Try to match their natural environment...

Lunatuck

Established Member
I've been thinking about something for a while. Before I come right out with it, I want to say that attempting to replicate a species natural environment is the best for of husbandry. But, perhaps, there is something better.

This first popped into my mind when listening to a Breeder Podcast on herping in Florida. My apologies for not remembering the exact episode. The discussion was about why Chameleons seem to thrive in places like Florida. The guest mentioned that Florida's environment wasn't so similar to Veiled chameleons natural environment, but it still provided the ability for a chameleon to survive and even thrive.

So I think back to my reefkeeping days. When I first began keeping reefs in about 1990, we did our best to match the natural environment. Seawater is 1.022 SG, so we matched it. The seawater has a specific % of trace minerals, so we did our best to match it. After a few years, and some experimentation, many reefkeepers discovered that raising sg to 1.025 or higher helped with coral and fish health. The salt companies began modifying their recipes to have more of certain minerals that get used up in a closed system. Lighting began with a spectrum that would best imitate the sun. We would supplement the light to make it more attractive, but the supplements were superficial. some fluorescent actinics to help the coral pop. Now, we seem to favor bluer lights, and with the ability to pump calcium into our systems, we are getting insane growth rates. But all these examples are non-naturalistic.

There have been some naturalistic advances. I'm a big fan of refugiums. Basically the reef version of a bioactive enclosure. Live bugs to clean organic matter and plants separated from the system used to use up the NO3 and be harvested. The use of live rock is another example, though at this point, synthetic rock can be just as effective.

So as I constantly try and improve my husbandry, I wonder if there are situations where a non naturalistic approach can actually be healthier to our chams. Any thoughts on this? Can anyone thing of an example where a naturalistic approach to a certain aspect of husbandry isn't appropriate? The best example I can think of is going to a veteranarian.
 
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JacksJill

Moderator
Staff member
No specifics, but Mother Nature is cruel, she doesn't care about individual survival but only the species as a whole and then precious little about that as well. Nature hones a species ability to survive and tolerate the conditions so the strongest survive. I want all of my chameleons to survive and as a keeper I'm willing to help them do so. It's a matter sorting what they can survive and finding what makes them thrive. Matching their natural conditions is the obvious starting point but I don't think we should be strictly limited by that measuring stick.
 

Rlc1994

Chameleon Enthusiast
Great thread. I’d have to say that this hobby has really started to go in a different direction in the last decade especially with the advancements in lighting,hydration,bio active,glass enclosure, and gutloading tactics. With the breeder podcasts and a lot more research starting to happen on different species of chameleons I’d say we’re heading in a good direction and just starting to really breakthrough.

With that said I think many chameleons can adapt to certain changes in climate within reason as long as it isn’t a huge change to there “natural” home range environment. I don’t know if one would thrive better than the other if you skewed away from this natural approach. Just think about how chameleons we’re kept 20 years ago they definitely didn’t have all of the information and research that we have today and they were pretty successful with the “old school” approach as I would call it. I bet in another 10 years their will be even more advancements in the hobby and we might have a completely different approach than what’s happening today.

I’d say just go with the most natural environment you can make. As long as you have the correct lighting, variety of gutloaded insects a good hydration schedule and supplement schedule everything else should fall into place and your chameleon should thrive.
 

Thehippie

Chameleon Enthusiast
I personally like to go with what the individual animal likes best. One cage per animal and one animal to spoil like crazy! We should obviously Do what is best for them and meet their requirements but like for instance some veileds don't Do good with cup feeding, free range feed! Some rescues do good with cup feeding like my boy! Feed em in a cup. All depends on the chameleon and what disabilities or preferences they have!
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
I think it is replication of the environment within limits. I mean say with a Veiled if we were to replicate exactly what they have in the wild you would have die offs exactly like they do in the wild. There is a reason why in the wild they are not living as long as they do in captivity. While I try to mimic with real plants, branches, fogging at night, lower humidity during the day, and limiting food to keep him a healthy weight I certainly would not mimic to the point of having a dry season where in nature they do die. My goal is to create the right conditions for him to live a long, happy, healthy life..

While the ones in Florida may be "thriving" so to speak... If you look at pics of the wild caught ones from the area they are far from healthy looking.
 

Thehippie

Chameleon Enthusiast
I think it is replication of the environment within limits. I mean say with a Veiled if we were to replicate exactly what they have in the wild you would have die offs exactly like they do in the wild. There is a reason why in the wild they are not living as long as they do in captivity. While I try to mimic with real plants, branches, fogging at night, lower humidity during the day, and limiting food to keep him a healthy weight I certainly would not mimic to the point of having a dry season where in nature they do die. My goal is to create the right conditions for him to live a long, happy, healthy life..

While the ones in Florida may be "thriving" so to speak... If you look at pics of the wild caught ones from the area they are far from healthy looking.
I completely agree with this because there are certain requirements needed for survival of a chameleon. But When there is only one Apollo or one Beman you can't have for offs or that leaves you with no chameleon!
 

Rlc1994

Chameleon Enthusiast
I think it is replication of the environment within limits. I mean say with a Veiled if we were to replicate exactly what they have in the wild you would have die offs exactly like they do in the wild. There is a reason why in the wild they are not living as long as they do in captivity. While I try to mimic with real plants, branches, fogging at night, lower humidity during the day, and limiting food to keep him a healthy weight I certainly would not mimic to the point of having a dry season where in nature they do die. My goal is to create the right conditions for him to live a long, happy, healthy life..

While the ones in Florida may be "thriving" so to speak... If you look at pics of the wild caught ones from the area they are far from healthy looking.
Exactly. I wouldn’t go as far as making the climate within the cage have dry seasons and wet seasons although I’m sure it would work but it probably does cause stress periods because the wild really is a cruel and stressful cycle when you think about it. Which is the opposite of what we’re trying to do.
 
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