Big Plant Eater/Non Drinker


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I have a 10 month old female veiled chameleon. I have only seen her actually drink once and this was not long after I first got her as a 3 month old. I am not worried about dehydration because her poop looks good and she has no other signs of dehydration. She may just be a shy drinker!

What I am inquiring about is how common it is for her to be eating the plants in her cage pretty frequently. I have to change them out about once a month because she takes so many bites out of the leaves that the plants end up dying. She still eats her crickets and lobster roaches as well as my panthers and my male veileds do. She is the only female cham I have.. I don't know if perhaps that is where the difference is.. or maybe she isn't getting a nutrient that she needs? Or perhaps this is where she chooses to get her moisture from? I have tried offering her collard greens, mustard greens and dandelion greens, none of which she will eat. Just her cage plants. In her cage I currently have a pothos and a schefflera. I just want to be sure that she will not suffer ill effects due to her plant eating. Although I only use plants on the safe list, almost all of those plants say "Caution should be used if your chameleon is a big plant eater"

About my husbandry..
She is in a 3'x2'x2' screen enclosure. I mist her by hand three times a day for around 5 minutes and run a dripper for 10 - 15 minutes twice a day. She has a reptisun 5.0 UVB light and her basking light creates a basking spot at about 90 degrees. The rest of the enclosure is around 70 degrees. Her lights are on a 12 hour on/12 hour off timer. She has an egg laying container in the bottom of her cage and no substrate. Before I add any plants to her cage I rinse them well and replant them in an organic, fertilizer and pesticide free soil.

She eats anywhere from 6 to 10 crickets and 3 or 4 adult lobster roaches a day. I usually skip a feeding day or two during the week as I have read that over feeding females can stimulate egg production. I dust her food with phosphorus/D3 free calcium every other feeding and use a vitamin supplement every other week. I also dust with calcium with D3 once a month. I gutload my crickets and roaches both with a diet of baby cereal, collard and mustard greens and oranges.

I apologize for the length of this thread. I just don't want her to end up with any problems from so much plant munching and I don't want her to be lacking something that she is missing in her diet. I also would rather not completely remove the plants from her cage because I live in a dry area and it is already pretty difficult to keep the humidity up. Other than this she is a big, mean, healthy girl.

LOL .... this is normal behavior especially for veileds. They tend to eat more vegetation than other cham breeds. Though it does seem excessive that you haveto replace the plants so frequently. Have you tried offering her romaine lettuce? This is another possible substitute. I personally do not have veileds, but that is what I would try and maybe someone with similar plant eating experience can chime in.
It's been said before that the plant-eaters tend to go for leaves that look wet/moist.

So perhaps if you want to get her to eat the other greens/lettuce that you've been offering, perhaps you should spray them with a bit of water before feeding the leaves to her.

Worth a shot...
I think if she's healthy and doing well don't worry.
Try putting some spider plants in there. Really safe for her to eat and they are attracted to them.
My biggest concern is that your dripper doesn't run all day.

My initial reaction is that she isn’t getting enough water. I know you said her poo is looking good and there are no signs of dehydration – but is it b/c of all the plant matter she is eating?

I can’t really remember reading any threads where a veiled was eating the plants so much to the point where you needed to replace plants on a regular basis – so I wouldn’t exactly come to any conclusion that it’s normal. Then again all critters are different so maybe she just likes the taste.

Contrary to popular belief, pothos IS mildly toxic so if that’s the primary plant she is eating then I personally would be a bit concerned. Now how much does she need to eat in order for it to cause problems I haven’t the slightest clue. Consider getting a hibiscus plant, I’ve heard a fair amount of keepers say their veileds like the leaves … I know mine does on the occasion.

As for the other greens you are offering that she won’t eat – they sound fine. Maybe presentation is the problem. Try using clothes pins and attach them IN the plants to maybe fake her out.

You didn’t mention humidity and I would be interested in hearing what that’s like. I am a firm believer that humidity plays a pretty big role in how much my male veiled drinks.

It's been said before that the plant-eaters tend to go for leaves that look wet/moist.

Where did you read/hear this? Not calling you on it … there is some logic behind the fact that a succulent looking leaf will have water. Just curious.

I have tried taking a whole collard green leaf (which are huge)and sticking the stem down into the pot of her plant and with the collard covering her other plants and she will move it to get to them.

Her humidity is around 55- 60% with it raising to around 70% after mistings. I have a room humidifer that pumps directly into her cage.

I have sprayed her collards and other greens that I have tried with water.. she still refuses them.

I planned on getting (another) hibiscus. They are out of season here right now and the one I had during the summer died. She does seem to prefer the pothos but also takes bites of the schefflera. Some of the info I have read on the schefflera also say that they can be mildy toxic in large amounts. I may just have to go to all fake plants for her, though I hate to do it.

As for my dripper only running for 10 minutes at a time, I run it 2 or 3 times a day along with 3 or 4 mistings a day. This seems to be a sufficient amount of water and drinking opportunities and works well with my other veileds and panthers. If I am way off there, please let me know.

Thanks for everyone's responses ;)
I have had veiled females that will strip pothos plants bare. It doesn't seem to cause them any harm. I keep all the females the same way and yet some will strip the plants and others won't. (Most of my veiled females live to be 6 years old or older.) My 3+ year old has stipped hers bare in the last few months. Two others that I have that are even older than that haven't even touched them.

Some of them will eat the playsand that is in their egglaying containers too. (I have found a type/brand of playsand that passes through them and has never caused an impaction. (Autopsies would have shown it.) The poop looks strange though.)

As for using artificial plants for veileds...I never do...I worry about them accidentally ingesting a leaf.
I actually have experience of my veiled trying to eat artificial greenery when no real plant or greens were available.
You'd be surprised what they can rip off of a fake plant and ingest!
Thankfully everything "passed" and the artificial plants are ignored now that there is a heavy live plant ratio and the frequent offering of additional greens.

My female veiled did this for about 2 months. Really I guess from about 7-9 months of age. She really was not drinking and seemed to stay hydrated. I was a little concerned with the behavior but without other signs I did nothing. She was eating off of schefferella abricolas in her cage. She snapped out of it. A couple of times with her feces I could still make out leave that had not been digested merely rolled up. Thought that was weird. Non of the other veileds I have had ever ate as much vegatation as she did those two months. She probably ate more vegatation then all of them combined in there whole lives.

I personally would not go to fake plants. This could cause a problem. It would really only take one mistake on her part with eating a fake plant to experience problems. Maybe you should add an extra light to help out the plants so they can at least attempt to repair themselves.
Thanks for everyone's responses. I think I will just leave her be. She is a very healthy girl and has been eating her plants as long as I have had her so I suppose that she will be fine. I don't mind replacing the plants and unless she shows any signs of illness I will just let her go on munching away!
Where did you read/hear this? Not calling you on it … there is some logic behind the fact that a succulent looking leaf will have water. Just curious.


I'm pretty sure I read it somewhere on these forums, but after much searching I can't seem to find the thread.
I remember liking the theory because, as you said, it seems logical.
I've actually seen my Veiled busy licking drops off a leaf during a misting, then suddenly chomping down on the leaf and chewing it a bit!

Then again, there are little v-shaped bite marks on almost every ficus leaf in his enclosure, so he could be nibbling on them all day long for all I know (wet or dry...).
Interestingly, the Hibiscus doesn't have bite marks: those ones he manages to rip right off!
I think I will just leave her be.

I would agree ... and keep the real plants. I think she just likes to eat plants and some of the responses like the one from kinyonga are indicating that its probably ok.

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