Captive Chameleon Bloodline Tracking Database

By Jason Descamps


Descamps, J. (2004). Captive Chameleon Bloodlines Tracking Database. Chameleons! Online E-Zine, May 2004. (

The captive breeding of chameleons has come a long way over the past decade. From animals that were once thought to be impossible to keep alive in captivity, chameleons have made their way into the mainstream of the reptile hobby. With these obvious advances, still every year more chameleons die in captivity than are born as a result of captive breeding, and of those imported most will perish within their first year in captivity. Line-Breeding, inbreeding, hybridization and cross morph breeding are becoming more and more frequent as a quick check of any classified site will show you. There are people that are fighting every day to stop the importation of wild chameleons. These people know the hobby, and they know the trade because they were once like us: keepers and breeders. One of their main pieces of information they use to prove their point is the death rate of captive chameleons and the lack of multi- generational reproduction. These facts are a part of the hobby, and while advances have been made in chameleon husbandry these are still real issues that face all chameleon breeders. It is my belief that only through careful management of bloodlines and captive breeding will chameleons have a chance to survive in captivity. The effects of unscrupulous and uneducated breeding are already being seen in C. calyptratus and will soon begin to show up in all other commonly bred species unless steps are taken now. Furthermore, efforts must be made to increase the sustainability of captive populations for multiple chameleon species, not just those most commonly bred species.

The Captive Chameleon Bloodline Tracking Database, or CCBTD, was originally designed as a way to track breeding programs of rare species between a small group of breeders. As this system evolved it became apparent that all breeders and all species could benefit from this type of system. Tracking bloodlines and captive breeding will be the key to continued advancements in chameleon breeding. With the pressure being applied to governments, both domestic and foreign, to cease all imports, genetic diversity will soon come to the forefront in chameleon breeding. Establishing a stable, traceable gene pool is what the CCBTD is all about. It is our goal to establish a virtual, international “studbook” for all chameleon species bred in captivity, both common and rare, and to use this information to keep the genetic diversity of the captive populations intact for future generations. Our current membership ranges from The United States to Europe to Canada so this is truly an international effort.

The functions of the CCBTD are designed around recording information critical to captive breeding. Once registered, a breeder can enter an unlimited number of chameleons; all specimens are assigned a unique identification number that will remain with this animal throughout its life. Information such as species, morph and date of birth or acquisition are all entered in the system. Searchable indexes are created, enabling a query by species, breeder, or even an individual chameleon.

Captive breedings are recorded by the parents with indicators for copulation date, number laid/born, etc. The real value of the system comes when entering the offspring from these captive breedings. Captive born specimens whose parents are already recorded in the database will have a bloodline recorded for all future use by their identification number. A “pedigree” can be produced showing up to six generations of genetic info for one specimen. This information resides in the database forever, and most is available to all registered members. This information could have a dramatic impact on not only the continued success of captive breeding, but to establish procedures for keeping and breeding select species, to aide in setting quota’s for exported chameleons, to track chameleon “farming” projects worldwide and perhaps establish new ones. Reports are being created to display several numerical statistics such as the number of captive born offspring of a select species produced in a year.

Research and advancements will continue on the CCBTD system throughout its life. It is by no means a finished project as it will grow and adapt just as the keeping of chameleons has grown and adapted over the years. We look forward to the continued growth of the system and the future of captive chameleons in general.

In an attempt to support further development of chameleon natural history knowledge, the CCBTD is now beginning a donation program to chameleon related research. Our first donation will be going to Ph.D. candidate Kristopher Karsten of Oklahoma State University. Kris is conduction research on sexual selection in Furcifer antimena, F. labordi, F. lateralis, and F. verrucosus in Southwest Madagascar in the region around Toliara. In addition, he is collecting population and conservation data on the four aforementioned species and F. belalandaensis, one of the rarest chameleon species in the world. From May 1st 2004 thru November 1 st 2004, 50% of all CCBTD membership fees received during this time will be collected to donate to his research efforts. Additionally, we have set up a separate donation method for further donations. Now you can support research and gain use of the CCBTD.

Please contact us with any questions and or comments at To visit the Captive Chameleon Bloodline Tracking Database, go to and register.

Jason Descamps

Jason Descamps has been keeping and breeding reptiles and amphibians for over 12 years. To date he has worked with over 135 species of reptiles including breeding 18 species of chameleons. His current focus is creating a stable captive chameleon gene pool through the CCBTD and working with rarely bred chameleon species such as C. (Tr.) weidersheimi, C. (Tr.) werneri, and C. (Tr.) fuelleborni. Jason served as an assistant editor for the Chameleons! Online E-Zine from December 2005 through February 2008.


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