It's been 3 months since I added Charlotte to my trio of Meller's chameleons, and I wanted to do an update on how all of them are doing. I'm excited, first of all, to announce that all three are happy and healthy, which has been no small feat for me. Getting this small group together has been a multi-year endeavor, so I'm glad to have a thriving group that I hope to continue to add to as time goes on.
|Charlotte (left) and Guinevere (right), my two suspected females, hanging out together on the free-range that they share.|
HOUSING | I have settled on a housing arrangement that consists of having my two girls together (Charlotte and Guinevere) on a single free-range that measures about 7' tall x 4' wide x 3' deep with several large branches that hang over the sides, giving several more feet of horizontal space. Meanwhile, Thaddeus (who is smaller and much more nervous) has been moved permanently outdoors in a 4' wide by 4' tall x 2' deep cage and is much happier.
I would love it if all three of them were capable of coexisting peacefully together but you can't force relationships, so this arrangement has proven to be the best alternative. It's possible that in a few more months when Thad reaches full size and weight he may have the confidence to handle himself with the ladies but as of right now they make him nervous and it means that he leaves the free-range to wander.
|Thaddeus outside by himself in his cage. Since he's been here he has been much more content.|
EATING | These three have been eating like pigs now that our Florida cold front has moved on and we're back to having nice warm days. Each one is eating a handful of feeders every other day or so, which include a mix of roaches, superworms, hornworms, manduca moths, crickets, and anything else I happen to have on hand. They are all still gaining weight, so I will probably cut them down slightly when I feel they have reached their optimum weights. I think Thaddeus is still potentially growing, so I will continue to let him eat more vigorously until I think he plateaus.
|Charlotte enjoying some mist outside.|
WATER | True to form, they all drink like mermaids! In their respective cages/free-ranges I have gallon jugs of water acting as drippers most of the day and then spray down the enclosures several times for several minutes. Occasionally, like today, when it's warm and sunny I will put a few plants outside (my balcony is under construction), fill up the pump sprayer, and let them have a couple hours of warm outdoor misting.
HEALTH | All three have undergone any treatment they needed for parasites and all of them are now clean and whistles. Guinevere's health is holding up beautifully and they are all in great physical condition. Melleri breeders report that these animals will not even begin to produce egg follicles unless conditions are perfect, including physical health, so getting them all in great shape is step one in breeding them successfully.
BREEDING | I hope to be able to report any breeding behavior I see soon, but as of right now none of them have shown any signs of being interested. I still have to determine for sure that I do have a male and two females, so if I'm unlucky enough to have three females we will not be getting any eggs any time soon! But time will tell for sure. If that is the case I will just have to get a fourth individual sooner rather than later, and try to see if anyone has a confirmed male for sale.
I hope that sharing what I learn about keeping this species helps others, or that it inspires other capable chameleon keepers to try their hand at keeping and breeding this species as well. They are amazing chameleons, and we can't count on imports coming in forever, so establishing a captive bred population in North America and other areas would be amazing for these giants. They are difficult and require lots of space and resources, yes, but are well worth it for anyone who is interested in working with them.