Monday, January 13, 2020

Chameleon Circus!


BLOGGER'S OBSERVATONS: I remember the "chameleon". I had one as a kid, since they were wildly popular and readily available in any pet store for only a few dollars (and I loved lizards, snakes, frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and whatever crawly things I could get my hands on). These weren't chameleons at all, of course, but tiny bright-green anole lizards.  My "chameleon" was sluggish at the best of times, and soon died. I saw no evidence of circus skills that could be exploited in a "real live animal act". 

The worst of it was that I had to keep a bag of LIVE meal worms in the refrigerator, where they went into semi-hibernation (which was supposed to keep them alive). They ended up scaring the hell out of my mother when she opened up the brown paper bag in the fridge, thinking it was the remnants of someone's lunch, and finding instead a writhing bag of worms.

Since the "chameleon" wasn't really a chameleon, it only had limited ability to change colour. Normally a bright neon green, it was supposed to turn brownish in low light. Frustrated that it wouldn't turn colour, and having been told it needed a dark place to change, I put it in my brother's clarinet case, with bad results. Due to the sudden shock of discovering a squirming lizard in his instrument case, my brother reacted violently and the chameleon went flying through the air, which was the closest it ever came to performing tricks. 

I saw a large anole, or some similar type of lizard, on my last trip to Hawaii, but like most lizards it mostly just sat there clinging to the bark of a tree, once in a while lunging at an insect. But in some videos, I was surprised to see anole lizards viciously fighting with each other. One wonders why such potentially-aggressive creatures were ever sold to children.

Maybe it was a circus romance? Unwilling or unable to walk tightropes or perform other such undignified tricks, maybe two rival males duked it out over a comely female anole, perhaps the type who did tricks on top of a galloping horse. In any case, it seems highly unlikely these lizards could or would perform high-wire tricks on command. In fact, they were most likely dead on arrival, like all those other "free" animals - capuchin monkeys, cute little "tea cup" chihuahuas ("Will you give me a home?"), etc., that you could get by selling salve door-to-door.

My anole was nice, for the three weeks or so it lasted, but it too went into a kind of dormant state, since my mother INSISTED I keep it in the (cold) basement. At least it didn't suffer the terrible fate of Bee Bee. The cat killed and ate my beloved budgie, which had been allowed to fly free in the house. One awful day, the budgie swooped down on the cat once too often. All we could find was a pile of turquoise feathers and one claw. He also mauled a hamster to death, but didn't bother eating it. 

Pets escape, and the results aren't pretty. But neither are battles to the death among tiny, misnamed lizards. I think you can still get anoles, but people are much more realistic about them now and keep them safely in terrariums - hopefully not housed with mortal enemies, so THIS won't happen.

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