Terrarium: We always recommend using a screen enclosure for Veiled and Panther species. They allow for more airflow and are much easier to set up and maintain than any glass enclosure.
Young Chameleons may be kept in 16x16x24 enclosures and will need to be upgraded as the chameleon Grows. Adult females will need a minimum of an enclosure 36" high, whereas males require 48" as a minimum.
Place the cage up as high as you can in a secure place. Chameleons are natural canopy dwelling reptiles and feel safest up high.
UVB: For UVB/UVA lighting, Zoomed or Arcadia are the only lights we trust. You Must Provide Linear lighting and steer clear of any coil UVB, regardless of brand. If your planning on using T8, please stick to stronger bulbs such as 10.0 (zoomed) or 12% (Arcadia). If your planning on using T5 (which we recommend), a 10.0 (zoomed) or 6%, 7% or 12% (arcadia) will work well!
Basking Perches must be a minimum of 6" from the top of any enclosures in order to properly penetrate and give the proper UV.
Use a paper-towel or glove when changing the bulbs, as oils on the skin can cause uneven output or burn the bulb out quicker. We mark the bulb on the metal cap with the date installed and ensure yearly changes. Even if the bulb is still putting off light, the UV degradation will render the bulb useless for preventing MBD and proper calcium processing.
Heating: This part is just as important as Lighting in our opinions. Proper temps will ensure the chameleon is digesting properly and will make for a better appetite. Which, in turn, will allow the chameleon to grow to its fullest potential!
Ambient temperatures are similar to those we use in our homes (around 75F day to 69F evening temps). If your home drops below 66F (18c), then ensure a small 40-watt CHE is used (produces heat and no light).
Basking Temperatures are different. This temperature can be achieved using traditional incandescent bulbs. All light must be located at the top of the enclosure and pointed straight down toward the bottom. Placing heat bulbs on the side will not work and can cause stress. No wattage fits all temperatures either. So, you will have to do some testing and monitoring. Temperatures for each gender/species are as follows:
- Basking Veiled:
- Males 85F- 93F
- Females 85F - 90F
- Basking Panther:
- Males 88F - 95F
- Females 85F - 90F
Decor: We prefer to use live plants as they hold moisture and help maintain humidity much better. Here's a quick list of the plants we commonly use in our enclosures:
- Umbrella plant
These are 100% safe and can be found easily. Branches used must be reptile safe and must not contain moss that will retain large amounts of moisture. Branches that do not have time to dry between mists run the risk of foot infections.
We typically recommend repotting plants gathered at local garden centres and using organic peat and coco mulch to ensure no pesticides or harmful fertilizer is in with your pet. We also use a vinegar solution to wipe down any leaves and branches and then rinse well with water before repotting; This is an important step as females will attempt to dig in pots to lay eggs.
Misting: Mist King, foggers and other automatic misting systems are the absolute best! We mist all our chameleons for more extended periods in the morning (15minutes) and do 30 seconds to 1-minute bursts throughout the day to maintain humidity. Drippers can also be used. If using a fogger, also be sure to hand mist a few times a day to provide water for drinking on leaves etc.
Please allow the cage to dry before you mist again. Not allowing the cage to dry thoroughly between mists can result in respiratory infections & moisture trapped in bedding can promote bacterial and fungal growth. Do not use water dishes and ensure excess water pools are cleaned as chameleons are quick to drown and typically do not drink from standing water. Try not to directly spray your chameleon and opt instead for nearby foliage to encourage drinking.
Veileds are more forgiving with humility fluctuations, as Panthers prefer a more consistent humility. We recommend adding a sheet of plexiglass to the outside back of the cage for the panthers; This will help retain more humility. If your humidity is still low, consider adding another side of plexiglass and ensure good air movement to at least 2/4 sides.
Never bathe a chameleon as they are unable to swim, and it is almost useless, as they do not soak enough water through the skin. A bath will cause stress, plus they will not drink from standing water either.
Variety is key. That is no exception for chameleons. Here is the list of bugs we readily feed to our chameleons. If it's not on the list, we refuse to feed it to the chameleons!
- Phoenix Worms
- Probug Roaches (juvenile & adults only)
- Probug silkworm pupa
Be sure to gut-load all crickets and supers for at least 24 hours before feeding them to your reptile; we use squash, collard greens or Repashy bug grub. Hornworms eat Repashy Superhorn, and Silkworms eat mulberry mash/leaves. Waxworms are high in fat, so use as a treat worm.
Never feed your chameleon butter worms. Canada imports Butterworms from Chile (typically collected rather than bred) and sprays them with low dose radiation to prevent them from turning into a moth/breeding; they are a pest bug in the US/ Canada. Investigation in some cases from fed Butterworms found issues from skin rashes to death in chameleons. We honestly avoid feeding butter worms to all of our reptiles out of an abundance of caution.
Never feed your chameleon wild insects as the insects can contain pesticides, deadly chemicals or parasites. Always source your feeders from a reputable pet store.
Crickets climb and can be free-fed. Worms are best fed via magnetic dish or zap straps with a bowl also work well. We usually place the cup halfway up the side of the cage.
Supplements: We use Repashy LOC calcium 3-5 times per week.
A proper dusting of insects is imperative to prevent MBD and maintain your animal's overall health. Ensure a light dusting to all insects immediately before feeding.
Vitamins are key; dust your insects with vitamins at least once per week.
Substrate: It is rare to find chameleons on the ground as they are tree-dwelling creatures. We use several layers of paper towel and change often.
If you use a substrate, opt for bioactive (with springtails and isopods); Arcadia soils or organic peat or coco husk mulch with a bit of moss mixed in.
Do not use calcium sand, play sand, bark / rough wood mulches, crushed walnut, kitty litter, gravel, corn cob, shredded paper or reptile carpets. Reptile carpets can cause claws to be ripped out and encourage bacteria; loose sands, gravel, and barks are hazardous for eye infections, blockages if accidentally eaten, or harmful dusts that can impact breathing.
Female egg-laying: We recommend setting up a lay bin for egg-laying females. Laying eggs tends to be stressful for all females, and if you do not provide a proper lay box, it can prove fatal. A laying bin is simple, and you should add for any female over one year of age.
We use a bin 1.5x deep as the length of the chameleon, filled with moist soil and coco mulch. Ensure it is moist enough to hold its shape and not collapse on your female as she digs a burrow, but not so wet as to pool at the bottom of the bin.
Once your chameleon lays eggs, promptly remove the bin and dispose of the eggs (if no male has bred with her, they will be infertile) and replace the container with fresh mulch. Take special care to rehydrate and encourage feeding to your female as soon as possible after she lays.
Chameleons are easily stressed, fragile and typically do not enjoy being handled. For this reason, we say chameleons are beautiful to display animals and best left to experienced adult keepers. We do not recommend them as a pet for a child or as a good beginner reptile.
Chameleon Tips & Fun Facts
MBD: Metabolic Bone Disease caused by poor husbandry. Ensure proper change of the UVB/UVA bulbs (minimum every year!!) Also, MTB can be cause from inadequate calcium supplements. Ensure you are dusting the insects. The first indication typically of MBD is in the casque and arms. It can also manifest as seizures, jaw deformation, spine bumps/ curves, leg deformation, and tongue use loss. Treating MBD is the only option as it not reversible, but preventing MBD with proper husbandry is always preferred.
Co-Housing: Never co house chameleons. The end. Don't do it. Males especially are aggressive and territorial and will kill other chameleons. Bigger chameleons will eat smaller chameleons. They also tend to climb on each other, typically insuring injury by fall. I promise they are not lonely; they are not pack-animals and generally are found alone in the wild.
Breeding: Breeding is a long, sometimes dangerous and overall expensive endeavor, thus please leave to the experienced professionals. Never purchase a chameleon less than two months old! All reputable breeders keep chameleons for at least 2 to 4+ months to ensure health.
They have prehensile tails and zygodactyl feet, which means their toes are grouped in opposition to each other (helps with treetop living). Their large eyes work independently of one another, allowing them to keep a watch out for predators and catch their food!
Panther Chameleons are native to Madagascar; the males are amongst the most colourful chameleons available.
Veiled Chameleons are native to Yemen and are recognized easily by their casques. Male Veileds also have an extra toe on the hind feet.
Chameleons are sensitive to many chemicals & toxins; keep them away from household cleaners, aerosols, etc. As with any reptile, you should wash your hands before and after handling the reptile or items within its enclosure (especially soiled bedding).
Camouflage: Contrary to a widely held belief-bolstered by the likes of Disney's Tangled, which co-stars a chameleon named Pascal, as well as viral YouTube videos- these enigmatic lizards cannot transform the colour of their skin to match any background. Usually, coloration change occurs with mood, Breeding, indicating poor health or when they sleep.
Veiled Chameleons have a range of greens, oranges, yellows, browns, blacks and robin eggs blue. Translucent Veiled also have pink skin patches coupled with whites and blacks.
Depending on local, Panther chameleons have a greater range of reds, pinks, teals, blues, orange, yellows, greens, whites and black. The females are a pink or green colour with much less range in changeability.
Lifespan: These animals usually ranges from 3-8 years. Males typically live longer and have less complicated issues for most owners. Females are better suited to experienced keepers.
**All information in this sheet is meant as a good start for your new Chameleon; please also seek advice from a qualified exotic vet.
Site by Bradley Hopkins @ SHP