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How to Care for Your Veiled Chameleon

15th Dec 2015

When it comes to reptiles, none is quite as unique as the chameleon. From its binocular vision to its bright, vivid coloration, the chameleon is a spectacle to behold, both in the wild and in captivity. For pet owners who are looking for something bolder than a common lizard, a chameleon can be a great addition to your home. In particular, the species known as the Veiled Chameleon is ideal for any new buyers. The reason for this is that most Veiled Chameleons are bred in captivity, so they are used to being kept in artificial enclosures. This makes the species much more docile and receptive to domestication, making them an ideal pet. Below we’ll outline the best way to house, feed, and care for your Veiled Chameleon.

Housing

This species originally hails from the mountain regions of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. This may lead you to believe that they thrive in hot, arid environments, but it’s quite the opposite. The regions that Veiled Chameleons come from are full of vegetation and frequent rainfall, making them more suited to a tropical climate rather than a desert. Therefore, your housing enclosure should reflect this.

Like all chameleons, the Veiled species loves to climb, rarely spending much time on the forest floor. Your habitat should include a variety of branches and vines for your pet to rest and walk on. Some plant species that are best suited for this reptile are ficus, hibiscus, and pothos. You can use a mixture of artificial and real plants if you’d like. Because they spend most of their time in the foliage, you don’t need any specific kind of substrate. In fact, having soil or some other kind of furnishings can cause issues; your chameleon may accidentally ingest some of the substrate, or it can allow feeder insects to hide. Covering the bottom of the enclosure with paper towels or newspaper is sufficient.

Since they come from a more tropical climate, the habitat should be kept at around 75-80 degrees, with humidity ranging from 60-70 percent. Misting regularly should keep the humidity constant, as well as provide water for your pet. Like most reptiles, chameleons need to thermoregulate, so you should provide a heat source for them to bask in, ranging in temperatures from 90-100 degrees. Heat lamps should provide this heat, as pads or heated rocks will not be sufficient to warm them. At night, you don’t need to worry about keeping the temperature level, as Veiled Chameleons are adapted to a temperature drop in the evening. As long as it doesn’t dip below 40 degrees, it should be okay.

Veiled Chameleons are a rather large species, so your enclosure should have enough space for them to move around in. Adults should have an area of about 2 feet wide, 2 feet long, and 4 feet tall, but bigger is always better. Your habitat should also be a screen enclosure rather than glass as stagnant air can cause breathing problems for your pet.

Feeding

As with most reptile species, the Veiled Chameleon does best on a diet of insects. Usually, this species thrives on crickets, but you can feed it a variety of animals, such as roaches and worms. You can put live insects in the enclosure as your chameleon will hunt at its discretion. If you use crickets, it’s best to gut load them with nutrient-rich foods, such as mustard greens, collard greens, and squash. If you use cockroaches, we recommend using Dubia Roaches, as they are already gut loaded, and are bred to be larger and more docile than normal roaches. They should provide plenty of nutrition for your pet, but it is still necessary to add dietary supplements to their food. Calcium dusting, as well as vitamin D3 supplements, are required for the health and safety of your chameleon.

Adults can be fed every other day, but juveniles should be fed daily. When it comes to supplements, adding them two or three times a week is ideal, but you can do less for full-grown adults.

When it comes to hydration, chameleons don’t drink from a stagnant water source. Having a water dish is unnecessary in your enclosure, as they get their water from the dew that collects on the leaves. Misting the habitat two or three times a day should allow your pet to get enough water. Veiled Chameleons also have a large ridge on the top of their heads, which diverts water down into their mouth, so be sure to mist your pet as well as the plants. If you like, you can install a drip system, which will not only hydrate your chameleon but water your plants as well.

Care

Because Veiled Chameleons are bred in captivity, they are much more docile than most other species. However, Chameleons are solitary creatures and do not do well with constant handling. This also means that you should not keep more than one per enclosure unless you are planning on breeding them. This species can get rather large, up to two feet when fully grown, so they can be an impressive animal to keep on display. Females are typically smaller than the males and don’t live quite as long. If you properly feed and care for your pet, males can live up to eight years, while females live up to six years. The reason for this is that females will still lay eggs, even if not bred, which requires a lot of energy, adding wear to their bodies.