How to Avoid (or Treat) Parasites in Chameleons

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
If you saw last week’s blog post you might be a slightly horrified right now. A little like when we watch Monsters Inside Me and vow to never eat anything even remotely containing pork in a sketchy south-east Asian rural food stand. Easy enough; don’t order Yam naem sot while driving through the backwoods of Thailand. The bad news, however, is that it’s not as straight-forward to avoid parasitic infections in our herps. How do we keep the same thing that happened to Fox the panther chameleon from happening to other reptiles in our homes?

Parasites are everywhere, unfortunately. If you’ve spent any time on reptile groups or forums then inevitably you’ve heard that feeding wild-caught bugs (like grasshoppers, crickets, mantids, etc. from outside) carry a high risk of infecting your pet with parasites. This is true. However, this does not, contrary to popular misconception, mean that if your pets only eat captive farmed insects like crickets and superworms, that they will never catch any parasites. A biologist I knew, Pete Bandre (owner of Incredible Pets in Melbourne, Florida for a good two decades), told me once about an informal study he did once. He wanted to see if any cricket suppliers had “cleaner” crickets than others, so he ordered a bulk box from all the top suppliers in the US. He had each supplier’s stock sampled and they all came back positive for things like pinwom and even coccidia. Yikes!

Ok, so if even our innocent pet store crickets are riddled with the potential for parasites, the only things we can do are mitigate risk, do preventive testing and treatment, and treat parasite loads as necessary. 


The Curious Case of a Chameleon Full of Worms

Sunday, January 15, 2017
Caution: This post contains graphic necropsy photos.

Unfortunately, this week’s post is not a happy one but it’s a necessary one, nonetheless. I’ve never talked very much about parasites beyond just recommending routine fecal tests but I’m going to dedicate this post to talking about what it looks like when parasites take over and end up killing their host. Next week I’ll follow up and talk more about common parasites, how to manage them, and how to (hopefully) avoid this situation.

Not quite a month ago, on Tuesday, December 13th, I received a new little panther chameleon. To the best of anyone’s knowledge he was a captive-born from the previous July (making him 6-months-old), and in great shape. We had a very pleasant buying and shipping experience and I had no complaints about Fox, the Ambilobe panther chameleon. In the few weeks that followed he did very well; he would eat and drink normally and nothing in his behavior seemed out of order. He started warming up to his new home and you could start to see his little personality shining through. On a couple occasions I was able to take him outside for some Miami sunshine.


[Review] Rain Forest Habitats' Pro PVC Cages

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Meet Mojito. Not the elixir of the gods minty beverage that helps me recover from a long workweek with girlfriends on balmy evenings in Miami, but Mojito my young Cuban knight anole (Anolis equestris.) Anyone that lives in South Florida will recognize this species as the largest of the anole species, which, a courtesy of Cuba as the name implies has made its home comfortably here in the neighborhoods and keys of the subtropical southernmost tip of the continental United States.

In lieu of catching one off the street (as my biologist friends would prefer it) I purchased Mojito as a captive born baby at the last Repticon Miami expo at just a few weeks of age, and since he was so tiny I simply housed him in a spare Exo Terra terrarium measuring 12” x 12” x 18”. After almost two months, however, Mojito was beginning to outgrow the little glass terrarium and I started to look for something more suitable for the next several months of his life.

When I discovered the RainForest Habitat enclosures by Sean I thought I had come across exactly what I needed; a company that hand-made screen, enclosed, and hybrid cages in all sorts of styles and sizes, and in three colors; black, light gray, and white. Fabricated out of PVC, the cages offer light-weight enclosures that make great alternative to glass terrariums. For someone like me that likes things in a group to match, they presented the ability to have a series of cages that all had the same uniform look but suited each species specifically. In Mojito’s case I purchased a hybrid cage – a white PVC cage with three closed sides and a screen door and top. It would be perfect for keeping in humidity and heat but with the screen door would still allow for plenty of air movement, so that the cage does not get too warm as my room temperatures here in Miami fluctuate throughout the day. 

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