Marty Marty

Marty was born on 2 February 2009 and came from the Ambanja region of Madagascar, hence he was a blue chameleon.  Details of the changes required to the tank setup to convert from desert to jungle are at the bottom of the page while the rest of the page is our Marty diary with the most recent entry at the top.

Bye bye
19 September 2009

We held Marty's funeral today. Bye bye Marty.

6 September 2009

I got home from a night away today to find Marty dead. It looks, from his final resting position, as if he was hanging by his tail from a branch and dropped for some reason, landing awkwardly with his neck against a branch at floor level which may have broken it. His body was still supple and his colour was a healthy green besides his white stripe, so no obvious signs of stress. What a terrible thing to happen. Speechless.

Bigger Homes
27 June 2009

Marty is now too small for small high container so he's moved into his high home properly.

High home with plants and branches (and Marty)

His first action was to climb up the thermostat sensor cable to the electrical cables near the roof and sit dangerously close to the heat lamp, then try to escape over the top of it when we attempted to get him down.  A spot of cable manoeuvring was required to prevent him doing this in future.  Eating for him now requires a little more work but at least it's just mostly hanging around, in this case by his tail to catch the crickets on the floor of the vivarium.  The spots of white are left over skin from his last shedding and the small black patch on his heel we think might be a burn mark from his attempt to walk on the hottest thing in the tank.

Marty hanging around to feed

When in this home he tends to colour himself brown rather than the usual greeny-blue. We've also noticed that when he's out for a walk about and decides something's threatening him, he lets out a little snorting noise. Wonder if this is normal?

We're also experimenting with him living in his long-wide home as he'll need to stay there to be fed by a volunteer friend of Hazel's when we take a few days holiday later in the summer.  We've removed the protective grills from the lights as he could easily decide to climb up them and we've put a shade over the UV light to prevent it lighting up the entire house.

The wide-low home without the grills on the lights

He is now fed on "standard" sized crickets, which we believe is a moult or two below adult.

Gambolling And Growing
27 June 2009

We're getting Marty out of his vivarium as much as possible now so that he gets used to being handled.  He's certainly getting quite used to it: here he is dangling in Hazel's hair.  This may seem reckless but notice how his tail is carefully anchored.

Marty in Hazel's hair

And, as further proof of his growth, compare the picture below with that of him on the same thumb 11 weeks ago.

Marty on Alice's thumb

6 June 2009

Marty is growing at a phenomenal rate: just under 10 mm a week.  At this rate he will have doubled in size in just 6 weeks.

Length (mm) Weight (g)

Eating And Drinking
26 April 2009

Cleaning Marty's viv this morning we found very few crickets or locusts left over, so he is certainly eating well.  We are feeding him on number 1 or number 2 crickets and number 1 locusts, dusted with both Nutrobal (from Vetark) and Calypso Cricket Dust.

More fascinatingly, we've managed to catch some video of him drinking by licking the water droplets off the side of the vivarium. Still haven't caught him using his tongue to eat though.

Marty drinking

Many Vivs
25 April 2009

Like many of our honourable parliamentarians, Marty has several homes.  You can see Norman's old viv rejigged and the smaller box inside it below.  For a little while we have used an even smaller box for him to travel in that just about contains him and an air plant. But at 20 cm wide by 13 cm deep by 15 cm high that is definitely too small.

Marty's smallest travel box

What he really needs is height, which we found in the form of a plastic food box intended to store cereal.  We've cut large holes in two sides, sealed them with plastic mesh and replaced the lid with some more stainless steel mesh (with plastic mesh inside it as the holes would be too large otherwise). This is only 13 cm on a side but is 30 cm high and just about right for Marty at his current size, along with a slightly larger air plant.

Marty's small high box

Preparing for the future, while Norman's old vivarium is fine it would be good for Marty to have more height so in anticipation we've constructed another home.  It is 30 cm wide, 38 cm deep and 60 cm high with a 26 Watt ReptiSun 5.0 UVB Compact Flourescent lamp (which needs no starter) and a Solaris 150 Watt heat  lamp controlled by a Microclimate B1 controller, all on a timer to come on at 08:00 and go off at 22:00.  The front of the viv is made of two pieces of the stainless steel mesh, designed to be removed separately and have a very snug locust-proof fit (for 3's or higher).  The front is held on by some large clips until we can find some that are more appropriate.  The small-high home fits inside this and Norman's old vivarium.

Marty's high home 

Meanwhile, Marty himself has done his first skin shedding and seems to be growing satisfactorily.

Timelapse And Better Picture
20 April 2009

Managed to take a good picture of Marty yesterday, this one showing off the tiny serrations on his spine and belly and the colour patterns around his eyes.

Marty with serrations and eye colour

We also took a time-lapse film of him sitting in his vivarium with the aim of looking for colour changes.  A photo was taken every 2 seconds, so this 3 minute film covers 1.5 hours.  The most prominent change is in the white markings down his side when he's bothered by a locust. Notice also how he seems to rest one eye.

Timelapes video

So Much More Brain
12 April 2009

Marty has so much more brain than poor old Normy ever did.  He's watching intently for crickets, has been seen to eat today, has rushed to escape through the top of the container when he saw the hatch open and, in the rather fuzzy video below, his body shudders because there is a cricket walking over him.  Does he sit there and not care?  No, he notices it's on his tail and does a brisk flick to send it flying away into the right hand corner of the vivarium.  So much brain in such a tiny head.

Marty tail flick

Marty Day!
11 April 2009

We went to Millennium Reptiles today to pick up Marty.  He is a Panther Chameleon from the Ambanja region of Madagascar.  Ambanja Panther Chameleons grow to be a vibrant blue in colour.  Marty was born on 2 February 2009.  He currently weighs pretty much nothing and is about 6 cm long from his nose to the tip of his tail. The picture top-right below is of him sitting on the top knuckle of Alice's thumb.

Marty close up - notice the start of the blue colouring Marty sitting on the top knuckle of Alice's thumb


Since he's so tiny we've placed him inside a smaller box in the vivarium so that we can contain (and find) him.  He is being fed on crickets (2nds) dusted with Nutrobal (from Vetark).


The tank in the tank

And to prove his chameleonity, here is a video of his eye movements, speeded up four times.

The Eyes

14 March 2009

We've made a number of modifications to the desert tank that we had setup for Norman.  We've taken out the bark chips and put in a range of plants that are suitable for chameleons.  Hold your mouse over the pictures to see what they are.  We've moved them all into transparent pots (sold for use with orchids) for a more earthy look.

Hibiscus Tillandsia Cyanea Peperomia
Sarracenia Air Plant (another form of Tillandsia) Scindapsus, carefully unwound from its pole

We've also purchased a Super Rain mist system and a Humidity Controller to control it (from Lucky Reptile).  This is a pretty capable system, though it wasn't working properly on arrival (the humidity controller wasn't switching the mains socket).  We've set it up with three spray nozzles attached to the ceiling of the tank and it does some serious humidifying, easily getting up to 90%.  The nozzles need to be mounted in the corners of the tank pointing inwards so that their spray stays in the air rather than running down the sides of the glass.  The mist system was, in fact, too strong for our tank, leading to running water where we didn't want it.  Hence we've followed the suggestion of another purchaser of the misting kit and put a splitter in the tubing just at the output of the pump, bringing the new tube back around into the reservoir with a small tap on it.  By opening this valve it's possible to reduce the flow of water that gets into the tank.  On the advice of Lee from Millennium Reptiles we have set up the misting system to run for one minute twice a day, once in the morning and once the evening.  This gives us a humidity of 70% overnight and shortly after spraying, going down to 45% in the day time. It also means we're not actually using the Humidity Controller to control the system at all, more as an expensive humidity measuring device. The water is RO water from the system that we use for the fish.

One of the three misting nozzles

We've put Norman's logs back into the tank and the tank lighting all remains the same (a 40 Watt strip-lamp (freshly replaced), a 250 Watt infra-red lamp with a Habistat pulse-proportional thermostat to control it and a 125 Watt mercury vapour lamp for solid sunlight with choke/fittings from  

The now misty tropical tank

The only other change was to buy some stainless steel woven mesh from Mesh Direct which we have put in the left hand side of the slider beside the glass to allow air to circulate properly and prevent mould.

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