Care and maintenance for the camaleon (I) | Pet care.

Since large amounts of chameleons are imported, captured in the wild, especially Madagascar and South Africa, you might think that the chameleons are abundant in our terrarium animals. Certainly this is not the case. Anyone who knows the difficulties associated with the care of the chameleons can imagine many of the imported animals survive long after arriving to the premises of the importer, and how many more survive in the hands of the normal buyer. It is very territorial animals who cannot live in the company, or the stress will kill them. Almost all chameleons have parasites, multiplying so dramatic in animals that have weakened during transport and that may be another cause of mortality. The amateur who buy a Chameleon so pitiful state will have very little chance of keeping him alive more than one or two months. Thus was born the legend of how difficult that is to take proper care of the chameleons.

The terrarium

The ideal location of a terrarium for the majority of the chameleons should be a place exposed to direct sunlight only during morning hours or the evening. Chameleons are very susceptible to excess temperature. Even more, in the case of the chameleons of Earth, must install the terrarium so you never receive direct sunlight. Only South-facing rooms are conditionally suitable for species of the mountains, because in summer temperatures may be too high. In summer, it should be the terrarium outdoors.
Unfortunately there is no universal terrarium for the maintenance and upbringing. Conversely, each terrarium has to be constructed, equipped and maintained in accordance with the needs of the species that will contain.
The most useful and most readily available terrariums are glass tanks for aquariums, with panels glued with silicone adhesive. Any pet shop will have a good assortment, with tanks of different sizes and shapes, at reasonable prices, and can also provide terrariums custom made if you prefer.
All chameleons prefer those that are long but narrow wide terrariums. The possibility of retiring to the back of the terrarium contributes substantially to the well-being of the animal. The dimensions of the terrarium depends on the size and temperament of the animal. For chameleons who live in trees and shrubs, terrariums height must be greater than the length or width. For the chameleons of land, terrarium whose length and width are greater than the height are suitable. Most terrariums that are sold commercially are suitable only for chameleons of Earth, but it is not too costly or difficult to send make special high terrarium against order.
The ventilation openings are important in the selection of the terrarium. Especially in small terrariums, ventilation openings should allow the regulation of humidity, temperature and air circulation needs. The common opinion that chameleons need lots of fresh air is only valid for a few species. It was said that poor air ventilation was the cause of many diseases and disorders in reality caused by errors of the maintenance, such as stress and excess temperature. To all chameleons it is essential that the lid or a side or the front of the terrarium has a ventilation grille, so that air does not stagnate. If the grid size is increased, the relative humidity decreases. If the grid size is reduced, the relative humidity increases. Animals originating in the rainforests, including most of the chameleons of Earth and leaves, need for their well-being relative humidity of 100% during the night and 70 to 100% during the day. This can only be achieved in terrariums with rather small ventilation openings and which are sprayed with water frequently and thoroughly. For certain African chameleons of the Highlands, terrariums made with wood or aluminum frames and walls made of metal grid are suitable. It must be opaque divisions of some sort (e.g. towels) between adjacent terrariums to avoid visual contact between the neighbours.
Terrariums we use for the majority of our chameleons have walls of glass. The sides and bottom are covered with thick plates of cork or with a background of colored plastic, and the Fund can also be lined with Cork. Also, all used materials can be used as a substrate. In some species it is helpful to paste a small pebble and flat on one side of the back wall; the Chameleon can use it to dry the skin loose when you move. Accessories consist of branches for climbing that they help divide the interior space and that they satisfy the need to climb that feels the Chameleon, or a few climbing plants placed around the ornaments. If terrariums are installed on opposite walls of a room, you must take care that there is no possibility of eye contact. If necessary, you can put a curtain between terrariums.

Special needs

Now let's look at some special needs that must be honoured by groups of chameleons. First mention of the oviparous species females. So that they can bury their eggs undisturbed, they need a substrate of a depth that depends on the species. A substrate of Perlite or pellets of plastic covered with 10-30 cm in a slightly moist mixture of sand and peat has been shown to give good results (do not use pellets of plastic with the chameleons of small Earth). If there are appropriate conditions for implementation, the female will retain the eggs, or just a pot of flowers. However, these species are few.
Chameleons of land should not be a substrate and instead paste plates of Cork on the bottom of the tank. On top of these plates is put a layer of chips of Cork, on which the chameleons enjoy running and in which the females lay the eggs. This layer acts as a substitute of the topsoil of their natural habitat. Obviously, females of the chameleons of Earth also bury their eggs in the true compost when they have this substrate, but then it is very difficult to find eggs, reason why we recommend not to use real earth for that.
Many small containers are suitable for the breeding of chameleons newborns. Containers for storing food slightly modified is used because you can dispose of them easily, and are manufactured in a variety of sizes and shapes. Plastic storage containers rectangular and transparent, of at least 12 cm in length by 12 cm in width by 18 cm in height are excellent. Cut the lid completely and instead a fine wire mesh is glued. An additional hole, which also will be covered with grating, on one side can cut. On the opposite wall a sheet of opaque plastic or Cork plate, sticks so that vessels can catch up side-by-side without the establishment of eye contact between neighboring animals. Ornaments consist of twigs and a plant to climb, as a Ficus pumila. Then put a fluorescent tube in the upper part of the container, the breeding tank is ready for use. If temperatures in the tanks were too low, can become easily from the bottom by means of a heating cable - but be careful, because the young chameleons can die quickly due to excessive heat. So that the whole is not as a simple collection of containers, these can be placed neatly on an attractive furniture.
To the amateur that are offspring of chameleons regularly and in quantities, you want to build a permanent facility for breeding. The recommended minimum size is a small terrarium of about 10 cm in length by 10 cm of depth by 30 cm in height, which can easily be enlarged as animals grow, reaching a size of about 20 cm by 20 cm wide by 50 cm in height. Terrariums for 10 cm long by 15 cm deep by 50 cm of height have proven to be especially effective. Due to the high risk of over-temperature, across the top and a wide stretch of the front should be used for ventilation. For lighting we use solely fluorescent tubes for a while after the birth, and only much later installed a reflector "spot" to complement the available light. Facilities and accessories are exactly the same as for large size terrariums.
All newly acquired animals should be handled with great care, especially in the beginning. It is absolutely necessary that the chameleons are subjected to a fairly prolonged period of quarantine. All normal terrariums can be used as quarantine cages, especially plastic models. Attachments should be as simple as possible: a substrate of newsprint, a plant in a pot, and some branches. If there is a parasitic infection, should discard everything before the end of the quarantine period and necessary treatments. There has to be a plant, because otherwise weakened animals would be subject to a constant stress due to lack of hiding places and this would further weaken them. During the period of acclimatization amateur has to control the terrarium to see if animals eat and drink well and to see if they have wounds. It should submit their droppings to laboratory tests to check for parasites, several times during the quarantine period.
Some species of chameleons can be freedom in rooms and greenhouses where environmental conditions are suitable for these animals. Some chameleons are well developed in planters of window with abundant vegetation. However, should look at some points. For example, it must be installed a reflector "spot" under which the Chameleon can take "the Sun" when you want to. It must be a container with food within reach and in view of the Chameleon. As the relative humidity is usually lower in a room that a terrarium, a Chameleon in freedom must have water to drink. Drinking water needs will be satisfied if the plants are sprayed with a little water every day and gives the lizard in a drinking water on alternate days. It is essential to entering the room which is free to the Chameleon, looking first to the ground, as many chameleons do not feel fear of eating on the floor and it is easy to step on an animal or crush it with the door against a wall with many precautions. In this case, a mirror installed on the ground near the door can help to see behind the door when it opens only slightly.
Pregnant females of the oviparous species present a problem. Several days before begin to look for a suitable place to deposit the eggs. We don't have to say how will remain a gardener after a female of Chamaeleo pardalis has made numerous test holes. Put a female in a terrarium suitable immediately after mating and leave it there until you put the eggs should.
Published for educational purposes
Pet care

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