The Surprising Truth About Veiled Chameleon Care
What Do I Need For A Veiled Chameleon?
Veiled chameleons can easily be found in most pet stores. They are very common and are hardy compared to other types of chameleons. Veiled chameleons do need a lot in terms of maintenance which makes them great pets for experienced chameleon owners.
A lot of stores keep veiled chameleons in glass enclosures. Unfortunately, this is not a proper enclosure for these chameleons long term. They actually need tall mesh cages made of PVC coated cloth. Mesh keeps the cage well ventilated for them.
The size of the cage is also important for their health and happiness. The taller the cage, the happier they will be. A cage that is 36 inches tall is plenty of room for one chameleon to climb around. The cage can be round or rectangular as long as they have space for climbing.
Accessories that you need for inside the enclosure are branches, vines, and leaves for shade. The branches and vines need to be sturdy enough for the chameleon to climb and provide access to a basking spot at the top. Branches should also be located further down the cage as a cool place from the basking spot. Tying some fake foliage along the cage and branches will provide more cover from the heat and give your chameleon some places to hide.
You can use live plants as long as they are non-toxic. Hibiscus is very popular to use with chameleons. Artificial plants are just easier maintenance altogether because you don’t have to worry about keeping them alive.
The easiest way to keep the bottom of the cage clean is to use paper towels as the substrate. The paper towel can be changed out in just a couple minutes and it catches all of the droppings. Paper towels also help with the cage humidity and won’t be ingested.
If you want the cage to look more aesthetically pleasing, you can use soil at the bottom that is free of fertilizers. The store will have dirt that is safe for reptiles to use. Chameleons will spend all of their time on their perches anyway. Ingestion of the substrate will be very unlikely.
Temperature and Humidity
Veiled chameleons need a basking spot and a perch away from the heat. The coolest their cages can get is around at night is 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest that their cage should be is around 95 degrees Fahrenheit at their basking spot. During the day the average temperature should be between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The basking temperature can be achieved using a ceramic heat bulb. The bulb should hang just above the cage without touching the mesh top. Veiled chameleons also need UVA/UVB lighting to help with the digestion of calcium and to prevent metabolic bone disease. This light should also be above the mesh top without touching the cage.
There are light fixtures that can hold the two different bulbs that you will need near the basking spot. Their lights need to be on 10-12 hours a day too. You can hook the lights up to a timer that will automatically turn them off and on at the same time everyday. The UVB bulb needs to be replaced every six months because it will lose its potency.
Veiled chameleons only need their enclosures to have a humidity level of 50%. This can be achieved by misting their plants twice a day and using a slow drip. You can also use a fogger a couple times a week to get the desired amount of humidity. The soil and paper towels at the bottom of the enclosure will also help lock in humidity.
Diet and Water
Veiled chameleons only eat insects. They will eat a different variety of store-bought roaches, crickets, hornworms, super worms, and locusts. These insects already contain a lot of nutrients to keep your chameleon healthy.
Dust the insects with reptile calcium powder and gut load them to give your chameleon more calcium. This will help prevent illnesses and metabolic bone disease.
Veiled chameleons also need to be fed every other day.
Chameleons do not drink from water dishes. They lick the water droplets off of the plants. The tall ridge on their heads actually helps them drink water. The ridges guide the droplets to their mouths.
Temperament and Handling
Their temperament towards other chameleons is aggressive and they are happiest living along. You can hold you veiled chameleon for short periods of time, but too much handling is extremely stressful for them. They are more of a display animal.
Since they are so sensitive to handling and their surroundings, they are not a good fit for young children. Veiled chameleons are also recommended for someone that has experience with chameleons or other reptiles.
The truth about veiled chameleon care is that it takes a lot of work to keep them happy and healthy. They need to be fed every other day with a variety of insects and the enclosure needs to consistently be at 50% humidity. You should only bring home a veiled chameleon if you have the time to invest in their care.