Introducing My Transvaal Dwarf Chameleons (B. transvaalense)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
A couple months ago a friend on the chameleon forums showed photos of his gorgeous male Bradypodion tranvaalense chameleon, or the Transvaal dwarf chameleon (although their common name changes depending on the region from where they came). He has a gorgeous black and white striped face, and deep yellow-orange markings down his sides. Everything about him was beautiful and different to me. Unbeknownst to me, this is a genus that is rare in the United States, and only a handful of individuals exist here. Fast forward a few weeks and about 10 of us signed up to have 23 chameleons from three different species of the genus Bradypodion imported from a breeder in Germany.

I teamed up with a friend of mine in Montana to do a breeding project together. I got one male while she got one male and two females. One of her females is on loan to me for now, while we determine which strategy will work best when breeding. At first I was going to ship my male to her when they were all old enough, so the presence of another male will stimulate breeding, and then he and one female would come back to me so that I could care for half the offspring, We then decided that it may be more prudent to have one pair with me in Florida and another with her in Montana, in case one of our climates turns out to be less than optimal. That way one pair may still go on to breed.

So, without much ado, here are my tiny little two.
I will update this thread as the week goes on with better photos of them, I didn't want to bother them too much today.
The female peeking out of the shipping bag. 
The female out of the bag, going off to explore the cage. 
The little male, in full shed coming out of the bag. You can see the female in the background.
One of the two cages. This one belongs to the male. 
Raising and breeding these little chameleons will be a lot of trial an error, starting with the information that European breeders as well as a select few American breeders are providing, and seeing how we apply it to our very different climates. As time goes on I will make blogs logging the notes and observations I have recorded about them, to share with others keeping this species so that we may learn from each other and get ideas.

This should be very interesting and very exciting for us! Wish us luck.

June 4, 2012 - Here are the new photos of them after giving them a few days to settle in.

The male, Azrael.
The male, Azrael. 
The male, Azrael, outside. 

The male. 
The female, still nameless. 
The female. 


On the Specific Care of Females

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Whether you would like a female chameleon as part of a breeding project, as a pet, or both, how you take care of them will vary a little from how you would care for a male. This is because females vary from males in their size, lifespan, and ability to lay eggs that alter how we need to meet their needs. I outlined a few of these differences in my previous blog ( Comparing Males and Females) but will go over their more specific care (especially as it relates to egg-laying) here. 

Many new keepers are often shocked to discover that females will lay eggs regardless of being mated. Surprise! Like chickens, female chameleons of egg-laying, or oviparous, species will start producing clutches of infertile eggs regularly throughout their lives, whether or not there is a male in the picture. Usually this is accompanied by panic, worry, and fear because there is just so much hysteria online around something known as egg-binding, a condition in which a female is unable to lay the eggs by herself. As you can imagine this is a serious medical condition that requires veterinary intervention.

The good news is that the online hype is mostly that, just hype. Of course sometimes things out of our control happen and the female experiences issues, as with human birth, it’s not always a smooth thing. But by and large chameleon females know what they are doing better than we do, and as long as they are healthy and have a suitable place to lay there should be nothing to panic about regarding egg-laying. 

Comparing Males and Females

Monday, May 7, 2012

The wise often advise to start keeping chameleons with males, and this is typically sound advice. This is because it is more prudent for an individual with no chameleon experience to begin with a male, who is not capable of laying clutches of eggs with or without contact with a male, and the health issues related with egg-laying. By raising a male chameleon first, adjusting how husbandry is handled for a female will be easier.

However, new keepers come in varying degrees of confidence so while the care of a female may scare one person, another may feel very capable of starting with a female. With enough research I think anyone can be very capable of starting with whichever they choose. Below I will outline the main differences between the sexes, using the common panther chameleon (F. pardalis) as an example.

However, in summary, either a male or female will make a beautiful, interesting, and fulfilling pet for anyone dedicated enough to keep these reptiles. Whichever you get depends on which gender meets your preferences better.
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