Caring for Veiled Chameleon in South Africa


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We bought my son a Veiled Chameleon in April so we have had her for just over 2 months.
All going well, except we are going into Winter now and some days she does not want to eat.
We have the heating lamp in her cage and keep temp above 20 degrees, i am just worried as is this normal?
How long can they go without eating?
Somedays she will eat 10 to 12 crickets.

Also is it correct that we spray her and the plants twice a day?

Any advice i will really appreciate.

Hi Jillian,

To be able to fully answer your questions, we will need a bit more information.
The easiest way to provide a complete description of your setup and husbandry would be to follow the guidelines in this sticky: How To Ask For Help

The main questions I have after reading your post are:
- how old is your chameleon? Given what I know of the SA chameleon trade, I expect you were sold a young cham: 4-6 weeks old (probably at that reptile show at Emperor's Palace if you're in Gauteng). If that's the case, your cham would only be about 3 1/2 months old, and it is not very common for a veiled cham that young to stop eating. But sometimes they do pace themselves - as long as she is only skipping meals for a day or two at a time, it doesn't indicate a problem unless there are other symptoms with it, like losing weight, lethargy, etc.

- you mentioned a heat lamp: what about UV lighting? What other lights do you have set up?

- also, you mentioned that the temp. in the cage is 20 degrees. Is that an ambient temp? Do you have any way of measuring what the basking spot temperature is? Because a Veiled would need somewhat higher temperatures than 20 degrees to bask (at that age, probably more like 26-32 degrees). If the temps are too low, chams will respond by eating less, since they won't be obtaining the heat required to aid in the digestive process, and their activity levels will decrease in cold weather.

- what enclosure are you keeping her in (size, and materials)?

- do you know that you will have to provide a place for her to lay eggs? From about 5-6months old, Veileds become sexually mature and can lay eggs, whether they are mated or not. Read more here: Female Chameleon Health and Care

It is indeed correct to spray her enclosure twice a day, provided you are spraying for a long enough duration each time (at least 10-15 minutes each time) and provided you are seeing her drinking during the misting sessions.

Please feel free to PM me too if you would like any help in finding chameleon resources in South Africa.
Hi Tygerr,

Thanks so much for giving me such helpful information.

In reply to some of your questions, yes we do have a UV lamp in the cage.
We also have a heating lamp,which is ( Red ) in colour which we place on top of the cage, shining down into the cage.

The cage is a vertical mesh type of cage, about half a metre in height.
Yes we did buy her at the Reptile Expo at Emperors palace, so i would imagine she is about 3 and half months old.

I was not aware at all that they lay eggs, whether they are bred or not.I looked at the information regarding putting a pot/contanier with soil for her to lay the eggs.
When do you suggest we put the pot in her cage? and how long do we leave it there? Will we know when she has laid her eggs?
Sorry for all these questions, i would just hate for anything to happen to her, so trying to do the right thing !!

She is eating again, fine and can see her growing by the day !!

Unfortunately, most of the people selling chams at those reptile expos in SA are snake experts, and don't know much about chameleons. They sell their chams too young, and the so-called 'starter kits' they sell are really inadequate for chameleons.

Anyway, all is not lost. There is a lot you can do to remedy the setup.

First off, those red heat lights are not correct for chameleons. Chameleons respond to visible light as a source of heat. Instead of the red light, you should be using a regular spot light globe as a heat light (they sell them in either 60W or 100W in any supermarket).
The key thing with heat bulbs is that you need to get the basking temperature set up properly. For your cham's age, that should be about 29-32 degrees C. You should have an accurate digital thermometer (preferably with an external probe) to test that the temps are correct. Don't set the bulb too close to the cage to avoid burning your cham (and melting the cage if it's a Flexarium). A 60W bulb from about 10-15cm above the cage should be adequate.

As for the UV light, make sure it's a 5.0, and not the 2.0 bulb (I heard a few people recommending 2.0's for chams - not a good idea). And remember you have to change those bulbs every 6-12 months.

Veiled chameleons generally become sexually mature at about 6 months, but they have been known to lay eggs even before that age. So you should be prepared for that possibility in the coming months. The tub of sand should be left in there permanently. She'll let you know when she's ready to lay by starting to dig in the sand. That's when things get a little more complicated.
Read this article to gain some more insight:
Making a nesting site
Also, do a search on these forums for 'nesting' or 'egg laying' - there are many invaluable posts here by experienced keepers.
I think it was Will Hayward or Dave Weldon that posted some great pics of a nesting container made from a large plastic garbage bin.

You should read this article today:
Introduction to chameleon care, and then read everything you can at the rest of the site:
Chameleons! Online E-Zine

The Chameleon's Dish that I referred you to previously is a also a great source of knowledge.
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Thanks so much for all your advice, have printed a lot of information and will have look into it.

Just one last question for now, once she has laid eggs, how often does this occur? Do we remove the container that she laid eggs in, or do we leave it in the cage permanently?

once she has laid eggs, how often does this occur?
Egg production is thought to be determined by availability of food and environmental conditions. In captivity, environmental conditions are good (or they should be), and the food supply is ample, so clutches of eggs tend to be large and frequent. This is not good for the female's health and longevity though, so most experienced keepers warn against overfeeding females so as to prevent them from developing too many eggs. If you limit their feeding, their clutches will be smaller and less punishing on their bodies.
In fact, with Veileds, I think Kinyonga has mentioned that by limiting their diets you can even prevent them from developing eggs at all.

Do we remove the container that she laid eggs in, or do we leave it in the cage permanently?
Yes, once she has laid her eggs you should remove them and dispose of them (provided they are infertile of course). That's why I don't think idea of laying eggs in the pot-plant like on that Chameleon's Dish site is ideal, because you'd have to remove the whole pot-plant from the cage once she 's done with it.
Of course, the best advice is not to have her lay eggs inside the cage. Rather remove her from the cage once she starts digging in the sand container, and put her into a specially prepared (and much deeper) nesting site (usually a large garbage can filled with sand, complete with plant and lighting). She'll lay the eggs in the nesting site, and then you can put her back in the cage when she's done.
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Tygerr said..."In fact, with Veileds, I think Kinyonga has mentioned that by limiting their diets you can even prevent them from developing eggs at all"..I have had veiled females live to be 6 years old that have never laid a single egg. (In fact one, Miremba, just died this week sadly...and I have another one coming up to the 6 year mark too.) I limit their diet and keep the temperature a couple of degrees cooler to slow their metablolism a bit. You don't want to starve just want to keep them from overeating.

One more thing...although you should remove the container after she has laid eggs it should be put back so that she can show you when she's ready to lay the next batch. There is one in each egglaying female's cage that I own...even if I expect that they will never lay eggs (due to how I keep them). Its better to be safe than sorry...eggbinding is not a nice thing to have to deal with.
I limit their diet and keep the temperature a couple of degrees cooler to slow their metablolism a bit.

Kinyonga, do you limit their diet from birth (despite their ravenous appetite as youngsters), or is there an age that you start limiting their diet?
Tygerr said..."Kinyonga, do you limit their diet from birth (despite their ravenous appetite as youngsters), or is there an age that you start limiting their diet?"

I'm not sure how to answer this...its not easy to explain it all. Some people sort of power-feed baby veileds to get them grown up quickly. I like them to grow at a slower steady pace. I don't starve them by any means. None of them have basking lights as babies...but I do have double tube lights over the cages.

I feed them all they can eat in a minute or so at each feeding. I do this for several months and then I start to slow them down a bit. Up to this point I do it for males and females.

Once the females are reaching sexual maturity I slow them down a bit more and keep their temperatures lower than the males by a couple of degrees...most of the time. (In summer, I have less control over the differences in the temperatures.) The females are by no means thin....but the way I keep them they don't usually even produce any eggs.

When I want to have one reproduce, I make the necessary changes and then mate her. My females usually lay about 20 -25 eggs and all the fertile ones hatch as a rule. I have raised quite a few of these babies over the years and they are healthy and all do just what their mothers do in the way of reproduction.

Latefah is 4 now and has never laid an egg. Mafana is 6 and Miremba (who died this week) was 6 and neither have produced eggs. Solo, Latefah's grandmother was never bred for the first time until she was over 3 years old. I usually only breed to keep my lines going or if I want to "study" something.
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