VEILED CHAMELEON (Chameleo calyptratus)
The veiled chameleon is very popular amongst reptile owners. They are a hardy breed, large enough to handle well, and stunning in appearance. This species can be found in the wild in the mountain regions of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Most specimens usually reach between 14 to 18 inches (35-45 cm). Females are smaller with the average overall length being just under 12 inches (30 cm). Males and females both have a decorative growth called a "casque" on their heads. Veiled chameleons are tree dwellers and will enjoy a branch or two for climbing. The chameleons eyes work independently of one another allowing it to look in front of and behind itself at the same time. They have a long sticky tongue that they use to capture their insect prey.
Scientific Name: Chamaeleo calyptratus. Also known as the Yemen chameleon.
Average Life Span: Veiled Chameleons can live 5 or more years.
Size:Veiled Chameleons reach approximately 10-24 inches in length, depending on the sex.
A basic set up for a chameleon consists of a tall, well-ventilated vivarium. Many people avoid full glass enclosures as they can cause stress from reflections and can create stale air from the lack of ventilation leading to upper and lower respitory infections (URI's and LRI's) Wooden vivariums should have a screen top and lots of ventilation added to the back and sides. It is a good idea also to replace one of the glass doors (furthest away from the basking site) with a screen door to create a better flow of air through the vivarium. An ideal size for an adult chameleon is 3'Lx2'Wx3'H minimum. Obviously, the larger you can provide the better but that is the bare minimum required for 1 adult. Chameleons are solitary animals so should NOT be housed with more than 1 per vivarium. More than 1 per enclosure can lead to amongst other things massive stress to your chameleons and can even cause premature death.
Decorating your vivarium
The inside of your vivarium should provide a sufficient amount of cover for your chameleon and should have plenty of climbing arrangements. Add branches, bendy vines and garden canes to create the walkways. The width of your climbing apparatus should be suitable to the size of your chameleonís feet. If using large branches then wrapping either bendy vines of a smaller size or even nylon washing line can aid your chameleon in gripping properly and can also make your vivarium look very attractive. For your greenery, plastic plants can be used alongside live plants (although live plants are not 100% necessary). Silk plants should be used in small quantities as they can absorb the water from your misting device and chameleons like to drink from the droplets on the leaves. Some safe live plants include pothos, hibiscus, umbrella plants, ficus, Schefflera and Dracaena. Your climbing areas should span the vivarium so your chameleon can control its body temperature between its basking site and the cool spots. Good cover is necessary so that your chameleon can hide away should it want to - this helps to make them feel more secure.
Lighting and temperatures.
UVB lighting is ESSENTIAL for your chameleon. A good brand of UVB should be used and a minimum of 5 or 8% is recommended. You should give your chameleon access to a UVB source for at least 8-10 hours per day. Heating is best created in the form of an ordinary household bulb. Thanks to the various wattages available, the correct temperatures are easily achieved with normal bulbs and it can work out a lot cheaper. As with all heat sources, a thermostat should ALWAYS be used to avoid overheating and should you place your heat source inside your tank, a good light guard should be used also. Don't forget that chameleons can climb very well so make sure the guard is positioned so as to prevent burns. Your basic temperatures are as follows:
Basking site: 95-105 F
Ambient temperature daytime: 80-90 F
Ambient night time temperature: 65-70F
Veiled chameleons can withstand quite dramatic temperature changes and most households will not require nighttime heating - provided your temperature does not drop below 60 at the bare minimum.
Feeding and hydrating
Veiled Chameleons are omnivores, and can eat a wide range of live foods. These include crickets, locusts, silkworms, waxworms, earthworms - the list goes on. Remember to dust your chameleonís food accordingly with a good quality supplement - daily for baby chameleons and 3 times a week for adults.
A good method of ensuring your chameleon gets sufficient hydration is to mist them with either a hand operated spray bottle or a shop bought electronic misting system. I personally use a normal water sprayer and give my chameleon a good spraying 2-3 times a day for a minimum of 5 minutes. Not many chameleons will drink from a water dish so there is little point in providing one - I do use one at the bottom of the vivarium to allow it to evaporate in the air (from the heat) which keeps the humidity up. Your chameleon should get all of the fluids it needs from the droplets of water on the leaves and around it's vivarium after you have misted. If your chameleon is dehydrated at all, then you should up the misting times to at least 10 minutes.
Overview of chameleon care
The first thing I would say to anyone wanting to care for a chameleon is don't be put off by the seemingly complex care regime. The easiest way to care for your chameleon is to get into a good routine from day one. Many people will try to put you off and the many care sheets out there can seem daunting. It is only as hard as you make it and in my opinion; there are plenty of other species out there that have stricter, more difficult care requirements. Veiled chameleons are very hardy creatures and can withstand a varying amount of range in their husbandry levels. This is not to say that you shouldn't research them first because you should but it needn't be a daunting task.
This is a very basic guide to caring for your reptile, this information is not exhaustive. Please find out as much information as you can regarding Crested Gecko care to ensure that your pet gets the most out of you and you out of your pet.
Care Guide information supplied by Emma Britton, Edited by A.Farley All rights reserved.