I’ll Meet You There | Shipping Your Chameleon

At times, it will be more efficient to ship your chameleon to your destination than to travel with it. Luckily, there are a variety of services available to help you do just that. There are also a lot of rules regarding how it must be managed. Before you put your chameleon in a box, and hope for the best, review the following guidelines to help make your shipping experience a success.

Don’t Use Just Any Box

To ship a live animal, you must meet packaging requirements as set forth by the shipping company. Requirements include the use of specific materials and restrictions on how the package is constructed. These requirements are in place to ensure the safety of both your chameleon and the personnel involved in the shipping process.

Proper ventilation must be present while maintaining the integrity of the package’s construction. The destination and return addresses must be clearly marked, and a description of the contents is required.

Don’t Just Toss Your Chameleon in the Mail

usps-796059You can’t simply drop the box in a mailbox and expect everything to work out. When shipping live animals, you must make sure the shipping company is aware of the contents. Only certain shipment methods are permitted. For example, many shippers require that live animals be sent overnight. Additionally, they may not accept a live animal shipment on Friday or the day before holidays, as that automatically increases the amount of travel time before the package will reach its destination.

The Weather Matters

The temperature needs of your chameleon must be a factor in determining if and when you ship. For example, it is not recommended to ship when the outside temperature is below or above certain points. Most shipping methods do not have the packages in temperature controlled environments. This means that the outside temperature is likely what your chameleon will be dealing with.

In cases where the temperature is only somewhat below ideal, such as 50°F, a heat pack can help raise the internal temperature to a more comfortable level. However, if the outside temperature is 32°F, even a heat pack cannot bring up the temperature enough to make sure your chameleon will be safe during transit.

Temperature considerations must be based on the location from which the package is shipped as well as the destination. In some cases, if the destination’s temperature is too high, you can elect to have your package sent to a shipment center managed by the shipping company. This keeps your chameleon in a temperature controlled environment until you can pick him or her up.

Some Animals Cannot be Shipped, Period

While the vast majority of chameleons can be shipped, some other reptiles are not eligible. Anything venomous or poisonous cannot be shipped. An endangered species is often considered nonmailable. Mammalian household pets, such as cats and dogs, are rarely shippable.

Other shipping restrictions can be in place, and may vary depending on the shipping company in use.

Certain Destinations are Off Limits

Just as we discussed in articles about traveling with your chameleon by car or airplane, not all species are permitted in all destinations. Before you arrange for a shipment, make sure you are legally allowed to receive your chameleon at its destination.

Consider a Professional Shipping Service

Professional reptile shipping services are aware of the idiosyncrasies involved in the shipment of reptiles, including chameleons. These services can provide all of the materials necessary to ship your chameleon. Most offered detailed packing instructions along with insulated shipping boxes, heat packs, and other packing materials. They are also knowledgeable about any restrictions regarding the shipment of reptiles, and may be able to offer guidance when needed.

We always recommend and ship via Ship Your Reptiles at www.shipyourreptiles.com

Ship Your Reptiles

Our Shipping Procedures

Here at Canvas Chameleon we ship all our chameleons FedEx Express Priority Overnight. They are packaged up later in the day and dropped off at our local FedEx hub around 5-6 PM at night in order to reduce the amount of time they are in their shipping boxes. In most areas, they will be delivered by 10:30 AM the following morning. Shipping can be stressful on the chameleon but in most cases it is more stressful for us awaiting their delivery as once in their dark boxes they fall sleep for the majority of the trip. Here is a quick break down of our packaging process here at Canvas Chameleons


















Here Today, Gone Tomorrow | The Endangered Belalanda Chameleon

Native to the south-western portion of Madagascar, the Belalanda Chameleon, or Furcifer belalandaensis, is considered to be a critically endangered species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) includes the Belalanda Chameleon on their Red List, which contains a variety of species that are thought to be on the edge of extinction.

What Does Critically Endangered Mean?

The IUCN develops criteria to help classify the health of animal species across the world. If classified as critically endangered, it is believed that the species faces an extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the wild. The Belalanda Chameleon is considered critically endangered due to the limited size of its known natural habitat, as well as the assumed size of the population.

A Tiny Natural Habitat

The Belalanda Chameleon is named after the town of Belalanda, where this particular species can be found. While many chameleons inhabit Madagascar, the Belalanda is thought to only live in an area of about 1.5 square miles. Much of the gallery forest that was known to be home to this particular chameleon has been cleared away, but reforestation efforts, combined with education of the local population, aim to help bring this species back from the brink.

A Mysterious Creature

One of the only descriptions that is fairly easy to find is that the Belalanda Chameleon is green in color. Due to the falling population, not much else is known about the Belalanda Chameleon. This makes conservation efforts particularly challenging, as it is difficult to determine what kind of environment would help the population reestablish itself in its home area. With that in mind, funding had been provided to help the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology in the United Kingdom, and Madagaskiara Voakajy of Madagascar to study the species and its habitat to help draw plans for further protection.

Protection Efforts

In order to support protection efforts, the Belalanda Chameleon cannot be collected, transported, or traded away from the local area. As part of the conservation efforts, the species will be evaluated to determine if it is suitable for captive breeding, which may help increase the wild population while also allowing some to be housed in appropriate facilities.

So far, the Belalanda has only been found in three towns in Madagascar, and the true number that exist in the wild is still unknown.














The Better to Climb You With, My Dear | A Tale of Chameleon Feet

yemen-chameleon-233095While a chameleon can travel across the ground, they are tree-dwellers by nature. In order to climb the tallest trees and reach the highest branches, chameleons developed feet that are designed with that task in mind. Even though the digits of a chameleon do not provide all of the functionality of a hand, they certainly can come close.

Here, we take an in-depth look at how some of our favorite color-changing critters get around.

High Five (But Not Too Hard)!

A chameleon’s foot consists of five digits, or toes, but they function in groups. Three toes work together, while the other two toes function as their own duo. Whether the group of three toes is the inner or outer group depends on the foot. On the front feet, the group of three forms to outer group, leaving the other two toes to form the inner group. However, on their rear feet, the arrangement is reversed, with three toes forming the inner group and two toes on the outer.

At the end of each of those toes is a claw. Now, these claws aren’t necessarily in place specifically to help them mount an attack, but they do help a chameleon dig in to the various materials that they climb. And, with all of that work, they can get quite sharp. While you may be tempted to trim or cut them, it is important to leave these claws be, as they are a critical component to a chameleons climbing ability.

Zygodactyl for the (Almost) Win

The feet of a chameleon are most commonly referred to as being zygodactyl, but it isn’t a completely accurate assessment. The reason chameleon feet have been placed in the zygodactyl group is that they resemble the feet of parrots and other birds, whose feet were previously classified as being zygodactyl.

Like chameleon’s, zygodactylous feet have toes that function in groups, with an inner and outer set allowing them to grip on to surfaces like tree branches. One striking difference between a chameleon’s feet and those of our feathered friends is the birds only have four toes, working in pairs, instead of five.

With that in mind, some people choose to refer to the feet of a chameleon as having a zygodactyl pattern as a way of differentiating them from the more commonly associated four-toed structure of the birds.

Climbing to the Top

The vice-like grip of a chameleon’s feet allow them to climb up or down branches that are essentially vertical in orientation. While the majority of the work is performed by the feet, the prehensile tail also plays in role in helping the chameleon feel more secure during their ascent and descent.

Part of what makes the chameleon’s foot so adept at climbing is the unique ball-and-socket structure of the joints in the ankle area. Instead of only working in one direction, like a traditional hinge, the joint allows the digits to rotate to a degree, providing them with the flexibility to shift their toes to obtain the best position around the branch. It is this adaptation that have led the chameleon to become one of the best tree climbers in the animal kingdom.







On the Road Again II: Trips with Overnight Stays

Sometimes, your travel plans may prevent you from getting to your destination in a day. Maybe you are moving across the country to attend college, start a new job, or just for a change of scenery. Regardless of the reason, you are faced with the challenge of figuring out how to move your chameleon over multiple days, and you only option is in a vehicle.

While the situation is certainly not ideal, that does not mean it is impossible to manage. If you are in a position where you are traveling with your chameleon, and you must stay overnight somewhere, here are some tips to help you navigate the landscape as easily and safely as possible.

Check the Rules

Before you worry about where to stop with your chameleon, you need to make sure that you can bring him (or her) along your desired path. Not all animals are allowed to be brought across certain interstate or international lines, and it would be a shame to get to a particular border to only then realize you have a problem.

Prior to making any other travel arrangements, consult the United State Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Pet Travel page. While the site focuses on information for your destination, take the time to review the rules for every state or country you will pass through since you will be traveling by vehicle.

Keep in mind that there may be restrictions on bringing insects (live or dead) between certain locations as well. So, just because your chameleon is cleared, that doesn’t mean your box of crickets is too. Make sure to check any rules about their ability to cross state lines or international borders as well.

Get a Veterinarian to Sign Off

It is not uncommon for health certificates to be required in order to travel between certain locations. This helps ensure that your chameleon is fit for travel and is not bringing any concerning health condition into new areas. Even if you do not see the requirement specified, it is wise to have your veterinarian examine your chameleon before any stressful event.

If your move is permanent, you may want to see what is necessary to have copies of your chameleon’s veterinarian records made, or what process is required to have a new veterinarian request the information, especially if there have been notable health events previously.

Plan Your Route to Plan Your Stops

While some road trips can be setup on the fly, a trip that involves a pet should always be planned. Not only are you going to need to clear the ability to bring your chameleon in with you for the overnight stops on your trip, you are going to want to make sure that you have access to everything you may need along the way.

If you are planning on spending the night in a hotel or motel, you might think it is easier to either sneak your chameleon into the room, or leave him in the vehicle. In both of these cases, your answer is NO, and here’s why:

  1. If you fail to get permission to bring your chameleon (and any live crickets) into the hotel, you can be unceremoniously thrown out if you are discovered.
  2. Your vehicles is an unstable environment. You should never (and I mean NEVER) leave your chameleon in your car alone EVER (get your food from the drive-thru and continue on). No reason is good enough, no excuses.

With that settled, you may find that certain hotels or motels are willing to accommodate your request, though you may need to call around. Start with hotel chains that are known to be generally pet friendly, and work your way along from there. If you cannot find willing accommodations in the stopping city of choice, you may need to adjust where you plant to stop for the night based on finding suitable accommodations.

Travel in a Box, Spend Overnight in a Cage

As we discussed in our previous On the Road Again post, your chameleon may travel more comfortably in a smaller box that you can use to block out excess light. This can help encourage your chameleon to sleep through as much of the trip as possible. For longer trips, you should plan on regular checks to see if you need to mist inside the box to prevent dehydration.

Male #2 Calumma Parsoni Cristifer - Canvas Chameleons (6)Once you reach your stop for the night, you need to setup your chameleon in something more comfortable where he can be fed and hydrated in a fairly normal fashion. Ideally, he will also be able to spend some time in the light before you head to bed yourself.  This does not mean you need to bring out a full-sized cage if it is difficult to transport. Make sure your chameleon has some space to move around freely, but it is fine if this setup is smaller than his permanent enclosure.

Give him the opportunity to eat (he may not if he is feeling stressed), and provide a good misting. You will also need to make sure the temperature in the space is suitable, whether by cranking up the heat in the room or through the use of heat lamps and other standard options.

Once you have gotten your rest for the night, you will set your chameleon up in the box again, and plan for round two of the trip. Repeat as necessary until you reach your destination.

Ideally, you should try to get the trip over with as quickly as possible (while following any laws regarding speeding, and taking into consideration your need for sleep and overall safety). Once you arrive at your new location, be sure to setup your chameleons enclosure as one of your first steps, as putting him back in his usual space should help the adaptation period begin and will allow him to get comfortable in the new space.