The Veiled chameleon are not pets that new reptile owners should consider taking on as their first reptile pet, as they require a lot of care and maintenance. You will need to do a lot of research before you decide to get one.
There are things that you will need to consider with regard to their care and upkeep. So we’ve compiled a veiled chameleon care sheet that will hopefully address all your questions about how to properly care for your reptile.
Here’s a list of what you will find in this article:
About the Veiled Chameleon
Known as the cone-head chameleon, the Yemen chameleon, or scientifically as the Chamaeleo calyptratus, the veiled chameleon are a striking-looking species that are arboreal by nature. This means that they are most comfortable and prefer to live high up in the trees, or lower, in bushes and shrubs. They live in arid or dry areas and are found on plateaus of mountainous regions, forests, and valleys of southern Saudi Arabia and Yemen. They are native to the Arabian Peninsula.
They are largely solitary creatures and are very territorial by nature, especially the males. They are relatively docile towards people but don’t love being petted or handled too often by their humans, and so are not great pets for children.
Setting up Their Enclosure
Right of the bat, you must know that you cannot house your veiled chameleon inside a glass enclosure, like an aquarium or tank. They need plenty of ventilation, so you’ll need to place them in a mesh-enclosure, one made of PVC coated hardware cloth instead of fine metal or fiberglass.
The males grow up to 43cm to 60cm long, from tail to snout, while the females, much shorter in length, grow no more than 35cm. So, accordingly, the size of their enclosure will vary. Keep in mind that they love foliage and love to climb that foliage. Not only does it provide them with a secure spot to hide, but veiled chameleons will also drink water droplets off the leaves.
Consider having one side of the enclosure filled with a dense area of non-toxic plants for your chameleon to hide and take cover in, and another side that is more open, with branches for basking and eating or drinking. Also, vertical spaces that allow them room to climb will be great.
Veiled chameleons that are kept indoors will need a good source of light for two reasons: the first will function as a heat source, to bask under and regulate their core temperature, and the second, to absorb calcium.
Heat rocks, tapes, ceramic heat emitters, and other such devices will not work as your veiled chameleon will not warm up to those. You will have to provide them with a designated basking spot by attaching a heat bulb and an incandescent fixture.
The second source of light is to provide them with type B Ultraviolet (UVB) to ensure proper calcium absorption and avoid conditions such as metabolic bone disease (MBD). Indoor chameleons require a full-spectrum fluorescent tube,
They also need lighting that will provide. This can be provided by natural sunlight for chameleons kept outdoors. Usually, sunlight is more than sufficient, but for indoor chameleons, use a full-spectrum fluorescent tube.
Humidity and Temperature Control
Chameleons will hardly drink from a water bowl, although placing one in their enclosure is a must. What they will do, however, is drink water droplets off the leaves, so it is important that you spray water and mist the foliage inside.
You can also invest in a hygrometer to measure the humidity. Subsequently, you can set up a drip/misting system that will keep the veiled chameleon supplied with enough humidity and water to drink.
Like most reptiles, veiled chameleons will regulate their own core temperature. The best temperature for a veiled chameleon during the day is between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They do particularly well at night time, when the temperature drops. But it is important to maintain an optimal temperature somewhere in the 40s.
Just keep an eye out so that they don’t burn themselves on any of the heating devices.
Keeping your pet’s enclosure clean, fresh, and well lit is essential for his physical and mental health.
- Remove any dry or dead leaves and branches frequently.
- Remove the carcasses of the prey you feed him. Do not let it sit in the enclosure or allow it to rot as this will spread disease when fleas begin feeding on it.
- Regularly mist the enclosure to keep the foliage moisturized and fresh.
- Clean out his water and food bowl.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect the habitat weekly. Scrub with a 3% bleach solution and then rinse with water, removing all traces of the bleach so your chameleon will not be harmed. Then allow the enclosure to dry out completely before letting your chameleon back inside.
- Your chameleon will regularly shed their skin, so provide a small box with sphagnum moss to help with the shedding process.
Diet and Nutrition
As insectivores, your veiled chameleon requires a diet of insects like crickets, locusts, roaches, butter worms, silkworms, flies and grasshoppers. You can also feed them mealworms, super worms, and waxwork, but in measured numbers, as they are high sources of fat. All insects that you feed your chameleon have to be gut loaded. Remember that there exists a risk of your chameleon consuming pesticides and insecticides through the insects they eat, so you’ll need to be cautious.
Your veiled chameleon can also eat small amounts of vegetables and fruits like kale, diced zucchini, squash, berries, and even a slice or two of apples and pears.
While feeding your chameleon, monitor its eating habits, and adjust the quantity you provide accordingly. Do not leave live prey in the enclosure for extended periods as they might attack your chameleon.
Apart from the calcium that your veiled chameleon gets from his food and basking, you also need to give him some multivitamins and supplements. How? Powder the vitamins and dust them on the insects or over the veggies that you feed him. Only do this once or twice a week. Consult a vet to find out how much multivitamins you can give your veiled chameleon.
Health and Treatment
Veiled chameleons are generally alert and active, with clear eyes, a bright and vibrant, filled out body, healthy skin that sheds periodically, and a healthy appetite. However, there are some diseases and illnesses that can affect them, just like every other reptile.
General Health Concerns and Treatment
Your veiled chameleon will be prone to some gastrointestinal issues, depending on the food that he eats. If he consumes something spoilt or high levels of insecticide from the insects he ate, he will face certain issues with his digestion.
Symptoms include runny stools, loss of appetite caused by bacterial or parasitic infections, and even constipation. Make sure he drinks enough water to flush out the toxins or anything bad he consumed. If the condition persists, take him to a vet immediately to get him checked out.
Another common health issue is MBD from deficiency of vitamins he consumes. Too much calcium or fat in his diet or a deficiency in the other necessary vitamins will result in him having an upset tummy. Symptoms of MBD include softened or swollen bones, development of deformities, and lethargy. You must provide him with enough UVB lighting and the proper amount of calcium and vitamin supplements. Take him to get checked out and treated by a vet promptly.
Respiratory diseases are also common among veiled chameleons. Symptoms include labored breathing, presence of mucus in the nose and mouth, and change in body temperature. Treatment by a vet is advised.
The following are some of the red flags you need to look out for to spot any signs of distress, sickness, or poor health in your veiled chameleon:
- Weight loss or decreased appetite
- Mucus in mouth or nose
- Bumps, sores, or abrasions on skin
- Labored breathing
- Paralysis of limbs
- Abnormal feces
- Non-rotating eye(s)
Caring for your veiled chameleon is extensive, expensive, and requires a lot of patience. You will need to regularly monitor him and his behavior, his eating and sleeping patterns, the temperature and cleanliness of his enclosure, and need to know what to look out for his health and well-being.
They are vibrant reptiles that we can learn a lot from. Having a veiled chameleon as a pet is not a light commitment, and you should only own one if you’re ready to bear the expenses and responsibility.