How Can You Help Protect Earth’s Most Fragile Species?

Our planet is facing an extinction crisis that is almost entirely human-caused. Scientists and conservation experts estimate that Earth is currently in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals within the past half-billion years. In other words, we’re currently experiencing the worst epidemic of mass species die-offs since the dinosaurs began their decline 65 million years ago.

Photo by Viktor Kern on Unsplash

Though extinction is a natural part of life, if left to its own devices, Earth loses species at a “background” rate of approximately one to five per year. However, biologists warn we’re now losing species at an estimated 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day.

As an animal lover, you’re undoubtedly alarmed by these statistics. Preserving our planet’s biodiversity is important to our environment, as well as the health of the living things it supports. So what are some ways you can get involved and protect endangered species?

How You Can Help Save Endangered Wildlife

  • Avoid buying products made from endangered animals. All over the world, illegal wildlife trading operations remain in business due to high consumer demand for products containing parts from endangered or at-risk species like elephants, tigers, sea turtles, rhinos, sharks and whales. Keep a watchful eye out for any vendors selling items such as reptile skins, ivory, sea turtle shells, shark fins and beluga caviar. Conservation organizations have developed apps such as Wildlife Witness and WildScan to allow people to help police the illegal wildlife trade. Be a responsible consumer and download these apps so you can report this type of illegal activity whenever you see it.
  • Don’t buy pets if you don’t know their origin. Ongoing trade in wild-caught exotic animals has a huge effect on population numbers in the wild. Even buying wild-caught animal species from legal sources increases demand and encourages illegal trading.
  • Support conservation groups and programs. By volunteering with, or donating money to, wildlife conservation organizations, you can help them make progress in their mission to protect threatened species and habitats.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint. Global climate change is the biggest threat to all living things on our planet. You can significantly reduce your carbon footprint by switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet; recycling and composting household waste whenever possible; reducing your energy and water use; and walking, biking or using public transport instead of driving everywhere.

Endangered Reptiles: A Closer Look

Though conservation organizations haven’t studied endangered reptiles as closely as they have many other at-risk animals, the International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that globally, 21 percent (594 species) of the total evaluated reptiles in the world are endangered or vulnerable to extinction.

In the United States, 32 reptile species are at risk, about 9 percent of the total. Island reptile species have been dealt the hardest blow, with at least 28 island reptiles having died out since 1600.

Get Involved: Conservation Organizations

If you’re inspired to donate to or volunteer with a conservation organization working to protect endangered animals and their ecosystems, here are some to get you started. There are so many of these worthy groups that we’re barely scratching the surface with this list, so be sure to do your own research to find causes that are close to your heart.

How to Create a Free-Range Chameleon Habitat

In last week’s post, we looked at the option of setting up a free-range chameleon habitat. For those considering doing this for their pets, let’s go a little more in-depth about ways to convert a space in your home into a place where chameleons roam free.

Building a free-range chameleon habitat isn’t a beginner project, due to the essential skills it requires. Make sure you’re up to the challenge before you have to hire a handyman because you bit off more than you could chew.

Image via Pinterest

What You’ll Need to Know

  • Basic carpentry: At minimum, you’ll need to install shelving and gutters.
  • Basic electrical knowledge – for wiring your lighting system
  • Intermediate plumbing skills to install the misting and drainage system

Setting up a Free-Range Chameleon Habitat

Keep in mind that the walls of whatever room you choose will be subjected to daily misting and round-the-clock high humidity, so your first step is to protect the walls. The easiest option is to use a high-quality exterior-grade paint. You could even go a step further and apply bathroom tiling to the walls. The important thing is to avoid mold, which thrives on water and could easily cause an expensive amount of damage if allowed to seep into floors and walls.

Next, install gutters to divert the water from the misting system. The gutters should be installed with a slight slope to ensure drainage. Here’s where the plumbing skills will come in handy, because you can set the gutters up in such a way that they route the water out of the house if you so choose. If you don’t want to plumb the free-range room, you can place buckets below the gutters and empty them manually.

Then, install lighting, heating and a misting system. It’s also a good rule of thumb to add a timer that automatically regulates temperature and lights, so you don’t have to remember to turn anything on or off. Another benefit of a free-range habitat is that it allows you to provide a range of temperatures, so the chameleons can choose where in the room they feel most comfortable.

It’s a Jungle in There

In the final stage of setting up your free-range chameleon habitat, you can get creative with plants. With more space, you can maximize the plant varieties and densities you use. Mix larger trees, such as ficus, with shrubs and coverage plants, such as pothos. Just be sure to only use nontoxic plants, and make sure any potted plants have plenty of drainage so they don’t become overwatered during the daily mistings.

As you’ve probably ascertained, creating a free-range chameleon habitat is a major commitment, and is not an easily reversible decision. However, if you’re ready to take the plunge, free-ranging could create a more natural home for your chameleon and lessen the stress of being caged.

Adopt, Don’t Shop: 5 Reasons to Get a Shelter Pet

Having a pet can change your life for the better in so many ways. Pets reduce stress, help lower blood pressure and are just plain fun to be around.

At Canvas Chameleons, our specialty is pets of a more scaly variety, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also love spending quality time with furry friends. If you’re looking to add a cat or dog to your family, please consider adopting from an animal rescue or shelter as your first choice. Let’s look at the most important reasons to adopt, not shop.

Image source: pexels.com

Top 5 Reasons to Adopt a Shelter Pet

  1. You’ll save a life. According to the U.S. Humane Society, 2.7 million adoptable pets are euthanized in shelters across the country annually. This number could be drastically reduced if more people considered adoption instead of buying from a pet store. When you adopt, you provide a loving home for a wonderful cat or dog and free up shelter space for another animal who might be in desperate need.
  2. You’ll be fighting puppy mills and irresponsible pet breeding practices. One of the reasons for this high rate of euthanasia is that there just aren’t enough homes for all the animals born every year. Well-meaning people who fail to have their animals spayed and neutered and who allow their pets to reproduce are part of this problem, as are negligent breeders. Puppy mills are the pinnacle of unethical breeding behavior. At these commercial kennels, mother dogs produce litter after litter of puppies in the name of profit. These puppy mills often abuse the animals, kill the mothers after they are no longer of breeding age and deprive their dogs of any chance to learn normal behavior and socialization.
  3. Many of the animals are already trained. Animal shelters and rescue groups are full of fantastic pets just waiting for someone to take a chance on them. Most adult pets arrive in shelters due to a human problem like a move or a divorce, not because there’s anything wrong with them. Many of these pets are already potty-trained and socialized to live with people, which can also save you time and money on training.
  4. You can find the perfect pet for your home. With the millions of shelter animals who need a great home, there’s sure to be one who is just right for you. When you adopt an animal from a shelter, you can meet the animals, play with them and get to know their personalities before bringing them home. Staff members will be happy to work with you to help you find a dog or cat who matches your needs in terms of size and temperament. This typically isn’t the case if you order a puppy or kitten from a breeder elsewhere in the country.
  5. Adoption will cost you less. Usually, when you adopt a pet, the shelter will include spaying/neutering, first vaccinations and sometimes even micro-chipping in the adoption price. This can save you money on some of the upfront costs of pet ownership.

If you’re looking for unconditional love and support, there’s nothing like adopting a pet to find a friend who will always be there for you. Get started on your journey to pet adoption with this guide from our friends at Homeoanimal.com.

Should You Set up a Free-Range Reptile Habitat?

Free-ranging is a growing trend among chameleon owners. Many chameleon keepers have chosen to devote part or all of a room to creating an open habitat for their pets. Free-ranging is especially beneficial for larger chameleon species, but any chameleon can enjoy this type of dedicated setup.

If your home has the extra space to create a free-range chameleon habitat, it might be time to consider this option for your chameleon husbandry. Let’s take a closer look at the rewards and risks of free-ranging for chameleons.

Rewards of Free-Ranging for Chameleons

  1. Giving chameleons more space to roam allows you to mimic their natural habitat more closely, which also means you’ll be able to observe much more relaxed behavior from your chameleons. Let those personalities shine through!
  2. An open environment makes chameleons more comfortable than being in a cage. Even overly aggressive or anxious chameleons usually become calmer when they don’t feel trapped by a cage.
  3. A larger environment to explore gives chameleons more exercise, which helps them maintain a healthy weight and muscle tone.
  4. In an open environment, chameleons can self-regulate their needs and adjust based on their condition, just as they would in the wild.
  5. More space allows you to get creative about using live plants.
Image credit: Pinterest

Risks of Free-Ranging for Chameleons

  1. Creating a free-range chameleon habitat requires some do-it-yourself modifications – especially to lighting and plumbing – so if you’re not handy, you could end up spending a lot of money to hire a contractor.
  2. As you know by now, keeping chameleons hydrated is one of the major challenges of chameleon care. For a free-range habitat, you’ll have to set up a misting system just as you would do for a cage, but on a much larger scale. You’ll also need to find ways to protect your room’s walls and floor from the moisture and additional humidity.
  3. You’ll need to be hyper-alert to the fact that chameleons may be able to escape from the free-range environment. It’s a good rule of thumb to create a barrier that prevents chameleons from escaping and wandering around in the house. Because it’s smooth and seamless, stiff acrylic sheeting can work well as a fence around the perimeter of the free-range area.
  4. Free-ranging can be dangerous for chameleons. If you have other pets, or young children, make sure to keep them away from the free-ranging area. Also, when setting up the habitat, make sure it is chameleon-proof, and that there are no sharp items or exposed electrical wires that could hurt your pet. When you enter the room, make sure to look before you step, as well. Chameleons like to hide, so if you’ve provided lots of plant cover, you may not be able to find yours right away.

Is free-ranging the right choice for you and your chameleon? In next week’s post, we’ll explore tips for setting up an indoor free-range chameleon habitat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Set Up Live Plants in Your Chameleon’s Cage

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Though chameleon owners can choose to use artificial plants in their pet’s cage, there are many benefits to using live plants in a chameleon enclosure. Among other things, they will help maintain humidity and moisture levels and provide a natural cover and climbing area. Some species of chameleon will even eat greenery, so providing real, nontoxic plants can keep your pets healthy, as well.

Light and Water

The UV lighting from chameleon lights is usually enough for plants to grow and thrive. Avoid placing plants directly under a heat lamp, as that can be far too hot and damage plants.

Though you will be providing live plants with some water by regularly misting your chameleon enclosure, you’ll probably still need to water them separately as well. A good way to tell if a plant is getting enough water is to stick your finger in the soil. It should be dry on the top inch and damp below that. Avoid over-watering plants, as too much water can drown the roots and cause them to rot.

Getting Started With Live Plants

In the wild, chameleons are an arboreal species living in and among trees. As you’re setting up your chameleon cage, keep in mind it’s essential to give them plenty of vertical climbing space to mimic their natural habitat and encourage their instincts.

When creating a naturally planted chameleon habitat from scratch, start by buying or building a wood planter box with drainage holes for water. Fill the bottom third of the container with rocks or gravel, and the rest with soil. It’s best to use organic potting soil that contains no fertilizers or pearlite (those small white balls found in some types of potting soil).

Next, choose nontoxic, hardy plants such as pothos, ficus and hibiscus. Planting in layers can give your chameleon plenty of places to hide and things to climb. When planning plant placement, a good rule of thumb is to use shade-loving plants on the bottom, leafy plants in the middle, and flowering plants at the top.

Shade-Loving Plants

Aspidistra plants, also known as “cast-iron plants,” provide good ground cover in shady areas. These slow-growing plants thrive in nearly any condition, making them excellent for indoor use. There are also many different species of nontoxic ferns that flourish in shady conditions and add beauty to a chameleon enclosure.

Aspidistra plants make a good ground cover.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Leafy Plants

With their bright green, shiny leaves and rapid growth, pothos plants are beautiful and very easy to care for. These plants grow rapidly in a variety of light and soil conditions, and can even grow with no soil at all.

Schefflera arboricola, also known as the dwarf umbrella tree, is a favorite among chameleon keepers. The plants are relatively easy to care for and are medium-light plants, which means they need bright but indirect light. When watering this plant, be very cautious not to over-water. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings.

Ficus trees (Ficus benjamina) are also very popular plants for chameleon enclosures because they require relatively high humidity and temperatures and prefer regular misting – just like a chameleon does. In the right conditions, a ficus tree can grow up to six feet tall. However, ficus plants will retain their tree-like shape regardless of their size.

A pothos plant has characteristically large, shiny leaves.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Flowering Plants

Hibiscus is a tropical plant that can grow up to six feet tall and is known for its colorful flowers. These plants are relatively easy to care for and also do well in warm, humid conditions.

Hibiscus plants have gorgeous, brightly colored blooms.
Image credit: Pinterest

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are many plants that make good choices for your chameleon enclosure. You can also consult with your local garden store for additional options. Happy planting!

 

The Benefits of Finding a Good Chameleon Breeder

So, you’ve decided to adopt a chameleon – what now? Where should you get your new pet? While your first thought might be to go to the pet store, there’s no guarantee of finding one there. And even if your local pet shop happens to sell chameleons, that doesn’t mean it’s the best place to buy one. With exotic pets, your best bet is often to get them directly from a breeder.

Image source: Pinterest

Why Breeders May Be More Knowledgeable

Pet store employees aren’t required to be experts on every pet they stock, so the staff might not know the age or gender of their chameleons. They also might not provide you with important information on care, dietary requirements and cage setup – all of which are essential details for first-time chameleon buyers to know, since chameleons can be relatively high-maintenance pets with specific husbandry needs.

Meanwhile, a chameleon breeder should be able to give you all the information about the pet you’re buying, including species, age, gender and expected lifespan. They’ll also be able to give detailed instructions and advice about what you need to do to keep a chameleon healthy and happy, including nutritional recommendations, what supplies to buy and how to properly furnish your pet’s habitat.

After all, chameleon breeders have the specialized knowledge and equipment to keep multiple chameleons in good physical condition, not to mention the intense dedication required to breed them. They’re truly the experts.

Breeders Can Offer Healthier Animals

If you buy from a good chameleon breeder, you will also have confidence you’re getting a chameleon who has been bred in captivity. Captive-bred chameleons tend to be much healthier than those who have been caught in the wild, because they will be less stressed out and less susceptible to parasitic infections.

A reputable breeder should be able to give you a full medical history of the chameleon you intend to purchase, including sending photos and offering guarantees on his health before you buy.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

How to Find a Chameleon Breeder

So, now that we’ve given you the reasons to seek out a breeder, where should you start looking?

A veterinarian who specializes in reptile care could provide recommendations on reputable chameleon breeders. Reptile magazines can be another good source of information on chameleon breeders, and of course, you can also look online.

If you do find a chameleon breeder near you, it’s worth making the trip to meet them, see their animals and their facility and ask any questions in person. However, if you don’t have a breeder within a few hours’ drive, contact them to ask about shipping options. Many breeders offer express shipping anywhere in the U.S.

Other than causing him a little extra stress, shipping doesn’t harm the chameleon. However, ask your breeder if they provide a live arrival guarantee in the event of the worst-case scenario.

Adopting a pet – especially an exotic pet – is a major life decision. You owe it to yourself and your new pet to thoroughly research breeders before you commit to one.

How to Find a Reputable Reptile Veterinarian

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – there’s just no substitute for quality medical advice from a trained veterinarian. Yes, there’s plenty of information and advice about chameleon care on the Internet, but if you think your precious pet may be sick, online research just isn’t enough to cut it.

Unfortunately, pet stores aren’t required to exclusively sell species for whom there are trained vets nearby. That’s why one of the most challenging aspects of owning an exotic pet can be finding and forming a relationship with a qualified, trustworthy vet.

Image via LoveToKnow

Look for a Vet With Reptile-Specific Training and Experience

A “normal” vet who specializes in cats and dogs may know very little about how to treat a sick or injured reptile. Unlike a physician, whose many years of training and study are devoted to treating humans, small animal vets are working with potentially hundreds of species, only a few of which were covered in-depth in their veterinary school curriculum. Vet schools typically spend anywhere from one to six weeks, total, learning about exotic pets, which include more than 5,000 species of mammals, 10,000 bird species, more than 9,500 reptile species and 20,000 species of fish.

How can a vet learn more about species she hasn’t studied as thoroughly as cats, dogs and livestock? Committing to becoming an exotic animal vet requires additional training and education. Vets can take additional courses, attend conferences hosted by exotic animal veterinary organizations, subscribe to specialized vet publications and study textbooks devoted to specific types of exotics. There are also continuing education courses – many of which are online – for vets to learn more about various aspects of exotic pet care.

Do Your Research to Find a Trustworthy Vet

In other words, you should do your homework on your vet to find out if he’s been doing his homework to learn about caring for exotic pets. For reptile vets, that entails joining an organization such as the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV), which publishes both a journal and a newsletter, and also hosts regular educational conferences.

If you’re a new reptile owner and have no idea where to start looking for a vet, ARAV has a helpful vet finder on their website. Members of your local herpetological society may also be a good resource. If there are no herpetological societies in your area, you can reach out to nearby wildlife and bird rescue organizations to ask if they can recommend a vet with experience working with reptiles, or if they know someone who can. Zoo vets may also be a good resource, though they’ll probably be more difficult to get in touch with.

Be prepared to cast a wide net, geographically, to find a vet with the specialized knowledge and training necessary to treat reptiles. Exotic pet owners who live in more rural or isolated cities will probably have to commit to traveling to another city to get your pet cared for by a vet with training in treating reptiles. Depending on where you live, that may entail a long drive. If you aren’t prepared to go that distance, don’t adopt the pet.

 

A Guide to Chameleon Grooming and Hygiene

As with any pet, regular cleaning of your chameleon’s habitat is essential to maintain his health and well-being. Because reptiles are particularly susceptible to skin and bacterial infections, chameleon owners should establish a regular hygiene routine to keep your chameleon’s cage clean and disease-free.

Good cleaning habits also keep the cage attractive so you can enjoy showing off your pet, and reduce unpleasant odors that can accumulate in a poorly maintained environment.

If you’re new to chameleon husbandry, here’s a checklist of items you’ll need to keep in your chameleon cage-cleaning kit. To prevent cross-contamination, store these items separately from your other household cleaning supplies, and don’t use them for any other cleaning tasks.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Assemble Your Cleaning Kit

  • Backup cage – an environment where your chameleon can safely stay while you’re cleaning
  • Scrub brushes – Choose the right size to get the job done in your cage. A toothbrush is handy for hard-to-reach corners and crevices.
  • Sand sifter – removes feces and other debris from substrate
  • Sponges – one for cleaning, one for rinsing and one for disinfecting
  • Disinfectant – Select the proper disinfectant carefully. The disinfectant must be strong enough to kill disease-causing viruses, bacteria and fungi, without causing harm to your pet. Reptiles are sensitive to toxic fumes, so be sure to move your pet to another room while disinfecting.

    The most readily available disinfectant for cleaning a cage is household bleach at a dilution of approximately 1/2 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water. Your veterinarian may be able to recommend other safe disinfectants, as well.

    After a thorough disinfection, rinse all the surfaces carefully, and be sure to allow your cage and all its accessories to fully dry before returning your chameleon to his habitat.

Good Cleaning Habits Are Key for Long-Term Health

Cleaning is also a good opportunity to look for signs your chameleon may be ill, such as any evidence of parasites, or abnormal or discolored feces or urates. Also, watch for hazardous conditions in the cage, and remove or repair them.

Plan to do a full cage cleaning at a least once a month. However, don’t overlook daily cleaning tasks such as removing uneaten food, dead feeder insects and shed skin. Chameleon fecal matter may carry bacteria that cause disease in humans, so it’s very important to remove feces from the habitat every day. Before and after touching your chameleon or his cage, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water. This will also help you avoid infection.

Following these good hygiene habits can improve your chameleon’s quality of life and make your home environment healthier, as well.

Signs of Dehydration in Chameleons and Reptiles

If you’re new to chameleon care, you may be surprised to see your pet leave a dish of standing water untouched. Unlike many other types of pets, chameleons are instinctively unlikely to drink out of a bowl of water. This is because chameleons in the wild get their hydration by licking moisture from leaves that gets left behind from either dew or rainfall.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Delivering a proper drinking method is essential to prevent dehydration, which is one of the most common health problems among captive chameleons.

Dehydration – What to Look For

If you’ve ever been dehydrated, you know it doesn’t feel good. You probably had a headache and low energy levels. Similarly, if you notice your chameleon is lethargic, that could be a red flag he is dehydrated.

Here are some other warning signs that a chameleon is suffering from dehydration:

  1. Sunken eyes
  2. Yellow or orange urate
  3. Lack of appetite and weight loss
  4. Lack of skin elasticity
Image via chamworld.blogspot.com

If you notice any of these symptoms in your chameleon, consult with your reptile veterinarian as soon as possible to find out exactly what is wrong. Your vet should be able to evaluate the severity of the dehydration and recommend the proper amount of fluid based on your chameleon’s body weight and stomach capacity.

Proper Misting

Fortunately, preventing dehydration in your chameleon may be as simple as diligent care techniques. You can simulate the natural drinking habit of wild chameleons and avoid dehydration by misting your pet’s enclosure at least twice a day.

In addition to providing your pet’s essential water source, misting also helps maintain humidity levels in the chameleon enclosure. Most chameleon species are native to areas of high humidity, so a relatively high humidity range helps keep them happy and healthy.

For those who have chosen to use live plants in a chameleon’s cage, misting also has the added advantage of keeping the greenery watered.

You have several different misting options. The simplest, of course, is a spray bottle of water. Some chameleon owners prefer a pressurized plant sprayer, and some use an automatic misting system.

Automatic misting systems operate on a timer, which is excellent for forgetful chameleon owners or those who regularly go out of town and don’t want to hire a pet sitter. However, keep in mind that these misting systems can harbor bacteria. If you choose to use an automatic mister, make sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect it monthly.

Knowing how to properly care for a chameleon is essential for making sure your pet lives a longer, healthier life. Remember to regularly mist your chameleon’s enclosure to keep your pet hydrated, and look for any changes in your chameleon’s appearance or behavior.

 

Disclaimer: This blog post is not medical advice. Consult an experienced reptile veteran right away if you notice any indicators of dehydration or any other signs of illness in your pet chameleon.

Beginner’s Guide to Chameleon Feeding

Just like people, chameleons need a balanced diet with lots of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and maintain proper body function. In their natural habitat, chameleons have a much greater variety of insects to eat, and those insects, in turn, have been dining on a large selection of fresh vegetation.

In captivity, chameleons only have access to the food you provide, so it’s up to you to be well-versed in chameleon nutrition. For newbie chameleon owners, this can seem like a tricky task, but it’s well worth learning about to keep your little friend happy and well-nourished.

Image via Chameleon Forums

What Chameleons Eat

Chameleons are insectivores. Unlike other insect-eating species, chameleons rarely eat dead insects, so caring for prey items is a big part of chameleon husbandry. That’s right – if you’re going to adopt a chameleon, get ready to be a bug farmer.

Crickets and mealworms are staple foods, but it’s important to provide a wider range of insects to provide better nutrition, as well as to help prevent boredom. Would you be happy eating the same meal every day?

Dubia roaches, mantids, phoenix worms, silkworms, hornworms and superworms are all good choices to spice up your chameleon’s diet. Because chameleons get extra exercise from chasing insects, consider moths and nontoxic butterflies as well.

Some species of chameleons, especially veileds, also occasionally eat vegetation. Consider offering fresh fruit or leafy greens for a delicious and nutritious snack. Your chameleon may also decide to sample a leaf from the plants in his cage, so always research the foliage you provide to make sure it’s completely nontoxic.

Image credit: Pinterest

How Chameleons Eat

One of the most fascinating features of chameleons is their amazingly mobile tongues, which they use to catch prey. This tongue evolved to compensate for the fact that chameleons don’t move very fast to hunt. Depending on the species, your chameleon’s tongue may be as long as, or even longer than, his body!

Using high-speed video and X-ray film, two Dutch biologists calculated that a chameleon’s tongue shoots out of his mouth at more than 26 body lengths per second — that’s the equivalent of 13.4 miles per hour. Once it fastens to prey, the tip of the tongue works like a suction cup to pull the food into the chameleon’s mouth.

The Importance of Gutloading

Gutloading is the process of increasing the nutritional value of your chameleon’s food supply by feeding the insects they eat a healthy diet. The goal is to get as close as possible to replicating the lifecycle a chameleon would experience in the wild.

The same dark, leafy greens that are so good for you to eat also make great gutloading ingredients. This includes mustard, turnip and collard greens, dandelion leaves, escarole, watercress and alfalfa. Combine these with a blend of fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, oranges, mangoes, butternut squash, kale, apples, beet greens, blackberries, bok choy and green beans.

Nutritional Supplements

In addition to gutloading, chameleons also need calcium and multivitamin supplements for a balanced diet. Look for supplements in a powdered form you can use to lightly dust insects before offering them to your chameleon.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming supplements can replace a high-quality diet and proper gutloading. Supplements should be used to augment and support your other feeding efforts.

If you’re planning to adopt a chameleon, doing your research and becoming well-informed about nutritional needs is essential to ensure your pet lives his healthiest, happiest life.