The most horrifying thing happened today...


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I decided to make some changes to my 65 gallon tank that houses 6 leaf chameleons today. I wanted to mix in some new organic soil, scrape the glass, add some more dried leaves, etc. Anyhow, it was going to be a couple hour job, and I didn't want the chams to be in the tank while I did it. So, I took all 6 out and put them in a box with some twigs, loosely closed the flaps on the box and taped it shut. Then, for extra safety, I put the box in the bathroom and turned out the light. There isn't a window in that bathroom, so I really expected that they would just fall asleep.

I went about my remodeling chores, and after I added the dirt, I wanted to wet it down real well. So, I went into the bathroom and filled a watering can in the bathtub, and then turned to leave the bathroom. And felt something under my foot as I headed to the door, followed by a small squeek noise. In my home, with dogs and cats, it is instictive to not step down all the way when you feel something under your foot, because you never know when it might be a tail or, even worse, a hair ball. My heart jumped when the thought crossed my mind that it could be a chameleon, and then just as quickly, I dismissed the thought. They were safely in their box. Nope. It was a chameleon. A particularly adventerous and active female that I am very fond of.

As I stared at my socked foot in horror, I realized she was completely flat. Like, Wiley Coyote just got squished by a rock flat. And, she was squirming, clinging/stuck to my sock. I carefully removed her, and she sat on my hand, her rib cage and abdomen completely compressed. She turned nearly white, and I thought for sure she was a goner. But, after a few minutes, she just... uncompressed. Just, sort of rounded back out. I checked her over very carefully, and it looks like she has a bruised tail and side. I have watched her for a couple of hours now, and she seems fine with those exceptions. She is safely back in the tank now, and has roamed from one end to the other.

I still am amazed that she managed to get out of the box, made it to the bathroom floor from the counter, to the area over by the door, all in the dark. I am even more amazed that she seems nearly unaffected by being stepped on. If I had been wearing shoes, she would be quite dead right now.

I had something similar happen the other week with hermie... he was still in his aquarium and in order to get the UVB bulb to shine properly (it's the compacted bulb type) we clamp it to one end of the aquarium and leave the screen open just a LITTLE bit. Well after feeding him apparently I left it open more than just a little. I'm still not sure how he climbed up there, none the less out, over, off my desk and halfway across my room. But luckily like you I have that don't step fully down instinct, and as I was walking (thank god in socks) across my bedroom floor after running some errands, it didn't feel quite right as I started to step down, and I looked just in time to see HERMIE!! I screamed so loud. Luckily I think that as he saw my foot coming down he sort of grabbed and hoisted up my ankle and I don't think that I got him at all, I pulled my foot up immediately and he was hanging on with his feet to the side of it. When I put him down I've never seen him move/run so quickily away. I felt HORRIBLE ... it was definately a lesson well learned, and luckily he's in his screened cage now so that wont be happening anymore.
i never had problems with my chameleon on the floor but when they have managed to escape i find them in the strangest places. one time my one female escaped i found her across the room ontop of my other chameleon cage trying to get in. and another time same chameleon i found her in a dead ficus tree in my room. and after searching 15minutes in the cage for her i turned around and there she was. strange little critters aren't they. do you think that the leaf chameleon might have that ability to flatten them self out because the live on and near the groud
This happened to me - years ago. Only I killed the animal.

I had a big outdoor screen cage - a 12'x8'x8' walk in. In it were a trio of veileds. I went in one day to feed them, an dcouldn't find one female. I looked for a long time. Then , I saw her dead on the ground. I realized that I had smashed her. I was wearing flip flops and didn't see her.

Gotta be careful with these things, and never assume they'll stay put. they are incredibly untrustworthy animals. For weeks, they'll sit happily in one tree - and then, wehn you leave the door open, they make a run for a very inappropriate spot - like a laundry basket, or your wife's side of the bed...
Ugh.. it still gives me the shivers thinking about it. She is fine this morning. I just fed them, and watched her shoot a cricket.

I do believe that leaf chameleons can compress themselves to nearly flat. I have seen the males do it when they were still living together... they would flatten themselves almost completely when they were sparring, I believe because it makes them look bigger from the side. This is the first time I have seen a female become quite flat. I think I squished the air out of her, the poor little thing.

Eric.. that would have been awful. I was traumatized by almost killing one of my chams. I am sure you were devestated.

You're not alone! Lynda Hogan (AdCham) once told me that she almost threw out a R.Kerstenii that she thought was dead after handling it, only before she had time to reach into the tank to retreive the dead pyg, her phone rang. When she came back, it was gone!

The little bugger who she she had watched not breathe or move in the slightest, for more than a few minutes, had got up and walked away. Akinesai is a strange form of defense!

It's a VERY good thing you weren't wearing shoes...I don't think she would have made it otherwise. Glad she did, good luck.
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