Chameleons age

SweetPea

New Member
mine is going to the vet for MBD I sure hope she is going to be okay, I was looking forward to breeding her later this year but now I guess not. I will let you guys know how it goes.
 
If well cared for, and not overfed, females can live 4-6 years, though
I've heard of a few non-breeders living longer than that.
Males can live longer, 5 - 10 years seems to be pretty common for well
cared for specimens. A few have lived even longer. A common theme
I've noticed is that the longer lived veileds were given a much more
omnivorous diet than normal. I personally feel it has less to do with the
plants, and more to do with the reduced amount of insects naturally
resulting from a more plant-oriented diet.

Unfortunatly, there seems to be a competion to see who's chameleon is
bigger. Overfed and obese veileds usually won't make it past 3-4 years.
They seem healthy, as fat chameleons don't look fat to the untrained
eye. When they just "die" at 3 years old, people just expect it. This is
compounded by breeders who are commercial breeders, that don't
actually KNOW the potential lifespan of the animals, and over-feed. As
a result, they tell their customers the life expectancy of the animals is
only 3-4 years. When they die early, it's no surprise!

Mine is over 5 right now, depsite some nasty injuries. They are pretty
tough animals. A guy I know had a big female that had bred every year,
and laid huge clutches, of 50+ eggs. She was over 5 years old. They
usually do not live that long laying such big clutches.
 

Prism Chameleons

Established Member
I had a customer once who told me his Nosy panther chameleon (male) lived 11 years. Now, that is quality care from a caring owner :).
 
That's good to hear - I have never met someone with a long lived
pardalis. Don't know why. So many people I talk to lose theirs at 3-4
years, but I know some have lived close to 10. They must be doing
something wrong.

I've always know melleri coudl be long lived, but I never knew anythingside from the few Germans that had some WC for more than 12 years. Josh Mease told me that Joe B in Tanzania had a melleri live for 18 yeas in his care, and at least one giant deremensis that is now going on 10.
 

Prism Chameleons

Established Member
I agree. I have rarely heard of a chameleon living longer than 6 years or so, and most the time much less (I am referring to males). This guy actually works in a very small local pet shop that is the reptile manager and is very knowledgeable about all kinds of reptile species. He is in the age range of 45+ and had worked with reptiles all his life. I suspect this anomaly of a Nosy living 11 years was due primarily to his reptile experience and knowledge of proper care.
 

Prism Chameleons

Established Member
By the way, these stories of chameleons living such a long time in captivity shows how important that education and proper care and equipment is necessary to ensure the health of a chameleon to live a long and full life.
 
To add to that - often, people do TOO much, and kill their animals
accidentally. Too much heat, too much food, too much
supplementation. Perhaps the biggest killer - too much intervention in
general!

From speaking to dozens and dozens of keepers, the biggest killer of
chameleons is MBD brought on by ignorance. People read a care
sheet, and come away with the "knowledge" that a UV bulb prevents
MBD, or that any "cricket dust" will do. Too often, I see people using
UV bulbs that are no more than reptile basking bulbs, that produce NO
UVB. Or equally as bad - brand name UVB bulbs that are next to
worthless. The next thing is calcium powders with little or no D3, and
more phosphorus than Calcium. People just don't know the specifics.
That's why my veiled caresheet is 20 pages long - I cover every detail of
everything - the do's and the don'ts. I don't just tell them what to do,
and what not to do - but the reasonings behind it.

For the people that have "everything right", the average lifespan is still
much shorter than it should be. From polling them, I'm convinced
they're ALL overfeeding their animals to the point of premature death.
Almost every calyptratus I see in person, or online, has bulging
casques. Everyone I run into and question is concerned when their
chameleon eats "only" 2 or 3 crickets a day. The norm is 10-20 insects
PER DAY. My big male maintains weight on 6-10 insects PER
WEEK, plus fruit, flowers and veggies. The fact that people are almost
competing to see who has the biggest chameleon doesn't help, either. I
see it in snakes. A reticulated python should not have the same basic
body proportions as a green anaconda - not even close! The "giant
snakes" that pose for pictures at reptile shows die very young. They
should be living decades, not just 12-15 years.

A friend of mine bought a huge adult male parsonii at a wholesaler, for
$50. He kept it in his pet store for a few months, in a small wooden
cage, with a screen front. It was about 3x2x2'. He'd let it climb around
on some large pieces of wood during the day, and it got plenty of
water. During this time, I performed fecal checks on it, and treated it
for nematodes and protozoans.

He sold it to a woman for $200 - cage included. She had no reptile
experience, but just really liked it. She kept it in the cage at night, and
let him climb around the plants in her living room during the day. It was
alive and doing well when we left NJ, about 3 years later. It was able to
just hang out on the trees, looking out the windows. Neat, huh?
 

SweetPea

New Member
Well I just got back from the vet with mine and it seem her life will be cut short. She has MBD but the vet said I did everything right. Her suggestion is to put her down, I did take her home and need some time to think. She spent an hour talking about things we could do but it would only prolong her life by a few month and they may be painfull months at that. I can not stand to see someone I love suffer.. I feel sooo sad!!!
 

Heika

New Member
Eric Adrignola said:
A friend of mine bought a huge adult male parsonii at a wholesaler, for
$50.
If only they could still be found for that price... beautiful chameleons.

Eric Adrignola said:
He sold it to a woman for $200 - cage included. She had no reptile
experience, but just really liked it. She kept it in the cage at night, and
let him climb around the plants in her living room during the day. It was
alive and doing well when we left NJ, about 3 years later. It was able to
just hang out on the trees, looking out the windows. Neat, huh?
In Linda Davison's book, she talks about keeping parsonii in the same way. They "free ranged" several trees. I wonder if she still has them? Her book was published in 1997, so it seems unlikely.

Heika
 

Prism Chameleons

Established Member
You also need to take into consideration that different species of chameleons have different needs than others at times. Such as the Parson chameleons, need a whole different setup with a lot of humidity, etc. So when there are chameleon owners with different species of chameleons who read a "generic" care sheet of how to care for them, it can be very detrimental to their chameleon if they have other special needs than what is in a "generic" care sheet or book for chameleons. This as well, can lower the life span of a chameleon, as well as, cause death in some cases.

And yet, there is still much unknown about various species that are continually being researched. I talked to a vet once who actually wrote to me about how to care for neonates of Jackson's. The owners apparently had housed together 3 Jackson's, one a female, and had never given them vitamins, lighting, or heating systems. Needless to say, the Jackson's didn't make it, and the female died while giving birth. They ended up giving the babies to the vet when they were born. Well, the vet had never had babies to take care of before and she asked for my assistance. She told me that there is a correlation between the breeders and the veterinary doctors in that, the doctors find out what problems occur by someone bringing in a sick reptile, and it's the breeders that actually knows and learns what works and what doesn't because they are with them every day, breed them, and discover new signs and symptoms, which in turn, go into the hands of a vet to find out what works in treating them. It's like one hand holding the other.

It is almost a circle of research that is continually being conducted as we live and learn more and more about various species of reptiles.

In any case... Owners of specific species of chameleons must really research what parameters and care that particular chameleon needs in order for a successful captivity survival. Not all chameleons require the same "generic" care, however, there are some "generic" types of care that relate to all species as well.

Viscious circle mmm?
 
Last edited:
Heika said:
If only they could still be found for that price... beautiful chameleons.



In Linda Davison's book, she talks about keeping parsonii in the same way. They "free ranged" several trees. I wonder if she still has them? Her book was published in 1997, so it seems unlikely.

Heika

Trust me - you dont' want to go back there. High quotas, low quality - high mortality...

Sure, we look back now, with the knowledge we have NOW, but back then, it was different. Very VERY few of those cheap parsonii went to people that had a clue. Nearly all the chameleons that came in were in poor shape. Now, the low quotas, and high demand, equal high quality and low mortality. BAck then, most of the pardalis that came in, regardless form WHERE they came in, were a basic green. Kinda dull and boring. Now, since fewer come in, the ones that do are top quality (most of them) and the color in captive specimens averages a lot higher than it used to.

When quotas were high, each animal was worth "less' to the colelctors, the exporters, and the iporters and dealers. The large malagasy species were often collected by being beaten out of trees. That's where youget a chameleon that gets sold by the collector to an exporter, then sold to an importer, who then sells it to a wholesaler, and then, even after all those steps, is only fetching FIFTY DOLLARS! Think about how little it was worth to th ecollector. Now, WC animals are worht a lot more to them, and they are treated better - even if it's not so great, it's better than it used to be.
 
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