Veiled Chameleon Care Sheet

Common names

Veiled Chameleon or Yemen Chameleon

Scientific Name

chamaeleo calyptorarus

Introduction

The Veiled Chameleon, sometimes referred to as the Yemen Chameleon, originates from Saudi Arabia and Yemen where it lives on the coastal mountain slopes.  These chameleons come in a range of patterns with colourations including greens, oranges, browns and yellows. They also have a colour changing ability which they use for camouflage or when stressed. Veiled Chameleons can be recognised by the distinct casque on their heads, which grow as the creature matures. Males can grow up to 60cm long while females are smaller, reaching 35cm. They are likely to fight over territory if housed in groups. Therefore just one Veiled Chameleon should be housed per enclosure.

Veiled Chameleons would not be an appropriate lizard for a beginner due to several time-consuming care requirements.

Housing

Adult Veiled Chameleons require a large, well-ventilated, arboreal vivarium, with plenty of room to climb. One side should feature dense foliage of non-toxic plants to allow the chameleon to hide while the other should have more open branches for basking during the day.  It is preferable to keep them in screened enclosures as glass tanks will neither be big enough nor allow the proper airflow.

Lighting

Providing a UVA/UVB light source for chameleons is vital as it allows them to synthesise vitamin D3, which is required to absorb calcium. The light should be switched on for between 12 and 14 hours a day. UV lights cannot fully replicate the effects of natural sunlight, so you might want to take them outside on occasion. If you do, make sure that they are secure but also have easy access to a shaded area.

Heating

Like all lizards, Veiled Chameleons are cold-blooded and gain heat from their surroundings, thermo-regulating by moving between the heat and the shade.  Heat mats or rocks are not appropriate heat sources for a Veiled Chameleon. Instead, a basking spot should be provided by a heat bulb. All heat sources should be controlled by a thermostat and protected by a guard. The ideal temperature during the day would be somewhere between 26 and 30°C in the basking area, while the cooler end of the tank should be around 20°C. At night, the temperature should drop to around 19°C to replicate the drop in temperature in the wild. The warmer temperature should be maintained for 12 hours a day.

Substrate

Due to the possibility of ingestion and subsequent impaction, most substrates are not suitable for chameleons. As they spend much of their time in branches, the substrate is not strictly necessary, but if you wish to use something, kitchen towel, newspaper or leaf litter will be adequate.

Maintenance

The enclosure should be inspected and spot cleaned daily. Any uneaten food should be removed within the day to prevent rotting and build-up of bacteria.

The enclosure should be properly cleaned at least once every three weeks, with all décor properly sterilised with all using a reptile friendly disinfectant. During this process, your Veiled Chameleon should be kept in an alternative enclosure.

Chameleons regularly shed their skin. To facilitate this, ensure the humidity is kept at an appropriate level, and you may also wish to provide a shed box, which will be available from specialist suppliers.

Diet

Veiled Chameleons are omnivorous and will require a diet of gut loaded insects, supplemented with vegetable matter. As they are maturing, they should be fed every day, while adults only need to be fed every other day.

There are several feeder insects available including crickets, mealworms, waxworms, wax moths and locusts. These should be dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements – once a week for adults and two or three times a week for infants.

While not all Veiled Chameleons will enjoy plant matter, they can be offered dandelion leaves, watercress, clover, carrots, peaches, apple and bananas. You should ensure that all fruit and vegetables offered to your chameleon are thoroughly washed and pesticide-free.

Being Arboreal, Veiled Chameleons do not encounter standing water in the wild so they should not be offered water from a dish. Instead, they lap up droplets on foliage caused by rain and condensation. To make drinking water more natural for Chameleons, the tank should be sprayed daily.

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