...and we are poisoning our chameleons.
Plastic is all around us, nearly impossible to avoid: It lines soup cans, leaches out of storage containers, hides in household dust, and is found inside of toys, electronics, shampoo, cosmetics and countless other products. It's used to make thousands of single-use items, from grocery bags to forks to candy wrappers.
We're doing more than just using plastic. We're ingesting it, too. When you eat a bite of food or even have a sip of water, you're almost certainly taking in tiny plastic particles along with it. These ubiquitous fragments are known as microplastics.
Because research into microplastics is so new, there's not yet enough data to say exactly how they're affecting human health. There is also no research on the interaction of microplastics and chameleons obviously.
Ingesting microplastics exposes us to chemicals found in some plastics that are known to be harmful: reproductive harm, obesity, organ failures, developmental delays in children, cancer!
Humans have produced more than 8 billion tons of plastic, less than 10% has been recycled. Nowadays, they are broken in tiny particles and all distributed everywhere. It is estimated that people consume about 5 grams of plastic a week; roughly the equivalent of a credit card.
There is evidence, that
• microplastics can cross the hardy membrane protecting the brain from many foreign bodies from the bloodstream,
• mothers may be able to pass microplastics through the placenta to a developing fetus,
• some microplastic particles could potentially leach bisphenol and phthalates, interacting with hormones, reducing fertility and lower testosterone levels,
• styrene causes nervous system problems, hearing loss and cancer,
• microplastic particles accumulate polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), causing various cancers, a weakened immune system, reproductive problems and more.
And now remember, what we see in the captivity happening with chameleons: reduced fertility, males not interested in females, problems with baby development, weak immunity and susceptibility to diseases unknown from the wild, cancer, organ failures... All too similar with the above mentioned not to be at least partly linked...
How to lower the risks?
You cannot escape something that is everywhere, but avoid at least unnecessary extra exposure:
Use tap water. Bottled water has about double the microplastic level of tap water
Don't heat food in plastic. Heated plastics leach chemicals into environment.
Avoid plastic food containers.
Eat fresh food. it is less likely to expose you to unwanted chemicals.
Minimize household dust.
Beware, we are on the same boat with chameleons!
Better say, we made the chameleons to be on our boat with us!
We put them in cages and surround them with plastic: fake plants, fake vines, feeder cups, pots for plants, pincers, sprayers, bottles, we raise and transport their feeders in plastic...
Chameleons are not our property, chameleons are living beings. And they have their rights too, regardless whether codified in laws or simply in human hearts, ethics and moral.
For a decade and more now, I have fought for the right of chameleons to live without fake plants. And, the result of my research on the reasons why people still use them is quite frustrating:
1. Ignorance - people do not care and actively ignore what is brought to their attention, they consider themselves an owner of a property - chameleon - and insist on the concept, "I can do whatever I want", mixing the meaning of liberty with anarchy and stupidity...,
2. Lack of knowledge - people do not know, they are not interested, they sometimes vigorously refuse new information,
3. Negligence - people do not care enough, they underestimate facts,
4. Rigidity - in our fast changing world, lots of people still insist on the philosophy "never change the winning formula", which is obviously lethal and working only very limited way,
5. Lazyness - people do not want to care for living plants, they say it is extra effort and want to have it simple and easy; the do not want to care, they want to buy it,
6. Greed - people say it is cheaper to buy fake plants than the living ones (which alone is disputable) and do not want to invest - so they are not ready to take the responsibility for the chameleons they have acquired to provide them the correct environment,
7. False beliefs - they believe the fake plants are easy to care for (no need to water and give nutrients - true) and easy to sterilize (heat, hot water, chemicals - true but the off-trade is while heating them, they destabilize and produce microplastics, leak toxic and carcinogenous chemicals, adopt toxic chemicals as bleaches, chlorine and disinfectants etc.) and that they fulfill all the functions of living plants (absolute error: no gas exchange, no humidity regulation, no antiseptic properties etc.)
8. False deduction - people say: "I have produced hundreds or thousands of healthy offsprings, they are not affected by the fake plants" (false - the effect of all this is slow and is not killing the animals immediately but slowly and surely)... They say "no one can escape the plastics so can't the chameleons (but there is no reason to increase their exposure by deliberately giving them more).
Please listen to me... By exposing chameleons to all the plastics, mainly plastic plants, we increase their concentration in their environment by maybe 1,000 times, maybe 1,000,000 times. Regardless what the number is, this is exactly the number, by which we increase all the evident and hidden negative effects of the plastics and multiply their harm.
I urge you, I beg you: do not continue that evil.
Those, that even after this article will still insist on using plastic, especially plastic plants in the enclosures of chameleons, I kindly ask to practice the following themselves and all members of their families:
Please, buy a bunch of fake plants for every beloved member of your family and sleep in it, touch it all the day long and soak it in every cup of tea, coffee and water you drink, stir well and drink the "safe and harmless" juices. Please, garnish every food with fake leaves - and then easily sterilize them, they are harmless... Is it absurd? Yes. So is using harmful, toxic and cancer causing fake plants and objects in the chameleon cages.
Fake plants are good for fake or dead chameleons.
If it is not good enough for people, it is not good for chameleons.