Gaping mouth when basking

dacritterguy

New Member
***this is a restarted thread***

My young veiled is occasionally holding her mouth open when she basks as other have mentioned. But she has MANY branches to move to. She can easily climb 30' away in complete shade or grab branches slightly above/below the heat source. If she has these options yet choses to be so close that her mouth opens.....should I just leave her to her own choices? Is my chameleon making bad life decisions?

She is about 6.5' inches away from a 80w mercury vapor bulb. Huh....even my gut tells me that's too close. My temp gun is at school.....I can bring it back and use it tomorrow to check. She's also 50% covered by a leaf. I'm thinking I should move the bulb back 2-3 inches. The gaping is on/off. For a couple minutes every 10 minutes or so. I don't know her exact age. 4-6 months? I've had her for about 3 weeks now. She's eating well....LOVES wax worms (they are dusted appropriately with calcium and multivitamins) mealworms and dubia roaches.


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Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thank you for posting your own. It helps us to not confuse prior postings with yours...

MV bulbs are really dangerous without a solarmeter 6.5 to check UVI levels. Also they put out a lot of heat with an increased UVI level. At 6.5 inches I am willing to bet it is not only way hotter then 78-80 degrees but she is being exposed to UVI levels much higher then even their highest recommended exposure level of a 6.

This would be my major concern? They will stay there even if they are too hot... Especially with 2 in 1 bulbs like this. She may be just trying to get the UVB but since it puts out heat as well she has no choice but to sit there to get the UVB.

You want to either borrow or buy a solarmeter 6.5 to check your UVI level. Your wanting a 3 uvi. Per temps a female should never be warmer than 78-80max. This directly impacts the number of eggs she will lay.

Per your food you want to limit the wax worms and I would get rid of the mealworms and replace them with super worms. Food intake also impacts number of eggs laid.

If you want more thorough feedback to ensure you got the correct info for her husbandry please fill out the form below by copy pasting it into your reply. The more detail the better.

Chameleon Info:

  • Your Chameleon - The species, sex, and age of your chameleon. How long has it been in your care?
  • Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon?
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders?
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule?
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking?
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites?
  • History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you.

Cage Info:

  • Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions?
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule?
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind?
  • Placement - Where is your cage located? Is it near any fans, air vents, or high traffic areas? At what height is the top of the cage relative to your room floor?
  • Location - Where are you geographically located?
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
Is this mercury vapor bulb her source of UVB as well?

Generally, except in rare circumstances like free-range, I don't like combination bulbs because they can be difficult to control. One can get the distance right for basking, but not for UVB and vice versa.

Is there any sound coming from her (i.e. does it sound like she may be having difficulty breathing?)
What are your humidity levels like, day & night?

2 minutes out of every 10 does sound a bit concerning. Has she had a wellness check from a herp vet?
Find a Herp Vet

Some other things to look for... Here are some articles on Respiratory Infections in chameleons.
I'm not saying she has one (I'm not a vet), or even that I think she has one; it's just something we—as keepers—need to be aware of.
chameleon symptoms of uri

Occasional mealworms are fine.
Can Chameleons Eat Mealworms? The Surprising Benefits
 
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dacritterguy

New Member
Thanks for the quick response and advice! I'm assuming a solarmeter is different from a temp-gun to I'll look at getting one. I've already moved the bulb back 2 inches. She's getting misted 4x a day for 1min plus manual spraying by myself about 2x a day. She won't do superworms yet.....I think they're too big (she's pretty small) She was adverse to larger hornworms as well....but small ones she gobbled up. She's mainly a decorative herp for me so I handle her rarely. Maybe once a week....but keep it to a minimum so as not to stress her. No sounds at all and breathing does not look labored. I've had her less than 3 weeks, but she has a normal routine and even a favorite branch where she always sleeps. Her enclosure is a gardinia tree where she roams around. I'm a prepared to increase it's size as she gets bigger.

What I'm going to do is accurately check the temp tomorrow and order a solarmeter right away. Knowing amazon I'll have it Tuesday. I'll also look at the feasibility of setting up a dual light system if you think it'd be better for her. I've owned/breed MANY snakes, lizards, amphibians etc.....but this is my first chameleon so it's quite the treat for me! Thank you for your input, it's appreciated.
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Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thanks for the quick response and advice! I'm assuming a solarmeter is different from a temp-gun to I'll look at getting one. I've already moved the bulb back 2 inches. She's getting misted 4x a day for 1min plus manual spraying by myself about 2x a day. She won't do superworms yet.....I think they're too big (she's pretty small) She was adverse to larger hornworms as well....but small ones she gobbled up. She's mainly a decorative herp for me so I handle her rarely. Maybe once a week....but keep it to a minimum so as not to stress her. No sounds at all and breathing does not look labored. I've had her less than 3 weeks, but she has a normal routine and even a favorite branch where she always sleeps. Her enclosure is a gardinia tree where she roams around. I'm a prepared to increase it's size as she gets bigger.

What I'm going to do is accurately check the temp tomorrow and order a solarmeter right away. Knowing amazon I'll have it Tuesday. I'll also look at the feasibility of setting up a dual light system if you think it'd be better for her. I've owned/breed MANY snakes, lizards, amphibians etc.....but this is my first chameleon so it's quite the treat for me! Thank you for your input, it's appreciated.
View attachment 299563View attachment 299562
Yeah she is a little bit of a thing. You will want to give her all small sized feeders anyway. Too large and they are at risk of being bitten by the feeder and mouth rot.

Here is some info for feeding as she matures:

As she matures you will have to start cutting back her food. By about 6 months she should be getting about 5-8 small feeders each day. At about 7 months you want to slowly reduce by cutting down feeder amounts so that she is on a feeding schedule of 3 days a week with 3 feeders. You want them to be on this schedule by the time they are 9-10 months old.


You will not ever want basking to be over 78-80 for her. Very important for females because as she ages she needs this temp no higher at basking to help control the amount of eggs she produces.

A lay bin should be added as a permanent fixture by the time they are 6 months old so they get used to it and it does not cause stress. You will want to figure out how to acomodate this for her in the free range set up you have.
https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/laying-bin-set-up-educational-video.77225/

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kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
As @Beman said..."She may be just trying to get the UVB but since it puts out heat as well she has no choice but to sit there to get the UVB"... This is one of the main reasons I have the UVB and basking light separated at least enough so he chameleon can chose. If you don't you're forcing them to get heat at the same time as the UVB. (They would in nature...but captivity is not nature and we can't copy nature exactly.)

As for them not moving out of the heat but chosing to gape instead, I compare it to us sitting in the sun until we've got a sunburn without moving out of the sun...I think it's similar.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thanks for the quick response and advice! I'm assuming a solarmeter is different from a temp-gun to I'll look at getting one.
Very different. UVI meters (like Solarmeter) can be built DIY.
https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=diy+uvi+meter

She won't do superworms yet.....I think they're too big (she's pretty small)
That may depend on the vendor. I found some small ones when my panther was 3 months old, and he handled them fine.

The above chart is wrong about mealworms.

No sounds at all and breathing does not look labored.
That's good. I'd still keep an eye on her. You might find the section on Health in the Resources section helpful. Then if anything does develop, you can research further.

I've had her less than 3 weeks, but she has a normal routine and even a favorite branch where she always sleeps. Her enclosure is a gardinia tree where she roams around. I'm a prepared to increase it's size as she gets bigger.
Are you saying she's free-ranging or is she in an enclosure? :unsure:

What I'm going to do is accurately check the temp tomorrow and order a solarmeter right away. Knowing amazon I'll have it Tuesday. I'll also look at the feasibility of setting up a dual light system if you think it'd be better for her. I've owned/breed MANY snakes, lizards, amphibians etc.....but this is my first chameleon so it's quite the treat for me! Thank you for your input, it's appreciated.
I'd suggest a linear T5HO UVB—either 5.0 or 6%, running the entire width of the enclosure.
For basking, an old-style household incandescent bulb works best. If not available, incandescent flood (not spot), or halogen flood (not spot). Intersection of the 2 kinds of lights is good, with basking light at an angle to provide a gradient of basking temperatures.

A chameleon will try to bask under the brightest light it can find regardless of temperatures, so if you have plant lights brighter than the basking light (not uncommon) take that into account when angling the lights. ;)
 
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dacritterguy

New Member
She's free ranging on the limitations of the gardenia tree. She can roam all over it.....even climb down to the soil. But she can't climb the pot (it's glass) and so she simply climbs back up the tree. The size of the tree (for now) gives her a wide range of branches to climb on. I may move to an artificial tree as she gets older.
 

dacritterguy

New Member
No artificial plants of any kind... PLEASE, especially for a veiled.

She may not be able to climb glass, but chameleons can jump.
https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=can+chameleons+jump+site:www.chameleonforums.com

My knowledge on free-ranging is limited, but there is a forum here for it.
https://www.chameleonforums.com/forums/free-range.86/
I didn't think artificial would be an issue as most enclosures are filled with fake flexible branches and leaves. What would be issue be?
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
I didn't think artificial would be an issue as most enclosures are filled with fake flexible branches and leaves. What would be issue be?
I hope it's not most! I'm comfortable saying most folks here use only live plants (including vines). Branches can be dead, but were once alive.

Live plants help increase and maintain humidity.

Veiled Chameleons tend to taste & sample plants in their enclosures, including vines. Technically, they're still insectivores, but they all do it. From Chameleon Academy:

Eating Leaves and Plant Matter​

A very few chameleon species will eat the leaves of the plants in their cage. Most notably, the veiled chameleon. There are many ideas as to why they do this. Nutrition and hydration really don’t make sense considering what they eat and when they eat it in the wild. The one explanation that does make sense is that they use the leaves as roughage to help their digestion.
....
In captivity, there is no need to feed vegetation and, especially, do not feed fruit. This has been a common practice, but not for the right reasons. Veiled chameleons are programmed to eat anything and everything to grow up as quick as possible before the dry season comes and kills them all. Just because they eat something doesn’t mean it is good for them.
....
(more)

Summary:

1) Use live plants, especially with Veiled Chameleons
2) Do not feed fruits to your chameleons
3) Don’t worry if your Veiled Chameleon chomps on your plants. This is natural.

https://chameleonacademy.com/basics-feeding-chameleons/

Consuming artificial plants has the potential of causing impaction, particularly the fuzzy coatings on fake vines.

These lists are from reputable sources, and contain plants (and vines) that are known to be chameleon-safe:
https://chameleonacademy.com/plants/
https://www.madcham.de/en/pflanzen-fuers-terrarium/
https://www.chameleons.info/l/safe-and-unsafe-plants/
https://www.chameleonschool.com/safe-plants-for-chameleons/
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
The above chart is correct about mealworms... they are a much lower nutrient feeder then other options.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
I'm sorry, but a review of many sources indicates not all that much.
They're perfectly fine as part of a varied diet.
Variety. Now we come to the part where things get interesting. Chameleons enjoy a variety of food. You will quickly find yourself learning about many insects. Typical chameleon keepers find themselves going through crickets, superworms (Zophobas), various species of roaches (dubias are most common), praying mantises, blue bottle flies, house flies, black soldier flies, grasshoppers, butterflies, silkworms, waxworms, mealworms, fruit flies, bean beetles, walking sticks, etc…

https://chameleonacademy.com/ep-30-introduction-to-chameleons/

Can Chameleons Eat Mealworms? The Surprising Benefits

Health Benefits For Chameleons Eating Mealworms​

Omega-3 fatty acids – Helps improves bone and joint health, keeps the eyes healthy, and helps keeps the skin healthy.

B vitamins –
For a chameleon, vitamin B helps with the breakdown of fats and proteins, which is important for metabolizing and energy production. B vitamins also keep the muscles, skin, hair, and eyes healthy.

Mealworms also have vitamins B5 and B12 which help aid in growth and development.

Proteins – The proteins found in mealworms help chameleons regulate their blood, build and repair muscles, and keep their skin healthy.

Fiber –
Fiber in mealworms will help chameleons with the digestion of foods and prevent constipation.

Can Baby Chameleons Eat Mealworms​

Baby chameleons can and should have mealworms as part of their daily diet. Since baby chameleons grow quickly, they need plenty of nutrition, especially protein to help them grow. Mealworms are loaded with proteins and other nutrients that can help support their growth. When mealworms combined with crickets, and green leafy vegetables fed to them daily, the baby chameleons will be healthy and strong when they grow up.

As with most other feeders, a lot has to do with what they're fed/gut loaded with.

We've been through this before, and I'm working on a post with more evidence than here to debunk the whole myth.

Once I do, if you have supporting evidence from reputable sources, I'd like to see it.
I would also welcome whoever put that chart together to join the discussion.
 
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