Chams ARE social animals!

Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
Credit: Petr Necas

Incase you haven’t noticed, I like to stir the pot!

PROXIMITY in chameleons and its implication to captivity based on wild and captive observations

Chameleons are often called solitary.
Absolute nonsense.
They are animals with deep
sense of “community”
approach, they are highly social! They have complex
mechanisms of intraspecific communication,
they have their territorial behavior, they have rituals and modes and patterns etc etc.

What fouls us in that respect is anthropomorphism and explaining the reptile (chameleon) behavior using irrelevant (or partly relevant) mammal or bird models.

The chameleons namely exhibit all their social behavior not from close proximity
BUT over DISTANCE!

They in fact work in the environment as a meta-organism, when a local
population is conquering a territory and utilizing the beneficial parts of it the best efficient way possible. This is why they spread almost hmomogeneously in suitable habitat. This is why they run from each other till they reach the margin of a territory...
This is why they get closer to each other but not breaking the margin of aggression limits. These two antagonistic substrategies allow them to build a 3D web-like presence in the conquered territory...

So, to get practical,
The PROXIMITY as one of the parameters of social behavioral models is in chameleons extended if compared to many other animals. And they get deeply social without physical contact with each other: they rely on visual contact (as they have no other real option due to limited function of all the other sensory organs with some exceptions like the Vibrations - but let us not complicate things unnecessarily).

The proximity has in fact three threshholds (distances) defining four ZONES:

1. INTIMATE ZONE defined by “intimate distance” (which is about 10% of the Total length) is the zone of possible physical contact and is in adults exclusively entered just for reproduction
2. AGGRESSION ZONE defined by “aggression distance” (which is in adult males about 5times the total length, in males/females about half of it, and in young it is missing) is the zone of possible intimidation, fight, physical attack and harming each other with the goal to get him/her to leave the territory and keep distance
3. COMMUNICATION ZONE defined by the “visibility distance” (depending on species and terrain, environment, foliage etc etc from several meters to several hundreds of meters and limited by seeing each other only. In this “safe zone” over a “safe distance” the most intraspecific communication happens.
4. IGNORANCE ZONE, the zone beyond visibility, where no sight/visual contact happens as no is actually possible.

So, a sight/visual contact is absolutely NORMAL for them and its absence can lead to behavioral pathology - increasing the thresh-holds of aggressive behavior e.g. and fostering its intensity.

So, what is the implication to the captivity?

1. As the visual contact with congeners is natural, it should be provided
2. The distance of possible visual contact should exceed the aggression limit (easy e.g. on opposite sides of the room)
3. If no congeners are available, a mirror can be placed opposite the cage to stimulate the chameleon (they do not recognize their own picture as their own and consider it another chameleon)
4. Immediate vicinity less than aggression limit should be avoided, through intelligent solutions as foliage or non-transparent separators (some mesh can be by some species and specimens considered a visual barrier)
5. Animals are to be closely observed and based on their behavior, adjustment need to be made
6. It is a general behavioral pattern, not a law: there is individual as well as species-specific variability and deviations

Possible consequences of no sight contact:
- Social pathologies
- Increased aggression
- Attacking females by males
- Increasing level of force in conflicts leading to killing each other (in males) or to extreme stress
- Aggression amongst females
- Females permanently unreceptive
- Slower growth
46410481-CB44-46BF-B00C-5D405E860041.jpeg
 

GoodKarma19

Chameleon Enthusiast
Credit: Petr Necas

Incase you haven’t noticed, I like to stir the pot!

PROXIMITY in chameleons and its implication to captivity based on wild and captive observations

Chameleons are often called solitary.
Absolute nonsense.
They are animals with deep
sense of “community”
approach, they are highly social! They have complex
mechanisms of intraspecific communication,
they have their territorial behavior, they have rituals and modes and patterns etc etc.

What fouls us in that respect is anthropomorphism and explaining the reptile (chameleon) behavior using irrelevant (or partly relevant) mammal or bird models.

The chameleons namely exhibit all their social behavior not from close proximity
BUT over DISTANCE!

They in fact work in the environment as a meta-organism, when a local
population is conquering a territory and utilizing the beneficial parts of it the best efficient way possible. This is why they spread almost hmomogeneously in suitable habitat. This is why they run from each other till they reach the margin of a territory...
This is why they get closer to each other but not breaking the margin of aggression limits. These two antagonistic substrategies allow them to build a 3D web-like presence in the conquered territory...

So, to get practical,
The PROXIMITY as one of the parameters of social behavioral models is in chameleons extended if compared to many other animals. And they get deeply social without physical contact with each other: they rely on visual contact (as they have no other real option due to limited function of all the other sensory organs with some exceptions like the Vibrations - but let us not complicate things unnecessarily).

The proximity has in fact three threshholds (distances) defining four ZONES:

1. INTIMATE ZONE defined by “intimate distance” (which is about 10% of the Total length) is the zone of possible physical contact and is in adults exclusively entered just for reproduction
2. AGGRESSION ZONE defined by “aggression distance” (which is in adult males about 5times the total length, in males/females about half of it, and in young it is missing) is the zone of possible intimidation, fight, physical attack and harming each other with the goal to get him/her to leave the territory and keep distance
3. COMMUNICATION ZONE defined by the “visibility distance” (depending on species and terrain, environment, foliage etc etc from several meters to several hundreds of meters and limited by seeing each other only. In this “safe zone” over a “safe distance” the most intraspecific communication happens.
4. IGNORANCE ZONE, the zone beyond visibility, where no sight/visual contact happens as no is actually possible.

So, a sight/visual contact is absolutely NORMAL for them and its absence can lead to behavioral pathology - increasing the thresh-holds of aggressive behavior e.g. and fostering its intensity.

So, what is the implication to the captivity?

1. As the visual contact with congeners is natural, it should be provided
2. The distance of possible visual contact should exceed the aggression limit (easy e.g. on opposite sides of the room)
3. If no congeners are available, a mirror can be placed opposite the cage to stimulate the chameleon (they do not recognize their own picture as their own and consider it another chameleon)
4. Immediate vicinity less than aggression limit should be avoided, through intelligent solutions as foliage or non-transparent separators (some mesh can be by some species and specimens considered a visual barrier)
5. Animals are to be closely observed and based on their behavior, adjustment need to be made
6. It is a general behavioral pattern, not a law: there is individual as well as species-specific variability and deviations

Possible consequences of no sight contact:
- Social pathologies
- Increased aggression
- Attacking females by males
- Increasing level of force in conflicts leading to killing each other (in males) or to extreme stress
- Aggression amongst females
- Females permanently unreceptive
- Slower growthView attachment 246492

I was reading this the other day, and wondering how I could safely implement this in my home when I do recieve a second chameleon. Perhaps separate free ranging condos within line of sight of each other? :unsure:
 

JoXie411

Chameleon Enthusiast
So in other words I don’t need a blinder between Larry and Imelda if they are a “safe” distance? I know they know each other are present. I find them on the same level in there vivs all the time looking at the each other’s cages.

No they can’t currently see each other unless I take one out the cage then they see each other
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
So in other words I don’t need a blinder between Larry and Imelda if they are a “safe” distance? I know they know each other are present. I find them on the same level in there vivs all the time looking at the each other’s cages.

No they can’t currently see each other unless I take one out the cage then they see each other

Personally, I believe the male will stress the female.
 
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JoXie411

Chameleon Enthusiast
Per


Personally, I believe the male will stress the female.
I had a situation once when Larry was younger when I was giving Imelda meds I didn’t block there view well and he throw himself off the vine and started to attack the screen to try and get to her. I’ve never seen him get so black! Since that day I’ve been a lot more careful but he’s never done that again since and he sees her once a week at least when we make our trips outside
 

GoodKarma19

Chameleon Enthusiast
Personally, I believe the male will stress the female.


This blurb also mentions that completely isolating chameleons could make them more reactive when they do see each other... so maybe repeat exposure would calm them down? If they were far enough away, perhaps it could be beneficial? Hm!
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
This blurb also mentions that completely isolating chameleons could make them more reactive when they do see each other... so maybe repeat exposure would calm them down? If they were far enough away, perhaps it could be beneficial? Hm!


SO get a warehouse. And put them at opposite ends, each day move them a few feet closer, till you get a reaction.

It appears they all want their 500sqft, and want to see each other.
 

GoodKarma19

Chameleon Enthusiast
SO get a warehouse. And put them at opposite ends, each day move them a few feet closer, till you get a reaction.

It appears they all want their 500sqft, and want to see each other.

Slightly impractical, perhaps! ;) Would be an interesting experiment, though! I'd be down for a warehouse full of chams, haha!

i was thinking more along the lines of allowing a couple chameleons within seeing distance for a few hours weekly while out of their cages. Separate free ranges, or outside time perhaps, where they can view each other and communicate safely.

I admit that I could be allowing my knowledge of bird behaviour to influence my thought process. Clearly, chameleons are not birds! I'd be interested in reading more on this subject as it becomes available, though.
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
Slightly impractical, perhaps! ;) Would be an interesting experiment, though! I'd be down for a warehouse full of chams, haha!

i was thinking more along the lines of allowing a couple chameleons within seeing distance for a few hours weekly while out of their cages. Separate free ranges, or outside time perhaps, where they can view each other and communicate safely.

I admit that I could be allowing my knowledge of bird behaviour to influence my thought process. Clearly, chameleons are not birds! I'd be interested in reading more on this subject as it becomes available, though.


We did have one user with separate free ranges, but he alpha cham just wanted to walk out of his free range and over to the other to harass it :(
 

GoodKarma19

Chameleon Enthusiast
We did have one user with separate free ranges, but he alpha cham just wanted to walk out of his free range and over to the other to harass it :(

Oof, yeah, i definitely wouldn't want a more dominant animal causing a fuss... :unsure: Hm! I'll have to give it a think. Maybe the alpha would have been ok if the other free range was further away? It could be a case of a more dominant animal claiming and defending more territory.
 

Kristen Wilkins

Chameleon Enthusiast
Per


Personally, I believe the male will stress the female.
Wasabi immediately puffs , curls his tail and climbs the screen of his door if he see’s either of his sisters , he gets very brights . He does not do this with septiseye. He has not ever seen Oliver , Oliver is a 1/4 wasabi’s size I fear he would eat him .
 

Kristen Wilkins

Chameleon Enthusiast
Wasabi immediately puffs , curls his tail and climbs the screen of his door if he see’s either of his sisters , he gets very brights . He does not do this with septiseye. He has not ever seen Oliver , Oliver is a 1/4 wasabi’s size I fear he would eat him .
With no head knocking . I don’t think it’s a mating response , I’m not really sure what he is doing . Maybe it’s a automatic response of protecting territory .
 
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