The veiled chameleon / Chamaeleo calyptratus
Table of contents
Sexual dimorphism 2
Captive born or wild caught 2
Wild caught 2
Captive bred 3
Temperature and uvb 3
Humidity and hydratation 4
Vitamins et calcium6
Terrarium layout 7
Acclimatization et temperament8
Last word. 12
Veiled chameleons are quite easy to sex. We can differentiate the sexes at birth.
The male has a spur at the base of the foot. The male becomes bigger than the female (about 50 to 55 cm and 35 to 40 cm for the female). Finally, the male's helmet is larger and more imposing than the female's, and a hump is visible at the base of the male's tail.
The male and the female have the same color.
Finally, the longevity of the veiled chameleon is 2 to 3 years for the female and the male has a life expectancy of 4 to 8 years.
Note that the female will lay eggs whether she is mated or not.
Around the age of 12 to 18 months, she will lay 20 to 80 eggs every two to six months.
Change of color
Born in captivity or wild
There are two sources for chameleons: the wild ones are collected in the wild and exported to wholesalers. The others are bred in captivity.
There are many more wild reptiles, known as WC in the area. It is very feasible to keep them if you are experienced and follow certain rules. That said, if you decide to adopt a WC chameleon, you will need to follow these rules:
1) Have the animal undergo a strict quarantine, away from other reptiles.
2) Go to a veterinarian for a faeces test to see if it has internal parasites and have it dewormed if necessary.
3) Limit stress and handling for the first 3 to 6 months. Wild animals need time to adapt to their new environment.
Born in captivity
For chameleons born in captivity, make sure when you buy it that it is in good health. Here are a few things to look for:
1) The animal should look alert and awake.
2) A veiled chameleon should stand mostly upright. It rarely comes down to the ground.
3) The chameleon's eyes are well out and open. A dehydrated reptile will be identified by sunken eyes. Also, a chameleon with one eye closed or injured will have great difficulty eating. It needs both eyes to distinguish distances and to capture its prey.
4) The bones of the pelvis should not be visible, sign of malnutrition.
5) It should not be overweight either, which is also very bad for its health. This excess weight will be noticed by a very large body, masses at the base of the neck and a very bulging crest.
Temperature and uvb
The veiled chameleon is accustomed to large temperature variations. Living in the tree’s day and night, they can have variations between 5 and 10 degrees. I recommend, if possible, providing them with this range. This helps greatly with the animal's health.
During the day, we need to provide a heat source, about 10:00 to 12:00 a day. We will look for a hot spot of 28 to 30 degrees and an ambient temperature of 22 to 25 degrees. I do not recommend the use of mercury bulbs, because the animal must be able to choose between its need for heat and UVB.
For UVB, we will provide a neon or a 10.0 twist bulb. These UVB are essential to maintain the good health of the animal. Without the right UVB, lizards can get sick and have metabolic bone disease. Please note that UVB bulbs or neon lights have a limited life span. They must be changed every six months to a year depending on the model purchased.
Humidity and hydration
For the veiled chameleon, the humidity must be medium or low due to the fact that it comes from regions with a dry climate. We will still water it 1 to 3 times a day to ensure a good hydration. We will increase this watering when it is hotter and for young chameleons.
Hydration is the key to your chameleon's good health.
For starters, chameleons don't drink from a bowl of water.
They hydrate with rainwater or dew water. So, it takes clean, non-stagnant water.
He has several methods to hydrate his chameleon:
1) The drip: This system is simple. We will drill a small hole in a container that we will fill with water and make drops fall in the decor of his habitat. This system must be supported by method 2.
2) Manual watering: As the name implies, it is to generously water the chameleon's cage so that water forms on the decor. With this system, I highly recommend a pressure sprayer.
3) Automatic watering system: My favorite system and the one I use. The most expensive, but also the most efficient and avoids forgetfulness. The principle is simple, a pump connected to a basin and one or more nozzles that water according to the program you have given.
There are several systems on the market, I will talk about two of them.
Monsoon by Exoterra: It offers two models, Solo 1,5L (max of 2 nozzles) or the 400 8L (max of 8 nozzles).
This system is perfect for beginners or for a small breeder who has few animals by the fact that the additional nozzles are inexpensive.
- System with a nice appearance
- Very affordable nozzles and equipment
- Perfect for beginners
- Limited water pool
- System is a bit fragile
- Limited to a maximum of 8 nozzles
Mist king: This professional system is, in my opinion, the tool for every breeder. There are three sizes of pumps available (10, 20 and 70 nozzles). It can clearly make the life of any breeder easier. But beware! The nozzles and multiple options are quite expensive.
- Powerful system that can take multiple nozzles
- Solid system (can run dry)
- Adjustable tank if needed
- Average appearance
- High cost of nozzles and other related products
The veiled chameleon is an animal that eats a lot more than one might imagine, especially when it is young. We will give prey of appropriate sizes to the animal. To do this, the prey must be the same size as the distance between the two eyes of the chameleon.
It is essential to provide a sustained and constant feeding with the young chameleons. It is necessary to feed the juveniles every day, even several times a day. It is necessary to vary the food as much as possible. I offer my baby chameleons 1/8 or 1/4 crickets and fruit flies. If they accept them, you can also give them wax worms and phœnix worms (in the form of worms and flies). We will feed the young chameleons according to their appetite, which is quite variable from one specimen to another. We continue to feed them as much as they want until they reach adulthood or if we see that the animal develops an excess of weight, we reduce the quantity given.
Once the animal is adult, we reduce the feeding to 2-3 three meals per week. We make sure that he is not overweight. We can give him:
Note: I am often asked if it is okay to feed insects caught outside. I do not recommend it because of the risk of transmitting parasites to your reptile. - Goliath worms
- superworms (occasionally)
- phoenix worms (in the form of worms and flies).
- Mouse Pinky (occasionally)
Note: I am often asked if it is okay to feed insects caught outside. I do not recommend it because of the risk of transmitting parasites to your reptile.
It is important to feed the crickets, so that they are nutritious. If we forget to feed our crickets, we give our chameleon a diet poor in nutrients and this affects the health and longevity of the animal. To do this, we will place the crickets in a plastic container or a well-ventilated aquarium. They can be fed fish or dog food, fruits and vegetables. The best solution, in our opinion, is to buy a special cricket food (powder) and mix it with water. There are several different brands. We use Repashy's superload.
Vitamin and calcium
In its natural environment, the chameleon eats a wide variety of prey, which cannot be offered in captivity. To compensate for this, we will provide it with vitamin and calcium support.
To begin with, it is important to know that too much vitamin or too much calcium is as harmful, even more so, than not giving any. It is therefore important to dose everything correctly. We will notice edema on the fingers in the case of an excess of vitamins and minerals.
There are several types of vitamins and calcium on the market. For any supplement, do not use the one with D3.
There are two dosages depending on the chameleon you have.
1) The adult specimen: we will provide calcium twice a week and vitamins once every two to three weeks.
2) Juveniles and pregnant females. We will provide them with vitamins every week and calcium at every meal.
For juveniles, we will reduce the calcium when the specimen is 125 to 150 grams or when it is 10 months old.
Please note that females, even if not coupled, will eventually lay eggs. It will be necessary to consider it pregnant before the laying and sometime after.
It is made of calcium with integrated and balanced vitamins for chameleons (Calcium Plus LoD - from Repashy). I personally use it and recommend it.
Chameleons live high in the trees, which provides them with a lot of ventilation. In doing so, they need a constant change of air. To provide them with this, we will provide them with a terrarium made of wire mesh.
You can buy it or make it yourself. The veiled chameleon is a big chameleon, especially the males. He will need an environment adapted to his size. At least, we will provide him a terrarium of 18x18x36. We can easily get a 24x24x48. The two sizes described are terrariums that are easy to find in specialized shops.
There are two types of setups possible. There is an artificial setup with plastic plants and branches or a natural setup with real plants.
For my chameleons, I only use natural setups. You can place the plant with its pot in the terrarium and add extra branches, or you can place a plastic tray with a clay ball font, a mosquito net membrane and place black soil (without chemical, perlite or anything else).For plants, there is a wide choice:
Note: It is important to understand that if you do not want to handle your chameleon, it will not bother it. Your chameleon will, over time, become well acclimated to handling. It is not necessary to handle it. It will live very well without handling.
Acclimatization and temperament
When you receive your chameleon, make sure that its habitat is already ready.
During the first week, we will not manipulate the animal and we will leave it alone so that it gets used to its new environment.
It will be important to make sure that your chameleon eats well before disturbing it.
Once all this is done, if you wish, you can take the chameleon.
To take the chameleon out of its terrarium, you will place your hand underneath the animal and make its feet cling to you.
It will be important not to take the animal from above and force it out. You will be causing it a lot of stress.
Note: It is important to understand that if you do not want to handle your chameleon, it will not bother it. Your chameleon will, over time, become well acclimated
Living in a group
It is important to understand that chameleons are solitary reptiles, which do not desire the company of their fellows. They live much better alone and it is recommended to place a visual divider between each chameleon terrarium. This is one reason why glass terrariums should not be used, due to the reflection that glass causes.
Veiled chameleons only meet for mating.
I am often asked, if I can place my chameleon with another one, I don't want it to get bored. The answer to this question is simple. Chameleons do NOT desire the presence of another chameleon. I keep all my chameleons with a visual divider to limit stress.
In reptiles, there are many different colorations for the same species. We'll call it a morph when the color or pattern of the animal is not that of the color in the wild.
In veiled chameleons, there are not many different morphs. There is the translucent morph, and the name changes depending on the intensity.
What is the translucent morph?
It's the white and pink pigmentation starting from the base of the feet (translucent), going to the end of the tail and on the beginning of the face (super translucent) and being able to make a good part of the head, even the whole head (high white translucent).
The chameleon has a light green coat that can change to dark green with spots and stripes depending on its mood.
Low translucent chameleons have small light spots on their fingertips. They have translucent genetics without it being very conspicuous.
Like the low but more visible, the white and/or pink spots occasionally rise on the feet.
For this morph, the coloring goes up to the face. More precisely at the level of the lips and slightly around the eyes. The tip of the tail of the animal will also be colored.
High white translucent
Like the last morph with a very good part of the head colored in white and/or pink.
Chameleons are often seen as fragile reptiles. If you follow the right recipe, this one becomes quite easy to keep. However, you must be careful to respect the animal, as it does not tolerate mistakes.
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Jonathan Sansoucy Richard