Veiled Chameleon Care Questions

PabloPicasso

New Member
My boyfriend and I have had reptiles in the past, so we went into buying Pablo, our veiled chameleon, with a decent idea of what we were doing. He's our first chameleon, however, and there's some fine details we aren't totally sure about in terms of his care - and the Petco lady tried her best, but they obviously weren't something she was very familiar with.

To our knowledge, he's about 4 months old. He's about 4 inches (tail not included) and looks healthy by all standards. He's in a twenty gallon vertical mesh cage (I forget the actual term), several artificial climbing vines and leafy things, with a UV and heat lamp up top, and he has a dripper in addition to the cage being misted at least twice a day. With that said, I have a few general questions to make sure everything is how it should be for maximum health and happiness.

1) Temperature and Moisture. The thermometer is in the middle of the cage, and it hovers around 80 degrees. His moisture is in the same spot, and it's 50-55%. He does have a basking spot near the top about 4 inches away and just off to the side of the heat lamp. The numbers seem right - but is this a good setup? I don't want him to get cold (I lost an iguana to an unnoticed draft many years ago), or burned by the basking light. If not, how should I rearrange?

2) Nighttime - As it stands right now, he gets twelve UV+heat, twelve with just the heat lamp. However, I have heard it's better to not have a light on at night at all. I've also heard that they are fine with temperature drops at night, but I've never seen anyone agree on how low the temperature can go. Should I use a nighttime heat lamp? Or would a heating pad (the ones designed for use in a cage, of course) with a thermometer control be better? How low can the temperature actually go, and for how long (our house is about 75)? Should I shut everything off and just cover 3/4 of his cage with a blanket? We've never had an animal where night light isn't recommended, so we're both at a loss.

3) Food - Do chameleons develop overeating disorders? If they do, I think Pablo has one - he eats considerably more in one sitting than I was told to expect. He was a little thin, and in a tank with another, much smaller and much thinner chameleon - and he seemed almost aggressive about getting the food first when they were fed together, so is that a thing? I make sure he gets the right foods - gut loaded crickets, appropriately dusted, as his main, plus a meal worm or waxworm for a treat. He's put on weight, so I don't think he has anything going on health wise (he's going to the vet for a checkup soon, anyway). But he will eat indefinitely if I let him, even when he clearly doesn't want to. I know that some animals just eat more than others, but has anyone had their chameleon do this? Is there a good average number to start from? Should he eat one time a day, two? Also, I will add hornworms ASAP - unfortunately, they aren't stocked in most stores near me, and the heatwave has messed with shipping for stores and for personal delivery. Beyond hornworms, is he missing anything in his diet?

4) Last question, and I really appreciate your help and reading this long post. Pablo has adored me since I held him in the store - he tried to get out of his tank when I saw him, and wouldn't let go for anything when we went to put him back. We've only had him a short while, but he will reach out and demand my hand to climb on me when I go in to clean. He is very skittish with my boyfriend and a relative we live with, however. Neither have ever done anything to hurt him or any other animals, but it does worry me, since I won't be able to do all his care because of work (we made sure between the three of us, it would be handled properly). Would it be helpful if they gave him a meal worm or wax worm after they go in the tank? Or should we just let them do his feeding more regularly? Until he acclimates, it's just me doing the care, but once he's settled, it's something we'd like to work on.
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
1) 80 air temp is fine. Most of the time babies do not need a basking light, they just need a "warm area" that they can get to about 90f. If you can rig that up with a well placed basking bulb go for it, but if something happens and he gets too close to the bulb, its not worth it.

2) uv+heat 12 hours a day. The other 12 should be zero light, no night light no nothing. Night time temps in the low 50's is perfectly fine. Hes not a bird, you dont need to cover with a blanket etc.

3) females can be over fed. Males not really, its generally feed them as much as they will eat in a setting, once a day. Its not uncommon for them to finish off 2 dozen crickets during a growth spurt. Just keep up with the supplement sched for calcuim/vitamins/D3.

4) Yes you can win them over with treats that they normally would not get at a feeding. Generally its what they are wearing (bright high contrast) that they do not like. Most wont have anything to do with red/pink shirted people.


Lastly, he will need at least a 2x2x4 cage in the next 6 months or so you can shove him into that as soon as he learns to feed and drink in the big boy cage.


If you want, you can list your supplements, UV lights, and what your future cage setup will be.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
Agreed with above. And I'm not sure what reptiles should have a night light. Even if I had something that needed heat at night I'd use a CHE. Not being a smartass, just my thoughts on it. Most reptiles/animals do not need heat all the time, it's a myth. You'd be surprised how well they tolerate cold temperatures. My cham has gotten down to 40 before just fine
 

PabloPicasso

New Member
1) 80 air temp is fine. Most of the time babies do not need a basking light, they just need a "warm area" that they can get to about 90f. If you can rig that up with a well placed basking bulb go for it, but if something happens and he gets too close to the bulb, its not worth it.

2) uv+heat 12 hours a day. The other 12 should be zero light, no night light no nothing. Night time temps in the low 50's is perfectly fine. Hes not a bird, you dont need to cover with a blanket etc.

3) females can be over fed. Males not really, its generally feed them as much as they will eat in a setting, once a day. Its not uncommon for them to finish off 2 dozen crickets during a growth spurt. Just keep up with the supplement sched for calcuim/vitamins/D3.

4) Yes you can win them over with treats that they normally would not get at a feeding. Generally its what they are wearing (bright high contrast) that they do not like. Most wont have anything to do with red/pink shirted people.


Lastly, he will need at least a 2x2x4 cage in the next 6 months or so you can shove him into that as soon as he learns to feed and drink in the big boy cage.


If you want, you can list your supplements, UV lights, and what your future cage setup will be.

I appreciate the super fast response. I am planning for the bigger cage, probably around December depending on his growth rate. I haven't sussed out the exact equipment yet, but I am looking into reviews and recommendations. Specifically, we're thinking about getting something with a thermostat control - we're undecided on the exact setup at the moment. We're also considering a misting system, but that's low on the list of priorities m

The current calcium and vitamin supplements came with the cage as a trial - I believe it's Repti-Calcium and Reptivite? I don't have them in front of me at the moment, but I plan to continue with them unless someone has a better suggestion or there's something wrong with them that I overlooked.

The growth spurt idea is a major relief. I have had bad experiences with pet store animals in the past, so I immediately went on such high alert that I got another animal with something wrong for no reason except pet store standard negligence that I didn't even think about that. We wouldn't have even gone to one, but the other options in our area were...sketchy, at best. Sick animals, that sort of thing.

I can say it isn't the clothes. Everyone was wearing muted colors. I would assume it's mostly because I'm pretty small - least threatening option, I guess. I'm just glad that the treats and food will work.

As for the lights thing in the other comment - I have no idea why we've always been told that. But we definitely have, even by actual professionals (at least for me). I would guess it's a "better safe than sorry" thing because our winters get nasty, but I don't really know.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
I appreciate the super fast response. I am planning for the bigger cage, probably around December depending on his growth rate. I haven't sussed out the exact equipment yet, but I am looking into reviews and recommendations. Specifically, we're thinking about getting something with a thermostat control - we're undecided on the exact setup at the moment. We're also considering a misting system, but that's low on the list of priorities m

The current calcium and vitamin supplements came with the cage as a trial - I believe it's Repti-Calcium and Reptivite? I don't have them in front of me at the moment, but I plan to continue with them unless someone has a better suggestion or there's something wrong with them that I overlooked.

The growth spurt idea is a major relief. I have had bad experiences with pet store animals in the past, so I immediately went on such high alert that I got another animal with something wrong for no reason except pet store standard negligence that I didn't even think about that. We wouldn't have even gone to one, but the other options in our area were...sketchy, at best. Sick animals, that sort of thing.

I can say it isn't the clothes. Everyone was wearing muted colors. I would assume it's mostly because I'm pretty small - least threatening option, I guess. I'm just glad that the treats and food will work.

As for the lights thing in the other comment - I have no idea why we've always been told that. But we definitely have, even by actual professionals (at least for me). I would guess it's a "better safe than sorry" thing because our winters get nasty, but I don't really know.

No offense intended, but who are the professionals you speak of? My winters here have gotten to -20 before, but my house doesn't. No experts that I know of keep lights on at night. CHE(ceramic heat emitter) can give out heat without the light if you need it, but for a cham, you don't have to worry unless temps are dipping below 50 regularly.
 

PabloPicasso

New Member
No offense intended, but who are the professionals you speak of? My winters here have gotten to -20 before, but my house doesn't. No experts that I know of keep lights on at night. CHE(ceramic heat emitter) can give out heat without the light if you need it, but for a cham, you don't have to worry unless temps are dipping below 50 regularly.

No offense taken. I would give you names if I could, but this was nearly twenty years ago and it just never came up otherwise (I stopped keeping until a few years ago). I do know the person who told me this was a local keeper who seemed reputable, but I think the "local" in local expert made a difference. I definitely appreciate the correction, though - I'd much rather be corrected than inadvertently cause problems.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
Chameleons often prefer/like one person and not others. All I can say is to let him get used to the others if you can. Sometimes it just won't happen.

Regarding supplements...

I dust with a phos. free calcium powder lightly at most feedings. Chameleons need calcium for bone health and muscle contractions, etc. and most feeder insects we use don't have enough calcium in them.

I dust twice a month lightly with a phos. free calcium/D3 powder. Chameleons need D3 to be able to use the calcium in their system. D3 from supplements can build up in the system and lead to health issues which is why I only use it twice a month. This leaves the chameleons to produce the rest of the D3 from their exposure to the UVB light or direct sunlight. The UVB from either light source should not pass through glass or plastic.

I dust twice a month with a vitamin powder that contains a beta carotene prOformed source of vitamin A. PrOformed sources cannot build up in the chameleon like prEformed sources can so this leaves you in charge of whether the chameleon needs some prEformed vitamin A.

I feed/gutload the crickets, roaches, super worms, locusts with a wide assortment of greens such as dandelion greens, kale, collards, endive, escarole, etc and veggies such as carrots, squash, zucchini, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, etc and a very small amount of berries, apples, pears, etc.
 
Top Bottom