establishing Meller's chameleons

It seems that people who are intent on breeding melleri will often buy multiple wild caught adults (or sub-adults) and watch for interactions between them to determine sex, etc. and cross their fingers with the hope that they will one day breed.

Most of us know that it can take quite a while to acclimate WC melleri. Not only do we have to deal with multiple vet visits for parasites and other health problems common with imports of this species, but changing up their environment by moving them to a different room or cage, adding new individuals to the group, or sometimes even adding new plants or perches can sometimes set them back a little in terms of acclimating them and making them feel comfortable enough to exhibit normal melleri behavior.

Some have wondered why Meller's are not established in captivity, especially considering the large numbers that have been imported into this country. Some of the difficulties with WC animals are pointed out above, but even the occasionally available captive hatched melleri hasn't gone very far in trying to establish these fantastic animals. Of course, raising neonate melleri presents its own set of challenges, but it seems that many of the CH Meller's are often bought by people who don't really have plans on breeding them, or else they lose interest in the time it takes to raise the neonates to maturity. Many of those people simply want a "cool", large, CH chameleon that is different from the standard panther chameleons. Of course, knowing that melleri are one of the three largest chameleons in the world only adds to that appeal.

Surely it's been suggested before (although I've personally never read about it), but I think a better approach to establish a group of melleri, and thereby increasing our chances of breeding the species in captivity, would be to acquire a group of 7 or so young or very young WC individuals (which theoretically should harbor a much lighter parasite load than larger WC adults). If the 7 young WC are bought from different suppliers and originate from different shipments, chances are that a keeper/breeder would have a good chance (98%) of getting at least one pair. Although the time it can take to raise a young melleri to adulthood can certainly test the patience of hopeful breeders, the time required would be invaluable to the animals themselves as they establish their social hierarchies.

Experienced keepers, especially, frequently suggest buying CB or younger WC chameleons. That advice is often followed by newer keepers looking for a pet, but ironically IMO, the experienced keepers and breeders themselves, in their confidence in being able to frequently acclimate WC animals, often ignore their own advice. Speaking for myself, I know I've been guilty sometimes of undervaluing or at least underappreciating the wisdom of that suggestion in my desire to breed a particular species as quickly as possible.

Bottom line. We all need to practice patience. If Meller's are one of your favorite species, as they are one of mine, and you can't wait to breed them, keep yourself occupied, while waiting for your young melleri to grow up, by working with another species that's easier to breed. The choices are many.

I'd love to hear from any of you, melleri keepers especially, as to whether you are or have ever used the above approach (my current plan). I don't pretend to know the future of melleri exports, but it may be wise for those of us intent on breeding this awesome species and wishing it to become established in captivity to buy younger animals as much as possible before melleri imports become less common and before the prices on them go up dramatically as we have seen with other species.

Perry
 
Last edited:

Olimpia

Biologist & Ecologist
The thing is, that's all fine and well but any melleri individuals are hard to come by to begin with. I don't see them for sale very often, and when they are they're scooped up immediately and you're lucky to get a single individual. And even then, forget about getting to choose the age of the animal, you get whatever is left if you're interested in getting one at all. The last two I've purchased were fully grown, between 2-5 years of age. And if you see them in the forum classifieds or on Fauna, it's always WC adults.

And I don't think I've seen anyone rush to breed them. Everyone I know with groups is ready for a long haul, and either it took them 3-5 years to get eggs in the first place or they're patiently awaiting eggs now, knowing it may be months or years still. Anyone who gets into Meller's expecting to have success within 6 months is clearly kidding themselves! lol Or has no idea what they're getting into. But everyone with more experience, from what I've seen, knows that it's going to take a lot of patience.

That said, I'd love to come across young individuals (especially CB/CH if possible) and put together a group, I just haven't seen any. And I'm not certain anyone has had CB babies for sale since Julie at Windy City Chameleons a couple years ago.
 
The thing is, that's all fine and well but any melleri individuals are hard to come by to begin with. I don't see them for sale very often, and when they are they're scooped up immediately and you're lucky to get a single individual. And even then, forget about getting to choose the age of the animal, you get whatever is left if you're interested in getting one at all. The last two I've purchased were fully grown, between 2-5 years of age. And if you see them in the forum classifieds or on Fauna, it's always WC adults.

And I don't think I've seen anyone rush to breed them. Everyone I know with groups is ready for a long haul, and either it took them 3-5 years to get eggs in the first place or they're patiently awaiting eggs now, knowing it may be months or years still. Anyone who gets into Meller's expecting to have success within 6 months is clearly kidding themselves! lol Or has no idea what they're getting into. But everyone with more experience, from what I've seen, knows that it's going to take a lot of patience.

That said, I'd love to come across young individuals (especially CB/CH if possible) and put together a group, I just haven't seen any. And I'm not certain anyone has had CB babies for sale since Julie at Windy City Chameleons a couple years ago.

You make several good points. Some people on here are fortunate enough to be able to hand pick their animals. Many suppliers won't send individual pics either, so often it seems like we are rolling the dice and taking our chances. Personally, I'd rather pay a higher price and see photos of the exact animal that I'm purchasing.

Also, I agree that currently, there isn't a lot of selection out there, but I know there has been in the past (various WC sizes) and hopefully, there will be in the future. Again, I don't know the future of melleri exports, but it doesn't seem that long ago that dealers were offering pretty young WC animals. Some of those companies understood what many of us want, less parasitized, less marred, younger animals, but, of course, they also know that the larger animals impress a lot of people. Within the last six months, I contacted one supplier who told me the larger ones were already sold and all he had left were about 12" in total length. He even mentioned that the smaller ones looked better, but the the larger ones sold, and I imagine some died, first.

One point that I was trying to make is that if possible, due to greater genetic diversity than what might become available with CH siblings, it would be wise to try to get a group of young WC.

Currently, I have 18, out of what appeared to be 19 good eggs out of a small clutch of just 21 eggs, still incubating. They were laid on 2/21/13 so they will hopefully hatch any day now. If they hatch and if I'm able to raise them to about 3 months, I'll be looking to trade many of them for other young melleri, either CH or WC.

Perry
 
The thing is, that's all fine and well but any melleri individuals are hard to come by to begin with. I don't see them for sale very often, and when they are they're scooped up immediately and you're lucky to get a single individual. And even then, forget about getting to choose the age of the animal, you get whatever is left if you're interested in getting one at all. The last two I've purchased were fully grown, between 2-5 years of age. And if you see them in the forum classifieds or on Fauna, it's always WC adults.

And I don't think I've seen anyone rush to breed them. Everyone I know with groups is ready for a long haul, and either it took them 3-5 years to get eggs in the first place or they're patiently awaiting eggs now, knowing it may be months or years still. Anyone who gets into Meller's expecting to have success within 6 months is clearly kidding themselves! lol Or has no idea what they're getting into. But everyone with more experience, from what I've seen, knows that it's going to take a lot of patience.

That said, I'd love to come across young individuals (especially CB/CH if possible) and put together a group, I just haven't seen any. And I'm not certain anyone has had CB babies for sale since Julie at Windy City Chameleons a couple years ago.

Just to clarify, I don't think that all keepers have a "rush to breed them" mentality, and I didn't mean to be critical of melleri keepers if I sounded that way. However, I do believe many start out with adult animals with the hope that they will breed soon or at least reveal what sexes they have. I definitely agree with you that those with a lot of experience know it's going to take a lot of patience to get eggs, unless they happen to buy a gravid female. Most of us know it's going to require a long term commitment if we ever hope to have any real "successes" with this species. That "in it for the long haul" way of thinking is a good approach with other chameleons as well. I applaud those keepers who work really hard to establish groups of melleri. My main point was simply that maybe we should be, or should have been, putting more effort into establishing groups of young to very young WC animals whenever possible for the reasons already given.

Perry
 
Well, I'm in a rush to have melleri babies hatching ... unfortunately the melleri don't care what I want!

We have several that we got when they were fairly young juveniles but as Olympia said, sometimes we have to get what is available. We are lucky to have a couple sources fairly local so we can hand-pick the best ones, whether they are juveniles or adults. We have a couple males wanting to breed and a couple females have laid eggs (infertile) but so far the females have no interest in the males ...

every year I just tell myself, "maybe next year"
 

CNorton

Avid Member
Some have wondered why Meller's are not established in captivity, especially considering the large numbers that have been imported into this country.
My main point was simply that maybe we should be, or should have been, putting more effort into establishing groups of young to very young WC animals whenever possible for the reasons already given.

Excellent points and kudos for putting yourself out there. I'll be the first in line to give you a high-five when you finally hatch those babies.



The thing is, that's all fine and well but any melleri individuals are hard to come by to begin with. I don't see them for sale very often, and when they are they're scooped up immediately and you're lucky to get a single individual.

That said, I'd love to come across young individuals (especially CB/CH if possible) and put together a group, I just haven't seen any. And I'm not certain anyone has had CB babies for sale since Julie at Windy City Chameleons a couple years ago.

Not so Olimpia! There are always melleri available from about March-September every year. Just in the last 6 days I've seen 3 ads for melleri. Here's two right here: Reptile Rapture's Melleri and Reptile Pets Direct

I would agree, the younger ones are much harder to come by.



Julie and the guy that goes by fluxlizard on the forums here are the only two I know of that have hatched and raised babies in the last 5 years. Many many have tried, but very few experienced keepers have tried to my knowledge. Space and patience are huge commodities.


I would love to get into melleri but I know until I have more space, I'll have to be content to cheer from the sideline. You can do it guys!!
 
Top Bottom