Anything out of the ordinary?


New Member
Hi to all,

This is more of pre-emptive set of questions to ensure I'm doing all the right things, rather than continue on and have something go wrong in the future.

After purchasing a female veiled for my girlfriend 3 1/2 months ago, I myself was fascinated and taken by owning a chameleon, as i rather enjoyed the husbandry and general care of the animal. About 15 days ago while layed up in bed with Mono (what a nasty illness) my parents surprised me with a female Flap-necked Chameleon and all the accessories. After naming her Wasabi, I set out to do all the reading I could - and this is basically taking it to the next step by getting an individual assessment.

Now on to the questions.

My best guess for the age of the animal would be in the 3-4 month range. We were unable to get an exact DOB, and according to my parents the employee at the pet store was rather uninformed on chameleons. She has a body length of about 3 inches from nose to vent, and is obviously still a baby.

She is currently residing in a 65 gallon flex tank, on which sits a 20" UV strip and a 100 watt basking spot lamp. The lights are supported with a custom cut plexiglass support to make sure no accidents happen. I have yet to have the chance to obtain a thermometre for exact ambient temps in her cage (again, having Mono keeps you housebound for a while) but I will very soon. If i had to ballpark the temps currently, it would be somewhere between 85 and 90 basking, and roughly 70 or 75 for the rest of the cage - with the temps dropping to about 60 at night. I spray her cage with warm water 3 times daily to keep the humidity up. Her cage is located in a nearly 0 traffic area, with the only people entering the room being myself to feed her or for chammy watching.

Obviously I see the flaw in not having exact temps at the moment, but i'll be getting on that ASAP as soon as im well enough. Any recommendations as to ideal conditions would be great.

As for feeding and water.

This is the part that seems a little out of the ordinary for me. Having experience with a veiled, Wasabi seems entirely different when it comes to eating. My girlfriends chameleon has a healthy appetite, and aggressively persues every cricket in the cage until she has eaten them all (usually 6-8 in a sitting). My chameleon seems very passive when it comes to eating, and rarely persues a cricket with the intention of eating it. I have only seen her track her own food 4 times, and in each case it was only 1 cricket. After talking to my parents, they said her housing at the pet store was ill constructed and literally jammed with somewhere between 50 to 60 crickets in a 30 gallon enclosure, which caused some damage to the animal as the crickets were chewing on the base of her tail.

Being concerned that she was not getting enough food, I decided that I would begin hand feeding her to ensure that she was eating enough. Now all the information that I could gather advised against overhandling for fear of stressing the animal, but I didnt want her to starve either.

Contrary to my girlfriends veiled who is quite fiesty (she hisses when you get anywhere near her) my flap necked is very docile, and as far as I can tell, the practice of hand feeding is actually an enjoyable part of her day. After a few days, she began coming towards me when i would unzip the cage and willingly crawl into my hand. She no longer expresses a stressed colour change upon removal from her cage, and her appetite has shot through the roof. Beginning this practice a week ago, she has ramped up her eating from 2 crickets per day, to 3 crickets 2 times per day. I am dusting her crickets with calcium power & vitamins 3 to 4 times per week. Crickets are roughly 1/4 inch in size and I present them until she loses interest.

Now my question is - is it normal to have her only respond to food in the hand feeding scenario? She has access to crickets in her cage, but rarely touches them. Upon removal and direct hand feeding where I grab a cricket by the leg and hold it still for her, she becomes excited and fully willing to eat.

After feeding she is placed back in the cage and I give the plants under her basking lamp a good spray with water, which she usually takes a good drink from. She has access to water all through the day with a dripper that hits some leaves and falls into a running fountain.

Overall observations:

After hand feeding her appearance has improved 10 fold. I believe she was being improperly cared for at the store, and am quite happy to get her out of there. She has gained a bit of weight, and her skin has healed where she was getting chewed. She has active eyes, and is constantly looking around the cage. Her front legs look a bit on the small side, but that could just be me. Her overall activity within the cage is fairly limited, but she does move around a bit - albeit quite slowly and cautiously. Her grip is strong, both with feet and tail. Typical colouration is a medium to light shade of green, with a stressed colouration of bright yellow with green polka dots.

As you have probably gathered, I am quite a cautious pet owner. Any advise/tips/criticism is welcomed.

First of all, be aware that I haven't kept many flaps and any I had were WC's and adults when I got them.

Flaps, IMHO are one of the more difficult chameleons to keep in captivity in that they come from such a wide range of habitats. Also, there are several subspecies.

I can't give you specifics on the temperatures and humidity...but I have a few comments on the set-up. etc. that you posted...
You asid..."The lights are supported with a custom cut plexiglass support to make sure no accidents happen" ....are you meaning that the UVB light is over the plexiglass? UVB light should not pass through glass or plastic or you lose the usefullness of the UVB.

Concerning her behaviour to you, the hand feeding and the lack of eating on her own...some flaps I have had have moved/hid when they saw me coming near the cage and others have been more placid....but I have never had one that wouldn't eat on its own. To me this is abnormal behavior. Have you ever seen her extend her tongue fully when she did track down a cricket on her own?

You also said that she doesn't move around much....this one is a hard one to comment on....some species move around a lot and others don't....but they all eat on their own. 15 days should have been enough time for her to adjust to her new cage.

Regarding the chewing on her back...its good that its healing. I hope that she didn't pick up an infection though since she wasn't on antibiotics (I assume).

Is she sleeping during the day? Is she pooping? Do you have a substrate in the cage?

Do you know about gutloading the insects and supplementing them before feeding them to the chameleon?

Here are some articles that you might be interested in reading...
Yes, she is fully extending her tongue when she is persuing her own food.

The plexiglass support is cut in such a way to support the housings of the lighting, but no to obscure the bulbs in any way.

She sleeps briefly through the day, but for the most part is awake and actively looking around the cage and moving around.

She is pooping on a regular basis, and yes there is a substrate in the bottom of the cage.

I am also a bit concerned about her lack of interest of food inside the cage - im going to be carefully monitoring the number of crickets in her enclosure. I'll post back in a couple days with any changes/updates.
It is strongly recommended to remove the substrate and the fountain.

Sub substrate is dangerous to your chameleon, and serves no general purpose except to get messy.

The water fountain is a debated topic, but for the most part it is a breeding ground for bacteria and a pooping station. search the forums, it has been discussed many times at length.
jbfromsc80 ...Good call on the fountain...I missed that in the first post.

I don't recommend substrate either which is why I was asking if there was any.

Once again...jcsm84...Do you know about gutloading the insects and supplementing them before feeding them to the chameleon?
Yes, I have been gutloading the crickets with a store bought load, as well as a mix of carrots, oranges and potato to give a bit of water.

I have removed the substrate and have turned off the fountain. I will be using the fountain to merely catch the drips from the dripper we have, and it will be emptied and cleaned regularly.

After the changes to her cage she has become more active. I have yet to see her eat on her own since, but she is moving around more and seems more at ease after the changes. I made her a cupfeeder today so I can closely monitor the number of crickets she is eating. She seems very interested by the crickets in the cup but had already eaten by the time I constructed it. With a little luck she'll begin eating out of it soon.

I spent a good amount of time today watching her movements. Before i turned off the fountain she was moving cautiously around the cage, rocking back and forth a good amount, and seemed to hesitate before she took a step. After the fountain was turned off, she began rocking less, and moving more quickly and confidently. Perhaps the sound of the fountain or some aspect of it being turned on was stressing her out. She seems pretty strong in her overall grip and climbing ability - several times today she pulled herself up using only her front legs to a higher branch or vine over a span nearly the length of her entire body.

Any opinions on putting her outside during the day time? Being sick with mono pretty much means im stuck at home, and could take her out while i go read a book. Temperatures around here are climbing between 75 and 85 in the direct sunlight.
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