6308 Monona dr, Monona WI 53516
VEILED CHAMELEON CaresheetCommon Name: Veiled Chameleon
Scientific Name: Chamaeleo calyptratus
Origin: Saudi Arabia & Yemen
Size: 18" - 24" head to tail
Lifespan: 6-8 years
You will find many ways on the internet on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of caring for this species.
It used to be difficult to find captive bred veiled chameleons, but now they're readily available. Captive bred chameleons are much better adapted to life with us humans.
In the wild, most veiled chameleons live in coastal mountain vegetation. Screened enclosures work best for veils as they need a lot of airflow. Stagnant air can lead to upper respiratory infections. Glass tanks can be used, but you need to go big and make sure there is plenty of airflow inside. One adult can be housed in a minimum of a 24" wide and 36" tall glass enclosure. Exo Terra's 24" x 18" x 36" works well. The smallest screened enclosure for an adult would be 18" x 18" x 36" like Exo Terras sm xtall screened enclosure. If you have the space, 36" x 18" x 36" is even better. Babies and juveniles can be kept in smaller screened enclosures (18" x 18" x 24") until they are approximately 7-8 months old. The choice between screen or glass depends a lot on your environment. Glass is best in the dryer parts of the world and screens enclosures if your home environment is it quite humid already. Chameleons do best if kept singly after they reach sexual maturity. They are very territorial and prefer to have the enclosure to themselves.
You will want to have plenty of foliage and vines for your veil to climb on and hide in. If you use live plants, here are some good non-toxic ones: Ficus, Schefflera, Hibiscus and Pothos. You can use a reptile carpet on the floor of the enclosure. Or a substrate will work too if it does not have big pieces for your veil to accidentally ingest. Zoo Med eco earth or Zilla jungle mix are work good.
LIGHTING & TEMPERATURES
Chameleons need a temperature gradient to thermoregulate and control their body temperature. This essentially means you need to provide a hot and cool side to your enclosure. All the lighting and heat elements should be on one side and the other will be the cool side. This way your chameleon can move back and forth between the different temperatures depending on its needs. If you have a tall enclosure, your temp gradient will usually be top to bottom instead of side to side.
A basking area of 85-95 degrees should be provided. The rest of the enclosure can be in the 72-80 range. At night, temps can drop to as low as 65 degrees. Use a good quality temperature gauge, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer. The easiest way to increase the heat in your enclosure is with a Reptile basking bulb.
In addition to heat, chameleons need UVB lighting to help absorb calcium and to synthesize vitamin D3. Since they are not out in natural sunlight in our homes, we must provide UVB light in the form of a special fluorescent bulb designed to produce UVB rays. You will want the Zoo Med 5.0 or Exo Terra UVB 100 variety. These are both designed for rainforest animals.
Veiled chameleons spend their time in the trees. They do not naturally drink from a still water bowl on the ground. The best way to water your veiled is with a spray bottle at least twice a day, usually for at least a minute each time, getting all the leaves and branches wet. You can also put a dripper on the enclosure or use an auto mister like Exo Terras monsoon. Make sure your veiled is getting enough to drink. If its eyes start to look sunken or less cone-shaped, it's a sign of dehydration.
Veiled chameleons can be fed a diet of crickets, mealworms, dubia roaches and hornworms. Baby and juvenile veiled chameleons should be fed once or twice a day. Adults can be fed every other day. Try to put the food up in the foliage or in an elevated dish such as magnaturals worm dish.
Make sure to supplement your lizard's food at least every other feeding with calcium and vitamins such as Repashy Calcium Plus or Zoo Med Reptivite with D3.
Veiled chameleons will also take some green food. If you have an elevated ledge, place the greens on it or hang them from a "chip clip" (or something similar). You can try any of the following greens.
While some veiled chameleons will tolerate handling, most will not like to be handled much. Most tend to get stressed with excessive holding. Chameleons like to be high up. Even those that tolerate handling will usually feel most comfortable walking up your arm and on to the top of your head. Some chameleons are happy coming out of their enclosure and walking around with more room to roam on a network of vines or "trees" that you set up for them.
As you work with your chameleon, you'll learn its personality and what it will tolerate as far as interaction and handling. Have fun and enjoy your beautiful pet.