On the Road Again: Short Trips with your Chameleon


Whether a pet is furry or scaly, all pet owners will need to transport their pet by car, truck, or van at some point.  Whether it is a quick trip to see the veterinarian or a cross country move, taking the time to handle the process properly will help to lower your stress and the stress experienced by your chameleon as well.

Here, we provide some basic advice regarding how to manage traveling with your chameleon for shorter trips, generally taking less than a day.  While some of this information is universal, longer trips may require additional work.  Regardless of the length of travel, always make sure to bring a supply of food and water in case unexpected delays occur.

Choosing a Box

For the purpose of traveling, a box with solid sides and a top you can secure is ideal.  It can be made of cardboard or another opaque material as long as air flow is maintained.  The primary goal is to create a small, secure space that can be kept fairly dark.

Why is keeping the interior dark so important?  If you put a chameleon in a dark place, it will automatically try to sleep.  Regardless of the time of day, their instincts tell them that, if it is dark, it must be night.  This will help lower the overall stress experienced by encouraging them to sleep through as much of it as possible.

chameleon-350665Setting Up the Box

In order to make your chameleon as comfortable as possible, you want to give them a perch.  The easiest way to provide a somewhat stable perch is to run a dowel or natural branch through the space.  This is often easiest to achieve by creating holes in the sides of the box just big enough to allow the perch to slide through.

Ideally, the perch will be suspended slightly above the bottom of the box.  Underneath the perch, you are going to want to provide some cushioning that will also assist with traction.  Not only will this help if your chameleon falls from their perch, it will also make it easier for them to move across what is likely a very slippery surface.

Let Your Chameleon Settle

Before transporting your chameleon, set them in the box you have setup, close the lid to block the light, and wait about half an hour before proceeding on your trip.  This allows them to explore the space a bit, possibly spending some time scratching at the sides, before settling onto the perch and falling asleep.

After a reasonable waiting period, carefully carry the box to your vehicle.  For safety purposes, especially when traveling alone, your chameleon should be the last thing you bring into your vehicle.  Not only is it unwise to leave the unattended in a vehicle, the internal temperature of the vehicle may vary dramatically in a shockingly short period of time, which can potentially do significant harm to your chameleon’s system.

As You Travel

Just as you want to avoid packing your chameleon’s box in a vehicle too early, you never want to leave the box in the vehicle if someone is not in it and the temperature cannot be managed.  Further, it is important to make sure the box is in a stable position.  While some bumps along the road are unavoidable, there should be no risk that the box with your chameleon will tumble or have another box fall on it.

Travel with Care

There is no guarantee that the trip will be entirely stress free for your chameleon, but by taking certain precautions you can increase the likelihood.  Before traveling across state lines, or to other countries, make sure to check local laws regarding whether chameleons are legal to have, even if you are just driving through.  Not all areas allow private ownership of chameleons in their jurisdiction, which can present a very challenging situation for all parties involved.





Are You Looking at Me? How a Chameleon’s Eyes Work

Canvas Chameleons - Ambanja - Panther - Rasta

Anyone who has seen a chameleon in person or on television has likely noticed one of their most distinctive features, their eyes. From the unique eyelids to the seemingly independent movement, a chameleon’s eyes work like no other species on earth.

So, how exactly do they work? Here’s an introduction.

A Different Kind of Eyelid

The orbital socket of a chameleon is not as deep as it is in people. In order to provide protection and stability, the eyelid surrounds all of the eye except for the pupil, forming a cone shape over the area. This allows the eye to function like a turret twisting and turning as necessary, which gives chameleons a larger field of vision than is available to people.

The eyelid also does not close fully, always leaving a portion of the pupil exposed.

A 360 Degree View of the World

The unique structure of a chameleon’s eyes allow them to review the world around them in close to 360 degrees. Each eye has a large degree of rotation, allowing them to swivel farther without having to turn their heads. Additionally, the eyes are raised away from the rest of the head, in a protruding fashion, which helps prevent vision restrictions based on the shape of other facial features. This allows a chameleon to get almost a full view of their environment without having to risk attracting attention by moving their head.

Monocular or Binocular

Along with the extended degree of vision, chameleon’s have the ability to focus on one object per eye, referred to as monocular visions, as well as one object with both eyes, called binocular vision. This allows a chameleon to transition from searching for prey, using each eye independently, to focusing entirely on their prey with both eyes once a tasty delight has been spotted. Not only does this give them more opportunity to spot a potential snack, it allows them to efficient track it once it is found.

In this regard, the chameleon’s eyes are not truly independent due to the fact that a cross-connection in the brain allows both eyes to work in a synchronized fashion, but the ability to uncouple the function also provides it an advantage when hunting prey or spotting predators.


The Eyelids Shed Too

Just like the rest of a chameleon’s skin, the eyelids will shed too. As the area is preparing to shed, many chameleons puff their eyelids out, making the eyes appear closed at times. While this process can be shocking to observe the first time, it is perfectly natural and provides a way to help the old skin loosen before shedding. As with other areas of shedding skin, it is okay to give your chameleon gentle help. Skin that is ready to shed will pull off with very, very little effort. If any resistance is felt, stop pulling immediately.

Chameleons can get Eye Infections Too

Just like more other animals, chameleons can contract various forms of eye infections. The causes may be viral or bacterial. If there ever appears to be an infection in, on, or around the eye, it is best to see a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible as untreated infections can have serious, even life threatening consequences. A veterinarian will have the knowledge and ability to assess your chameleons condition and provide treatment recommendations or appropriate prescription medication.








Help! My Chameleon is Peeling! | Experiencing Skin Shed

Every animal, humans included, shed their skin. While the shedding process in people takes place with limited fanfare, your chameleon will shed its skin in a more noticeable fashion.

While it can be a bit alarming to see, the process is normal, and even healthy. Here’s an overview of what to expect when your chameleon begins to shed his or her skin.

The Process Begins

The process of shedding one’s skin will begin naturally, often related to a recent growth period. Some of the first signs that a chameleon is preparing to shed is a sudden dullness to the color of the skin and loose edges or flaps beginning to develop. Additionally, some chameleons may lose interest in food immediately prior to a shed beginning.

You may notice your chameleon rubbing against items within its environment, such as the surface of sticks or branches. This is done to help move the process along, using friction to help detach the shedding skin. Additionally, chameleons are known to puff out their eyes in preparation for the shed. While this may look quite unnatural, it is part of the normal preparatory process.

How to Help Things Along

Once you notice a shed has begun, take extra time to help keep the skin well hydrated. This may mean misting more frequently, or increasing the overall humidity in the area. While targeting a spritz here and there towards the base of the shedding portion may seem like a good idea, some chameleons do not enjoy a direct showering. In those cases, an indirect method, with the chameleon enjoying the benefits via splashes from the running water, may be ideal.

While a normal shed generally will not require intervention on your part, there are times when assistance may be appropriate. If a piece appears to be hanging on precariously, it is fine to help the piece come off gently. If the shedding skin is ready to come off, it will do so with very little pulling. Any resistance is a sign that it is not fully ready to detach. Take special care if removing shed skin from around the eyes in order to limit the chance of injury to your chameleon.

It is important to stay vigilant during the shedding period, as skin that does not come off properly can pose a danger to your chameleon. If it tightens around certain areas of the body, such as the toes and around the tail, it can cut off circulation and potentially lead to skin death through strangulation.

Furcifer Campani - Canvas Chameleons (1)Don’t be Alarmed

A growing chameleon will shed on a regular basis. Some adolescents will shed as frequently as every two or three weeks, with the rate generally slowing as adulthood is reached. At full maturity, a chameleon may shed once a month or less.

Stress can also impact the shedding process. After the stress of travel or of a change in environment, they may have an abnormal or problem shed. In this regard, it is important to be especially vigilant during the first few sheds to make sure things are progressing as they should.

While it may seem strange to us, it is not uncommon for a chameleon to attempt to eat the skin they shed, but it isn’t a requirement either. Feel free to remove the pieces if you prefer, but don’t worry about wrestling pieces out of your chameleons mouth should they decide to make it a snack.

In Event of an Emergency

If you suspect the shedding process has caused a limb or digit to become deprived of blood and may be experiencing cell death, contact your veterinarian immediately. Additionally, if the shedding appears to be giving your chameleon difficulty, is lasting significantly longer than usual, or is occurring at a higher than average frequency, you should consult a veterinarian to ensure another issue isn’t present such as dehydration, an illness, or a vitamin deficiency.








When the Food Bites Back – Cricket Feeding Safety


While the thought of our food biting back doesn’t tend to come to mind, it can certainly happen to a chameleon.  When live crickets are provided, allowing the chameleon to exercise their natural hunting instincts, there is a chance that the food will fight back.  The risk is significantly higher in cases where crickets are left to roam the enclosure for long periods, such as overnight, especially when more crickets have been provided than the chameleon can reasonably be expected to eat for a meal.

Why would a cricket bite?

A cricket may bite for a few reasons.  First, many animals (crickets included) will consider biting if threatened.  It is a fairly normal defense mechanism and crickets are equipped with the jaw structure necessary to bite if the opportunity arises.

Second, crickets are omnivorous, which means they will eat plants and animals for food.  What they choose to eat is largely based on what is available in their environment, even turning cannibalistic if the situation requires it.  In cases where there are not a lot of food sources, which may be the case in a chameleon enclosure, the crickets may turn to the chameleon as a form of sustenance if they get particularly hungry.

How do I prevent cricket bites?

The best thing to do to avoid your chameleon being bitten by a cricket is to avoid leaving live crickets in the enclosure for long periods of time.  While it may seem like the easier thing to do, as it allows you chameleon to eat when the mood strikes, the longer a cricket stays within the enclosure the riskier it can be.  Make sure you provide the right amount of crickets for the meal at hand, and save the rest for a later feeding.

Are cricket bites dangerous?

While a crickets mouth does not generally have the power to break the skin on a person, it can do notable damage to your chameleon.  Not only can the bite damage the surface skin, it can also lead to an infection.  Often, an infection of this nature can create an abscess, which is a pocket of infection trapped below the skin.  The longer the infection stays trapped, the more dangerous it can become, especially if it is near the sensitive eye, nose or mouth areas or if it is close to bone.

Besides the bite being potentially painful, or the chance of it becoming infected, the discomfort may affect other aspects of your chameleon’s wellbeing.  If the bite is in or near the mouth, your chameleon may be reluctant to eat until it is healed.


So, what does a cricket bite look like?

A cricket bite can show as a lump under the skin (which may appear shallow or deep depending on if an infection is present) or even a hole.  The area in question may be marked with signs of inflammation, and may be painful to your chameleon when touched.

What do you do if a cricket bite (or other infection) is suspected?

Draining, or otherwise treating, a suspected infection is NEVER a do-it-yourself job.  Your chameleon’s system is sensitive, and it does not fight infections as well as a human might, so the form of treatment you may use on yourself is generally not suited to your chameleon.

If you suspect your chameleon has suffered a cricket bite, IMMEDIATELY contact your veterinarian.  If an abscess is present, your vet may need to lance it, remove the infected fluid, and thoroughly flush the wound.  Additionally, antibiotics may be required to help make sure the infection doesn’t return.

It is also important to remember, there are a variety of other issues that may present with similar symptoms.  It requires great care, a professional eye, and even some sophisticated testing equipment to determine the true cause of a health issue, which can be critical in ensuring your chameleon receives the proper treatment.  If you ever suspect your chameleon is suffering from an illness or infection, contact your veterinarian immediately.