- Scientific Name: Chamaeleo calyptratus
- Lifespan: Approximately 4 – 7 years (Males live longer than females)
- Handling: Most chameleons do not like to be handled and get stressed very easily. Stress can lead to a shorter lifespan, so be cautious when handling your chameleon and keep it to a minimum.
- Size: Up to 18 inches long
- Care: Medium
- Community: May be housed together when babies, but must be separated into different enclosures when they mature.
- Lifestyle: Diurnal, active during the day.
Veiled chameleons should be housed in screen enclosures, not glass tanks. The screen enclosure will allow proper airflow throughout the enclosure, reducing the risk of respiratory infections. It will also allow mobility throughout the enclosure, allowing the chameleon to climb up all 4 sides of the enclosure.
Cage size varies:
- 1 – 4 months old: 16″ x 16″ x 30″ inches high cage is recommended.
- 4 months and older: 18″ x 18″ x 36″ is the bare minimum. For best comfort, 24″ x 24″ x 48″.
Veiled chameleons live in trees in the wild, climbing and searching for food daily. The best way to setup a veiled chameleons cage in captivity is to replicate its natural environment in the wild. The best way to do this is to put vines, plants, foliage, and branches throughout the entire enclosure. This will give your chameleon a natural feel of what it would be like in the wild. Your veiled chameleon will put great use to every branch you put into the enclosure. You may choose to use fake or real items in the enclosure.
However, if you are choosing to use outside branches and plants, you will have to clean them thoroughly to make sure all bad bacteria, mites, and etc are washed away. Live plants should be cleaned thoroughly and have fresh new soil in their pots. Foliage should also be spread across the entire enclosure allowing the chameleon to feel safe and comfortable, allowing the chameleon to hide when it desires. This will also allow the chameleon to hide from excess heat and UV rays.
Lighting & Heating
Veiled chameleons are known as sun worshipers because they bask all day long, absorbing all the suns UV rays. Having this in mind, you are going to want to replicate this type of lighting in the enclosure.
The first light you will be needing which is the most important light is a UVB light. This UVB light is designed to help chameleons with Vitamin D formation to help proper bone growth. Without this light, your chameleon will most likely suffer from a disease known as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). The reptisun 5.0 by zoomed is what we recommend to get as your UVB bulb. When getting your UVB bulb, always go for a tube version rather than a coil version light bulb. Tube version light bulbs last longer and are more effective than coil version light bulbs. When you get your UVB light fixture, you might see a plastic see through panel which protects the light bulb. Remove this piece because it is known to block more than half of the UVB rays from passing through.
Basking Spot Lamp
The other light you will be needing will be a light that gives off heat. This will be called your basking spot lamp. Veiled chameleons will go under this light to bask (absorb heat). This will be the hottest section of the enclosure. Chameleons need a basking section to digest properly. Normally, most house held bulbs will do the trick, but if you live somewhere cold, you will be needing a reptile basking spot lamp with a higher wattage (75 – 100 watts).
Note: UVB bulb must be present throughout their entire life and must be replaced every 7 months.
When measuring temperatures, it’s best to use digital thermometers. Dial thermometers tend to give off inaccurate measurements.
Ambient 72 – 75°F
Basking 85 – 88°F
Ambient 75 – 80°F
Basking 90 – 95°F
Ambient 75 – 80°F
No lights are necessary. Temperatures may drop 10 degrees without a problem. If you see that it is getting way too cold, you might want to get a ceramic heat emitter to warm up the enclosure.
View our full detailed chameleon lighting article.
Feeding & Diet
Veiled chameleons primarily eat insects which include: crickets, roaches, silkworms, hornworms, superworms and etc. Some veiled chameleons will even eat live plants if they are in the enclosure, so make sure to get plants that are edible if you are choosing to use live plants in the enclosure.
Chameleons are what we call “big eaters” which means they love to eat. Get ready to spend a pretty penny on food for them. Males will usually eat until they are full. However, females should not be fed an all you can eat buffet. This can lead to egg laying problems, meaning it will encourage the female chameleon to lay eggs more frequently and often. Females should be limited to a certain amount of food. Usually about 10-15 crickets a feeding.
Baby: As many pinhead crickets as they can eat
Juvenile: 10 – 15 small crickets a day
Juvenile/Adult: 10 – 15 medium crickets a day
Adult: 10 – 15 large crickets every other day
Rule of thumb: do not feed anything bigger than the space between your chameleon’s eyes.
Their feedings must be dusted as follows:
- Calcium without D3 – every other feeding
- Calcium with D3 – 2-3 times a month
- Multivitamins – 2-3 times a month
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Levels should be around 50% throughout the enclosure. Using live plants and spraying the enclosure down twice a day for a few minutes can help you reach these levels. Humidity is really important during the shedding process. This will help your chameleon shed faster and easier. Do not attempt to remove any skin you see on the chameleon yourself. This will only stress and hurt your chameleon. You can easily measure the humidity percentages by using a digital hygrometer (humidity gauge). Dial hygrometers tend to give off inaccurate measurements.
One consideration to take in about hydration is that chameleons cannot recognize standing still water, which means they will not drink out of a bowl of water. So water dishes must be taken out, considering they will only be a pathogen and fungus collector in your enclosure. Chameleons only recognize water drops rolling off of leaves, which is why it is important that you spray down your chameleon’s cage a few times a day for a few minutes. But only spray the enclosure down when it is fully dry or bacteria will start to develop. You can also have a drip system running throughout the day to have a viable source of water available to your chameleon at all times, which is recommended. However, if you choose to do this, make sure you have a drainage system at the bottom to collect or get rid of excess water.
One discovery that works best for us is using a pipette. This works best, especially for baby chameleons. We use this method daily. We squeeze the pipette to show little drops of water coming out right in front of their faces and they will most of the time reach out and hydrate from it. It is a very good method in getting them to drink. With our adult chameleons, we use a bigger pipette (one used for turkeys). Some of our adults don’t like the pipette in front of their faces, so we will squeeze the pipette (drop by drop) on to the top of their enclosure, and they will drink from the screen. It works amazingly. Give it a try if nothing else works. Make sure to use fresh water daily though.
Chameleons should not have any loose type substrate like sand, bark, etc… A good substrate would be paper towels, reptile carpet or any other sort of flat surface material. All loose substrate does is cause problems. It gives your feeder insects places to hide, causes impaction if your chameleon ingests it, and is quite expensive to keep switching out every cleaning. Paper towels are the best option in my opinion. It is easy to switch out every cleaning, fairly cheap, gives chameleons an easier way to find its prey, and is overall just better.
Another great idea that we use involves wee-wee pads. Instead of using paper towels, we use “wee-wee pads” for dogs. The way you would use wee-wee pads would be to remove the plastic bottom of the screen enclosure and lay the screen on top of the wee wee pads. Then when you want to exchange and clean it, you lift the enclosure, discard old, put new, and you’re done! It’s as easy as that! This works well will the zoomed repti breeze enclosures.
Note: The information on this veiled chameleon care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care.