Interview with Mike Monge - FL Chams

Brad

Administrator
Staff member
Mike Monge is the owner and founder of FL Chams, an online reptile and supply company that specializes in chameleons. FL Chams was one of our original sponsors at Chameleon Forums, so we were happy when Mike recently agreed to answer a few questions and participate in this interview.
website: www.flchams.com

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Can you offer readers a brief introduction to yourself and FL Chams?

I've been interested in reptiles since I was 7. I grew up here in South Florida collecting reptiles for local distributors and developed a lifelong interest in them. After getting my first few chameleons I knew I was hooked.​


Do you recall how and when your interest in chameleons began? What was your first chameleon?

I had my first chameleon at age 8, but in 2003 I purchased my first pair of veileds at a reptile show and soon after was breeding and selling babies. After that I started branching out to other species and really enjoyed reproducing them and offering them for sale on Kingsnake.​


How much chameleon related experience did you have before creating FL Chams?

I had a lot of reptile experience but only about a year of intensive chameleon experience when FL Chams was born.​


FL Chams has cared for a wide variety of chameleon species. What is your personal favorite? What species do your customers prefer?

Well, pretty much everyone prefers our veiled and panther chameleons, but my personal favorites are the pygmys. Believe it or not, my favorite species is probably the Bearded Pygmy, Rieppeleon brevicaudatus. I think all the pygmy chameleons with their cryptic shapes, patterns, and colors are amazing. I also enjoy how reproductive they are so you get a quick turnaround on new life.​


A proper gutload and supplement routine is crucial towards maintaining a healthy chameleon. Can you briefly explain your methods or share a few tips? Does the amount of supplementation you offer differ between montane and lowland species?

We totally agree with this statement. We use several commercial and self-made gutloads, as well as a healthy variety of vegetables with an emphasis on dark leafy greens, to prepare our insects for feeding. We prefer to let our gutloading do most of the nutritional work but occasionally supplement with the commercially available dusts. Most of our montane species are housed outside and we have found that they do best with the least amount of dusting.​


FL Chams occasionally works with chameleons that have been imported from Africa and Madagascar. Parasites can be a serious issue and the importation process itself can be very taxing on a chameleon. What special care do you provide for these animals?

In general, we prefer to rehydrate fresh imports and start acclimating them before beginning parasite treatments. The medications used can be hard on their bodies so when we can, we prefer to wait until they have been here a little while before dealing with parasite issues.​


FL Chams has been working with translucent veiled chameleons for a number of years now. During that time, have you noticed an increased susceptibility to health related problems when compared to regular veiled chameleons?

No. They are exactly the same as regular veiled as far as exposure to sunlight and general health. We bred the line back into wild bloodline veileds as a precaution and to strengthen the bloodline. They are just as healthy, robust, and prolific as the regular bloodlines. As far as I can tell, they seem to be the same, they just lack the color and patterns of the regular morphs.​


Many people within the chameleon community enjoy attending herp related shows and conventions. How often is FL Chams a vendor at these events? Is there a specific show or location that you enjoy most?

We used to be very involved in traveling but as my kids are getting older I want to be more involved in their activities. We do about 5-10 depending on schedules. I really enjoy California for the change of scenery. The Super shows in San Diego and Pomona are always great, as is their promoter. We’ll be in San Diego in June with myself, Kent, and Chris Anderson who will be giving a symposium presentation!​


What have been the most rewarding and frustrating aspects of running a chameleon related business?

Frustrating? Trying to fix one problem and creating another problem. LOL. Actually, the most rewarding aspect is creating new life. It just never gets old. Propagating an animal’s lineage, promoting captive breeding, and giving customers a better product are all rewarding in this business.​


If you could offer a brief statement of advice to all new and prospective chameleon keepers,
what would you say?


Do NOT skimp on the setup. Buy the right things you actually need to be successful. People try to cut corners because they don’t have the money. Consistent, quality care with an appropriate setup that is cleaned regularly are the keys to success.​
 
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CJ's Exotics

Chameleon Enthusiast
There hasn't been a lot of interviews, this one was in 2011. This was interesting, maybe can you put more if it isn't too much work?
 

KeopiCat

Avid Member
I would love to do more interviews. If you have any specific suggestions feel free to post them in the Feedback and Suggestions forum.
Perhaps an interview from Kammurflage Creations, though honestly I'd love to hear from anyone who has a passion for chameleons :ROFLMAO:
 
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