New Arrivals to Much Ado About Chameleons

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New year, new arrivals, and new goals for the blog

Last year I changed jobs four times. Four! I went from a lab where I was happy but had no room to grow, to a lab where I was a manager but worked in an utterly socially toxic environment, to an office that had issues of client fraud, to the managerial position I currently hold (where, thankfully, there are so such issues!) Mixed in somewhere among all this, I went to Madagascar for almost two weeks, I started developing an app, and I've been doing consultation work on the side. You could definitely say that 2017 was a year with a lot of change for me, and that unfortunately translated into not a lot of activity for the blog. I sincerely hope that everyone else had a better year!

But thanks to the incredible generosity and enthusiastic support from several friends I have been able to ring in the new year with a beautiful little troop of chameleons so that I can not only keep them again for the joy of chameleons, but also bring renewed energy and new posts to the blog. Below I will introduce each new member of the family as well as extend my deepest gratitude to these friends.

Additionally, as the Executive Editor of Reptile Apartment I am excited to tease you guys with a return of Reptile Livingroom, a podcast and vlog show coming soon! So stay tuned for the launch of new episodes, as I am already working on producing some chameleon content to send to John, the Boss Man.


Male, wild-caught Florida veiled chameleon (C. calyptratus)

I had only recently met Zac of Greenhouse Chameleons online as a fellow Miami local, but we chatted for a few weeks and realized we definitely had chameleons as a joint interest. He breeds several species of chameleons on his property here in South Florida and also goes herping to catch wild Florida invasive species like veileds and Oustalet's. He would mock the fact that I had a blog about chameleons but no chameleons! He rectified that when he went herping one night and found, among others, a beautiful little male veiled that was particularly bright. He asked me if I wanted him and after a little deliberating, I accepted.

I was excited to take on Cilantro for a couple reasons. First, because I think it's phenomenal that since we have these animals wild in Florida, who shouldn't be here and are probably causing some harm to our native ecosystem, that we should take advantage of this and give captured specimens a good home. The alternative is that these animals are euthanized when captured.

Second, I wanted to show people that veileds don't have the terrible personalities that they seem to be so infamous for. All chameleons can be skiddish and defensive, this is a fact, but veileds have the reputation for being the most aggressive and the most indomitable. And what happens is that new keepers are nervous about taking on this species. I want to show people how easy it really is to form a good relationship with a veiled, even a wild-caught veiled, with time, patience, and some consistent work.

Albus / "Bacon"

Male, captive-hatched Masoala locality panther chameleon (F. pardalis)

Albus was a completely unplanned addition to the household, but local Miami herper and breeder, Rey Naranjo (who used to run Red Island Chameleons) reached out regarding some Masoala panther hatchlings that he had hatched from some of the Olaf Pronk imports that arrived last year. He offered me one of the little males and I jumped at the chance, so grateful that he wanted to help me jump back into chameleons just as he was leaving them to pursue other species. I picked him up the very next day, at only 3 months of age, as a tiny little brown thing with some red barring.

Little Albus, or "Bacon" (as we've quickly nicknamed him!) should grow up to be mainly white and red barring.  He has shed twice already since I have had him and I expect him to keep growing like the week in the next several months. His personality is a little skiddish, like nearly all chameleons, but he is already acting braver with me now than he was just two weeks ago. I expect him to grow up to be an excellent ambassador for the blog as well.

Little O

Male, captive-hatched Oustalet's chameleon (F. oustaleti)

This is the chameleon I think I have waited for the longest in my entire life! At about this time last year, a man named Mark approached me through the blog. This man was in Michigan and I had never heard of him before, but he was coming back into the chameleon hobby with species like Oustalet's and giant spiny chameleons and he told me that because he loved Much Ado so much, that he wanted to make sure I received an Oustalet's baby (or two) when they hatched in the Fall. We ended up becoming friends, and Mark and Sue of Grey Phoenix Reptiles are two of the nicest, most straight-forward people in chameleon-keeping. Mark kept me updated with the hatchlings' progress the entire time and reserved one for me from the get-go, and would refer to him as "Little O."

I have never kept Oustalet's chameleons, but I definitely wanted to try my hand at them at some point. When I was in Madagascar I saw many of them, both males and females, and I had watched my friend Karen keep some when she ran The Chameleon Farm on Facebook. They are an incredibly underrated species that is hardy, impressively huge, and is very similar in care to both panthers or veileds. Like with Cilantro, I wanted to show the public that these chameleons should be included in the top 3-4 species of chameleons to keep in captivity as we start to get more and more captive bred clutches.


Male, captive-bred Argentinian red tegu (T. rufescens)

And then finally, Lito, my little red tegu. Lito is not new, necessarily, as I have had him since this Summer, but this is the first time I mention him on the blog so I will take the time to properly introduce him. He was born in Argentina and imported into Miami at the beginning of last year, and by the time I purchased him he was already about 4 months old. He will be turning a year old next month, in mid-February. Although he is in full brumation mode currently (which means he is asleep most of the time) he is still such a pleasure to own after having kept chameleons so many years.

This highly intelligent lizard is happy to curl up under my shirt to sleep while I watch movies, he eats ever so gently from tongs, and is smart as a whip. I hope that as we continue to do taming work that he grows up to keep his gentle temperament and becomes a fixture in my household.

With all these new arrivals I am still organizing my little reptile space! I will post photos of my set-ups as soon as I feel everything is presentable! I have ordered T5 HO lights for the first time to finally try out, along with Arcadia 12% UVB lights (which I still believe to be excessive for most chameleons, but I want to try it out first-hand), and have commissioned a new cage for my tegu, Lito.


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