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Taking Care of a Veiled Chameleon
A lot of people are interested in chameleons because of their ability to change colors. Chameleons do this based on temperature and mood. They will also do it to interact with other chameleons. The different species people usually own are Veiled, Jackson, and Panther. I have seen a panther chameleon with some red, yellow and blue. After you decide which species you want, you need to be prepared before you bring your pet home.
In this article, I'll explain how you should care for a veiled chameleon. Jackson and panther chameleons require different care, so do your research if you have any of the other types of species.
Never house more than one chameleon. They like to live alone and are territorial, so do not house with a different species of animal either!
Juvenile chameleons do better in smaller enclosures. 2 long by 2 foot wide by 4 foot tall is a great size. It is also easier to monitor stool and eating behavior by having a small enclosure at first. Screened enclosures are recommended because they have great air flow. Do not use a glass enclosure. Around 8 to 10 months old is when you need to get a larger enclosure. An adult should have an enclosure that is 3 feet deep by 2 feet long by 4 feet tall. Males can grow up to 2 feet long and females can grow up to 18 inches long, so they will require a tall enclosure. They need the height to be able to climb up high. This will ensure your new pet will have enough room to climb and be happy.
Heating & Lighting
Heating up a screened enclosure can be complicated, but it can be done. Do not use heat rocks or heat tape; the chameleon will not recognize where the warmth is coming from. Create a basking spot towards the top of the enclosure using a incandescent basking bulb. You will also need to provide tube lighting that contains UVB. UVB lighting is important for proper calcium absorption. The UVB needs to be a 5.0 tube lighting for tropical reptiles. This is a requirement to prevent Metabolic Bone Disease. Your new friend will move around to adjust its own body temperature. During the day the temperature will need to be between 72F to 80F. Towards the top of the enclosure where the basking spot is, it needs to be around 85F to 95F. At night time the temperature will drop down to the 60s. Purchase a temperature gun to make sure the temperatures are accurate.
Water & Humidity
Chameleons drink from the water droplets on leaves. Water is a very important factor to ensure your new friend will be well hydrated. Purchase a spray bottle and hygrometer. A hygrometer will tell you how much humidity there is inside the enclosure. The humidity needs to be around 30- 40%. The percentage will spike up when misted. Make sure you leave a dry out period to prevent any mold growth. You can achieve this by spraying once in the morning and once at night.
Substrate & Decorations
Young chameleons will be fine with a bare floor. Having a bare floor will help monitor stool and eating habits. You can make the tank bio-active, but I suggest not doing it unless you have enough experience. Organic potting soil that is fertilizer free is also good to use even by itself, because they can pass it through their digestive system in case it is accidentally swallowed. For adults, you can also use the organic potting soil or you can do bio-active.
Chameleons are arboreal and will climb every where inside the enclosure. You will need to provide large climbing branches that reach the whole length of the enclosure and fake plants that reach the whole length as well, to provide a place to sleep and climb. Have these branches and plants large enough for your chameleon to walk on. Cover the entire enclosure as well. Make sure these branches are pesticide and bug free. This will prevent your new friend from getting ill. Bake the branches in the oven at 200F for 2 hours. Cover the whole tank with the decorations to help make your new friend happy. You can add live plants, but I suggest not doing this unless you decide to change the tank to bio-active. It will hold humidity as the bottom of the enclosure. If you decide to do live plants, make sure you heavily research what plants are safe to use.
Chameleons mainly eat insects. Dubia roaches, horn worms, meal worms and dragon flies are good staple insects to feed. Wax worms and super worms are great treats, but wax worms are very fattening so don't feed too many. You should always gut load and dust your insects. Always gut load your bugs by feeding the bugs fresh fruit and veggies. Dust your bugs by placing them in a bag with a multivitamin and gently shake it up. A multivitamin containing calcium D3 will ensure your chameleon will receive proper nutrients. Feed insects everyday until your new friend is full. In order to feed your chameleon some of the worms, use a food dish or tongs. Make sure these bugs are free of pesticides. Romaine lettuce is another treat to your chameleon, but do not feed it often.
Cleaning & Handling
Clean out old food every day and clean out feces every other day. The branches, plants, and enclosure can be cleaned using hot water and distilled white vinegar. Soak it all every two weeks for at least an hour. Change the paper towel once a week. Make sure you rinse every thing well and let it dry completely before returning your chameleon to the enclosure.
Handling you chameleon can be fun, but don't do it too often. Chameleons will become stressed with too much handling. Place your hand in the enclosure and let you new friend walk on it. Do this quietly and slowly take him/her out of the enclosure. Let your chameleon walk on your arm or hand. Do not force it to do anything. Be patient, they do move slowly.
What type of chameleon do you own or want?
Information Gathered From:
Facebook Groups: Reptile Connection and Reptile Enthusiasts
"Largest Selection of Reptiles & Supplies on the Web!" Reptile Supplies and Live Reptiles - LLLReptile. LLLReptile and Supply Co., Inc., 2017. Web. 27 June 2017. <http://www.lllreptile.com/>.
"Veiled Chameleon Care Sheet." Veiled Chameleon Care Sheet, Best Online Veiled Chameleon Care, Veiled Chameleon Information, Veiled Chameleon Cage, Veiled Chameleons for sale, Buy Veiled Chameleons. FLChams, n.d. Web. 27 June 2017. <http://www.veiledchameleoncaresheet.com/>.