Winter is Coming | Chameleon Emergency Planning

Winter weather brings a variety of challenges. At times, severe weather can make it impossible to leave home, or get back. It can also result in power outages, loss of temperature control mechanism, and limited availability of water. While many of us have heard how to prepare for disasters ourselves, the discussion doesn’t always include the care of our pets. Before winter weather causes a problem, you need to develop a Chameleon Emergency Plan. Here’s how to start.

Emergency Contact

A critical part of any disaster plan is identifying an emergency contact. In this case, you need to find someone who can get to your home and check on your chameleon if you are unable to get there yourself. Ideally, you need to find someone who lives or works in your local area, and close to your home.

Once you have found a suitable contact, you will review all other planning information with them as well. Refer to your emergency care plan and make sure they understand the information. Take time to show them the location of important items, like food and heat pads, and give them a chance to ask questions if they have any.

Temperature Control

While a chameleon may have an acceptable range in regards to ambient temperature, a winter storm can result in a power outage. And, without power, certain heaters will not operate. With this in mind, it is important to have alternative heat sources available if a lack of heat could put the health of your chameleon at risk.

To provide heat during an emergency, you should collect heating options that activate without power. A variety of heating pads, such as those traditional bought for camping, may be suitable in an emergency. Additionally, an indoor-safe propane heat can also help. If you have a generator, consider dedicating some of its energy to keeping your chameleon warm. You can make the process more efficient by keeping your chameleon in a smaller area, as it will take less energy to heat the space.

Since heat of this nature is harder to control, take extra care and keep your chameleon under observation at all times. If the temperature shifts unfavorably, you may need to reach quickly to ensure your chameleon’s health and safety.

Food and Water

Food and water are some of the building blocks of life. Give the same care when planning for your chameleon’s needs as you would your own. Make sure you have a sealed bottle of drinking water available at all times. That way, if you lose the ability to access safe water, you have a supply just for your chameleon.

Keep a close eye on your cricket supply during times of the year when severe weather may make accessing your normal supplier more difficult. Don’t let your supply dwindle down too far in case you won’t be able to access more for a few days. Luckily, chameleons don’t require many crickets per day to stay healthy. Try to have at least a week’s supply during rougher months.

Any Other Care Needs? Handle Accordingly

If your chameleon has any special needs, make sure you plan to meet those as well. Keep contact information for your vet readily available, as well as a backup vet in case your preferred veterinarian’s office is affected by the weather too.

With thorough planning, you can make sure that both you and your chameleon are ready to weather any winter storms. Take the time to plan today for a more secure tomorrow.

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

shipping-canvas-chameleons-1

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http://pe.usps.gov/text/pub52/pub52c5_008.htm

http://pe.usps.gov/text/pub52/pub52c5_004.htm#ep183835

https://www.ups.com/content/us/en/resources/ship/packaging/guidelines/animals.html#Accepted+%2F+Prohibited+Live+Animals

http://www.fedex.com/ng/shippingguide/terms/#8

https://www.ups.com/content/us/en/resources/ship/packaging/guidelines/animals.html

http://pe.usps.gov/text/pub52/pub52c5_007.htm#ep183909

 

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.

 

 

 

 

http://www.madagasikara-voakajy.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=142:chameleon-and-gecko-conservation&catid=39:projects&Itemid=61

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110228090603.htm

http://www.thebhs.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=23&Itemid=30

http://www.wwf.mg/news.cfm?194434/Protecting-the-chameleon-Furcifer-belalandaensis

http://www.arkive.org/belalanda-chameleon/furcifer-belalandaensis/

http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/summary/172740/0

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Taxonomy/Browser/wwwtax.cgi?id=179924

http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Furcifer&species=belalandaensis

http://www.pbs.org/edens/madagascar/creature3.htm

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.

 

 

 

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/zygodactyl

http://www.nwf.org/Kids/Ranger-Rick/Animals/Amphibians-and-Reptiles/Chameleons.aspx

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150918105435.htm

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.

 

 

https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/pet-travel-home-page

https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Traveling-with-Your-Pet-FAQs.aspx

http://www.muchadoaboutchameleons.com/2014/01/traveling-with-chameleon.html

 

Need Another Hand? A Look at the Chameleon’s Prehensile Tail

At some point in our lives, we all wish we had an extra hand to help us through our day.  In the case of the chameleon, they essentially do.  It’s called a prehensile tail.

The term prehensile describes the tails ability to grasp objects.  A chameleon uses its prehensile tail to assist them as they move between branches while climbing through the trees, as well as using their tails to provide additional stability when they are perched.  The tail functions like a fifth appendage, providing support and assisting balance.

Unlike the prehensile tails of certain other species, chameleon tails function as a coil and cannot be moved in any direction it chooses.  The coiling action is what helps grab onto tree branches and other supports as it moves.  The tail forms a spiral around the object and the chameleon is able to squeeze the object for support.  This is particularly helpful when a chameleon is moving down a tree, as it allows the chameleon to climb in a vertical position.

Not All Chameleons Have Prehensile Tails

While the vast majority of chameleons do have prehensile tails the pygmy chameleons belonging to the genera Brookesia and Rhampholeon generally do not.  Being a pygmy chameleon does not automatically mean they will not have a prehensile tail, as smaller chameleons in the Bradypodion genus have quite long prehensile tails just like its larger-sized brethren.

Tail Curled Up?  I’m Resting

When a chameleon is at rest, the tail curls into a tight spiral.  It is not fully understood if this action is due to the fact that it makes the chameleon appear larger, possibly helping to ward off potential predators, or if it is simply a more comfortable position, it appears to be a common resting point for all chameleons with prehensile tails regardless of the genus.

Chameleons Cannot Regenerate Their Tails

While some species of lizards can regenerate their tails, with some being able to disconnect the ends of their tails at will to distract predators, a chameleon does not have this ability.  Since the tail has a more complex structure, allowing it to provide additional function beyond that of certain other lizards, the loss of its tail would be permanent.

In fact, the only species of vertebrates that can regenerate complex structures, such as those found in most limbs and tails, are those belonging to the family of Urodele amphibians.  Other lizards that are able to regenerate their tails are actually only able to regrow imperfect copies that do not have the same structure or abilities of the original.

Tails as a Sign of Health

A healthy chameleon’s tail will likely have a fairly strong coil, will exhibit similar coloring to the rest of the body, and will move properly for your chameleon’s needs.  If any changes to the tail are noted, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

Whether due to a physical injury or damage from an unknown cause, if your chameleon’s tail looks like it has seen better days, it is best to contact your veterinarian.  An abnormal sloughing or necrosis of the tip of the tail can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a Vitamin A imbalance, which may require immediate professional treatment.

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-do-chameleons-regener/

http://www.torontozoo.com/ExploretheZoo/AnimalDetails.asp?pg=799

http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/chameleon

https://www.britannica.com/animal/chameleon-reptile

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=17+1796&aid=3027

 

Learn to Fly | Air Travel with Your Chameleon

Airplane in the sky at sunset

In a previous post, we reviewed how to travel with your chameleon during relatively short road trips, most applicable to those taking less than a day to complete.  Today, we are going to review what it takes to help your chameleon fly on a commercial aircraft.  Travel is part of the American paradigm.  Whether it is a cross-country move to pursue a new opportunity, or a quick visit during a summer vacation, the idea of traveling is ingrained within many societies.  With the desire to travel, often comes the occasional airline flight.

While many people are aware that cats and dogs can be flown from one location to another with relative ease, traveling with more exotic pets is not as well covered.  In order to provide some general guidance on what you may be able to expect when traveling with your chameleon, we offer the following basic guidelines to help you get started.

Airline Travel is Not Recommended

First, it is important to understand that commercial air travel is not an ideal situation in which to transport your chameleon.  Traveling by car, while stressful, provides an additional level of control as well as the ability to directly observe your chameleon for the duration of the trip.

It may also be worthwhile to check into specialty shipping services, as they may be able to provide a less stressful experience for your chameleon, and may be better equipped to manage any unforeseen situations that can arise.

Travel Restrictions

You will need to research if your destination, as well as any layover cities, have any requirements or restrictions regarding the transportation of animals into the area.  Not all states or countries permit exotic animals, and this restriction can include animals who are only passing through on a layover.  Before finalizing any travel arrangements, make sure that all points along the way are chameleon friendly.

Get an Appropriate Carrier

First, all animals must be transported in an approved carrier.  The carrier is designed to withstand the physical demands that may be placed upon it during transport and provides a level of physical protection to your chameleon.  You will need to include any required health information with the carrier, as dictated by the airline, and should make sure the carrier is clearly marked with your name and contact information, as well as marked as containing a live animal.

As with vehicle travel, it is ideal if you can make the space as dark as possible, as this may encourage your chameleon to sleep through much of the trip, though the airline may restrict anything that prevents them from having a way to examine the interior of the carrier.  Additionally, make sure your chameleon will have adequate traction, as you may not be able to secure a branch for them to climb on depending on the carrier involved.  Generally, if the carrier must be physically altered to add a branch, it may no longer be considered airline approved.

Contact the Airline Directly Once You Book the Flight

It is important to note that the information here is designed to provide an overview of common expectations or requirements.  Before attempting to travel with your chameleon, or any pet for that matter, it is critical to contact the airline directly to get more complete information regarding their standards.

Most airlines will require you to reserve space for your chameleon in advance, as airplanes may have limited capacity in regards to the transportation of animals.  This is due to the need for a pressurized and temperature controlled area, as not all baggage is transported in that way, and space is often filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Additional fees may apply.

A Chameleon will likely be Checked Baggage

The vast majority of airlines will not permit reptiles as carry-ons regardless of the size or the reptile or the carrier in which it is placed.  With that in mind, you will need to proceed under the assumption that it will likely be kept in an area with other animals, and that the journey will be considered a highly stressful event overall.

With that in mind, it is wise to avoid any unnecessary layovers, especially when a change of plane is involved.  Not only will this increase the total duration of the experience, but it also ups the stress level as the animal carrier will be handled more frequently.  When possible, try to get direct flights.

You should never attempt to sneak your chameleon (or any animal) onboard an aircraft at any time, regardless of the reason.  If you attempt to sneak your pet past a security checkpoint in order to bring them onboard, you pet may be confiscated when you are caught.

Convenience and Cost

Most people would not consider traveling with a chameleon on an airline particularly convenient, and the cost is often high.  Shipping a pet as checked baggage can easily cost upwards of $100 one-way.  Additionally, extreme heat or cold weather may make your pet ineligible to fly as the airline considers the situation to high risk.

If you really have no other options, flying with a chameleon can be done, but other options are likely to be both more cost effective and less stressful.  We will cover information on other transportation options in future posts, including long distance travel by car, as well as an introduction to pet shipping company practices.

 

 

http://apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa/cib_results.aspx?search=lizard

http://www.hartz.com/Reptiles/Getting_Started/Your_Pet_Lizard_on_the_Road_How_to_Travel_With_Your_Bearded_Dragon.aspx

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2006/08/real_snakes_real_planes.html

https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/special-assistance/pets.jsp

 

 

 

Fast Food | How the Chameleon’s Tongue Catches Prey

 

While most people have heard that the sticky, rough texture of a chameleon’s tongue is the main reason it is able to snag its prey, there is actually a lot more to it than that.  A series of subtle changes, often only observable after the feat is recorded with a high-speed camera, are actually much more responsible for the win than just the tongues texture.  Here, we take a look at what makes a chameleon’s tongue such an excellent hunting weapon.

Tongue Design

The tongue of a chameleon is quite long, with some chameleon’s having tongues that stretch as far as one and a half time their body length.  The core contains a small segment of bone at the base, some collagen, and various muscular structures.

A series of sheaths built around the collagen can be retracted, creating a source of stored energy similar to the energy creating when a person pulls back on the string of a bow which allows the tongue to move faster than it could through the use of muscle power alone.  That stored energy can then be used to project the tongue forward, out of the mouth, with the ultimate goal of contacting, and capturing, their targeted prey.

High Speed Action

Part of the reason a high-speed camera is required is the sheer speed at which the action takes place.  Based on the research of two Dutch biologist, it is estimated that a chameleon’s tongue reaches speeds of over 13 miles per hour.  A special section of highly elastic collagen tissue exists within the tongue that creates what is referred to as a biological “catapult” that assists in accelerating the tongue at speeds well beyond those of that can be achieved through the use of muscle alone.

As the tongue leaves the chameleon’s mouth, the tip is convex, similar to the shape of the tip of a bullet.  As the tip of the tongue approaches its target, a set of muscles within the tongue, referred to as pouch retractors, contract quickly.  This pulls the tip of the tongue inward, creating a concave shape.

africa-1170043Why the Shape Change Matters

As the tongue shifts from convex to concave in shape as it just begins to contact its prey, it creates an area that functions like a suction cup.  This suction helps secure the prey on the tip of the tongue, allowing it to be pulled toward the mouth for feeding.

The force of the suction allows a chameleon to capture prey that it could not catch if the tongue was just sticky.  For example, certain insects have smooth surfaces, which would make them more difficult to capture through the tongue’s texture alone.  The suction also allows a chameleon the opportunity to hunt larger prey, such as birds and lizards, which can weight around 10 percent of the chameleon’s own body weight.

With the chameleon’s unique tongue design is just one part of the overall package that makes chameleons strong hunters.  Combined with their eyes that can locate, track, and target prey located within a 360 degree range, and it can be difficult to for prey to escape this speedy eater.

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-chameleons-secret-wea/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/05/0519_040519_tvchameleons.html

http://www.asknature.org/strategy/2ecc0bc750f8f5a2424d1d6405ebb992

 

Let There Be Light | Meeting Your Chameleons Lighting Needs

 

Most chameleons are creatures of the sun.  They may sit and bask for most of a day when in their natural habitats.  In order to provide the healthiest environment for chameleon, it is vital that you supply the right kinds of light to meet their needs.

UVB Light

One of the most important forms of light for your chameleon is UVB.  Like people, chameleons require exposure to UVB to help produce vitamin D within their bodies, which is critical for body functions supported by calcium, including bone growth.

Without proper UVB lighting, your chameleon may begin to suffer from the effects of a condition known as Metabolic Bone Disease, or MBD.  MBD can lead to improper bone growth and development, as well as make your chameleon prone to fractures.  In severe cases, MBD can cause paralysis, or even death.

With UVB light being of such importance to your chameleon’s health, it is best to make sure that the light from the UVB bulb covers a large portion of your chameleon’s enclosure, as this ensures they will receive contact from the light on a regular basis.  The bulb can remain on for 10 to 12 hours a day, and should be shut off at night.

Additionally, keep an extra bulb on hand at all times.  That way, should your current bulb stop working, you will be able to replace it without a significant delay.  Many lamp fixtures come with plastic covers that are designed to protect the light bulb from incidental contact or breakage.  If the lamp does have a cover, it is important that the cover is not designed to filter out UVB light, as this may prevent your chameleon from receiving the proper health benefits.

Beautiful sunlight through cloudsBasking Bulbs

Basking bulbs, or heat lamps, provide chameleons with an area that is heated above the rest of the environment.  Heat sources of this nature provide an effective mechanism for the regulation of their body temperature.  This allows them to experience warmer temperatures when desired, while also providing the option to move to cooler areas, which simulates the conditions present in the wild between areas hit by direct sunlight and those in the shade.

As with the UVB lights, basking lights should also be turned off at night, as this further helps simulate the conditions in their normal habitat.  It is not uncommon for chameleons in the wild to experience very hot days and notably cooler nights.  Replicating these circumstances can help make sure your chameleon participating in a natural day/night rhythm.

When selecting a lamp for a basking bulb, it is important to find one that is both designed to handle the wattage as well as the heat being generated.  Standard table lamps may not be properly equipped to handle the specialty bulbs that are required, which could result in the bulb or lamp breaking, and could pose a significant fire risk.

Since having the ability to warm themselves during the day is a regular part of a chameleon’s day, having a spare basking bulb available is wise to ensure their overall comfort.

Combination Bulbs

Some bulbs that have been designed to specifically meet the needs of reptiles, and certain other species, offer bulbs that function as both UVB and basking lights.  This can be an ideal solution for those who have only a limited number of suitable power outlets near the enclosure.  Though may not be ideal depending on the precise heating needs of your chameleon as compared to their UVB needs.

As with the single purpose bulbs, keeping a spare on hand is especially critical with combination bulbs, as the light going out not only limits access to a valuable heat source, but to UVB as well.

Proper Lighting is Just a Part of Overall Chameleon Care

Chameleon enclosures require a number of other components in order to meet their needs.  Providing proper lighting is just one step that helps ensure the health of your reptile companion.  If proper lighting cannot be supplied, it is best to wait to acquire a chameleon until these needs can be met.

 

 

http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Care-Sheets/Lizards/Veiled-Chameleon/

http://www.veiledchameleoncaresheet.com/

http://zoomed.com/cm/resources-stuff/Care%20Sheet/fb_VeiledChameleon.html

http://www.lllreptile.com/articles/15-veiled-chameleon

http://www.petsuppliesplus.com/content.jsp?pageName=Veiled_Chameleons

http://www.clubfauna.com/articles/reptiles/chameleon-lighting/