Small Breed Rescue of Southern California

Animal Care

Animal Type:
Lizard
Animal Breed:
Veiled Chameleon

Veiled Chameleon Care: Housing, Feeding and Handling



Housing


It is best to keep veiled chameleons individually in their own enclosures after they reach sexual maturity at around 8 to 10 months of age, to avoid potential stress and fighting. Veiled chameleons do best in screen-sided enclosures because of the increased airflow. Glass aquariums, on the other hand, are difficult to find in the appropriate sizes, and they create stagnant air that can lead to upper-respiratory infections in veiled chameleons.

For adult veiled chameleons, bigger is better as far as their enclosures are concerned. The ideal enclosure for an adult male veiled chameleon would be a screened enclosure measuring about 36" wide by 36" tall and 18" feet deep. This gives just enough height and width to move around and just enough depth to comfortably turn around. Realistically, a full grown veiled chameleon should be measured in feet, not inches as they need lots of room. 

If you are purchasing a baby or juvenile veiled chameleon, it is best to start with a small enclosure and then move up to a larger cage when the chameleon gets older. Babies and juveniles can be kept in smaller screened enclosures measuring 16 inches long by 16 inches deep and 30 inches tall until they are approximately 8 to 10 months old, at which point they will need to be moved into one of the larger enclosure mentioned previously.

The interior of a veiled chameleon enclosure should be furnished with medium-sized vines and foliage for the chameleons to hide in. The vines provide important horizontal perches, and your chameleon will rest, bask and travel upon them. Synthetic plants with plastic leaves (not silk) can be used together with common, non-toxic plants such as Ficus, Schefflera, Hibiscus and Pothos; these live plants will provide cover and also help to maintain humidity inside the enclosure.

We do not recommend any type of particle substrate for the bottom of a veiled chameleon enclosure. Such substrates may result in impaction if they are accidentally ingested, or provide a hiding place for uneaten feeder insects. They may also harbor bacteria and fungus. The floor of the enclosure can be kept bare or covered with a layer of paper towels, instead, which should be changed regularly.

For veiled chameleons, a daytime temperature of about 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit should be provided along with a basking spot at 85 to 95 degrees. As long as your home doesn't drop below 65 to 70 degrees at night, heating at night isn't necessary.

Heating is best accomplished by using a basking or incandescent light in a reflector or a ceramic heat element to achieve the basking spot temperature, all of which should be placed outside of the cage to prevent burns.

All chameleons need a full spectrum ultraviolet (UVA/UVB) light source. Keep the full spectrum UV light on for 10 to 12 hours per day and follow the manufacturer's recommendation for the distance that the bulb should be placed from where your chameleon can climb (usually 6 to 12 inches).

Remember these bulbs need to be replaced every six months. Chameleons also benefit from spending time outdoors in natural sunlight when the temperatures are warm enough (but beware of overheating so make sure shade is always available).


Feeding