You learn a lot from owning a reptile. Back when I had my veiled chameleon there were not a lot of resources, such as the Reptile Care Center for learning about reptile care. So, I was stuck getting library books and learning things as I went. Things are easier now, with a lot of great internet resources such as the care center linked above, but there still are plenty of things you learn only after sharing your home with a reptile pet.
Here are some of the things I learned from owning a Chameleon:
(1) Reptiles are more work than some pets, but it isn’t hard work. Reptiles require some extra attention. Feeding often involves live insects, and you may have to make up some leafy green salads for your pet. They also often require special light, special heat sources, and various supplements, such as calcium. None of this is prohibitively difficult, but it does take a bit of extra time and learning.
(2) You can mail order crickets by the box load. Until I owned a lizard, I had no idea that you could mail order crickets! They would come in a box with mesh on the side, and you could see them moving around in there. I sometimes wonder what the mailman thought of it!
(3) Crickets are noisy! Ever had a chirping cricket in your house drive you nuts at night? Try hundreds of them! I kept mine in my basement, that way I couldn’t hear them.
(4) Chameleons make feeding fun and they are not picky eaters. Chameleons shoot their tongues out like frogs to get their food. My Chameleon would eat just about anything, and one of his favorites was banana. He would try to shoot out his tongue to take it, but it wouldn’t stick, so he would then climb up my arm in order to get it.
(5) Lizards have a lot of personality. I was surprised at how much personality my lizards had, especially my Chameleon. He recognized me and would happily climb up my arm, but he was wary of strangers. He had favorite places and quirky habits. It was fun! A friend of mine made the same comment about her Bearded Dragon (pictured below), noting that he recognizes people and displays particular personality traits.
Photo Credit: Janine Ferrell
(6) Lizards shed their skin. I knew that snakes shed their skin, but I hadn’t thought about it with lizards until I owned them. My Common Tree Lizard would shed her skin in one big piece, just like a snake. She always did it at night, and I never actually got to see it happen live. I would just find it in the cage in the morning. My Chameleon would shed it in patches over a period of a few days.
(7) Chameleons can turn their eyes in all directions. It is rather interesting to watch a chameleon turn its eyes. They can move their eyes to look behind them without ever turning their head. They also can move them in different directions with one eye looking forward and the other looking back. This lets the chameleon see on all sides and process images from different directions simultaneously. When a Chameleon sees food, it turns his head to face the prey, which allows both eyes to point in the same direction and switch to binocular vision. It is very unique!
(8) Life with Lizards is fun. Life with a lizard really is neat. They are fun animals to watch and are great companions. With the right care, they can be a wonderful pet for many years .