Chameleon's memory

QuioteCham

New Member
My oldest male panther, female carpet and 2 female panthers all seem to "know me" (as mentioned before by some one else) along with my boyfriend and certain other that are often over. It is even more obvious when a new person comes over or I am holding them around others. I've always felt my oldest male panther is not only incredibly intelligent (at least smarter then what I believe chams are typically made out to be), but knows where I keep certain things in the room like the mister bottle, the super worm bin, and goliath worm cups. When out having "free range time", he'll race directly to one of those areas. When I use the mister bottle (in addition to my misting system) he'll put his mouth directly on the nosil. I think chams have an excellent memory, at least of basic essentials / things they like. It would explain alot of my chams' behavior and others i've met in person.
 

getwitit

New Member
Yeah, but still. What kind of thesis?
Sounds like a research thesis waiting to happen --- someone should write a proposal see if they can get it funded.
What are we trying to get at about this reptile's memory abilities, clearly, (I think) they do. So think more along the lines of how certain memory pathways/abilities would be important in nature not captivity. Recognizing ppl is great but getting at the implications of memory in nature would be the purpose. There must be an experiment to show that memory is fundamental to..mating, eating, sleeping, or territorial habitats, among other possibilities, that could be demonstrated or discovered.

I've thought before about how a cham in a habitat must have a yearly diet that fluctuates depending on availability of insects and such, season to season. This could be "learned" as a habit and repeated to optimize their food availability(like where they hang out) each year. Heck, lets just get a group together and fund a 4 year study of cham's acting naturally in Madagascar! I wish:rolleyes: maybe someday when I get my doctorate in ecology..someday:)
 

FFSTRescue

New Member
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morpheon

New Member
The last two posts are very interesting! Thank you to both of you!

Kristen, since it is 3am i will try to read these posts another day, but i surely will read them! :) Merci!
 
i think chameleons do have some memory. whenever i hold him, or put my hand in the cage he never fires up, im assuming he knows im not going to hurt him or do anything to him. also, when he sees somebody hes never seen before, he always puffs up :p

very cool thought.
ive also read somewhere that chameleons can see in color. is this true!??!??
 

Vegas Chad

Avid Member
I had a customer email me a story a while back that if I would have saved would have been a great post on this thread. He purchased a panther that was around a year old at the time from us that we had grown from an egg. Since day 1 (as with all of our reptiles) we feed him with ONLY with a red solo plastic cup. All of our chameleons and dragons go nuts when they see the red food cups being held by us. Often they will shoot at the cups before and while we are dumping food into the cage, I would say that they are excited to see the red cup but truth is that they just associate red cup with food. If we use anything other than a red cup they just ignore us until they see the crickets walking about.


Anyway… The person said that he had set up a nice free range for his chameleon to live in and that he loved it! The panther had learned to use a milk jug feeder and life was grand. One day while some friends were over at the house looking at the chameleon he went nuts trying to shoot the red cup that his friend was holding in his hand. They found it comical and handed the cup to different people and areas around the tree and he just chased the red cup. His email was asking me basically what the heck was that about. I responded with what I said above, haha. That was at least 6+ months after we sold him… That was such a good story and funny email!!!
 

FFSTRescue

New Member
It's not so much "memory" as it is being accustomed to "ritualistic behavior". There are three parts to the human brain... the Reptilian brain/complex, which is present in reptiles, the Limbic system, which is present in other mammals such as cats and dogs, and the Neocortex, or grey matter, which is present in primates. Memory and memory storage occurs in the hypocampus, which is in the Limbic system (in between the Reptilian brain and Neocortex), which wasn't developed until the arrival of mammals. The amygdala, also in the Limbic system, "...comes into play in situations that arouse feelings such as fear, pity, anger, or outrage. Damage to the amygdala can abolish an emotion-charged memory. Because the limbic system links emotions with behavior, it serves to inhibit the R-complex and its preference for ritualistic, habitual ways of responding...." (http://www.buffalostate.edu/orgs/bcp/brainbasics/triune.html). So a form of "memory without emotional triggers" is found in the Reptilian brain, but more due to rituals and habituation than applying happy or sad emotions to the situations, and more like "this person brings me food". Intelligence can be a very broad term, but the Reptilian Brain shows intelligence in certain ways as does the Triune brain (the brain of primates).
 

morpheon

New Member
It's not so much "memory" as it is being accustomed to "ritualistic behavior". There are three parts to the human brain... the Reptilian brain/complex, which is present in reptiles, the Limbic system, which is present in other mammals such as cats and dogs, and the Neocortex, or grey matter, which is present in primates. Memory and memory storage occurs in the hypocampus, which is in the Limbic system (in between the Reptilian brain and Neocortex), which wasn't developed until the arrival of mammals. The amygdala, also in the Limbic system, "...comes into play in situations that arouse feelings such as fear, pity, anger, or outrage. Damage to the amygdala can abolish an emotion-charged memory. Because the limbic system links emotions with behavior, it serves to inhibit the R-complex and its preference for ritualistic, habitual ways of responding...." (http://www.buffalostate.edu/orgs/bcp/brainbasics/triune.html). So a form of "memory without emotional triggers" is found in the Reptilian brain, but more due to rituals and habituation than applying happy or sad emotions to the situations, and more like "this person brings me food". Intelligence can be a very broad term, but the Reptilian Brain shows intelligence in certain ways as does the Triune brain (the brain of primates).

Intelligence has yet to be defined anyway!

No matter which memory is used (affective and ritualistic as opposed to intellectual memory), both are useful and i appreciate reading on both! Of course, if we could end up splitting both of them and describing each part for chameleons it would be awesome!

Kristen: I wish i knew you a few years ago! I would have needed your help for the few neurological classes i had in the past! I feel like i definately need a good refresh!! However, i do appreciate reading what you write! :)
 

chamtrainer

Established Member
I have a male ambilobe that loves to be handled and whenever i put my hand in his cage he reaches and streches out towards it just to climb up my hand. No matter where he is. I would have to say that they have a good memory based on food, stress, and pain.
 

ijmccollum

New Member
Intelligence has yet to be defined anyway!

No matter which memory is used (affective and ritualistic as opposed to intellectual memory), both are useful and i appreciate reading on both! Of course, if we could end up splitting both of them and describing each part for chameleons it would be awesome!

Kristen: I wish i knew you a few years ago! I would have needed your help for the few neurological classes i had in the past! I feel like i definately need a good refresh!! However, i do appreciate reading what you write! :)
No kidding, way to go FFSTRescue! Although I do remain firmly anthropomorphic. -- can't help it, I was made that way.:D
 
My chameleon mr. Louie surprised me one day. He knew his way around the house and his room was upstairs. I would let him crawl around my living room and kitchen (keeping an eye on him if course). He would always end up behind the tv, I'd say because it was warm. But this one time,...... He crawled from the couch to behind the tv, to walking the hall and climbing 2 flights of steps to go to his room and climb into his cage. (his cage at the time I built was 6'x6'x4.) Talk about curiosity and wondering if he wanted to just climb or he really wanted to be in his cage.

I've been in love with chameleons for going on 12 years and I wish they could speak to us, but sometimes I find myself talking to them and really feeling like we connect and we both just know what were thinking/understand one another.

My mom is watching my 2 chams while were gone and she said Gregory is
acting sad and probably misses me. (I spend most of my day with my lizards).
She told me that she would put me on the speaker phone to talk to him. So crazy me did it. Gregory was on a branch and when he heard me (through vibrations as far as I've read up on their auditory system), he started moving fast towards the phone and grabbed it. Talk about coincidence, but it warmed my soul so much I just had to believe he missed me and just needed to know
everything would be ok. :). I love my lizards. They make me happier more than anything in this world. Hope this was inspiring :)
 

tkilgour

Member
My mom is watching my 2 chams while were gone and she said Gregory is
acting sad and probably misses me. (I spend most of my day with my lizards).
She told me that she would put me on the speaker phone to talk to him. So crazy me did it. Gregory was on a branch and when he heard me (through vibrations as far as I've read up on their auditory system), he started moving fast towards the phone and grabbed it. Talk about coincidence, but it warmed my soul so much I just had to believe he missed me and just needed to know
everything would be ok. :). I love my lizards. They make me happier more than anything in this world. Hope this was inspiring :)
That is funny just imagining you talking to a chameleon on the phone like it's a child.

I have to admit, I like reptile pets far better than mammals. ;)
 

Miss Lily

Chameleon Enthusiast
Tommy has been to the vets several times over the last few months, and he knows exactly where he is when we arrive. As soon as I lift his carry cage out of the box he puffs up and gets all defensive. He also remembers where Amy's cage is too - if I put him on the floor, he'll stroll/limp across the floor and stand at the bottom of the cupboard that her viv is on! He's most definitely not daft, bless him!:D
 

rcutchens

New Member
I'm certainly no expert and have limited experience keeping chameleons but I am confident that they do have a memory that allows them to recognize objects and possibly even people.

I know, for example, that Rico definitely recognizes the clear platic cup we use to feed him and comes over to start eating whenever he sees it. Along the same line, we have a pair of 10" feeder tweezers and he definitely recognizes them and associates them with food; even if there's not a feeder being held with them but he sees them his head/eyes will track the end and if they stay in one place too long he'll start to target it and get ready to shoot his tongue. I know this because when it's happened I was surprised and purposely moved it from side to side to see what he would do and he was definitely wanting to shoot which made me nervous since there was no feeder and I was worried his tongue would get stuck to the end of the tweezers.

He also seems to recognize his cage and after being handled he typically looks forward to getting back in - he prefers it to being handled and that's understandable since he's still a young chameleon. He recognizes the lights and the plants and immediately starts reaching for the branches wanting to get back in the safety of his cozy home as quickly as possible.

I often wonder what their hearing is like and how they are able to distinquish sounds, for example. I know someone had mentioned in an earlier post that they often talk to their chameleons and I'm sure that's common as we have tendency to "humanize" them from the standpoint that we want to create some kind of bond with the animal. I do think it's possible that however the process sound waves they are able to recognize familiar sounds in terms of the tone, pitch and frequency, for example, and possibly associate those sounds with meaningful responses. Could be a certain sound is associated with moisture such as the sound of a mister head operating while another sound is associated with a non-threatening animal while another sound still is indicative of danger.

Certainly curious to think about.
 
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