Species group: Chameleons
Other common names: Smith's Dwarf Chameleon
Scientific name: Bradypodion pumilum
The Cape Dwarf Chameleon is a terrestrial chameleon which is native to the South African province of the Western Cape where it is restricted to the region around Cape Town. Their habitat is lowland forest and they are usually found on the lower branches of shrubs and trees. Dwarf Chameleons are quite rare because their populations are very localized. There are 14 documented species of dwarfs in South Africa with a number of newly discovered ones, yet to be recognized.
Appearance / health:
Cape Dwarf Chameleons average 2.5 to 3 inches in length. As with most chameleons, its tongue is twice the length of its body and it can be shot out of its mouth using a special muscle in the jaw. This gives the chameleon the ability to catch insects some distance away.
Unlike other chameleons, Cape Dwarf Chameleon are not as territorial. In the wild, they are sometimes found in groups of 5 or 6 within a single tree.
Chameleons feed on crickets, mealworms, wax worms, super worms, and newborn mice. For their optimum health, they must have a varied diet (too much of only one type can lead to ailments, and too much of super worms can be fattening). Supplements of calcium and vitamins are recommended. Gut-loading feeder crickets with vegetables, fruits, fish flakes and other commercial gut-loading formulas is another way to supplement the Panther’s diet.
Dwarf chameleons are viviparous, which means they give birth to live young.
beautiful animals, magnificent animals, appetite amazing temperament, shape, super easygoing creature
fragile beauty, special care, initial setup
legitimate breeder, captive bred line
Charlie , the dwarf chameleon
Reptiles are not my scene, so to speak, but during the last few months, I have grown quite attached to a little Cape dwarf chameleon that appeared on one of my rose bushes as if by magic. While we have some larger chameleon species in my area, the dwarf variety occurs mainly in the Cape provinces, which is about a thousand miles from where I live.
However, I am assuming that Charlie once belonged to someone else and either escaped, or was dumped in the wild to fend for himself. Now, the problem with Charlie was how to keep him, since there are not only many trees in my garden and surrounding property, there are also many birds that would love to have him for a snack- being all of three inches long. The solution was suggested by my gardener, who proposed we build a wall around the three largest rose bushes. This way, his thinking went, the little chameleon cannot wander off, and it will thus not be difficult to keep an eye on him.
So, now I have a brick wall around some rose bushes, which while it does nothing for the aesthetics of my rose garden, provides a safe home for Charlie. Moreover, he is easy to find in only three bushes when the summmer thunder storms start building. I have an old aquarium that is kitted out with some dried branches, a few rocks, and a heater into which I place him when the weather turns violent, especially with the violent hail strorms we experience on the highveld. As soon as the weather clears, I place him back on his rose bushes, and this is when he is at his most colorful.
I am convinced that although Charlie knows I only have his best interests at heart, as soon as he is back in familiar territory, he turns a vibrant green as if to show me that while he appreciates my efforts, he can look after himself by chanching color so the heavy raindrops can't find him. Whatever the truth of the matter, I regard Charlie as a pet because I take special measures to keep him out of harm's way, which is I suppose, is the definition of the word "pet'". Nonetheless, he does seem to get irritable when I handle him at times, but I suppose it is to expected; I too, would get irritable if I were suddenly plucked from a branch while contemplating the contrary nature of flies that would not stay still long enough to be caught for lunch.
I spend many hours watching him stalk his prey, and to my way of thinking, it would be a crime to keep him in a cage for the rest of his life. Sure, he would be safer in a cage, but there is something wrong with the notion that an animal must be happy just because it is safe in a cage. I have watched Charlie take more than an hour to cover the six or eight inches that would place his prey within range, and his single-minded determination to catch his prey makes the idea of caging him repugnant. But that is only me- other people may have different opinions on this issue.
I am no expert on reptiles, but I am certain that for those that are so inclined, a dwarf chameleon would make an excellent captive pet. They do not take up much space, don't eat much, and I don't think they appreciate, or need as much conversation as say, a cat does. At any rate, in the few months that I have been "taking care" of Charlie, it seems that it should be possible to take proper care of a chameleon in a captive situation, although I would not do so myself. I am all about freedom, and if Charlie is happy outside on his rose bushes, so am I.
Image credit: Michnieuwoudt.
From reinier1 May 6 2015 8:28AM
Cape Dwarf Chameleon
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time observing Cape Dwarf chameleons that I often find moving from twig to twig within our home compound. Their unique color changing capability is something that I’ve always found interesting. I’ve observed that when they change color to camouflage it can be very difficult to spot them until they move. They change color to hide from prey and predators, communicate with each other as well as to regulate their body temperature. I find they are brightly colored when it’s hot outside and darker colored as the heat reduces. When I startle them or get too close they hiss and become darker. When further provoked they can bite. Brighter colors depict a good mood. I’ve noted that are not active unless when escaping or looking for prey which mostly consists of insects.
Cape Dwarf chameleons are solitary and do not handle easily. They are very sensitive to lighting, temperature and humidity changes. Chameleons require a fresh supply of insects for food. They also require plenty of twigs or plants to keep them exercising. If you decide to get a Cape Dwarf chameleon, get one from a known breeder. Chameleons from the wild can be dangerous and possibility infected with parasites. If you are prepared to properly care for a chameleon and set up an ideal habitat, it can be a wonderful pet especially for display. They are fascinating lizards to watch and observe..
From Ustars Mar 24 2015 11:34PM
I would rather have gotten a dog...
My mother didn't want any time-intensive pets in addition to a dog and a young child, so the lizard light bulb came on when I started pestering her for a second dog.
I found them interesting for a little while... at least until I realized I was never going to be able to play fetch with them or teach them to talk like my bird. I was thoroughly disgusted when I realized that, if not eaten fast enough, their food (meal worms) would turn into some sort of beetle-like monster. It was even worse when I discovered my mother kept these soon-to-be monsters in our refrigerator... right down in the bottom crisper next to our apples.
While never fond of the chameleons themselves (I like pets that will come play with me instead of just lounging around on their heating rock), I loved taking them to show and tell. none of the other kids had pet lizards! I decided maybe they weren't so bad after all - the kids at school always thought they were awesome - so I tried playing with them a little more. It was a sort-lived experiment that ended abruptly when one of them latched onto my nose like some sort of twisted nose ring. I had to wander around with a lizard biting my left nostril for quite a while before if finally decided it had mad its point (whatever that may have been) and released its death grip on my face.
I I decided my mother could just keep the lizards, their monster food, the facial lacerations, and rather boring heating rock and went out to find myself a nice stray dog to bring home and play with instead..
From kmrottas Mar 1 2014 2:16PM