Assessing The Nutritional State

15/01/2020

In captivity, one of the crucial issues is to keep the chameleons in the same state as they are used to from the wild - "athletic", except of periods of drought and/or hunger. The common mistreatment in captivity is to heavily overfeed them.

It is practical to use the following terms to address the nutritional state of a chameleon.

Skinny
Athletic
Well Fed
Fat

Skinny: suboptimal weight
Athletic: optimal weight
Well Fed: above optimal weight to double the optimal weight
Fat: above double of the optimal weight

For assessment, the following guiding factors can be considered

Useful Factors:
Total constitution (heavy bodied, thin...)
Belly form (Belly content, emptiness)
Skin texture (firm, relaxed...)
Casque side (flat or bulged)
Cheek (flat or bulged)
Extremities (thin vs thick, muscles or bones visible)
Fingers (parallel or fat and divergent)
Tail base (muscles or bones visible or solid)
Area along the spine (with or without a swelling)
Bite and casque interactions (when biting, muscles action visible or whole area bulging outside)

Misleading factors:
Body form (inflated, gravid)
Belly content (gut content or fat body?)
Rib visibility (low fat content under skin, even well fed ones can have ribs visible)
Age (elasticity of skin deteriorate with age, muscles and bones become more visible)
Author: Petr Nečas