Let us take and example.
A hare becomes white. If the surrounding is white, this white color gives him an advantage to be better camouflaged than a brown one so that it becomes less likely that it will be seen by predators, found and eaten. Therefore, it can transfer its genes to next generations and the white advantageous coloration (if genes can determine it) will become more and more frequent in his descendants until, thanks a mechanism known as “genetic drift”, it becomes the prevailing or even only color in the population in the future, conditioned, the conditions will not change and the white will remain advantageous towards predators.
But if the environment changes to e.g. black, the white color becomes disadvantageous and they can not hide, as the Mother Nature never met a black environment so that it was not able to “prepare” the white hare for that circumstances. On black, the white will become disadvantageous, they will not be able to blend with the environment, they will be found and caught and eaten and possibly eradicated. They will sit in black environment as if it would be white and get eaten.

Same is with chameleons.
The montane species are used to live in cold environment for millions of years. The skies are almost always covered with clouds, they get only several occasions in a day to bask for 1-2 minutes, when there is an opening in the clouds and sunshine penetrates them. They seek therefore every single second, when they can bask to utilize it. They follow a program: “Opportunity to bask: bask every second possible!” This is their winning formula for millions of years. They can not overheat, as they sit in cold
weather and the sunshine
never lasts for too long. They have not developed any regulation mechanisms how to protect themselves against overheating, as this had never happened in the wild.
So, there is no advantage in higher survival rate for those that can regulate, because this never happens.

What happens if they are in captivity exposed to high temperatures and 12h hot basking lamp?
They follow their inner programming like a robot: “Opportunity to bask: bask every second possible!”.
And they bask, bask, bask, bask...
until they die.
It is just a matter of time.
They are not stupid.
They have not learned to protect themselves against overheating, as they have never been exposed to this situation...

Same applies for the so
often burnt casques of the Yemen chameleons. They get never a burnt casque if they bask in the wild, as the sun is too far to burn it. The intensity of heat beams reduce with the square of the distance from the source. The Sun is 150 millions of kilometers far. One meter or 20 centimeters does not make a difference for such a distant source. But if the temperature is 30’C at
20cm distance from the basking lamp, it is 120’C at 10cm and 480’C at 5cm. They Do Not have any mechanism to protect themselves from such heat sources, as there are no sources like that in the wild. So, they get too close and burn themselves.

Same with overeating: species that live in an environment providing them with small flying insects only, can never overeat in the wild, they merely feed themselves to survive. So, their program is: “Eat as much as possible”. And they do so.
Now, what happens if we increase the abundance of the food and even provide such energetic bomb like beetle larvae and wax-moth caterpillars?
They follow their programming and eat as much as they can.
They can not stop.
They stop only when their stomach is absolutely full.
As a result, they overfeed. They get fat.
They destroy internal organs such as liver and kidneys.
They suffer.
They die.

Chameleons can show in the captivity an affinity to certain type of food. And we think: they like it...
But it is like with a child and an ice cream. Of course children like ice cream. But is it good for them to eat it much and every day?
No! It is not!
Give a chameleon unlimited worms and some will eat so
much that they will vomit next day or in an hour.
Or they get constipated.
And they get sick.
And they die.

What about water?
The same picture. There is
Almost never ever in the wild a water stream.
So, they can drink licking tiny droplets (if at all).
They can not over drink. There is not enough water to do so.
Never ever for many species.
Or only occasionally, for some.
If you give them a stream of water running across their mouth tip and even covering nostrils,
they reflexively swallow
and swallow
and swallow
and swallow
and over-hydrate.
They take much more water than necessary.
And they get health problems.

Chameleons can not regulate many of the excesses of their vital factors, for which they have to fight hard in the wild. And we can kill them with our care: providing them too few as well as TOO MUCH:
too much heat
too much food
too much water
too much humidity
too much vitamins
too much supplements
too much UV
too much of whatever.

So, what to do?

1. We need to know their natural environment to every tiny detail to know what are its vital and lethal factors
2. We need to simulate the vital factors in a balanced natural way
3. We need to closely monitor their behavior and fitness and adjust their conditions accordingly
4. We need to regulate for them and do not rely on their ability to regulate

It is a big deal of responsibility we must take if we take the liberty to keep them...
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Chameleon Enthusiast
Any examples of an overhydrated chameleon? Or things to look for as far as health problems associated with that?

Credit: Petr Necas
Myth and truth about the white urate...

MYTH: Once upom a time... someone created a myth:
A well hydrated chameleon has urates completely white... Whenever an orange part appears, it is a sign of dehydration and you must soak the chameleon with water... and parrottes flew into all directions and spread this tidings.

TRUTH: in healthy and well hydrated chameleons, the ammount of visible orange crystaline urate comprises from 15 to 50 per cent!
More orange is a sign of dehydration. Less orange than 15% and eben totally white urates is a sign of overhydration!

In an organism, too much water is same dangerous as not enough water. The osmotic pressure tears the cells and ruptures appear all around the body causing damage and opening gates for infections, abscesses and sunsequent death. Too much water (white urates) puts also the renal system partly out of function and any organ, that was forcefully stopped in function, can cause lethal harm.

On the pic, there is a natural native dropping of T jacksonii, perfectly healthy and hydrated male specimen.



Chameleon Enthusiast
Everything my mother in law says I do wrong with my son :ROFLMAO:

Grandma "look how well your babies eat these powdered donuts, you must be starving them"
I also remember when my sister brought over her dogs the first time "the dog does not need poppycock pop corn"

For me the kids just come out of nowhere and say "can we watch the lizard eat a worm?" (they get grossed out by the dubia and the crickets are too small to see)


Chameleon Enthusiast
Petr Necas said..."We need to closely monitor their behavior and fitness and adjust their conditions accordingly"... Yes to do what helps them to adjust in such a way that they can survive to live long healthy lives in their captive environment. We may not want to try to keep them exactly the way they live in the wild ...with some days of excessive heat or cold or drought, etc that kills them or shortens their lives in the wild. We may need to not provide the same humidity in captivity because it could lead to health issues in captivity...or we may not want to provide less water so that they suffer from dehydration like they do in the wild. We need to determine what works best for them in captivity to give them long healthy lives here.


Avid Member
Interesting about the urates, my cham has always had a bit of orange in it and wondered why -- I thought it was maybe from superworm carcasses or he truly was dehydrated. Now to find out it's normal. Thanks!


Chameleon Enthusiast
I'd like to see a study that explains this orange in the urates since its also found in snakes, iguanas, geckos and always said to be due to dehydration. Pure white is always said to be good hydration and never referred to as over hydrated.

Is "everyone" perpetuating the myth?

salty dog

Chameleon Enthusiast
Mine always have a small amount of orange before the white and I give them a lot of water every other day and run humidifiers at night every night, I give them water till I see them drink sometimes they stare at it till almost a full gallon is sprayed then they drink lol... sometimes every day if it's hotter...during summer months


Chameleon Enthusiast
If a chameleon produces very white urates that Petr says is a sign of overwatering, how would that extra water affect the chameleon ...especially if the chameleon is being kept in humidity that is too low, or with a diet too high in protein or gets excess vitamin D3 supplementation? Is the excess water then going to buffer the situation and prevent the chameleon from going into chronic renal failure or developing gout? Perhaps that extra water is a good thing in captivity? If not what impact does excess water have on the captive chameleon's health or longevity?
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