Soon to be chemeleon owner with many many questions

Silver

New Member
I will be getting a chameleon soon and would like to do my homework before accepting the responsibility of a live animal.

1. I'm getting either a panther or a veiled. I'm leaning twards panther beceause of the brighter colors, but I have heard veilds are easier to take care of. How much easier are veilds to take care of than panthers?

2. I know a dark chameleon is an irritated chameleon, are there any other color changes I should know about? Do Panthers change colors like the veilds do?

3. I know chameleons do not like to be held but are able to get used to it. How would you acclimate your chameleon to being handled? Do you just pick it up as much as possible like a snake? I know hand feeding them helps aswell. When my chameleon is fully acclimated to being handled, how often would I be able to handle him without irritating him?

4. Just how easily would a panther chameleon die? Would it drop dead if I didn't feed it enough for a week, or would the stress of me picking it up all the time kill it? A friend of mine had three baby veilds and they died after a year beceause he only fed them once a week, which seems to me like they are pretty hardy on the feeding deal if I were to accidently miss a day. This overall question is my biggest concern.

5. What is the hardiest/least toxic/best plant to put in with my chameleon?
 

Kent67

Retired Moderator
I assume you're going to get a captive bred one so here goes:

I will be getting a chameleon soon and would like to do my homework before accepting the responsibility of a live animal.

1. I'm getting either a panther or a veiled. I'm leaning twards panther beceause of the brighter colors, but I have heard veilds are easier to take care of. How much easier are veilds to take care of than panthers? Get a male of either species and you should be fine.

2. I know a dark chameleon is an irritated chameleon, are there any other color changes I should know about? Do Panthers change colors like the veilds do? Chameleons have normal or "resting" colors that you will recognize quickly. Each animal varies from others, but it's resting colors will not change much, except over time. Don't worry, you'll begin to recognize unusual colors and patterns quickly. Darker colors can mean anything from displaying to other chameleons to basking to stress/irritation/illness

3. I know chameleons do not like to be held but are able to get used to it. How would you acclimate your chameleon to being handled? Do you just pick it up as much as possible like a snake? I know hand feeding them helps aswell. When my chameleon is fully acclimated to being handled, how often would I be able to handle him without irritating him? A captive bred baby from a good breeder will be less likely to be stressed from contact as it has seen humans since the day it hatched. When you hold it, if the chameleon acts like it is absolutely scared to death, it probably is. Stop and try again later. Both species are fairly aggressive about protecting themselves which probably has something to do with their hardiness in captivity. The main thing is that each animal is individual. Some can become very accustomed to gentle handling, others never will be.

4. Just how easily would a panther chameleon die? Would it drop dead if I didn't feed it enough for a week, or would the stress of me picking it up all the time kill it? A friend of mine had three baby veilds and they died after a year beceause he only fed them once a week That is incredibly cruel, ignorant, stupid, illegal (you choose the adjective(s)), , which seems to me like they are pretty hardy on the feeding deal if I were to accidently miss a day. This overall question is my biggest concern.
Babies need to eat all day, every day. A 1 year old veiled is not a baby, but should be a very full grown adult. As they become adults, they can go a day or two between feedings easily. Not babies. Also, proper watering is just as important as feeding. If you have any questions there, be sure to ask.

5. What is the hardiest/least toxic/best plant to put in with my chameleon? Personally I prefer schefflera because they can take so much abuse from poor watering to being trampled by heavy lizards.
 

Silver

New Member
Thanks for the help. Sorry about my friend, he is used to snakes like I am, and snakes only need to be fed once a week. IT also doesn't help that he has a know it all attitude about reptiles even though it's obvious he doesn't know it all.

I have one more question. Would excessive handling stress it out enough to shave time off it's lifespan or kill it?

As a broader question, if I take perfect care of the chameleon and meet it's husbandary is there any noobie mistakes that I could end up killing it?
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast

PukaKeha

New Member
I dont like being stressed out or scared, so I try not to do anything to stress my chameleon. I have only handled my current chameleon one time and that was to put her into the cage. Will that make her live longer than if I handled her all the time?? Who can really say. I just want her to be as happy as possible so my advice would be only handle yours when you have to.
 

Tygerr

Avid Member
I know chameleons do not like to be held but are able to get used to it.
Some of them never get used to it. At best, some of the tolerate it. I don't think they ever enjoy it.

When my chameleon is fully acclimated to being handled, how often would I be able to handle him without irritating him?
You'll probably never be able to handle him without irritating him. He might not always show that he is irritated, but I can bet that inside that chameleon brain of theirs, they are really irritated by being carried around by humans.
You should handle them:
- when you take them to the vet
- when you move them to an outside enclosure to get some real sunshine, or move them out of their enclosure when you clean it periodically
- when you check them periodically to ensure all their bones are stong, no mouth infections, healthy skin and nails, etc.
And that's the only times they should be handled. So handling of the cham will be very infrequent.
If you are planning to get a lizard you can handle often, rather go for an iguana or a bearded dragon (although they probably don't enjoy it either).

seems to me like they are pretty hardy on the feeding deal if I were to accidently miss a day.
They won't die if you accidentally miss a day of feeding. But if you are going to be accidentally missing a day of feeding often, then most likely you are also going to be accidentally missing a day of misting, a day of supplementing, a day of gutloading insects... Then all of those things add up and over time the cham will perish.
Most often, chams in captivity develop ailments like MBD gradually over time through subtle neglect, and ultimately the creatures die slow and painful deaths.

What is the hardiest/least toxic/best plant to put in with my chameleon?
From my experience, I agree that Schefflera Arbicola is the best. Lots of foliage, tolerates low light, tolerates heavy watering, not toxic to chams, and generally quite cheap to obtain.

Babies need to eat all day, every day.
I'm not sure that I fully agree with that. Babies tend to be a lot more active, and also don't thermoregulate as well as adults, so they require more food to keep their metabolism going. They will display much more voracious appetites than adult chams.
But that doesn't mean you should feed them all day, or as much as they can eat. If babies are overfed, they tend to grow faster. And chameleons that grow too fast sometimes don't develop their bones as strongly as those that grow slower, which could lead to MBD complications when they get older.
And in female chameleons it's especially important not to overfeed them, because an abundance of food could lead to females developing clutches of infertile eggs, which often lead to health problems, and also place stress on the female's body.

Having said that, feeding babies only once a week is also wrong. You need to feed them daily, but in moderation.

And the quality of the food you are feeding them is of paramount importance. You can feed them as often as you like, but if the food isn't nutritious, it won't help them either.
Do you know anything about gutloading?
A lot of experienced keepers will tell you that often more work goes into keeping the feeder insects than the actual cham itself.

Keep asking questions, and read as much as you can on the sites Kinyonga listed. Also go to The Chameleon's Dish - it has lots of explanatory pictures.

It's great that you're putting in the research before you get the animal.
Good luck.
 

stevereecy

New Member
My two cents

I thought I'd take a shot at answering select questions.

I will be getting a chameleon soon and would like to do my homework before accepting the responsibility of a live animal.

1. I'm getting either a panther or a veiled. I'm leaning twards panther beceause of the brighter colors, but I have heard veilds are easier to take care of. How much easier are veilds to take care of than panthers?

There are a lot of myths about chameleons lingering from the old days. At one time, veileds were capitive bred in much greater numbers than panthers so most panthers were wild caught. Wild caught animals are difficult to keep alive. I believe that this is a "myth", as I can't see much of any difference in keeping either of them if they are both captive born. Possibly, the panthers need a little more hydration, but I don't personally file that away under "difficult".

2. I know a dark chameleon is an irritated chameleon, are there any other color changes I should know about? Do Panthers change colors like the veilds do?

Mating colors. Warning colors.

3. I know chameleons do not like to be held but are able to get used to it. How would you acclimate your chameleon to being handled? Do you just pick it up as much as possible like a snake? I know hand feeding them helps aswell. When my chameleon is fully acclimated to being handled, how often would I be able to handle him without irritating him?

I skimmed some responses here. When I first started reptiles, I noticed that some iguanas were mean at birth, and some were tolerant. I used to tease my wife that she was a "bad iguana". It does depend on the individual, but I've noticed that veiled females are nicer than veiled males. And gravid female panthers are meaner than male veileds but non-gravid ones are not. The "nicest" are male panthers. Some morphs are nicer than others too. If your money is limited, I'd suggest not worrying about the type of morph, and finding the cheapest male panther you can that is captive born. They are all pretty anyway.

4. Just how easily would a panther chameleon die? Would it drop dead if I didn't feed it enough for a week, or would the stress of me picking it up all the time kill it? A friend of mine had three baby veilds and they died after a year beceause he only fed them once a week, which seems to me like they are pretty hardy on the feeding deal if I were to accidently miss a day. This overall question is my biggest concern.

Reptiles are great pets because you can go away for a weekend. But you have to compensate for it before an afterward. Much more than that is too much risk for me personally. If you do leave them unattended for a weekend, I generally step down their heat a little to slow dehydration.

5. What is the hardiest/least toxic/best plant to put in with my chameleon?
I love hybiscus. Its pretty, has plenty of hiding places, and is very edible...but its only available in the summer.
 

Kent67

Retired Moderator
I'm not sure that I fully agree with that. Babies tend to be a lot more active, and also don't thermoregulate as well as adults, so they require more food to keep their metabolism going. They will display much more voracious appetites than adult chams.
But that doesn't mean you should feed them all day, or as much as they can eat. If babies are overfed, they tend to grow faster. And chameleons that grow too fast sometimes don't develop their bones as strongly as those that grow slower, which could lead to MBD complications when they get older.
Yeah, I should have been more specific. I have heard that about veileds because of their fast growth rates. Of the 16 species of chameleons I've kept since 1992, I've never had a single veiled or a case of MBD. So, to clarify my statement, babies should be offered food everyday, a couple times a day. It may be wise to control the amount of food offered, especially in veileds. ;)
 

Tygerr

Avid Member
I skimmed some responses here. When I first started reptiles, I noticed that some iguanas were mean at birth, and some were tolerant. I used to tease my wife that she was a "bad iguana". It does depend on the individual, but I've noticed that veiled females are nicer than veiled males. And gravid female panthers are meaner than male veileds but non-gravid ones are not. The "nicest" are male panthers. Some morphs are nicer than others too. If your money is limited, I'd suggest not worrying about the type of morph, and finding the cheapest male panther you can that is captive born. They are all pretty anyway.
I don't see how this answers the OP's question about handling chams. IMO, the "niceness" of the chameleon has nothing to do with it. Chameleons are reptiles - they do not have human personalities. They are not "nice" or "friendly". At best, they can be described as being aggressive/territorial or submissive/passive.
And just because a cham is submissive when you're handling them, it certainly doesn't mean they are enjoying it. They are probably only submissive because they are highly stressed. Handling is not good for the cham whether they are tolerant of it or not.
Also, when selecting a chameleon, I think it is best not to select passive or "nice" chameleons. If a cham is a bit fiesty, it is generally in better health.

I love hybiscus. Its pretty, has plenty of hiding places, and is very edible...but its only available in the summer.
Hibiscus is a great plant - leafy, good branch structure, healthy, edible leaves.
But they are an absolute pain to keep healthy in a cham enclosure. They need lots of high intensity light, and so you have to rotate the plants outdoors if you plan on using Hibiscus.
 

stevereecy

New Member
I don't see how this answers the OP's question about handling chams. IMO, the "niceness" of the chameleon has nothing to do with it. Chameleons are reptiles - they do not have human personalities. They are not "nice" or "friendly". At best, they can be described as being aggressive/territorial or submissive/passive.
And just because a cham is submissive when you're handling them, it certainly doesn't mean they are enjoying it. They are probably only submissive because they are highly stressed. Handling is not good for the cham whether they are tolerant of it or not.
Also, when selecting a chameleon, I think it is best not to select passive or "nice" chameleons. If a cham is a bit fiesty, it is generally in better health.
I meant "nice" in a non-technical way. Obviously they don't cuddle with you, but if "nice" is the opposite of "mean", the perhaps I should have said, "less mean" or "less angry". I do think that an experienced keeper can tell when a cham is stressed by its coloration. I also think that a cham is feisty only when it feels threatened, and is reacting to stress. Therefore, I believe that a cham that doesn't show, or shows minimal stress colors during handling is less stressed overall than one that feels stressed enough to bite under the same conditions. And stress can compromise immunity. I think its wiser to select an animal that can more readily tolerate human interaction not just for the entertainment value, but as a legitimate means of selecting a healthier animal, other variables held equal. I concede that a among unhealthy chams, if I had to pick on, I'd pick the fiesty one. But for day to day, or buying from a breeder who knows his animals, give me the "un-mean" one.
 
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