In times of stress the adrenal gland produces the stress hormones
Adrenalin and Corticosterone to prepare for the "fight
or flight" response.
Amongst other things increased respiration, heart rate and blood
pressure all serve to increase the amount of oxygen rich blood
to the brain and muscles. Adrenalin also enables a rapid release
levels of Corticosterone reduce functions unnecessary during
the time of danger. Growth, reproduction, and the immune system
all go on hold and blood flow to the skin is reduced.
hormones are very powerful and allow the body to achieve levels
of performance it could not normally achieve. Unfortunately
once these hormones are "turned on" they are very
difficult to "turn off" again. Stress hormones can
take up to 7 days to reduce to normal levels. Therefore exposing
a chameleon to a stressful situation with any regularity is
virtually guaranteed to stop them reproducing, will retard growth
and can lead to unnecessary illness and eventually an early
stress effects older chameleons more than young ones.
Hatchlings can stress most of all but if the stressor is changed
they seem to recover more quickly.
very common and totally avoidable cause of stress in captive
chameleons is keeping in pairs/groups
As social animals we humans have trouble understanding that
other species are solitary. In fact most chameleons will be
happiest if they never see another chameleon.
what actually happens when two chameleons are kept together?
You may never see any aggression towards each other. But one
will be dominant and the other submissive. One will be eating
less than the other.
Two chameleons together generate a constant low level of stress.
As we now know Stress will negatively effect several areas.
Firstly reproduction. If for example two females are kept together
you will generally see a reduction in the volume of eggs laid
and the frequency.
Secondly the constant low level stress will reduce each Chameleons
immune system to the point where one or both will become ill.
This can be a slow process and by the time you notice it may
be too late.
Chameleons together for mating then separate them (physically
AND visually) for the rest of the time.
Causes of Stress
Wrong lighting, heating
Too much human or animal traffic
Seeing its reflection or sight of another chameleon
Changing cage layout
Changing the position of the cage
Spraying with water that's too cold, too strong a spray
Not enough water or wrong presentation of water
Colouration - darker or brighter than usual
Posture - hiding behind branches, holding its self close to
Loss of appetite
Flattening of body along with extension of the gular pouch
Rocking back and forth
Watery or very smelly faeces
Different body temperature than normal
Frequently trying to escape from enclosure
Frequent scratching at bottom of cage (usually sign gravid female
is due to lay)
Spending time on floor of enclosure
A usually tame or tolerant animal becoming aggressive