Leo is here...and me and him are super anxious!

extrajordinary

Established Member
Little Leo arrived from FL Chams this morning and I'm beyond excited but also very anxious. I didn't realize until I took him out of the container he was shipped in and he puffed up that I didn't know what "normal" veiled chameleon behavior was. Here's his information:

Your Chameleon - Veiled chameleon; male; 2-3 months old; he has been in my care for >24 hours
Handling - I handled him quite a bit today and I don't think I should've. I know chameleons don't typically enjoy being held...but I was worried he wouldn't be able to find the cup with the crickets in it so I tried moving him over there a couple times. He didn't enjoy being picked up, and once I placed him near the cup he'd run and hide.
Feeding - He is eating small crickets. I think they're 1/4" and I left about 7 in his cup tonight. I want to feed him twice a day (in the morning and in the evening) but he hasn't eaten anything since I put him in his enclosure. I bought the crickets already gut-loaded from Josh's Frogs and then I fed them orange slices and melon.
Supplements - I can't recall the brand right now but I did dust them with calcium (without D3) before offering them to Leo. I plan to dust the crickets with calcium with D3 and a multivitamin once every two weeks and calcium without D3 at every feeding.
Watering - There is a dripper in the corner and I misted his cage three times today. I was nervous about overwatering the plants so I only misted until there was a layer of mist on everything. One of the first things he did after I put him in his cage was work his way to the back where the water was hitting the leave and drink.
Fecal Description - I have not seen any of his droppings yet.
History - He is from FL Chams. That's all I know.

Cage Type - He has a Zoo Med X-Large Repti Breeze Aluminum Screen Cage. It measures 2' by 2' by 4'. There is a shower curtain attached to three sides to help with the humidity.
Lighting - I'm using a Zoo Med Repti Sun Terrarium Hood 24 inch with a Zoo Med 24" Repti Sun 5.0 UVB bulb. For heat I have a Zoo Med regular black ceramic clip lamp with a regular incandescent lightbulb. I think it's 60 watts. The lights turn on at 5 in the morning and turn off at 5/5:30 in the evening.
Temperature - The basking spot ranges from 80-85. I don't know what the temperature in the bottom of the cage is or what it has been at night. I've been using an analog temperature gauge for now.
Humidity - The humidity rests around 40% and after I mist the enclosure it climbs to about 70% and gradually decreases over several hours. As I mentioned, I have a shower curtain attached to the enclosure to help maintain the humidity levels. I also use an analog hygrometer.
Plants - Yes. I have a ficus, a golden pothos, and a schefflera. The ficus was purchased from LLL Reptile and the other two were repotted in organic soil.
Placement - It is in the corner of my classroom, away from the windows and doors. The top of the cage is probably about 6-7 feet off of the ground. It's a 4' cage that sits on top of a plastic utility tub.
Location - My school is located in North Chicago, about 20-25 miles north of Chicago.

I plan to take and post photos of Leo tomorrow. I don't have any particular concerns (aside from the fact that he hasn't eaten anything), I just want to know what I can expect the next few days/weeks. Aside from puffing up, is his coloring an indication of whether or not he's upset/scared? When I picked him up from the container he was shipped in he turned from a pale green to a dark gray/black. He alternated between those two colors throughout the day, staying mostly dark gray/black near the lights and then turning green when he was in the foliage. I moved the cup with the crickets in so it's right below a vine. The hope was that he could sit on the vine and see the crickets move below him and that would encourage him to eat. He tried to eat twice today, but the cup I have currently is clear so he just hit the cup and wasn't able to get any food. :( Any suggestions on where to place his cup?

Sincerely,
a new, anxious chameleon mom o_O
 

Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
Handeling- the less you handle him the better. Chams are not pets, they are a hobby.

Feeding- this is the first I’ve heard of pre-gutloaded crickets and I think your getting screwed. Gutload is only as good if it’s still in the feeders digestive tract. So unless your feeding off all your pre-gutloaded feeders within 24-48 hours after you received them the gutload they came with is gone. You would benefit greatly from buying in bulk and gutloading on your own. Also try to feed a wide variety of bugs, not just crickets. Your Cham needs the nutritional diversity.

Don’t worry about him not finding his food, he’s a natural born hunter and if could feed himself in the wild he can definitely manage in a cage. I reccomend a feeder cup from full throttle feeders.com.

He won’t eat or drink much for the first two weeks, it’s normal. You have to realized he views you as a predator, he is instinctually driven to fear you and do all he can to stay hidden and escape. He’s also going to view each of your students as predator too.

Chams don’t change color to blend in like everyone thinks, the do it to communicate. Very dark or bright colors are representative of different kinds of intense stress. Green means he’s relaxed. If he is a class pet I doubt you will be seeing much green.
 

extrajordinary

Established Member
I got the crickets about a day before I got Leo so they’d be ready for him to eat right away. He was green for the majority of the day, unless he was near the lights. I read somewhere that dark colors can also mean he is trying to absorb heat. Is that true? My kiddos have been prepped for about a month now and understand that he needs his space.
 

Syreptyon

Chameleon Enthusiast
You really ought to consider taking him to your home instead... Being around dozens of kids every day is going to make his life incredibly stressful and more than likely shorten his lifespan considerably due to the stress involved. It will lower his immune system and make it likelier for him to get sick (which is especially risky for young chameleons). No amount of prepping children will make it any easier on him. Especially in his juvenile months, he really should not be exposed to that many people. It's not safe.
 

JoshD49

Chameleon Enthusiast
Puffing up is only the first step. After that he may start to open his mouth and hiss. After that he will lunge at you. They do tn'bite hard if at all. Usually just bang into you. Veileds are the more grumpy of species and he likely will not tolerate people messing with him well. My daughter didnt want anything to do with my veiled once he started getting his teen anger. Yesterday was the first day she held him in a few months. I would recommend bringing him home until he is much older and you ensure he gains weight and is healthy. That's if you insist on keeping him at school. If he does get defensive with the snapping and such he may scare the kids off and they lose interest in reptiles. For a classroom I would recommend a bearded dragon since they love to be social and see people moving around.
 

extrajordinary

Established Member
I’ve read many posts on here from others that have veiled chameleons in their own classrooms, with success. I would appreciate it if someone could comment on the part of my post about dark colors meaning the chameleon is trying to absorb heat. Leo has been green all day, until he went up toward the lights to bask. Then he got darker. Not black like when I picked him up yesterday, but streaks of darker green/gray. I haven’t touched him at all today. And he’s been a beautiful green and very active.
 

JoshD49

Chameleon Enthusiast
Dark color during basking is to help absorb more heat.

I'm not trying to tell you want to do. People are not happy that I let my 6 year old hold my Chams so I am by no means a rule follower myself. I was only worried that it's so young. Your going to do what you want but just keep an eye on him and welcome to the forums.
 

extrajordinary

Established Member
Thank you. I was trying to respond to your post (and the others) without being defensive bought I don’t think I was successful. I am taking your advice into consideration.
 

extrajordinary

Established Member
*but I don’t think

He’s here right now and for the time being he’s staying here so I just want to be sure I am doing the best I can for him.
 

Syreptyon

Chameleon Enthusiast
The colors are nothing to worry about, but our advice still stands. You can't expect people to ignore bad decisions because you don't want to hear perfectly reasonable criticism and concern from experienced hobbyists. It's up to you if you want to willfully expose your chameleon to risky conditions. I don't see why you would want to, especially without prior chameleon experience, though. It's a recipe for disaster. Chameleons acclimated to classrooms are one in a million and are used to people. Your chameleon isn't. I just don't think it's fair to the poor chameleon. The vast majority people here think the classroom is no place for a chameleon.

Chameleons can survive in classrooms, but they survive despite being in a classroom and it will shorten his lifespan. Ask yourself this: Who benefits from the chameleon being in the classroom? You and your students or the chameleon? The answer is the former and that is a dangerous mentality to have with chameleons. Everything you do for them should be for their best interest and not your own. It's our job here to advise people on responsible chameleon keeping and to take chameleons' interests as a priority above their owners' personal desires (which are often contrary to the cham's needs). That's why people who do things like this get pushback. Because the chameleon's needs are clearly not being prioritized and that makes us sad.
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
A cham bite can draw blood and leave a mark. Veileds especially aren’t known for being nice. I didn’t notice the cham was at a school until others pointed it out. As previously stated, that is a horrible idea! Chams hate foot traffic, lots of movement, lots of people, etc! Take him home and give him his best life there. Children aren’t always the most sanitary and can easily help get your cham sick. He’ll be stressed constantly. What does your enclosure look like? Not trying to be rude, but it’s almost inhumane to keep him at a school.
 

Deo32

Member
Are you planning on placing the cham in a classroom or some type of hallway?

My college chemistry teacher had a Jackson's chameleon; the enclosure was placed in the back by the lab tables so no one really walked about back there unless it was to briefly grab something. Additionally, the view of the classroom (us) was blocked by a stack of books or something of the sort.
 

JoshD49

Chameleon Enthusiast
Maybe a good question is what age will the students be and is there a corner of the class available that won't get much traffic?
 

extrajordinary

Established Member
The cage is in the corner that gets virtually no traffic. I have cats at home so I can't imagine he'll enjoy them either. I trust the kids more than the cats.
 

JoshD49

Chameleon Enthusiast
My Chams are in my office at home along with a bearded dragon. My dogs occasionally walk in but not much. The chams just kinda look at then but the dogs could care less. As for cats I wouldn't even try it but I personally don't care for cats anyway.

I'm glad to hear the cage won't get a lot of traffic but how old are the kids?

Either way guys the OP is going to put it where it is. I don't think we need to keep saying it's not a good idea and try to make the best of it. My daughter is six and is learning how to care for lizards. I let her hold the chams once in a while but she is mainly practicing with her bearded dragon. Kids can be taught.
 
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