When your pet chameleon stalks you like he’s thinking about steak

30 мая 2013, 16:02

Note to readers: Dalmira Merzhakupova is a Nazarbayev University student who wrote this blog for my Communication 101 writing class. I thought it was so interesting that I asked her if I could use it as a guest blog in Tengrinews.

By Dalmira Merzhakupova

My friend Vadim had always wanted to have an exotic animal like a reptile for a pet.

A couple of years ago, his girlfriend Angela made his wish come true. She gave Vadim, my best friend in the northern Kazakhstan town of Rudnyi, a chameleon for his birthday.

When he told me about it, his voice was full of joy.

The next day he called me, however – and there was alarm instead of joy in his voice.

His chameleon, whom he had named Pasha, had bit his toe.

The morning after that, he awoke to find Pasha licking him.

“I thought maybe he was sorry for biting me, and this was a way of making it up to me,” Vadim told me.

Vadim said he was happy that Pasha appeared apologetic, so he forgave him.

That whole day, Pasha followed him around, acting as if he were concerned about Vadim’s welfare, Vadim told me.

By then, Vadim noticed that the toe that Pasha had bitten had become red, swollen and sore.

He went to a hospital emergency room, telling the doctor what had happened.

The doctor decided he’d better call a veterinarian.

“This kind of chameleon is poisonous,” the veterinarian told him.

The way the animal gets food is to inject venom into the prey with a bite, then follow it around until the poison kills it. Then the chameleon feasts on the victim.

My Communication professor, Dr. Hal Foster, said Pasha’s tactic reminded him of a documentary he had watched on the National Geographic television show on the komodo dragons of Indonesia.

These huge lizards have dozens of types of toxic bacteria in their teeth. When they bite a prey, the bacteria kill the victim within minutes or hours, depending on the prey’s size.

“The prey escapes the dragon, sometimes leaving the predator far away,” Dr. Foster said. “However, the dragon has a good sense of smell and follows the victim to where it has died, then eats it.”

Vadim was apparently too big for Pasha’s poison to cause much more than redness.

Soon my friend was in good health again.

Pasha’s treachery led to his being sent to the Almaty Zoo.

Vadim has stuck to dogs and cats as pets since then.

The moral of this story is be careful what you wish for. It can end up being dangerous.

Dalmira Merzhakupova

Dalmira Merzhakupova. Photo courtesy of Dalmira Merzhakupova.



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