FAQ

Here I'll take a moment to answer some of the most common questions I get via email that are not specifically husbandry questions. If you have a question for me that I haven't addressed anywhere on the site, please feel free to email me or to post it here. I am happy to answer them all!



Is Olimpia your real name?
A variant of this question is "is Olimpia just a stage/pen/screen name?" No, I promise you that's the name on my birth certificate! I get asked this a lot especially when meeting people at shows, because they are embarrassed to call me by what they think is just a screen name. But no, don't be afraid, that is legitimately my name. 

How did you start blogging?

This is a fun one, since I honestly never saw myself running a blog, much less one that gets thousands of hits weekly! I started the blog in December of 2011 (on vacation in Costa Rica, actually! I remember that my sister and I chatted about what to name the blog and fell back on our love for Shakespeare) as a way to write down answers to chameleon questions that I answer daily on the Chameleon Forums as a moderator so that I could simply link to the specific answer any time the question came up. In theory it was supposed to save me a little time! But the more I wrote the more I found I still wanted to cover, and as the blog's audience took off I found myself trying to bring new material at least once a week, work and life permitting. I also get fairly consistent emails thanking me for the useful information, and that's a big encouragement to continue covering chameleon-related material. 

How did you get into chameleons in the first place?

I don't know! If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I would be an obsessed chameleon keeper and blogger, I would have laughed. I've always ended up working with reptiles as a volunteer (especially living in Florida) but I never would have imagined that they would end up becoming my niche. I cared for a lot of reptiles at the Miami Museum of Science and in internships in Cost Rica, and once I reached college I began keeping various species of geckos. At some point during college I became aware of chameleons as a possible pet for the first time and began researching how to keep them successfully.

And in 2009 I got my first chameleon, a little WC Jackson's male, and the rest is history! I've since kept 6 different species of chameleons, spanning several dozen individuals, and am now dedicated to working specifically with Meller's chameleons. I have plans to form a proper chameleon rescue in the coming months to take on, rehabilitate, and rehome chameleons in need. 

What is your favorite species?

I have a soft spot for certain panther chameleon (F. pardalis) locales (especially the blue ones) and Meller's chameleons (T. melleri). I'm now attempting to breed the latter. I just love everything about the species, from the size to the scalloped dorsal crest.

Do you have any chameleons for sale?

No, not at this time, sorry! I am attempting to breed Meller's chameleons right now but I don't even have eggs incubating. I no longer have any breeding panther chameleons either. However, I am happy to point you in the direction of a breeder I know and trust if you are looking for something specific. If and when I do have chameleons for sale I will advertise them on the blog.

Who drew your blog header/the illustrations throughout the blog?

I did! A little known fact is that I come from a family of artists (my mother and sister are fine artists and my father is in film) so I was born drawing. I have taken a myriad of drawing and painting classes in my life and even took courses in illustration in Florence, Italy, Oxford, England, and here in the States. I now do the occasional medical illustration for publication, logos for companies, and custom commission work. 

What camera gear do you use to take your photos? 

I use Canon brand gear almost exclusively. I have a Canon 60D and a Rebel XS and an assortment of lenses, including a 50mm F/1.8 and a 70-300mm F/4 (great for close-ups from far away). For extra light I have an external flash by Yongnuo and a Lite Genius Lite-scoop flash bouncer. 

Do you get paid to recommend any of the products on the blog?

No, I do not. I don't have any sponsors whatsoever, so you can trust that everything I recommend is genuinely what I personally like and encourage others to purchase. I would recommend the same products to my own sister if she were interested in keeping chameleons (which she isn't... yet.)

Do you keep any other reptiles?

Yes, I have a 75gal community tank full of African fat-tailed geckos in different morphs. Currently I have one male and three females, which I'm hoping to breed in the coming year, as a fun side project. I really love these geckos, I find them sweet and easy to keep. I have kept other types of reptiles, including snakes and monitors, but I always come back to chameleons as my main passion and certain geckos for nostalgia.


If you have any other questions you'd like to ask me feel free to email me or post it here! 
I always make time in my day to answer any questions via the blog, so I usually answer quickly. 

20 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful blog Olimpia! :)

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  2. Hi Olimpia! Your blog has been extremely helpful in my quest to adopt my first veiled chameleon! I just have a couple questions, as I only wish to give my chameleon a home they can thrive in. I'm a college student and this requires me to move every 6-7 months in a year, I was wondering if that would be too often and stressful for the chameleon. Also I live in the midwest, so it's often cold here but I would love to be able to provide some natural sunlight for them, how would recommend I do so? Thanks!

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    1. Thank you Michelle! I was a college student when I first started as well, and would move homes almost once a year and sometimes bring them to my parent's house over long breaks. Mine all did fine, it wasn't frequent enough to make them too uncomfortable, and I would set up their cages before I brought them out of their travel boxes, so going into a cage they were familiar with made the rest of the change less dramatic. They may still need a couple days to settle in and start eating again but they always did really well.

      And adult veiled can tolerate temps as low as 50*F, so as long as it's a day warmer than that you could bring him outside for a while. Perhaps for 20 minutes to an hour if it's on the cooler end and hours if it's up in the 60-80's. The safest thing is to put them outside in a screen cage, since even birds have been known to swoop in and snatch chameleons that were just sitting on a shrub within sight of their owners!

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  3. Hi Olimpia,

    Thank you for your very informative blog, it is very fruitful.
    Currently I'm doing some reading with regard to chameleon.

    I would like to ask between Veiled & Panther, which is suitable for beginner?
    Your advice would be much appreciated.

    Thank you.

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    1. Hi Muhammad,

      Sorry for the delay in replying. Thank you! I believe that both are great for beginners, but with very slight differences. Veileds tolerate less water and higher temperatures better than panthers, so they have a reputation for being hardier for beginners who might make mistakes with controlling the environment in an enclosure. But panthers are also very hardy, and providing them the parameters they need is not any more difficult, so I recommend them as well for a new keeper.

      So between the two, it should be the species you like the most. You may live with this animal for 5-8 years, so it should be the one you are most excited about keeping.

      Let me know if you need anything else! Again, sorry for the delay.

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  4. Hello Olimpia I am from Brazil and moving for U.S, and just buy a panther chameleon with approximately four months, I got him to 2 days and in dezember 24 I have to travel and stay 7 days out of town, I'm thinking of leaving it the store where i bought during that time I'll be out, think you can be very stressful for him? habitat change and then return to my home, I think he can get aggressive ? It is True that baby chameleons can be more "friends" when he grow up?
    Sorry about my bad english and thank you very much.
    Matheus

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    1. Hi Matheus! I think it would be better if you could find someone that would be willing to come to your house and feed/water him, but if you have no choice I think the pet store will be fine. It will be a little stressful but not horrible.

      Yes, as chameleons get older and get used to you they can definitely get a little calmer and friendlier.

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    2. Matheus CampedelliOctober 26, 2015 at 4:59 PM

      ok thank you very much for your help, and congratulations on your blog, very cool and helps a lot, I will have another trip I'll have to do, but still far in July have to go back to Brazil during During one month more or less , and although it is far I am very concerned about the stress that can suffer.
      thank you

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  5. Hi Olimpia! My girlfriend recently gave me a Male Veiled Chamaleon (aprox 4 months old) as a gift and I'm a little nervous as a new owner. I have a couple of questions if you don't mind:

    1. Can he travel? I'm leaving for a holiday trip and I don't want to leave him with my family. I've read your piece on travelling, but I don't know if he is too young for a 4 hour drive.

    2. How can you tell if he is hydrating well? He stays home while I'm working, so I don't know if he is drinking water. I keep the enclosure with the humidity & temperature recomended, spray water in the leaves and I also installed a bucket-type thing for him to drink. He looks great but I want to make sure everything is alright.

    3. He eats 6 crickets per day (2 each meal). I don't want to over-feed him, but I also don't want to starve him... How many crickets do you recomend?

    Sorry for all the questions, but I really like him and I want to keep him for a long time.

    Thank you, have an amazing day!!

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    1. Hi Rodrigo,

      Not at all, feel free to ask questions and email me at Olimpia515@gmail.com if you have any additional questions. Congrats on the new guy!

      1. A 4-hour drive could be ok, that’s not too bad. If the cage is small and you can over it up with a towel and make it dark, that would be ok. Or pull him out and place him in a dark box, so basically he just naps for the trip. Once there, set up his cage and then leave him in there to relax a while before the family tries to meet him.
      2. The easiest trick is to look at his poop every day. Their poop is made up of two parts, a brown waste part and a white part that is the urates (“urine,” essentially.) Like us, how hydrated you are will affect the color. If it’s white then it’s like when our urine is nice and clear, it means we are properly hydrated. If it gets super yellow or even orange then that means he’s not getting enough to drink during the day. So monitoring his poop is the easiest/most reliable way to see how he is doing every day.
      3. It depends on the size of the crickets, but since he’s so young he can probably eat more like 10-15 small-medium crickets every day until he’s a little older. Then as he gets older his appetite will drop and he can get by on fewer adult crickets, along with other things like worms, and other bugs.

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  6. Hey Olimpia! I've read all of your entries like a thousand times and other forums, I still haven't taken the leap of buying a Cham just yet. I have a couple of questions and was wondering if you could answer them for me

    1.- I live in a place which is really really humid, we have abut 80 percent of humidity for about 8 months of a year, I want to keep my chameleon "outside" like on a porch with no direct sunlight of course, would you recommend that? And if you do, even if the outside ambient temperature is high and the humidity is high also do I have to have the basking light and the mist machine to maintain its humidity?

    2.- I have easy access to mezcal worms, can I feed them to my Cham like every once a week after they have been dusted and gut loaded?

    3.- if the cage is made out of wood, wouldn't the humidity start to rot the wood after a while? And if it starts will it pose a threat to the Cham?

    4.- would you recommend sultrate on his cage or just having a ficus plant and some other natural and artificial vines would suffice?

    Thanks in advance I really love your blog and hopefully I'll buy my first veiled one in the coming months

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    1. Hi Ruben,

      1. That would be fine! As long as the temperatures don’t get too hot during the day he should be fine living outside. You would not have to use any lights probably, but you would want to spray down the cage during the day so that he can cool off and so that he can drink.

      2. I’m not familiar with those worms but I believe they should be ok, but see if you can find a Mexican chameleon keeper/breeder who might have more experience with that species of worm.

      3. It would, I highly recommend sealing the wood with at least a clear coat. Linseed oil or a clear coat would keep the wood in good shape longer, and once they are dry they would both be safe for the chameleon. You definitely want to avoid mold, mold isn’t good for us or them to breathe in.

      4. I would just put potted plants and vines/branches in the cage and not have any substrate. Keep things easy to clean for you! Besides, if he lives outside he will not need the substrate to keep the humidity up or anything like that, so you can leave the floor bare if you wanted to.

      Let me know if you need anything else!

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  7. Hi,
    Just a quick question, what is the best way to travel with a chameleon? It would be a 1 1/2 hour drive back from the breeder and I'm just wondering how I can prepare for the journey. Any advice would be appreciated.
    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi,
      The easiest way to travel anywhere with a chameleon is to keep them in a dark container/box the entire trip. The breeder may give you the baby in a plastic container with a twig, or you might bring one yourself, and you can put it in a normal cardboard box inside your car. When chameleons are in darkness they want to grab onto a branch and go to sleep, so it keeps them from looking around at the inside of the car and stressing out. It’s not a long ride, he’ll be fine!

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  8. Hi Olimpia

    I got a 1.5 yr old veiled chameleon from a family who I don't think were keeping him well. He now has a proper basking lamp and UV lamp instead of the previous incandescent bulb. And I feed him gut loaded locusts as opposed to the previous family who just chucked in locusts. He was easy to handle before, but not anymore. I'm wondering if he likes his environment more and doesn't want to come outside? I want to take him to the vet for a check up as well, but don't know how to get him out gently anymore.

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    1. Good for you for taking in the poor chameleon! It’s possible, from what it sounds like, that he may even have been a bit weak if he didn’t have the proper bulbs and that’s partly why he was easier to handle before. I would take his feistiness as a sign that he’s stronger and better than before! Also, if this is was recent move he may still be afraid of all the change, so I would just keep working with him gently. If you need to get him out for a vet visit try to get him out on a stick instead of reaching in for him? You can try to hand-feed if he shows any interest and if you are hanging out in the same room you can try leaving the door open and see if he’ll come out on his own to explore. I used to leave another plant right outside the cage to entice them to come out. Usually if they realized they could come in and out without getting eaten by the big scary humans they sort of realized that they didn’t have to be cage aggressive, because they aren’t safe ONLY when they are in the cage. You have to try to get into their lizard brains! Lol

      Best of luck, let me know if you need anything else!

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    2. Hi Olimpia
      Thanks for your advice, my chameleon's doing great now, and comes near the door when he wants me to take him out. He feels more comfortable being handled. He's quite energetic as well. Although I am confused about one thing, he doesn't drink water everyday. I mist his tank twice, and if he wants a drink he approaches me and likes it when I spray water directly in his mouth rather than lapping it off the leaves. He seems healthy otherwise.

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    3. You're very welcome! Since he's a veiled chameleon it doesn't surprise me very much, they drink less than other species. He may still be drinking a little while you're not looking but at any rate that sounds like a great bonding experience. I understand it may not be practical to do that every single day. Perhaps he would respond to a dripper? Some chameleons like the spray very much and others like the constant movement of a dripper, I think it depends a bit on each individual.

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  9. This thread has been unbelievably helpful(with my new veiled chameleon). Thank you for being the awesome woman you are!

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