A Turtle Lover in Love with a Chameleon - Looking for Newbie Advice :)

Breigh

New Member
Hello all :)

I'm new to the forums and came here looking for info on Yemen Chameleons. I'm a Canadian living in the Netherlands and yesterday I went to a reptile expo and saw this little guy:



There were others like him, some very very small. I read up on care sheets and have been trying to learn about them. I would have bought one right then and there but I like to know what I'm getting into first and have an enclosure set up for him before I take him (or her) home.

Some questions I have are:

1) I read on the care sheets that a recommended enclosure is 3x3x4 feet, is this the standard or can it be not as deep but higher etc? I'm basically trying to figure out how I can fit an enclosure for it into my house as I already have quite a few pets and a few large turtle aquariums hehe

2) How messy are they? I read that you should not use substrate with them due to impaction. What should I expect in terms of waste / general mess? Do they smell?

3) How fast do they grow?

4) What kind of general temperment do they have? Do they bite? I know most reptiles don't like to be handled and I'm ok with that but when I do need to handle him/her is there anything I need to know?

5) Are they bothered by drafts? I live in a 3rd floor flat and during the nice weather we keep the windows open and get a nice breeze through the front and back windows. Are they very delicate or prone to respiratory problems? Is it ok as long as it's warm?

6) Can you not use ANY glass? I read on some of the care sheets that they really really hate glass but when I look at people's enclosures I see many WITH glass, I'm confused!

Basically I need to know everything hehe

I would also LOVE to see some photos of enclosures people here have for this type of chameleon (or enclosures for other species that would also work for this one) so I can get an idea of what I should do.

Thanks for the advice!! :)
 
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Julirs

New Member
Hello all :)

I'm new to the forums and came here looking for info on Yemen Chameleons. I'm a Canadian living in the Netherlands and yesterday I went to a reptile expo and saw this little guy:


Cute little one!
There were others like him, some very very small. I read up on care sheets and have been trying to learn about them. I would have bought one right then and there but I like to know what I'm getting into first and have an enclosure set up for him before I take him (or her) home.

Some questions I have are:

1) I read on the care sheets that a recommended enclosure is 3x3x4 feet, is this the standard or can it be not as deep but higher etc? I'm basically trying to figure out how I can fit an enclosure for it into my house as I already have quite a few pets and a few large turtle aquariums hehe
That would be a good size for an adult-but I would start out with something about 1/2 that size until he is 4-5 months old.2) How messy are they? I read that you should not use substrate with them due to impaction. What should I expect in terms of waste / general mess? Do they smell?
They are not "messy", and I do not have any that smell. Generally they poop once a day, so if you spot clean poop every few days and then do a good cage leaning once a month you are good to go. The problem is WATER. THey do not drink out of a bowl so you have to mist them several times a day with a considerable amount of water. If you do not have a good drainage plan standing water will smell and be bad for you cham.
3) How fast do they grow?
Veileds grow FAST-nearly full size by 6 months. My 8 month old Veiled is 16 inches long!
4) What kind of general temperment do they have? Do they bite? I know most reptiles don't like to be handled and I'm ok with that but when I do need to handle him/her is there anything I need to know?
Generally-they do not like to be handled. My male is very easy, as he will walk out on to your hand for easy transport to plant ouside on the screen porch. My female however hisses and bites. Just assume this is generally a look don't touch pet. But maybe you will get lucky.
5) Are they bothered by drafts? I live in a 3rd floor flat and during the nice weather we keep the windows open and get a nice breeze through the front and back windows. Are they very delicate or prone to respiratory problems? Is it ok as long as it's warm?
A breeze should not bother them. Wet conditions can lead to respiratory issues.
6) Can you not use ANY glass? I read on some of the care sheets that they really really hate glass but when I look at people's enclosures I see many WITH glass, I'm confused!
I would not use glass-especially with Veileds. Temps get too hot and a Veiled will need the large enclosure. Seeing themselves in teh reflection is stressful.Basically I need to know everything hehe

I would also LOVE to see some photos of enclosures people here have for this type of chameleon (or enclosures for other species that would also work for this one) so I can get an idea of what I should do.

Thanks for the advice!! :)
Research!! This forum is a good place to ask questions! At bare minimum you will need a screen cage-the one in the picture-a Reptarium/Flexarium is a good inexpensive starter cage in 38 gallon size. You will need UVB lighting, a basking lamp and bulb, plants to fill the cage, and a good digital thermometer as well as gutloaded feeder insects and Calcium powder to start. Good luck!
 

Julirs

New Member
Here is a pic of what I started my male Veiled in-he lived in this until from 2- 4.5 months old. I did fill it in with more plants after this picture.


And here is what he is in now:
 

Cherron

New Member
1) I read on the care sheets that a recommended enclosure is 3x3x4 feet, is this the standard or can it be not as deep but higher etc? I'm basically trying to figure out how I can fit an enclosure for it into my house as I already have quite a few pets and a few large turtle aquariums hehe
For a baby chameleon, up to 5 months or so, a smaller cage is recommended. If the cage is too large, they have a hard time finding food and you will have a harder time monitoring their food intake. After the 5 month mark, you can move them into their adult cage. I actually think a 3x3x4 cage is the minimum size that would accomodate an adult veiled chameleon. I also believe that the width is just as important as the height. My veileds spend a lot of their time in the top half of the cage moving horizontally. My veiled cages are 4x4x6 and seem to work well. As far as fitting it in to your house, good luck! I just keep on rearranging things. I just recently sold my dresser/mirror and bought a small chest of drawers just to fit another cage into my bedroom :p

2) How messy are they? I read that you should not use substrate with them due to impaction. What should I expect in terms of waste / general mess? Do they smell?
No substrate is definitely the way to go. Ingested substrate can cause an impaction in a chameleon that could be fatal. Paper towels can be placed in the bottom of the cage if you want, but these will get wet quickly with the frequent misting required for chameleons. I siliconed the bottom of my cages so that they didn't leak and I shop-vac them all out a few times a week.

My chameleons seem to poop about once a day, more often when they were younger. Chameleons don't really make a mess. The messiest thing in my enclosures are dead leaves from the plants. I shop-vac these up with everything else. If you pick up the poop and any feeders that have died once a day, there should be no problem keeping the cage clean.

Chameleon cages won't have a smell unless they are not kept clean. The only time I have ever smelled mine was once when the drainage holes in one of my plant pots clogged up and wasn't letting the water drain. I threw the whole plant away in case of bacteria and replaced it. Before or since I have never had a problem.

3) How fast do they grow?
My veileds all reached their full size by around a year old. They seem to grow rather quickly, shedding often as they go.

4) What kind of general temperment do they have? Do they bite? I know most reptiles don't like to be handled and I'm ok with that but when I do need to handle him/her is there anything I need to know?
Veiled chameleons have a pretty nasty temperment, to be truthful. Some people say that theirs will come to them when they open the enclosure, but I haven't witnessed it with any of mine (not to say they are not telling the truth.. just hasn't happened in my experience). I have been bitten once or twice, but not anything horrible, never broke the skin. They will make a terrible show of hissing and lunging when you reach into their enclosure, but usually once you have them out, they are fine. A clean pair of gardening gloves help to protect your hands if you are leary of getting bitten. I usually just distract mine with one hand and place my other under their belly until they step up onto me. Don't ever pull the chameleon off of the branch as this can cause broken limbs, tails and nails. Patience is key :)

5) Are they bothered by drafts? I live in a 3rd floor flat and during the nice weather we keep the windows open and get a nice breeze through the front and back windows. Are they very delicate or prone to respiratory problems? Is it ok as long as it's warm?
Chameleons do great with a lot of ventilation. As long as their ambient temps are in the correct range and their basking spot is in the correct range, I wouldn't think that a slight breeze would bother them occasionally. Chameleons aren't as delicate as you would think but they are by no means as hardy as say a bearded dragon. They are prone to respiratory infections, but these are usually caused by keeping them in glass enclosures, by inadequate drainage in the cage (where bacteria is growing in the standing water) and misting that is too frequent (causing extreme humidity and not allowing the cage to dry between mistings.. 3 mistings a day is sufficient). I am sure there are other causes that aren't coming to me at the moment, but these are some main ones.

6) Can you not use ANY glass? I read on some of the care sheets that they really really hate glass but when I look at people's enclosures I see many WITH glass, I'm confused!
Chameleons are easily stressed be seeing their reflection in glass. Glass enclosures also hold in humidity and can cause the bacterial build up that can cause respiratory infections as mentioned above. It is also very hard to provide the correct temperature gradient that chameleons need to regulate their body temperatures in a glass cage. They are essentially little ovens!

Some keepers do have a solid wall or 2 in their cages. In an area where keeping humidity up is a huge problem, I can see doing this, but for the most part an all screen cage is the best way to keep your chameleon healthy and happy.
 

Breigh

New Member
hehe well I live in a 2 bedroom flat in Holland, which I guess is about the size of a 2 bedroom condo back home in North America.

I'm really confused... I've posted on reptile forums here in the Netherlands and they say that over here glass is actually the preferred material for terrariums for the Chameleons. That good ventilation (a mesh top and other ventilation) is good but overall most (even the breeders) use glass. Their reasons are that we don't have the temperatures for mesh terarriums.

This is something I encounter a lot though as the requirements for turtles (which are my biggest love) differ greatly as well. So I always try to settle for a happy medium between the American / Dutch requirements.

You said a smaller enclosure is best for a young chameleon, how small exactly?
 

Cherron

New Member
For my little ones I have screened cages that are 36'x18'x18'. These work pretty well until they are big enough to hunt their food a little better and allows me to free range insects and still be able to keep track of how much they are eating.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
The advice you have been given on this thread has been good.

I live in Canada and have been keeping/breeding/hatching raising veiled and other chameleons for many years. I started off keeping them in glass aquariums with screen lids....because that was all that was available at the time. I later switched to cages that were glass with screen fronts and lids. Many Europeans keep theirs in glass cages too.

I have never had a chameleon develop a respiratory problem....and I have had many that died autopsied so it would have shown up. I have also had no problems with chameleons being upset at seeing their reflections.

Air flow from a warm breeze shouldn't bother them....however if it is a cool/cold draft it likely will lead to fungal or respiratory problems.

I do NOT recommend the use of substrates for arboreal chameleons or the use of water falls in their cages.

Here is some information that might help too...some of it you may know since you keep turtles...
Appropriate basking temperatures allow for proper digestion...thus nutrient absorption.

Exposure to UVB either from UVB tube lights or from direct sunlight will allow the chameleon to produce vitamin D3 which will allow it to use the calcium in its diet. The UVB light should not pass through glass or plastic. Because my veiled chameleons are only getting the UVB from tube lights, I dust the insects before feeding them to the chameleons with a phos.-free calcium/D3 powder twice a month. Don't overdo this though because D3 from SUPPLEMENTS can build up in the system.

Because many of the feeder insects we use have a poor ratio of calcium to phosphorous, I dust the insects with a phosphorous-free calcium powder at most feedings to make up for this.

I also use a vitamin powder with a beta carotene source of vitamin A twice a month on the insects. Beta carotene sources of vitamin A won't build up in the system but preformed sources can. There is controversy over whether a chameleon can convert beta carotene to vitamin A or not...so some people also give them a little preformed once in a while. Excess preformed vitamin A can prevent the D3 from doing its job and lead to MBD though, so caution is advised.

Hydration is important too. Misting and drippers are used. (Most chameleons won't drink from a dish of water.) The drippers can be as simple as a container with a small hole poked in the bottom or as elaborate as an automated drip system. Misting can be simple or "complicated" too.

Its important to feed your insects a nutritious diet and to gutload them before feeding them to the chameleons too.
Here is a well known gutload...
http://adcham.com/html/husbandry/gutload.html

Here are some other sites with good information...
http://adcham.com/
http://www.chameleonnews.com/
http://web.archive.org/web/20060502074401/www.chameleonjournals.com/vet/index.php?show=5.Vitamin.A.html
http://www.uvguide.co.uk/skintests.htm#discussion

Hope this helps!
 

Breigh

New Member
Wow thank you so much for the replies. :)

I found these terrariums on a Dutch site and was wondering what you guys think of it. It does have glass but it seems to have a lot more ventilation than the other terrariums that are sold here.
http://www.rainforest-frogs.nl/shop/product_info.php?products_id=1300

I like it because the full glass would make me worry about too much humidity and the mesh ones worry me because I have two very curious and destructive cats! haha

I am familiar with the basking needs, like you said, from the turtles. I feel like I'm always buying basking/UV lights for my aquariums / terrariums. I am not at all familiar with gutloading insects though as I don't really feed that many insects to the turtles. They get their protein more from the feeder fish I keep in with them, so that will be something new.

Also, when I am looking at the baby chameleons, is there anything in particular that I should look for? I know with turtles to look for things like clear eyes/nose, a nice hard shell and so on. What do you look for with chameleons to show that they are healthy?

Another question I have is the male vs female question. Other than size, are there any great differences in the temperment or anything else? I read that females will lay eggs and a sandbox must be provided for them?
 

Cherron

New Member
Gutloading is essential for chameleon health. Crickets are by far the most widely used feeder insect and are easy to gutload. Roaches, superworms, mantids, flies and moths are all also used. Just think of the insects as a container for mutrition for the chameleon.. whatever you feed the insects is what your chameleon is eating also. I gutload with mixed grain baby cereal, collard, mustard, dandelion and turnip greens, sweet potato, yellow, green and acorn squash, escarole, coconut, egg yolk and recently added carrot.

When looking for a baby, you want to find one that is alert, active and awake. Aggression is actually a sign of a healthy veiled chameleon. If possible, have the breeder throw a cricket or two in and see if he/she is feeding. Possible signs of an unhealthy chameleon are sunken eyes, loose skin, swollen or crooked legs, a sunken in casque (the thing on top of their heads), a rubbery casque or jaw, not holding the belly up when walking and lethargy.

If you are just going to buy one chameleon as a pet, I would recommend a male. Females do definitely develop infertile eggs and need an egg laying chamber. They carry the risk of becoming eggbound and have greater supplement needs when developing and carrying eggs and after laying to help boost their weight and hydration back up. As far as temperment, mine are all pretty pissy! My females are definitely more aggressive when they are gravid, but other than that, I think they are about the same. I love my females, don't get me wrong, but for a first chameleon, I would definitely get a male. The stress of egg laying is actually pretty great ;)
 

Breigh

New Member
I have another question. Is it ever possible to leave them alone? What do you do with yours if you go away for the weekend or something like that?

We are going away to Canada for 3 weeks in October, I think I will wait until after I return from that holiday before I get one. It'd still be a baby and I'd worry about leaving a neighbour or someone to take care of him while we are gone.
 
Where would you be vacationing in Canada that time of year...?

If you complelty automate your chameleons cage, you can get away for a few days, but beyond that, you'll need another caretaker to be at your chameleons beck and call--- err to feed him and checkup periodically.
 

Breigh

New Member
I'll be going to North Sydney (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia). That's where I'm from originally, I've been living in Holland with my Dutch hubby for the last 8 years. Looking forward to getting back to some familiar territory!

We've decided that we are definitely going to wait until we get back (November) before we get a chameleon. That way we have plenty of time to arrange a great enclosure for him and learn as much as we can. Plus we won't be leaving him in anyone elses care for such a long time.
 
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