Veiled Chameleons- A Beautiful Exotic Pet

Many people select veiled chameleons as an exotic pet. They are incredibly beautiful No two veiled chameleons are the same. Veiled chameleons are a commonly available exotic pet. Veiled chameleons are not good starter pets like bearded dragons are. Experience with lizards is needed. Veiled chameleons are not social animals. They are considered high maintenance pets, a  noninteracting type of pet, and best appreciated as a spectator.

Veiled chameleons are native to the Arabian Peninsula and come from three areas in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. However, pet veiled chameleons that have been let loose by irresponsible pet owners have reproduced so successfully on the Hawaiian island of Maui and the Florida Everglades, the veiled chameleon, is considered an invasive species. To avoid harming the local ecosystem, you should not enter into veiled chameleon ownership without knowing what to expect.


Veiled Chameleons Are Lightweight

Veiled chameleons remain lightweight lizards never weighing more than 6 ounces, but they grow to considerable length with females reaching 10-14 inches at maturity and males being able to reach between 17-24 inches. They start tiny and grow quickly but remain a reasonable size. Veiled chameleons are not especially long-lived reptiles. They typically live up to five years for females and eight years for males in captive habitats.


Diet of Veiled Chameleons

Insects are the primary food source for veiled chameleons.  They are not strict carnivores, but crickets, grasshoppers, super worms, mealworms, wax worms, silkworms, and dubia cockroaches are the basis of their diet. They also require a little vegetation in their diets, as that is what these brilliantly colored lizards eat in nature. They prefer broccoli bits, cut up baby spinach, carrot shavings, and an occasional piece of fruit suitable for other lizards. They also will eat romaine lettuce or dandelion leaves. Do not feed your chameleon dandelion leaves from your yard as they could have pesticides or contaminants on them. A favorite food of veiled chameleons is the hibiscus plant. A potted hibiscus is not only a favorite treat for veiled chameleons but is also an instant habitat decoration. You should make sure your plant has not been treated with pesticides before placing it in the habitat. Juvenile chameleons need 12-20 small crickets each day. Adult veiled chameleons should only be given insects every other day. Twelve mature crickets or a half dozen wax worms or super worms every other day provides the proper amount of insects. As with other reptiles, it is essential to provide calcium supplements. Dusting their vegetation and insects with a calcium supplement is required every other week to make sure your chameleon gets the proper nutrients to stay healthy in captivity.


Water Source

Chameleons do not drink from water bowls. A veiled chameleon needs a drip watering system to maintain hydration or a mister in their habitat.  If a mister is not set up, the habitat should be misted twice daily, along with a dripping water supply for their on-demand drinks. Veiled chameleons drink from their environment by using plants leaves to drink from or absorb the necessary water through their skin.


Where To Purchase Your Veiled Chameleon

When choosing a veiled chameleon, you should research the species and ensure you meet their needs for their entire life.  You need to make sure you start with a healthy chameleon since it is tough to recognize illness in reptiles.  Reptiles can hide illness well. Only purchase from a reputable breeder and ensure the environment at the breeder or reptile specialist is clean and the animals look healthy and active.  You should also have a vet available who has experience in treating reptiles in specific.


The health of the Veiled Chameleon

Despite being a rugged reptile, there are a few common health conditions that occur in veiled chameleons. A chameleon should have smooth skin, and if it becomes wrinkled or puckered, you are dealing with a dehydrated pet.  The habitat must be cleaned regularly to prevent respiratory infections in a chameleon. They are also prone to eye infections in some situations especially if they get dry eyes and get abrasions. Misting them regularly can prevent or treat this but call the vet if you feel it merits it and do not be afraid to err on the side of caution if you are unsure.  Foot abscesses are a health problem you may run into, but a healthy and clean and a habitat kept at the right humidity goes far to keeping these health issues from occurring.


Veiled Chameleons Lifestyle

Veiled chameleons have general tendencies to be aggressive, even when captive bred. They cannot be tamed successfully. They do not like being handled by people and should have their personal space respected. They also do not produce easily. Veiled chameleons are solitary creatures and should be housed separately. Never force or even allow two veiled chameleons to share a habitat.  Even temporary roommate situations are risky with these animals. They will fight viciously incurring injuries and the resultant veterinary bills. 


Veiled Chameleons Habitat

Adult chameleon habitats should ideally be twice as high as it long and wide. They prefer living in high rises (vertical orientations). For a full-grown chameleon, the cage should be 24”wide x 24’ long x 48” high. Veiled chameleons need high humidity for their health. You need to avoid trapping the humidity, however. Glass and plastic tops are unhealthy as they trap air and light. Even clear materials like plastic and glass obstruct the needed UVB rays they need. To keep the air quality good and to also prevent mold and odors, special chameleon habitats should be used. Substrates are not usually necessary for most chameleons as they can rot or get moldy. Paper towels, butcher paper or even newspaper that can be changed a couple of times a week are the best substrate options if you want to line the habitat or have a sliding tray at the bottom to make cleaning easier.


Are Veiled Chameleons Arboreal or Tree Dwelling

Veiled chameleons are arboreal or tree dwelling. They spend all their time on branches and amidst leaves. This is why they need a vertically oriented enclosure. If a veiled chameleon lacks places to climb and leaves to hide amongst, they endure severe stress and can get very ill. Hibiscus and focus plants provide the ideal greenery for their environment. Other plants or branches can be added to their habitat as long as all the live plants are pesticide free and non-toxic. You can further decorate the habitat and create a lovely little forest for the chameleon with fake plants designed for use in aquariums or reptile habitats. Perching branches should have a slightly rough surface to prevent falls and allow a good grip. It should be a branch that is larger in diameter than your pets grasp. Having perching branches spaced diagonally across the enclosure create a walkway maze where your pet can find his happy place in his home.


Light and Temperatures for the Veiled Chameleon

Chameleons like to bask every morning to start their days. They are reptiles, so they are endothermic and rely upon on the sun and heat sources to maintain their body temperature.  Your veiled chameleon will need an incandescent and a particular bulb providing UVB light to have basking and ambient living spaces.  You should also have at least two thermometers to keep check of the temperatures in the habitat in different locations. The ambient temperature range during the day should be between 74 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and should not be allowed to drop more than 10 degrees overnight.



Fluorescent lights that provide ultraviolet rays will provide the main source of light, with the incandescent reptile bulbs providing the basking area. It is a necessity to have ultraviolet lighting (UVB) lighting for your pet chameleon. They need UV rays to metabolize Vitamin D. Most chameleons will develop serious metabolic bone disease without UVB rays. Replace the bulb every 9-12 months as the bulbs lose their ability to emit this necessary wavelength around then even if the bulb appears to be working. The perching branch that passes under the basking light for your pet should have a 6-8 inch space between the top of the cage and the basking light. For the fluorescent lights, a 2-4 inch distance above the top of the cage will keep your chameleon from burning itself from the artificial sunlight.

By having some previous reptile experience, the right habitat, the right food, and the respect to give your chameleon the personal space and privacy she or he deserves, you can enjoy the spectacle and company of your veiled chameleon for several years.



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