How to feed a chameleon
You should carefully study and think through this question before the appearance of a reptile in your home. A chameleon needs a variety of insects, and for large species, sometimes young mice. Of course, you can buy all this at your local pet store. But it is better to grow insects and mice themselves, so you will always have fresh live food, and you will be sure of its quality.
If you take crickets as the basis of food, it will turn out pretty cheaply: they are easy to keep in a small container. However, they are not very high-calorie, so think about what else you can feed the chameleon. But crickets, before feeding your pet, should be transferred to a special diet, too. Give them the following nutritious foods for a week: leafy greens, potatoes, fruits and vegetables. In addition to crickets, chameleons love worms, sand larvae, wax moths, butterflies, flies, fruit flies and other insects. You can also catch wild insects if they are not poisonous or caught in areas where pesticides were used. For large chameleons, such as C.melleri and C.parsonii, newborn mice can sometimes be used as food. The food should contain vitamins and minerals, as well as calcium, which are necessary for the chameleon. Add powdered vitamin and mineral supplements 2-3 times a week to the feed. This should provide your pet with everything necessary for growth and development.
Infections and internal parasites
What are chameleons usually sick with? Most often, stress affects the health of the chameleon. Do not unnecessarily disturb an animal, pick it up, achieve a color change, etc. If it has been exposed to cold for a long time, infected with parasites, or its immunity is weakened, there is a danger of a disease such as a respiratory tract infection. To determine that a chameleon is sick can be very simple. Bring it close to your ear. If you hear wheezing, there is a chance that he has a respiratory infection. Other symptoms may include open-mouth breathing and the presence of mucus in the mouth. If you find symptoms of the disease, see your veterinarian, a reptile specialist right away. It is difficult to treat them, but if you catch on earlier, then there is a chance to save the animal. After the examination, strictly follow the instructions given by the veterinarian.
Almost all chameleons caught in nature, as a rule, are infected with parasites and must undergo an antiparasitic course of treatment. Even if a chameleon appeared and grew up in captivity, there is no guarantee that it does not have internal parasites. To make sure that your pet is okay, send its feces for examination to the veterinary laboratory. If treatment is prescribed, be very careful in calculating the dose of anthelmintic drug, exceeding which can cause considerable harm.
Nutrition is very important for the health of the chameleon. If he does not get enough vitamins and minerals, metabolic bone diseases can occur. Often Yemeni chameleons (C. calptratus) are prone to these diseases because of their rapid growth at a young age. Signs of metabolic bone disease (rickets) are swollen joints and limbs. Sometimes, a chameleon suffering from this disease is not even able to walk or climb up a branch. Edema is another disease characterized by tumors of the throat and neck. Its causes are not yet known, although it is suspected that an excess of vitamins causes it. So, having bought a chameleon, you will have to periodically consult a veterinarian and pay for treatment. If you are not ready for this, you should consider acquiring another, less whimsical animal.
What causes a change in skin color in a chameleon?
People, as a rule, associate a chameleon with cunning and disguise, believing that the reptile changes its color, disguising itself as the surrounding area and objects. You will be disappointed, but this is nothing more than a myth. Their ability to change color has a completely different nature. First of all, the ability to change color is a kind of communication. In this way, the chameleon communicates with his own kind. In its best form, the color of the reptile appears when meeting with another male. When this happens, they inflate the larynx and increase in size, as if inflated, and the Yemeni chameleons can inflate only one side. Their color becomes significantly brighter. This is a kind of competition between two "gentlemen". Most often, a larger chameleon is perceived as dominant, and sometimes they pounce on each other with their mouths wide open. They fight until one of them retreats. When meeting with the female, the color will be the same, but the chameleon will not swell in the presence of the lady.
Thus, animals change colors when they want to be noticed, declaring the boundaries of their territory to other males, or, on the contrary, attracting brides. Of course, they can perfectly hide among the foliage, but usually when the reptile changes color, it tries to stand out.
The color of the chameleon also changes depending on the state of its body. Changes in temperature, lighting and humidity, adverse living conditions, illness, hunger, dehydration, anger, fear, stress - all these factors also affect the color of the skin of the animal. If a chameleon is stressed, it will be darker. In a word, a change in the color of a chameleon is a signal that something happened that falls outside the framework of "normality" in the understanding of the animal.
Important: Chameleons should be protected from stress in every way. Do not bully the chameleon, show him other animals, often transplant to other places. Stress will be expressed not only in a change in color, but also in the rejection of food. In general, chameleons are not stress-resistant animals. Remember that the worst thing for reptiles is stress. Stressful condition can end in disrepair. Lethal outcomes are frequent.
By observing a chameleon for a long time, you will learn to understand what your pet wants to express, changing the color. And if the color of the chameleon suddenly coincides with the background surrounding it, then this is an accident, and no more.
How does a chameleon change color? Color change mechanism
Zoologists have found that a chameleon is able to change color due to the special structure of the skin. In the outer and deeper layer of reptile skin there are reflective cells - chromatophores. They contain black, red, yellow and dark brown pigment grains. When the processes of the chromatoforms are reduced, the grains of pigments are distributed in their center, and the skin of the animal acquires a whitish or yellow color. If the dark pigment is concentrated in the outer layer, then the skin becomes darker. With a combination of pigments, a variety of color shades appear. Thanks to this mechanism, the color "palette" of the reptile is very saturated.
The color of the chameleon can instantly change from light to purple, then to black and dark brown. The color changes both throughout the body and in its individual areas, accompanied by the appearance or disappearance of bands or spots of various colors.
The main color for chameleons is characterized by green. There are also yellow, gray and brown animals.
Chameleon color scheme
It is believed that the descendants of dinosaurs can be painted in any color, but this is not so. Chameleons of different species can change the color palette in a fairly wide range, but only within the limits allotted to this particular species. Under the influence of the above factors, the reptile is able to change colors and acquire new shades, but within the framework of its color scheme. So, for example, in just a second, a male panther chameleon from green can turn orange or red. These same chameleons, falling asleep, become pale yellow, pink or red. Or, take, for example, a Yemeni chameleon. Green in peace, scared or angry, a Yemeni chameleon can turn black with yellow and green spots.
It is easy to guess that when the chameleon is kept at home, it has no particular reason to change skin color. You will not intentionally scare the ward or keep him in adverse conditions. Therefore, you should not rely on the fact that your home dinosaur will constantly shimmer with different colors, like a Christmas garland.