The Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) also known as the Yemen Chameleon is a large chameleon from the middle east specifically from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Not long ago this species was introduced and has small populations on the island of Maui in Hawaii. In the natural, the Veiled Chameleon lives in coastal mountain slopes where rainfall is common and some live in areas where there is found year round water and vegetation.
Veiled Chameleons are large, colorful species which are known by the large casque or helmet of males on top of the head. Males grow to a length of about two feet and females to a length of about eighteen inches, which is the largest and the most beautiful seen in captivity. The colors of the adults include shades of green, orange, yellow, browns, blacks and blues with combinations of strips and spotted patterns.
The sex of the Veiled Chameleons can be determined from the day they hatch. They are born with a small nub on their back foot called a tarsal spur that females lack. The males tend to have more colors as well as a larger casque than female and live six to eight years on average.The females show less vibrant colors and live an average of four to six years because even when not bred, they will produce infertile clutches of eggs, which take up a lot of energy. A common perception is that chameleons are difficult to keep in captivity. But captive bred veiled chameleons purchased from a reputable breeder are quite hardy when provided with good care and a proper enclosure. In the past it was quite difficult to obtain chameleons that were not caught in the wild. These wild chameleons are difficult to acclimate to captivity and often did poorly, even for accomplished reptile keepers. FL Chams are reliably producing high quality veiled chameleons for sale. This issue is no longer a problem.
Veiled Chameleons now do very well in captive environments with consistent good care. The main step toward success is keeping your chameleon happy and healthy is setting up their enclosure. Veiled Chameleons do best in all screen sided enclosures because of the increased airflow. Glass tanks are difficult to find in appropriate sizes and create stagnant air which can lead to upper respiratory infections. Veiled Chameleons require water and when in a glass aquarium the water won’t evaporate like it does with a screened enclosure. Water continually sprayed and drying eventually builds up bacteria that the chameleon will eventually drink and get sick. That is the main issue with glass enclosures. The ideal rule is that bigger is better regarding screened enclosure.
An adult male veiled chameleon ideally can be housed in a screen enclosure around 2′ x 2′ x 4′ tall, although they can tolerate somewhat smaller enclosures. Females would ideally be kept in a screen enclosure around 18″ x 18″ x 36″ tall. Babies and juveniles can be kept in smaller screen enclosures (16″ x 16″ x 30″) until they are approximately 8 – 10 months old, when they would need to be moved into a larger enclosure. When purchasing a baby chameleon it would be best to start with a smaller enclosure and move to a larger enclosure when it gets older. Clearly veiled chameleons are born in the wild and don’t have the boundaries of a cage. You can raise the baby veiled chameleons in a larger cage, but you will need to provide more food for them to see in a larger cage. Also it is best to keep chameleons individually separate after they reach sexual maturity at around 8 to 10 months old to avoid potential stress and fighting.
The interior of the enclosure / habitat should be furnished with medium sized vines and foliage for the chameleons to hide in. The medium sized vines provide important horizontal perches for the chameleon to rest, bask and travel on. Synthetic plants with plastic leaves (not silk) can be used in conjunction with common, non-toxic plants to provide ample foliage. Commonly used non-toxic plants that can be use include Ficus, Schefflera, Hibiscus and Pothos. Check out the website’s Safe Plant List to see all of the non-toxic plants we recommend. These live plants not only provide cover, but also help to maintain humidity inside the enclosure. The bottom of the enclosure should not have a substrate as substrates can cause impaction, provide a hiding place for feeders and harbor bacteria and fungus. Instead the floor of the enclosure can be kept bare or have a layer of paper towels, which should be changed regularly.
Veiled Chameleons need two forms of light for exactly twelve hours a day. They need access to a light heat source to bask and regulate their body temperature. Heat rocks, heat tape, ceramic heat emitters, etc., do not provide veiled chameleons with a heat source they recognize so it is important to provide them with a basking spot using a heat bulb and an incandescent fixture. Next, they need a special fluorescent bulb that provides UVB light waves UVB, which is usually provided by natural sunlight, is important in calcium metabolism pathways but is filtered out by glass and therefore must be provided by artificial lights to help prevent disorders such as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). As tempting as many bulbs that provide UVB and heat my be, several studies have show that chameleons are able to regulate their body temperature and their UVB exposure independently so it is very improtant to provide proper heat and UVB separately. The light fixtures should be place on the top of the all screened enclosure with a horizontal basking branch around 6 to 8″ below the lights. We highly recommend you replacing your UVB bulb every 6 months. The best way to remember to do this is to write the date in permanent marker on the actual bulb before you install it in the light fixture. Even though the UVB bulb is still lit it does not mean it is emitting proper UVB. Veiled Chameleons are able to regulate their own body temperature and it is important to provide them with a temperature gradient inside their enclosure. The best temperature for them during the day for (Veiled Chameleons) is a temperature between 72 and 80 degrees Farenheit. The purpose of placing the bulb around 6 to 8 inches away the basking branch is that will produce a basking temperature for the chameleon between 85-95 degrees. This arrangement provides the warmest temperature at the basking branch and a cooler temperature throughout the rest of the chameleon cage. Veiled Chameleons do fine with a significant drop in temperature at night. Many customers as if they need heat lamps at night and the answer is NO. They need to sleep at night and the lights will sometime throw them off their schedule. If for some reason the temperature in your house was to drop below the mid 40’s we would recommend using a ceramic heat emitter and should be used from a safe distance.
Veiled Chameleons are arboreal and do not typically encounter standing water such as a water dish. They do not typically recognize water dishes as a drinking source for water. They drink water from morning dew and rain as it falls onto leaves. It is important to mist your Veiled Chameleon with a spray bottle or an automatic misting system a few times a day. Mist until the leaves in the chameleon cage are dripping with water. The shimmer and reflection of the water in the enclosure will typically cause the chameleons to drink. Veiled Chameleons are from arid parts of the world and use the shape of their casque to collect dew in the wild. We have been breeding veiled chameleons for over 12 years and honestly rarely see them drinking, but it is still important to offer them water a few times a day. Waterfalls seem like a nice aesthetic addition to your chameleon cage, but chameleons re attracted to moving water also as a source to defecate. Waterfalls quickly become a cesspool of bacteria that can deteriorate your chameleons health. I would strongly suggest you stay away from waterfalls.
Veiled Chameleons can be fed a staple diet of crickets. A general rule I suggest is that you feed a cricket the width of the chameleon head. That way if your chameleon, especially baby veiled chameleons won’t choke on the crickets. Baby and juvenile veiled chameleons should be fed 6 to 10 crickets daily. Offer the crickets to them in the morning so that they have food to eat on all day long. Some people are concerned with hungry crickets biting on the chameleons and a simple I would suggest doing is putting a few small pieces of fresh carrots, potatoes, or greens in the bottom of the cage. By doing this the crickets can continue to gutload and have something to eat and hydrate with. Adult Veiled Chameleons can be fed once or even every other day as their metabolism slows down. Most people like to domesticate their animals. I would stray from this idea concerning chameleons. Chameleons are designed to hunt not to eat out of a bowl. I receive phone calls from customers stating that their new pet veiled chameleon won’t eat, 99% of the time it’s due to cup feeding. FREE RANGE your crickets in the cage DO NOT CUP FEED. Chameleons have eyes always looking for prey. They are one of the most developed stalking predators ever created, note their eyes, tongue, slow movements, and their camouflage. Keep things natural for them.
Veiled Chameleons require proper calcium and vitamins included in their diet for long term success. It is important to supplement your veiled chameleons with calcium and vitamins to help promote proper growth and overall health. This is very important in the early stages of your baby veiled chameleons growth and also for your egg bearing female veiled chameleons as they produce eggs. For baby and juvenile veiled chameleons I would dust your crickets with Calcium 3 times a week and with a Vitamin once a week or even every other week. Adults require a lesser supplementation schedule. I would dust with calcium twice a week with a vitamin once a week. (Note: If you’re using artificial UVB you need to dust your feeders with Calcium with Vitamin D3 and if you’re keeping your veiled chameleon outside in natural sunlight use Calcium without D3). It’s also very important to provide your cricket with nutritious food such as collard greens, mustard greens, squash, orange and/ or commercial cricket diets.
Veiled Chameleons all have their own individual personalities. Customers frequently ask the question about the handling of chameleons and it is honestly depends on the individual personality of your pet veiled chameleon. Some veiled chameleons have no problem at all and seem very friendly (or tolerant) others want nothing to do with it. I wouldn’t suggest you stress or force that on your chameleon. Handling is a desire of yours not necessarily that of your veiled chameleon. I believe your interaction with them from a young age does make a difference on this subject. If you do choose to handle your chameleon, do not restrain it but rather let the veiled chameleon walk on you from hand to hand. Also when handling elevate your hand, they always tend to go to the highest point. If you don’t do this they will try and crawl up your arm onto your head. For long term success limited handling is recommended.
I always tell customers that to be a successful Veiled Chameleon Owner the key is consistency and to setup the chameleon correctly. You need to be consistent with water, food, and cleanliness. Veiled Chameleons are a striking , beautiful and hardy animal, which is an excellent choice for a first time chameleon owner. Chameleons are one of the most unique animals in the world. They are far set apart from any other animal with all of their unique features and characteristics from their independent eyes, to their tongue that shoots out, to their mitten feet designed to grab branches, and of course their amazing ability to change colors. At FL Chams we have been breeding veiled chameleons for over 12 years. We don’t just want to provide you with a standard green veiled chameleon. We offer several varieties of veiled chameleons for sale. We have a few select Premium Bloodlines of Veiled Chameleon for sale that will turn out to be unbelievable in coloration and size. When choosing a veiled chameleon realize you will have this chameleon for then next 6 to 8 years. Why not have the best out there? Don’t settle for ordinary!
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