We bet you’ve seen or heard about Wolverine in Marvel Comics. Well, getting that kind of ability to heal or regenerate like him is nothing but impossible for humans. But guess what? Some of the reptiles surely can pull this off by growing their tails back. Hold on a second! Chameleons are also reptiles, right? So, can they too grow their tails back?
The answer is No! Chameleons lack the capacity to lose their tails voluntarily in response to danger or grow them, unlike lots of the other lizards. Actually, the loss of a chameleon’s tail might indicate a dire medical emergency which can even lead to their death.
But why can’t they pull that off when some of the other major reptiles can with ease? Well, that’s the answer we’re planning to dig out today.
Chameleons possess a wide variety of advantageous traits that allow them to successfully adapt to their environments and secure their continued existence. And for obvious reasons, the tail is considered to be an essential limb by chameleons, with similar priorities to the toes or the legs.
It provides the chameleon with stability, whether it is hanging from the limbs of a tree or climbing on one. And in order to properly support the weight of the body, the tailbone develops to a huge extent as the chameleon ages.
Once the tissues and blood vessels at the nerve endings are damaged when the reptile loses its tail, it is not possible for it to successfully reconnect the tail to its body. The thing is, a chameleon, in contrast to other species of lizard, does not come with any vertical fracture plane that can be utilized for caudal autonomy.
Because of this, the chameleon is unable to cast off its tail willingly or grow it again. So, against the popular belief, unlike some other animals, chameleons do not possess any regeneration capabilities of any kind.
Have you ever heard about the term ‘autotomy’? Well, some of the insects and animals have developed this protective mechanism known as self-amputation, in which they purposefully cut off one of their own limbs. Veiled chameleons, however, are unable to pull off this particular trick, like their other similar species.
Actually, it’s the vertical fracture plane that contains utterly no bone, which ultimately contributes to the development of autotomy. This enables certain species of lizards to remove their tails from their bodies.
On the other hand, when chameleons get older, and their bones develop, the fracture plane is gradually replaced by the reptile’s bones. As juveniles mature into adults, chameleons are able to develop a larger and more robust tail as a result of this process.
As a chameleon owner, you probably already know how much they rely on their tails in order to pull off a variety of functions, including maintaining their equilibrium, moving around, and climbing branches.
One more thing! For these reptiles to be able to carry their full body weight with just their tails, it’s the bone that makes up the tail part tough and resistant to wear and tear. So, losing a precious part of their body like that willingly is pretty much impossible for them.
Well, there’s nothing new to say on why chameleons can’t willingly lose their tail. But that doesn’t mean an unwanted amputation can’t take place under certain circumstances. So, what are they? Well, here’s the list!
There’s no way to deny that chameleons are particularly possessive of their territory. If they believe that their area is in danger, it will provoke them to become hostile and immediately engage in combat. They run into the risk of having their tails bitten off when participating in these fights.
In an event like that, where the tail has been bitten and is not quickly treated, it may result in further difficulties. Even sometimes, it can lead to the amputation of the tail. The good news is, when compared to chameleons kept in captivity, this behavior is much more prevalent in the wild.
Due to being in the middle of the food chain, chameleons often roam under the risk of encountering a predator. However, a predator may try to tear off the chameleon’s tail by grabbing it by its tail and causing it to pull away from its body. And it has already been established that chameleons are unable to shed their tails.
In addition to that, most of the predators come up with a high chance of biting onto the chameleon’s tail, therefore tearing it off of the reptile. So, in one way or another, a fight with a predator can cost a chameleon its tail.
If you don’t believe the aforementioned characteristics apply to a confined chameleon, then this one should. When a chameleon doesn’t have enough room to move around in, it might become irritated or act aggressively.
This can result in the chameleon often biting its own tail. It might sound a bit strange, but in captivity, a chameleon may mistake its own tail for something strange. Sometimes the frequency of this kind of issue goes so high that the reptile can injure its own tail badly, which later on ends up in its amputation.
By the way, if you see your lizard acting aggressively too often, you can simply try a bunch of things to ease it up. But what are they? Well, you’ll get all the details on that in this blog of ours.
If you’re asking for the most fragile reptiles, we bet chameleons will be among the top listers. Actually, the long, coiled tails of these animals are notorious for getting trapped in things. By the way, it’s not their fault all the time. It’s simple to understand how chameleon owners can cause the breakage or damage of their pets’ tails.
The tails of chameleons are mostly used for balancing themselves by grabbing onto trees or cage bars, particularly when the animal is ready to shoot out its tongue. Because of this, it is extremely vital that you treat your chameleon with total caution.
Before you try to pick your reptile up, you have to check to see if the animal’s tail is hooked on anything or not. If you skip this precaution, you’d do nothing but take the chance of cracking one of the bones in their tail. And the worst-case scenario? You can end up pulling the tail completely apart.
When you’re opening or shutting the enclosure, it’s a must to keep an eye on the enclosure’s entrance. The thing is, the tip of a reptile’s tail is so small that it’s quite easy for humans to miss it and close the door inadvertently. And the result? The tail can get pinched between the two and get damaged.
Well, sometimes the vets, too, can cause chameleons to lose their tails. No, we’re not saying that they like to do it willingly. It’s often just a part of the treatment. If your chameleon has a damaged tail and you’ve taken it to the veterinarian, they might opt to amputate its tail, depending on the condition of the tail, of course.
In the vast majority of cases, the veterinarian would make an effort to repair the lizard’s tail in an effort to avoid amputating it, so that it can have a functional tail for the rest of its life. But when the injury or damage is too severe, however, the best course of treatment for your reptile would be to amputate the affected limb.
In spite of the fact that they need their tails for basic functions like walking, hanging on branches, and reaching higher branches, they can still survive without them. In the wild, things can go to a tougher phase without their tail, but a chameleon may still have a long and fruitful life, especially if it is kept in captivity.
They may have a hard time surviving in the wild, which ultimately can lead to their death. And the reason? Well, a chameleon in the wild is nothing but easy prey for both predators and other own species, especially when they’re missing their tail.
Clearly, the chameleons are not blessed with the gift of regeneration like some of the major reptiles out there. This means once they lose their tail, there’s no way to grow it back. So, it’ll be better if you can just keep an eye on your reptile in order to save its tail from any kind of damage. Otherwise, your one careless act might make the lizard let its tail go forever.