Newbie questions...

ChrisLawson

New Member
So recently, I have had a strong desire to keep a chameleon as a pet, and I have studied up on the matter profusely.

As of now, I feel very well versed on basic chameleon care, but some of my original questions are left unanswered.

Handling chameleons:

I understand that chameleons are not extremely sociable animals, but is it possible to acclimate them to regular handling like other exotic pets? If so, what would be the best way to go about doing it?

Gutloading:

Just like any other insectivorous reptile, gutloading and dusting are an important factor in a healthy diet. However, I have heard that most commercial gutloads don't provide all of the necessary nutrients, and I am not comfortable making my own gutload. Do you guys have any recommendations on certain commercial gutloads that provide all of the nutrients my animal needs to stay healthy?

Coloration:

How long does it take for a juvinile chameleon to show its full coloration? Does it's final coloration closely match its sire's, or is it relatively random? Do more colorful parents give birth to more colorful offspring?

Thanks in advance for your help!

- Chris
 

Jam

New Member
In response to your question about friendliness, I really think that it depends on the individual chameleon. The first veiled that I had would readily walk over to you if you stuck your hand in her cage to climb out for a while. She'd sit on your shoulder, and was just a general sweetie. She liked to be cupped in your hand and held to your chest, and would sit with you for half an hour or so. The second one that we got was a male veiled -- he hisses and spits and doesn't think twice about biting you if you put your hand near him, and will even bite multiple times in succession. BUT his toughness is largely to thank for him being alive right now (he's very sick with MBD) and he has become much more friendly since being sick. His biring doesn't stop me from handling him, and once he "gets it out of his system" he's fine for the rest of the time that he's out. In all honesty, rather than being mean I think that he is just easily threatened.
Both chameleons were brought up the same -- with gentle semi-regular handling.
 

Prism Chameleons

Established Member
Chris, as Jam says above, it depends on what type of chameleon you are considering purchasing. Some are more aggressive than others, and some are not very aggressive at all, or totally unaggressive depending on the personality and nature of the chameleon.

Veileds tend to be more aggressive than panther chameleons. However, panther chameleons tend to be more expensive. I'm sure there are others here that can tell you the characteristics of some other species. What I can tell you is about panther chameleons, as it is currently my main focus.

I will answer your questions, and then add some more information about purchasing a chameleon towards the end of this response.

Handling chameleons:

Panther chameleons, although a mostly solitary type of chameleon, will typically get used to one handler (owner). All my chameleons at first, are a bit shy when first introduced to me, however, after time they have no problem hanging out with me a bit, sitting in a tree next to my desk to watch me work, and even enjoy some company once in a while. But, these sessions shouldn't last too long as they always love to return to their own "territory" (which is their cage) to feel back into their own domain kingdom =). Captive bred chameleons are more acclimated to being around humans and I would highly suggest you consider a captive bred chameleon no matter what type of chameleon you choose as a pet (for more reasons that just being easier to handle which I will discuss later).

All chameleons have different personalities, like us humans do. Some prefer to be kept in solitude, and others are very sociable. Males typically are friendlier than females. And unless you plan on breeding, I highly suggest you choose a male as your first chameleon (besides they have nicer colorations than females anyway).

The best way to acclimating your chameleon to you and it's new home is to take your time with him. When you first get your chameleon, everything will be new and a bit scary for them. Let them get used to their new surroundings. If you push too hard and too fast in trying to get them to be frequently handled, this will only cause them stress. And stress is one of the number one killers of chameleons. Show them that you mean them no harm by slow approaches towards their cage, showing them that you give them food and water, and that you are not a "predator" that is out to hurt them. Always place yourself lower than your chameleon when approaching him. Giving him a place "higher" than you makes him feel safer. After you have given him some time to get used to his new habitat and seeing your face, you can try to introduce your hand for him to come to you.

Place you hand palm up with your index and middle finger apart and slowly approach him from a lower position. Let him look at your hand before trying to touch him and then continue to place your fingers in a "V" position towards his front feet (the V position allows a way for his feet to grasp onto) and even though he may shy away from this, it gives him an opportunity to choose to walk onto your hand on his own.

If this doesn't work, get a thin stick (about a foot long) and slowly place the stick in front of him to walk onto. When I have had to use this method, the chameleon usually walks onto the stick and walks right up it and into my hand.

You may have to try this in several attempts to be successful at it at different times and days.

Gutloading: There are two ways that are important to gutload your feeders. 1) purchasing a good premixed gutload (I use Roach Coach from www.coastalsilkworms.com) and putting a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit as the drinking source for the feeders (carrots, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, oranges (although this can cause a mess with fruit flies), zucchini, eggplant, celery.... pretty much any type of good vegetables with lots of vitamins). Use these two types of methods and you will have a nice gutloaded feeder.

Coloration:

Typically, a male panther chameleon will start showing bits of coloration around 3 months of age, sometimes sooner, sometimes later and will continue to reach it's full coloration potential up to 1.5 yrs or longer.

When choosing a coloration for a chameleon ALWAYS look at the parents. If a breeder cannot tell you who the Sire or Dam is, or what colors they produce, I would highly suggest you look elsewhere. The Sire will show you typically what coloration the offspring may have, however, remember that there is always a mom too! The only way to tell what colorations a Dam will give to it's young is to look at her Sire and perhaps even the Sire of the Dam's Sire as well to get an idea of what type of colorations may come out in your chameleon. Another great way is to look at the pictures of brothers of the Dam. Now, keep in mind that this is NO guarantee that you will get exactly the same colorations as shown by the Sire and Dam. Every chameleon is different! Just like we are as human beings. However, it should give you some idea at what colors may be produced in the chameleon you choose.

As far as if more coloring in the Sire produces a more colorful chameleon? I would answer typically yes. But, again, remember there is a mom involved too.

One more thing I'd like to add:

Be careful of pet shop chameleons... typically they will buy wild caught reptiles at wholesale prices, which means they are used to the wild and not used to human handling as a captive bred chameleon is.

Also, if you go to a good breeder (there are many good ones out there) ask around and ask LOTS of questions of the breeder prior to purchasing one. Do they have family histories? Do they have pictures they can provide you of the chameleon you are interested in and can they provide you with more pictures should you ask for them? They should be able to if they have the chameleon you are looking at and should be able to take more photos of the chameleon you are interested in buying. If they can't? It could be you are not getting what you think you are paying for. Not always, but the possibility is there.

If I can answer more questions, please let me know. I will be happy to help you in your quest for a new chameleon and welcome to the chameleon lovers world!!:)
 

ChrisLawson

New Member
Wow, thank you guys for sharing your advice and knowledge!

It's great to know that there are people out there willing to help nowadays.

- Chris
 

mary prefontaine

New Member
hi,
i just bought a baby panther and its my first panther. before i had jacksons and i did quite well with them so my vet says. my question is how often should you try to make friends with my new panther without worrying about wether or not im stressing him out too much. i know if he turns dark hes stressed and he has turned dark on my first attempt to put him on my hand. i find it very difficult to place my hand in his cage and manuevr thru the plants without making jolting movements. you said to use a stick which sounds like a great idea but again its hard to manuever thru the plants. how often should i try this without concerns of him getting too stressed 1xweekly maybe?
 
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