Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Veiled Chameleon!
Chameleons are famous for their camouflage capabilities! They have the perfect body shape and are able to somewhat change colors in order to mimic their surroundings! The Veiled Chameleon Chamaeleo calyptratus has evolved to be particularly good at blending in with leaves! There are several different types of chameleons, with the Veiled Chameleon being one of the easier types to keep as a pet. Other Chameleon types include the Jackson’s Chameleon, the Panther Chameleon and the Graceful Chameleon. Other names the Veiled Chameleon goes by are the Yemen Chameleon and the Cone-head Chameleon.
The coolest thing about these creatures is the way their bodies can change. They are flat and arched (to match the way leaves look) and are primarily green with other markings depending on if they are male or female. They can easily change color to match whatever their environment is. Not only do they change color in response to their surroundings – they also change color in response to the temperature, their mood, whether they are in breeding mode, and to changes in their health! Another interesting physical feature is that their eyes can rotate all around and focus independently of each other! Chameleons are fairly large lizards. When full grown some males can reach 2 feet long!
Chameleons have a reputation for being difficult to keep as pets. This is definitely true, but the Veiled Chameleon often proves to be one of the somewhat easier types to care for. The reasons for this are that they can tolerate a little larger temperature range, they are omnivores (eating both plants and insects) and they can reproduce fairly easily. Most people who keep them simply love their unique attributes and love to watch and interact with them!
The Veiled Chameleon is native to Saudi Arabia and Yemen. They have only recently been widely kept as pets, with the first ones being imported into the United States in 1990. They are on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species. However they are listed only as a Least Concern (LC). And they have adapted to many environments and are kept in captivity fairly easily.
As I mentioned earlier, these guys are omnivores and can eat a large variety of both insects and plants. In captivity they do well being fed crickets and mealworms that are coated with a vitamin powder. Adult chameleons need less calcium than younger ones and may not need their insects coated. Give them plant materials such as acacia fruit and ficus and pothos leaves as well. These chameleons should be provided with a large enclosure. An adult male should have a minimum space of 30” W x 60” L x 45” H. Large terrariums work well. They are aggressive and should be kept alone once they reach adulthood. Provide them with a mixed substrate containing both sand and peat moss. Place several vines with leaves and perches around for them to climb on. Mist both the chameleon and the leaves at least twice a day (with de-chlorinated water). These lizards drink from the leaves and so this is a must in order for them to stay hydrated.
The temperature of their environment should be kept in the 80′s during the day, but keep one area around 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (with a heat lamp) for a basking area. At night the enclosure should be in the 70′s. Humidity should be between 60 and 70% (less than what other chameleons need). Keep their environment very clean and disinfected to keep them as healthy as possible. Their cage should be cleaned at least weekly.
These chameleons are one of the easier ones bred in captivity, as well. If you want to know more detailed information on breeding these lizards, here is the specific Veiled Chameleon Reproduction area of the page.
To make sure your chameleon is healthy, clean and disinfect their cage on a weekly basis, provide them with the correct food and lighting, mist them twice a day, and provide a heat lamp. The most common disease found in captive lizards is called Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). This is caused by too little calcium. To avoid this, coat their insects with calcium powder at least once a week prior to feeding them. To ensure they also get enough Vitamin D3 by providing UVB-emitting light bulbs.
To read more on keeping these amazing lizards, here is a good run-down of everything you need to know on Veiled Chameleons.
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.