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Common Name: Non Highland Chameleon

Latin Name: -

Chameleon
Distribution: Africa/Madagascar Natural Habitat: -
Adult Size: - Diet: -
Life Span: -

Housing

Chameleons are best housed in as large a cage as possible. Because of their rapid rate of growth and the heating and lighting equipment they need, purpose made vivaria are probably the most appropriate. The types with sliding glass doors to the front being especially resistant to escape. As a guide, the cage recommended should be a minimum 60 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm for a single specimen. Of course, the cage could be larger as this would allow the animal room to grow and make it easier for the owner to manage the environment. It will be necessary to provide a local hot spot near 32ºC while the coolest part of the cage should be below 25ºC. The hot spot can easily be arranged by installing a Basking Spot Lamp. To ensure the cage does not overheat, the lamp is best controlled with a thermostat. White and UV light, from a lamp like a Reptile D3 tube, will be needed and should be present for a similar period as the hot spot; about sixteen hours per day in summer dropping to eight in winter. Much of the success achieved in keeping Chameleons will come from the skilful manipulation of ventilation. The lizards require a fairly low humidity and cannot stand stagnant air conditions. Fresh air moving into the cage is essential.

Husbandry

Chameleons are best kept singly. Males will tend to fight as they reach maturity and all chameleons seem to dislike the presence or even the sight of another of the same or similar species. In any case, there should be plenty of retreats and visual screens. If they are kept in groups, as juveniles or some females with a male, for example, watch out for bullying. These lizards soon become quite tame but do not really like being handled. The lizards will fret if held and try to escape. So, only handle the lizard if absolutely necessary and just allow the animal to sit on the hand, perhaps grasping the fingers. In time the cage will begin to look scruffy as faeces and debris builds up. As everything recommended for the cage is washable or disposable, a good clean out is easily done. Eight to ten weeks would be about as long as the cage could be left before being completely cleaned.

Food & Feeding

Insects like crickets and locusts form the staple diet in captivity. Mealworms can also be fed. Both crickets and locust should be dusted with a vitamin and mineral power. Alternatively, the insect food can be fed Cricket Diet Plus to 'load' the insect with vitamins and minerals but do not do both! Other insects that are eaten include Wax worms but these are best given only occasionally as a treat. With all food it is important to balance the nutrients. These lizards grow very rapidly, so any dietary deficiency will quickly result in deformity. Calcium, and the associated vitamin D3 being particularly important. Live food is only eaten if it is seen to move and will usually be captured by means of a long tongue. One lizard may eat up to ten or more insects at one meal; it will depend upon their size. Feed the lizards every day with just enough to be completely eaten in about fifteen minutes. Try not to leave any uneaten insects in the cage. In addition to live food, a Veiled chameleon seems to eat flowers and leafy salads. A small water dish kept full of fresh water should always be available. This is just a safe guard as most specimens will never drink from it. Chameleons drink drops of water they find on surfaces like leaves. To give them sufficient moisture in captivity it is necessary to spray the foliage and cage walls with a small hand sprayer each day. The droplets so formed should be enough to water the lizards. The whole cage, however, should dry out completely in about half an hour. Any longer and damp induced complications may result.

Reproduction

Male Chameleons are proportionately larger than the females and may have crests, horns or other adornments. The males are usually brighter coloured and have a different pattern to the females. Other characteristics include a more bulbous base to the tail but for precise information; look up the details of the species being kept. A period of courtship proceeds mating and during this time much activity can be expected. Eggs are laid after mating and they may take several weeks to hatch, some species are live bearers. To grow to adult in captivity may take as short a time as twelve months but in the wild, two to five years may elapse. A cooler winter period will be needed to condition the lizards for breeding in the following season. Also worth remembering females will lay eggs and unfertilized eggs will not always be laid easily

Health & Disease

Chameleons live for many years in the wild but seem to live even longer in captivity. They do not suffer from many diseases and veterinary attention is rarely needed. An environment and diet as described in this leaflet will preclude most problems. The most often encountered disease will be a metabolic bone disorder caused by insufficient vitamin D3 or calcium. Good practice, hygiene and first aid will probably deal with rest. If real disease is discovered, a vet must of course, be consulted. Pet lizards do not pose a real threat to human health. All the normal hygiene precautions regarding humans and animals should, however, be observed.

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