chameleon species are fairly solitary and intolerant of other individuals
being housed with them. Thus one ADULT animal per cage is the general
Veiled Chameleons all have their own personalities. Some individual
chameleons may become tame to the point of climbing over to "greet"
you at their cage door, others will only want to come out occasionally.
Letting your Chameleon come out for a wander (supervised) every
now and again is a good idea and helps keep them fit.
To tame your Chameleon,
try and get him/her to hand feed from about 10 weeks old. Firstly,
place a waxworm in the flat palm of your hand about 10 inches from
your chameleon so as not to scare him/her. Then be patient! The
waxworm will start to wiggle and eventually the chameleon will notice
the food. Once your Chameleon is looking at the food with both eyes
it should soon fire out its tongue to catch its prey. It might take
a while at first but eventually the chameleon will become more confident
and will eventually take food quickly every time. Once it is feeding
confidently from your hand other foods can be introduced.
Chameleons can either be kept in purpose built Chameleon enclosures
or normal vivariums (height needs to be about 20 inches plus for
adults). If a normal vivarium is used, one of the glass doors should
be replaced by a mesh panel as all Chameleons require a lot of ventilation
(have the remaining glass door the same side as the basking lamp).
Poor ventilation, like that found in a typical glass aquarium, will
allow the air to become stagnant and provide an opportunity for
fungus and bacteria to grow which in turn will effect the health
of your chameleon (and may even kill it). The
cage should be furnished with branches of different diameters so
that the chameleon can easily navigate the entire cage. Live plants
will provide good hiding places and add to the beauty and humidity
of the enclosure. Because some chameleons are known for eating vegetable
matter, only non-toxic plants should be planted in their enclosures.
The most common choices among chameleon breeders are Pothos, hibiscus,
Umbrella plants or Ficus benjamani, Ficus "Alii", and
Ficus natidia. Plastic plants can also be used with or instead of
real plants and have the advantage that they are easily cleaned.
The arrangements of lights, plants and branches should be such to
allow for at least one basking site where the temperature will reach
the upper limits of the animal's comfortable temperature range.
The temperature in the rest of the enclosure should be lower allowing
the animal to thermoregulate (chose its own temperature) by moving
around the cage.Do
not use substrate with chameleons as it can sometimes get it stuck
in their digestive track causing problems.
Veiled chameleons, coming from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, need hot
temperatures during the day. The basking area should be around 90ºF
to 95ºF. At the opposite end to the basking spot the temperature
should be at least 10ºF lower than the basking spot. With a
mesh door it's relatively easy to achieve this. Standard 40 /60
watt light bulbs can be used to create a basking spot. Vary the
wattage to get the basking spot the right temperature. Alternatively
attach the bulb to a dimmer thermostat with the heat sensitive probe
situated near the basking spot. As Chameleons climb on anything
its better not to cover the heat source with a wire cage otherwise
they tend to climb on the cage and burn their underside. Its better
to situate the heat source far enough away from the nearest branch
that they can't touch it at all.
The basking spot light should be on for 12 hours a day.
should be kept a bit cooler than adults during the day.
are very hardy chameleons that can withstand a large range of temperatures.
At night, it is necessary for them to experience at least a 10ºF
to 15ºF drop in temperature. In a normal house, no heating
is required at night. This allows better resting and simulates their
natural habitat where temperatures drop significantly at night.
Lighting is very important for Veileds as it is for all chameleons.
Veileds should be provided with a UVA/UVB producing light source
and a basking light. UVA and UVB exposure allows chameleons to synthesize
vitamin D3 into their skin. The synthesis of vitamin D3 allows the
absorption of calcium which is critical for all chameleons.
The recommended lights to provide sufficient UVB/UVA exposure are
ZooMed's ReptiSun 5.0, ZooMed's Iguana Light 5.0, Arcadia D3 Reptile
Light, Interpet Triton Reptile D3 Light and Repti-glow 8.0 Reptile
No tungsten light produces UV light (even so called full spectrum
or Reptile basking lights). They are perfect however for basking
The light should be on for 12-14 hours a day.All
Chameleons love natural sunlight. On hot summer days take your Chameleon
outside and put it on a bush to bask. No artificial light can really
duplicate the full effects of the suns rays on a sun loving reptile
like the Veiled Chameleon. Obviously make sure your Chameleon can't
escape or the local cat or bird of prey does not fancy a quick meal
first! An outside aviary with a dripper system is Chameleon heaven
on a summer day if you have the space. Always make sure the Chameleon
can get out of the sun if it wants to though.
Few chameleons will ever learn to drink water from a standing water
dish. In the wild, chameleons lick dew and rain droplets off of
leaves, or are attracted to moving water. This means that in captivity,
special watering techniques need to be used to keep chameleons healthy
and hydrated. Chameleons are naturally attracted to droplets of
water which reflect light. Chameleon keepers can take advantage
of this by designing water systems that takes this natural behaviour
into account. Drip systems are the most common form of chameleon
watering system. They generally consist of a container of a water
container that sits above the enclosure. A plastic tube with a flow
control clamp runs from the water container and into the chameleon
cage. Water slowly drips out of the end of the plastic tube. Pre-made
drip systems are available and generally include some sort of adjustment
to control the rate at which water drips from the tube. Other, simpler
drip systems can also be used. A tub of water with a hole in the
bottom made by a drawing pin works just as well suspended from the
ceiling of the enclosure. If a drip system is used in a chameleon
cage, care needs to be taken to prevent the cage from becoming too
wet. This is easily accomplished by placing a container inside the
cage to catch the dripping water. Make sure the chameleon can't
tip it over. Covering the container with mesh will prevent the chameleon
or crickets from falling in. The water can then be emptied every
day. Another method of watering your chameleon is to simply mist
the inside of the enclosure several times a day. Chameleons will
eagerly lick water off plants, as well as the sides of the enclosure.
With Veiled Chameleons
you should mist twice a day and have a drip system going for about
10 minutes at a time at least once a day. If no drip system is used
increase the spraying to several times a day. After a while you
may find the Chameleon will drink directly from drips from the water
Some Veileds rarely drink water however that does not mean it should
not be available regularly.
clean warm drinking water. Pre boiled semi-cooled water or mineral
water (warmed up with boiling water) is best. If using tap water
leave it to stand for a while to allow chlorine etc to disburse.
drops dramatically when sprayed. To get the right temperature, spray
your hand from 12 inches away. If it feels warm then it's the right
temperature (you will find you have to use fairly hot water in the
spray bottle to get a warm spray at 12 inches). Be careful if your
Chameleon drinks directly from the nozzle of the spray bottle as
the water for spraying could be too hot if coming out in drops.
Veiled chameleons will eat a bit of vegetable matter, along with
their diet of live insects. You may find that the plants in the
enclosure gradually get eaten by the Chameleon (although some never
eat vegetation at all). Try watercress, grated carrot (or sweet
potato) and chopped spring greens. Dandelion leaves are an excellent
replacement for spring greens and watercress. Just make sure you
pick them from areas that don't use pesticides and wash them first.
All captive chameleons
require calcium and vitamin supplementation. The specific reason
for this is beyond the scope of this document. But in short, chameleons
need vitamin D3 in order to metabolise calcium for growth and proper
nerve functions. Many 'basking' reptiles naturally produce vitamin
D3 in their skin when they bask in the sun and are exposed to UV
radiation. Since the UV output of most human-made full-spectrum
lights do not provide the same UV exposure as the sun, additional
supplementation is ESSENTIAL.
Feed your chameleon(s)
daily by placing live insects with the fresh vegetables into a plastic
container which is large enough to prevent the insects from escaping
(a 2 litre ice cream tub is perfect). Vitamin &/or mineral supplementation
when required can then be sprinkled on the insects and vegetables.
Shake the container to evenly coat the vegetables and insects with
the supplement. Alternatively use a plastic cup and suspend the
container under the chameleons favourite perch. Do this in such
a way that it is easy for the chameleon to reach the food in the
bottom of the container. The insects will eat some of the vegetables
so keeping them gut loaded and alive hence the chameleons will benefit
even if they do not directly eat much of the vegetable matter themselves.
For very young hatchlings, a baby food jar makes a nice food dish.
The same vegetable mixture that is fed to your chameleons should
also be fed to the insects you will feed to your chameleons. This
will ensure the insects are healthy and nutritious by the time your
chameleons eat them. Following is a list of the different insects
you can use to feed your chameleon:
- Brown Crickets are safer (Blacks can bite Chameleons at night
when they are sleeping). When fed small slices of sweet potato (or
carrot) and fresh greens they are nutritious and can comprise up
to 80% of your chameleons total diet. Crickets however have a low
Calcium/phosphorus ratio so additional calcium supplementation should
be included with most cricket meals. Supplement lightly with pure
calcium powder, not one with vitamins.
2 - 3 Week Old Crickets- Like adult crickets, but are small enough
to be fed to juvenile chameleons.
Tip: Crickets should be gut loaded (fed) for at
least a day prior to being used as food. Put a slice of carrot and
a dandelion leaf (washed, or spring green/cabbage) into the cricket
tub. Leave them for 24 hours if possible before feeding to the Chameleon.
- A brilliant food for Veileds. Feed the locusts on grass and greens
before feeding to the Chameleons. Small hoppers for babies, Adults
for Adults.Fruit flies are a great source of food for baby chameleons.
Mealworms are inexpensive and, like crickets, easy to load with
valuable nutrition by feeding them a quality diet of fruits and
vegetables. Commercial gut loading such as bug grub is also available
and is excellent. Only feed occasionally as the hard chitin shell
of the mealworm is not digestible and can cause blockage of the
gut when overfed.
or Zoophobias- Superworms look very much like mealworms, but
much bigger and are a slightly different colour. These should only
be fed to your chameleon when your chameleon is large enough to
eat them. Like crickets and mealworms they should be fed a diet
of fresh fruits and vegetables (or commercial gut load) prior to
using. These are much better than normal mealworm as there is more
body compared to hard shell. Best fed when they have just shed their
hard shell (when they are white in colour).
Waxworms are sometime called grubs. They are nutritious, full of
moisture, and easy to store. Chameleons LOVE them. They can be made
more nutritious by feeding them Bee Pollen Granules from a Health
Food Shop. Unfortunately, some Chameleoms love them so much they
seem to get addicted and won't take anything else. To avoid this,
they should only take up a small proportion of your Chameleons diet.
They are the best food to get chameleons used to feeding from your
Waxworms turn into moths, which your chameleons will love to eat.
Insects- Many chameleon owners set up insect traps during the
summer to catch their own insects (not bees or wasps or hairy caterpillars).
Grasshoppers, flies, crickets, and spiders will all be devoured
by your chameleons. This also helps offer a diverse diet necessary
for the health of your chameleon. It is important, however, that
the insects be collected from areas where insecticides are not used.
Moths can be collected at night and stored until the morning for
Some people also supplement their adult chameleons diets with new
born mice called pinkie mice. Not all Chameleons will take pinkie
mice. They are definitely a matter of taste for you and your Chameleon
and should only be fed once a week if accepted but they do help
to get added calcium and nutrients into the Chameleon.
when young, should be fed as much as they will eat. As they get
older they should be given a more stationary diet (large crickets,
large mealworms or superworms, waxworms, earthworms etc.). It is
important that you limit the amount of food you feed an adult chameleon.
Allowing a chameleon to gorge itself, will result in a very obese
and unhealthy chameleon. When they are young they will devour anywhere
from 6 to 20 small cricket sized insects daily. When they grow up
to adults, they will eat about 5-15 full grown medium to large sized
The following supplement schedule is recommended for your adult
Most feedings can include a light dusting of a pure calcium supplement
such as Bone Aid Calcium powder although if all food is well gut
loaded every other day is fine.
Multivitamins: Add a good dose of Nutrabol multivitamin and
calcium powder 1-2 times per week. (twice a week for babies).
- Egg Laying
As with all egg laying lizards, females can have a tendency if not
looked after properly to retain eggs, which can eventually kill
them. A common misconception with Chameleons is that if a female
Chameleon is not mated she will die egg bound. This is not true.
If however she is not given a suitable place to lay her eggs then
this is possible. Female Chameleons will produce eggs 2-3 times
a year whether they have been mated or not.
A suitable egg
laying site is a plastic box (suggested size 15" x 8"
x 8 tall) full of damp play or bird sand (don't use builders sand
or any other types that contain lime). When she is ready she will
dig a tunnel and lay her eggs before filling it back up again. Pay
particular attention to watering your chameleon during this period
as she can get dehydrated very easily as the eggs take moisture
from her body to expand. Whilst a bit more effort is needed around
egg laying time to look after females they do tend to be naturally
tamer and more likely to interact with you than the males.
Veiled Chameleons are very easy to sex at any age.
The male has a small spur on the heel of the hind foot. A female