Questions and Answers

By Jason Descamps


Descamps, J. (2008). Questions and Answers. Chameleons! Online E-Zine, February 2008. (

Q.  I look forward to reading the chameleon news e-zine, why hasn’t there been a new issue in so long?

A.  The E-zine is a labor of love for all of the staff, however we all have jobs and lives that sometimes get in the way.  The amount of time and effort that goes into putting each issue together seems to grow with each release.  Chris works to find new articles, authors and subjects to keep them fresh and interesting.  Brandy works to keep the site up and available and as you can see, produced a fantastic new format which took quite a lot of her time.  The rest of the staff works to help with proofreading, answering questions and any other tasks that may arise.  In addition to this we all have full time jobs.  Chris is in graduate school and teaches several classes, Brandy stays busy with web design and hosting, and I am the CIO for a global transportation and logistics firm.  With all of that said, we should be back on track in the coming months and hopefully we will not have a gap that spans this long again.


Q.  We would like to purchase a chameleon as a pet and would like your recommendation as to where we should go to find the best captive bred chameleons.  Any other information you could provide us with as to their care would be very welcomed.  We have done some research on our own but I’m sure we could benefit from anything you could tell us or links to websites or titles of books that might further inform us.  Our son would like a chameleon for his birthday; he is a very responsible and caring boy so we would like to help him get as much information as possible in order to be a successful caretaker.

Thank you very much for your time and knowledge.

A.  The E-zine doesn’t recommend any specific breeders but there are many quality ones out there to choose from.  As with buying anything your best bet is to do as much research on a potential seller as possible.  Ask questions, check references, etc. a quality breeder will be happy to help you choose the animal that best suits you.

For a first chameleon I would recommend a panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis), they are a very hardy species and are easily found as captive born animals.  Doing your research beforehand will only make you a more successful keeper.  Websites are a great source of information on chameleons, the e-zine ( is the first place I send anyone thinking about purchasing a chameleon.  The article index is an invaluable tool for finding information on a variety of chameleon species as well as general care, nutrition, caging, and other husbandry information.   There are many other websites out there to help supplement your research, a short list can be found at LINKS , be wary of all the info you receive though.  The internet is a great tool, but it also comes with some negatives.  You never really know who you are talking to or what their background might be.  Some good books to look into are, Chameleons:  Their Care and Breeding by Linda Davidson & Chameleons:  Nature’s Hidden Jewels (2nd Edition) by Petr Necas,

Chameleons are wonderful animals and can be very enjoyable if you start out right.  Research is the key and we are all always here to help if needed.


Q.  I’m writing to you in a bit of desparation. My daughter has a Jacksons cham that we’ve had almost two years now. Recently, he stopped eating and now he’s got diarhea. I’m going to assume its parasites of some sort. His feces are actually clear mucous with the urate/poop somewhat distinct within the clear mucous. We’ve never experienced this before and our vet is no longer here. We live in rural TX and I can’t locate a vet anywhere within a 3-4 hour range that will see him. Other than treating him for dehydration, is there anything I can do? I have read online a bit about ivermectin/etc but of course have no idea what amount to give to the little guy, he weighs appx 8 ounces. I come from a horse background so I understand the importance when parasites occur, but a huge tube of wormer for a horse is way different than a chameleon. Can you offer any advice?

A.  Of course the best option is always to seek the advice of a qualified reptile vet, a great source to locate a vet in your area is

Dosing an animal on your own with a vet diagnosis is risky and not something I would advise.  In this situation I would certainly not recommend ivermectin.  While this drug has been used with very limited success in chameleons it is a very powerful drug and can be easily overdosed.  It is also very hard on the animals kidneys and an even slight dehydrated chameleon will quickly perish. 

Horse de-wormer has been used for quite some time in chameleons and while it is a bit safer to administer than ivermectin it can still cause some complications unless dosed properly.

For now my first focus would be on re-hydrating the animal through lukewarm showering sessions of at least 1 hour at a time.  A hydrated chameleon can withstand a great amount of parasite bloom and can go without food for a surprising amount of time.  From there I would work to find a vet in your area or one that can consult with your over the phone.


Q.  Everyone keeps saying wild caught chameleons are bad.  If they are so hard to keep why do they keep selling them?  Or are breeders just trying to get us to pay more for their animals?

A.  Great question and something that can’t be answered enough in my opinion.  Wild caught chameleons go through tremendous amounts of stress throughout the importation process.  No matter how good the end dealer cares for them they have still gone through a lot of stress and some pretty rough treatment in most cases.  From there they are re-hydrated and sometimes treated for parasites and then re-shipped to you via an overnight carrier.  That’s a lot of shipping and stress on an animal of any kind, let alone a chameleon.  Here is where it gets tricky, many people have a lot of experience and can deal with wild caught chameleons without a lot of issues.  Even the best still experience losses and spend a tremendous amount of time and money to acquire vet services to salvage these animals.  If you want to take the risk by all means you can.  Many species are only available as wild caught animals and if you want keep them wild caught is your only option.

I am certainly not telling anyone not to buy a wild caught chameleon, I have purchased many during my cham keeping time and have had great success and fantastic failures with them. 

My advice is and will always be to purchase a captive born animal whenever the option is available.  If a captive born option is not available you must decide for yourself if you are capable to care for a wild caught chameleon...Many are, many aren’t.

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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