Met the coolest chameleon over the weekend...and his name is SAGE! Go androgyny!
Let's give you some background about these reptiles...
Chameleons are a distinctive and highly specialized clade of Old World lizards with 202 species. These species come in a range of colors, and many species have the ability to change color. MIND. BLOWN.
Chameleons are distinguished by their zygodactylous feet, their swaying gait, and crests or horns on their brow and snout. Most species, the larger ones in particular, also have a prehensile tail. Chameleons' eyes are independently mobile, but when aiming at prey, they focus forward in coordination, affording the animal stereoscopic vision.
Kayla and I were on a casual hike this past Saturday at our favorite local spot in Ventura. I looked up, saw a woman with a Patagonia hat on, and something dangling behind her...little did I know, it was Sage's tail! I legit had to do a double take...I mean, do you blame me? When do you see a woman hiking with a chameleon on her head?! That's right, we just did.
Cassie was gracious to stop for some photos and agreed to be featured on Covid in California. Now that I think about it, she probably gets stopped ALL. THE. TIME.
Let's also note that Sage was soaking in the SoCal sun just as much as we were that day...
Giving your pet chameleon regular exposure to natural sunlight is one of the best things you can do to keep it happy and healthy.
These are animals that, in the wild, spend most of their time perched high up in trees. This gives them plenty of access to natural sunlight, which is important for the chameleon's overall health.
Cassie has known this and makes a conscious effort to take Sage out wherever she goes. I mean, he definitely can fit in her pocket, backpack, or on top of her hat!
Natural sunlight contains UVB rays, among other types of rays. UVB stands for ultraviolet B. It makes up part of the visible spectrum of light, the part that we can actually see. Chameleons and other types of lizards rely on UVB for their overall health. Specifically, they need it to manufacture and utilize vitamin D3 within their bodies. Reptiles are not able to absorb this vitamin from their food. At least, not as efficiently as you and I can. So they need regular access to UVB light to manufacture the vitamin.
In chameleons, vitamin D3 is needed for many life-supporting functions. Most importantly, it helps to support proper bone development. When chameleons become deficient in this particular vitamin (due to a lack of UVB or for any other reason), they are likely to develop metabolic bone disorder. This condition can lead to deformity and death. Obviously, this is not the path you want for your pet chameleon. So, you need to ensure it is getting a proper level of UVB light exposure every day. The best way to do this is by placing your chameleon in natural sunlight. Helloooo Patagonia hat!
Depending on where you live, this may only be possible for a few months out of the year...but not in Sunny SoCal, folks! Cassie, you're doing it right. Sage, you're a lucky man.
Covid has affected everyone in California, even Chameleons like Sage.
See below for my interview with Cassie:
RR: How has Covid-19 impacted you personally?
CC: "I have personally been fine. My family, however, has had a really hard time. My niece and nephews have been very depressed and lonely. I tried telling them that this is all temporary, but they are almost too young to understand. At one point, my niece was having really bad anxiety. She is 17 years old and missed out on her last year of high school. She plays sports and misses the team environment. My other niece who is 27, gave birth in the middle of the pandemic. After the baby was born, she also suffered from depression and anxiety. Being stuck in her house all day and night took a huge toll on her. She and the baby also got Covid, which was the hardest time of her life, by far. I felt hopeless and helpless, but all I could do was call her everyday. It was hard not being able to physically be there to help her."
RR: Did you or anyone you know get Covid-19?
CC: "In addition to my niece getting Covid, my older sister and all of her family got it as well. Living across the street from them and not being able to take care of them was extremely hard for me. My niece ended up in the hospital for three days. My wife went to visit her family in Las Vegas and her and her family also got Covid. They must have got the really bad strain because five out of six of them ended up in the hospital. My wife's 47 year old brother with no underlying health conditions ended up on a ventilator. At one point, the doctor called my wife and said he wasn’t going to make it through the night. Fighting against all odds, he pulled through. My wife called me crying every single day. I wanted to be there with her so badly, but the pandemic didn't allow me to. It was awful not being able to be there for her and her family while they were suffering from this awful disease."
RR: What specifically changed your personal / professional life during this time? I.E. what daily routine did you have to adjust?
CC: "Not being able to do all the activities I normally do was a big change for me. I continued to work during Covid."
RR: Is there a story behind your mask?
CC: "I continue to stay strong for my family, but seeing all the sadness and pain in people's eyes is hard to bear. Especially my own family. The eyes can say so much about a person, even with a mask on. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. It’s definitely an experience I’ll never forget. And an experience that has changed me forever."
RR: What do you miss most about life before Covid-19?
CC: "I miss feeling normal and safe. Covid-19 will forever traumatize me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always known the danger of a pandemic, but never did I think it would happen in my lifetime. An earthquake, yes. But we were blindsided by the worst pandemic in human history."
RR: What has Covid-19 made you grateful for?
CC: "Definitely my family and the freedom we have as Americans. We as Americans had a taste of what it feels like to have freedom taken away from us. Even though it was necessary, it was hard."
RR: What has been the biggest challenge for you during this time?
CC: "Staying positive. It just seemed to get worse and worse as time went on. And as if Covid-19 wasn’t bad enough, we also had riots happening all over the country. Our capital was attacked. At one point I remember thinking the world was going to shit."
RR: What are you most excited for when things return to “normal”?
CC: "Well, I don’t think things will ever be 100% normal. I really just want to be able to start traveling again. Traveling all over the world has been a big part of my life."
Thank you, Cassie and Sage, for stopping mid-hike to share your Covid in California story with me. Keep soaking up that vitamin D and living your best lives!