New Owner Seeking Advice for Stressed Chameleon


New Member
Hi Everyone!

I am new to owning a chameleon, and have tried to/ still am researching everything from enclosure set up to normal behavior so that I don't stress her out. However, actually having her in front of me I am still not sure exactly what is just chameleon behavior and what is a problem that needs fixing.

When I got Gamora home from the store, I started to notice that she was super active but very clumsy and kind of reaching out into empty spaces like she couldn't see. I realized that she had not opened her eyes for a day and a half and immediately brought her to the vet. Thankfully the vet identified she was Vitamin A deficient and laid out all the steps to getting her healthy again.

When administering eye drops, I needed to handle her. Every morning I would place my hand in front of her and she'd crawl right on. She never puffed up, gaped, or anything that showed stress. She would also eat from a syringe and then crawl right back into her cage with no problem.

Now her eyes are open and bright - YAY! - And she eats with her tongue finally! So she is pretty much back to being what I think looks like a happy and healthy active chameleon.

But - Now that her eyes are open and she's feeling better, I noticed she puffs her chin out very far and will gape for 1-2 seconds randomly with seemingly no need for stress. She hasn't easily come out of the cage in the morning onto my hands in a few days, and I have not forced her in any way. She just either starts to lower her neck or back up so I back off. She is still very active in her cage though, and once she calms down she goes back to exploring her plants.

I noticed this morning that she turns a darker color with a few spots/stripes and starts to puff out right when her lights get turned on.

Are her lights startling her? Is there a way for me to make this transition between very soft lighting (from my windows in the morning/my bedroom light) to her bright UVB and basking light?

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - The species, sex, and age of your chameleon. How long has it been in your care?
    • Gamora is a female Veiled chameleon. They told me she was about 3 months old. I have had her for about 3 weeks.
  • Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon?
    • I had to handle her every morning for about 5 minutes to administer eye drops and a syringe of food prescribed by a vet.
    • Now I try not to handle her unless she comes to my hand.
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders?
    • While she was sick she would not eat, so she was eating the dosage prescribed of food mix. Now she eats meal worms, wax worms, and crickets.
    • She only eats about 5-6 of any combination of these three every morning. Sometimes into the afternoon.
    • Have not gutloaded feeders yet since she is fairly new, but plan to. I dust her worms with Reptivite every other day.
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule?
    • Reptivite with D3 every other day.
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking?
    • I have the little dripper set up on top of her cage dripping down some leaves from the ceiling of the cage.
    • Mist 2-3 times a day for about a minute each
    • I have seen her drinking, sometimes drinking a lot. I do not visibly see her drinking every day though.
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites?
    • She has never been tested for parasites.
    • The first time I saw her droppings it was a medium brown with a slightly orange/white urate.
    • Now I haven't been able to find her droppings, but don't see any signs of dehydration.
  • History - Not sure where she was originally from, but I purchased her at a Pet Supplies Plus.

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions?
    • Screen cage
    • 24x24x48
    • Lots of vines/leafy plants throughout
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule?
    • Not sure of brands/models offhand, but she has a UVB fluorescent tube light at the top back of her cage and a basking bulb that is currently 150 watt. I also have a heat "light" for nighttime because her temps drop a lot, but it does not give off any actual light. Just emits heat.
    • 12-14 hours with the lights on, then darkness in the whole room afterwards. This schedule has teetered because I don't have a timer set up yet, but it will be 12 hours on / off soon.
    • Usually lights go on around 6:50-7:00am, off around 8:00-8:30pm.
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?
    • Right now I have a system that has a thermometer on one wire hidden near her basking spot (usually anywhere between 85-95 degrees F) and another wire that is hidden within the leaves of her cage to read the humidity (anywhere between 55-85% from when I am at work during the day and when I'm home to mist her cage).
    • Lower in the cage is in the mid 70s usually
    • At night, around 75-79 degrees
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?
    • Included above ^
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind?
    • Yes; A large hibiscus plant, a small pothos in the bottom, and two other types of leaves that I cannot recall the name of at the moment, but they were on several accepted plant lists.
  • 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?
    • In my bedroom, up against the wall directly below my air vent. Air flow seems not to hit her cage since the vent is at the very top of my ceiling, so there is a large area between the top of the cage and the vent much higher.
    • My ceiling fan is a few feet away, but is only on for brief periods of time and not very often.
    • Not a ton of foot traffic through my room, except for myself and my parents occasionally helping with her.
    • Top of cage is 48" from the floor
  • Location - Where are you geographically located?
    • New Jersey

Current Problem - Seems really stressed out in the morning right when her lights come on. Is this normal/is there a way to make her more comfortable? Or is she just puffed out and slightly gapey because I'm doing something wrong?:confused:

Thank you! I'm glad to be a part of the chameleon community!


Chameleon Enthusiast
Just joking, my girl does this same routine. They are just like us when we are woken suddenly-grumpy! If you want to try something new go to, some of their lights have a dusk/dawn feature that turns the lights on and off slowly. Just bought a 48” Quad for a customer, and will prob get one for myself soon.


Staff member
I love her name.(y)
She could be puffing up out of surprise as mentioned above or she's just increasing her surface area to better absorb the light. She may darken to better absorb heat as well. You will have to observe her over time to be sure or you could film it for us. She probably won't like that either.
You are giving her a lot of D3 unless that was prescribed by your vet for a specific period of time a better supplement schedule would be:
Feeder insects should be lightly dusted with powdered supplement before being fed to your chameleon. Many keepers successfully use calcium (without D3 or phosphorus) at nearly every feeding, multivitamin once every 2 weeks, and calcium with D3 once every 2 weeks


Chameleon Enthusiast
Your husbandry needs some changes...

Start gutloading with cricket crack, a lot of newbys blow this off but it really is critical to your chams health.

Calcium with D3 should only be given 2 times a month, you will poison her if this doesn’t change. Same for the multivitamin, they are not optional. Every other feeder should be dusted with calcium without D3, don’t skip any days, this is important.

Bring your temps down to 85-90


New Member
Thank you both so much for answering! :)
I had read some differing things about the vitamins and really appreciate the info/scheduling.
I purchased a dimmer for her lights before posting, but will also look into


Chameleon Enthusiast
Thank you both so much for answering! :)
I had read some differing things about the vitamins and really appreciate the info/scheduling.
I purchased a dimmer for her lights before posting, but will also look into
I don’t know if it is true for fluorescent bulbs or uvb bulbs but dimmers can be very dangerous as they cause part of the light or fixture to overheat. Be sure to keep an eye on it the first time you use it. If I were you I’d get a cheap IR laser thermometer on hand, $25 on Amazon


Chameleon Enthusiast
Also, eliminate the wax worms - they are super fatty and like chameleon crack so they shouldn't be a feeder. However, they will work well to entice her to walk onto your hand as a treat! :D As for the lighting, I'm assuming she can see the window and therefore the light outside of your bedroom. You could schedule your lights to come on a little after the sun brightens up your window. So, she will see that and slowly wake up or start to stir and then the lights can come on. The dimmer switch is also a good idea.
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