Veiled chameleons are a desert specie indigenous to the area of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The veiled chameleon is one of the hardiest of all chameleon species and can be most prolific laying fifty to one-hundred eggs at one time. They are highly recommended for beginning chameleon keepers. Unlike other chameleon species the veiled chameleon does not require humdity as other high mountainous chameleons do.
Veiled chameleons live singly and individuals have their own territories. Baby veiled chameleons may be reared in groups but should be housed individually after the age of four months.
Housing babies in screened enclosures is best allowing for maximum ventilation. Size of enclosure to house babies should not exceed 24 x 24x 15 inches. Babies are somewhat clumsy so in order to avoid fractures or broken bones keep the enclosure no higher than twenty four inches. Adult enclosures may be as tall as six feet.
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Veiled chameleons do not do well in glass aquariums. I can not express this point enough. Do not keep veiled chameleons in glass aquariums. Glass aquaria tend to hold moisture to long allowing damp conditions which breed bacteria.
This specie is highly arboreal. Climbing branches and dense foliage should be provided within their enclosures. Use silk or plastic foliage as these are easy to disinfect and keep clean. Do not use ficus plants. Ficus plants are edible but the sap from the ficus plants can cause eye irritations or eye infections in veiled chameleons.
Veiled chameleons are slow moving creatures. Their survival in the wild depends on their ability to conceal themselves from predators. They will flatten their bodies to look more like a leaf in appearance. When the chameleon moves they will rock their bodies from side to side. This gives the appearance of a leaf swaying in the wind.
The veiled chameleon has the ability to rotate its eyes in all directions but yet remain motionless on its branch.
The tip of the veiled chameleons tongue is like a suction cup. The veiled chameleon propels its tongue out and attaches its tongue to an insect and then retracts its tongue back into its mouth. The length of the veiled chameleons tongue is about 1 1/2 times the length of its body.
Substrates should not be used in veiled chameleon enclosures. Debris may be picked up by the chameleons tongue when pursuing prey items.
Eye irritations may sometimes develop overnight from contaminants in water used for misting or from rubbing their eyes on cage foliage or branches. If this happens the veiled chameleons eye may partially close or appear swollen. In this case you may purchase a product from your local pharmacy called Refresh Tears. Use two drops in each eye. Irritations usually clear up overnight.
The veiled chameleon is very easy to sex. The male veiled chameleon has a spur on rear of their heel. This spur is lacking in the female.
Mist the enclosure twice daily. The veiled chameleon will drink droplets from the leaves in its enclosure. They will not drink from a bowl. The cage should be able to dry completely between misting's. Again, screen cages are best allowing for maximum ventilation inside the enclosure.
Daytime temperatures should be around 74-78 deg f with a night time drop of at least 10-15 deg f. The veiled chameleon should be given a basking spot of 90 deg f and this may be achieved with a clamp lamp using a 60-100 watt bulb. The screened enclosure must be tall enough to permit the veiled chameleon to bask under the basking lamp and also allow the chameleon to move farther down inside the enclosure to cooler areas.
A cool area is just as important as the basking area.
The basking lamp should be at least ten to twelve inches from the highest basking branch. The top of the veiled chameleons crest can be burned and damaged by excessive heat and this will stunt the growth of the crest.
It is imperative that you monitor the temperatures inside the enclosure under the basking area as well as the cooler areas of the enclosure. A digital read thermometer works best for monitoring inside cage temperatures. These digital read thermometers can be found in the garden section of most retail stores.
Commercially raised insects such as crickets may be fed daily. Occasionally you may want to feed wax worms or mealworms. Mealworms should not be fed to reptiles less than six months of age. It is important to vary their diet because veiled chameleons can become bored with the same diet and may refuse to eat if fed the same diet over a long period of time.
Buying crickets from a pet store can become costly. You can purchase crickets in bulk from a supplier such as Millbrook's @ 800-654-3506. You can purchase one-thousand crickets of any size for $20.00 shipped.
Unlike other chameleon species the veiled chameleon will consume a variety of plant matter and fruit such as collard greens, mustard greens, kale, carrots, melon, tomatoes, peaches, bananas, berries, etc. Again, make sure their diet is varied. A varied diet lessons the chance of a dietary deficiency and contributes greatly to the health of the chameleon. Diet can have a strong impact on longevity and coloration.
Always dust feeder insects with a calcium powder such as Rep-Cal with D3. Every two weeks dust with a good vitamin/mineral supplement such as Nekton-Rep and Mineral. Nekton-Rep color is another vitamin available from Nekton which has color enhancer's in it and is well worth the cost if you are breeding for color.
Veiled chameleons have the ability to change colors and patterns and are often referred to as the masters of disguise. These color changes are commonly referred to as "stress colors." Stress coloration can be anywhere from blue to yellow to even orange. Males will break into these stress colors for various reasons throughout the day and for many reasons. Male veiled chameleons may break into stress coloration if they are in view of another male or another female. Mood also plays a roll in stress colorations and patterns as well as temperatures.
Stress coloration is visible when the veiled chameleon reaches sexual maturity. Sexual maturity is reached at the age of five to six months. Only the male veiled chameleon achieves a brilliant coloration. Females may also change in coloration but are much less brilliant than their male counterpart.
Always introduce the female chameleon into the males enclosure for breeding. If the female is receptive she will remain a bright green color and allow the male chameleon to mount. If the female chameleon is not receptive she may gape and attempt to bite the male chameleon and turn black in color. If this happens remove the female chameleon and place her back into her own enclosure. Repeat the breeding process in another week.
Photo one below shows the coloration of a veiled chameleon female that is not willing to breed. Photo two shows the coloration of a veiled chameleon female that is very willing to breed.
Remember veiled chameleons should not be housed together after the age of four months. Forcing chameleons to live together will cause great stress on them and lower their resistance to disease and illness.
There have also been documented cases of male and female chameleons killing each other when forced to live together on a permanent basis.
Once the female chameleon is bred the abdomen becomes noticeably larger and you can see ridges along the sides of the abdomen which are eggs. Females will stop eating approximately one to two weeks prior to laying their eggs. They will resume eating a few days after laying their eggs.
Approximately twenty days after breeding the female will begin digging an egg laying site. May sure you have a tub of dirt inside the female chameleons enclosure with at least a depth of eighteen inches. The female chameleon will dig to the bottom to deposit her eggs.
Eggs should be removed for incubation. There has been great debate for incubation temperatures for veiled chameleon eggs. Allot of books on the market suggest incubation temperatures of 85-88 deg bf. At these temperatures I have found lower hatch rates and babies may be born week. I suggest an incubation temperature of 80-82 deg f throughout with a hatch time of five to six months. At this temperature there is a much higher hatch rate and the babies are born stronger. In the wild eggs have been dug up as deep at two feet and the temperature at that depth has been found to be around 77 deg f.
Once a clutch of eggs begins to hatch it may take up to two weeks for the entire clutch to hatch.
Younger females have smaller clutches of eggs. When babies hatch from smaller clutches the babies tend to be much larger than those from older females. Older females tend to lay much larger clutches but the eggs are smaller and babies are born smaller.
Again, baby veiled chameleons may be reared together providing you have a large enough screened enclosure and should be separated at the age of four months into their own enclosures.
It's always much less expensive to buy younger veiled chameleons but there is a certain amount of risk in buying young.
When picking up your veiled chameleon always coax the chameleon onto your hand by prodding their rear end. Their grasping ability is great and you may break a limb or tail by pulling them off of a branch.
The baby veiled chameleon should be misted with distilled or filtered water twice daily. Do not use tap water for misting baby chameleons. Tap water contains high amounts of chlorine and other contaminants which can overcome baby chameleons in a short period of time.
When misting the baby veiled chameleons enclosure do not directly spray over the baby chameleons as this may cause choking or even death. Do not use automated misting systems on babies under the age of two months. A fine mist over the enclosure for no more than thirty seconds, twice daily, is all that is required for the babies to receive their daily intake of water. If babies eyes become slightly sunken around the edges this could be and indication of dehydration and an additional daily misting may be required to correct this.
The baby veiled chameleons may be fed pinhead to one-eighth inch crickets and fruit flies.Young veiled chameleons seem to prefer the fruit flies for their first eight weeks of life. Fruit flies tend to cling to the foliage and are easier prey for baby chameleons. Baby veiled chameleons will try to consume larger prey and this may choke off their airway and cause death. Make sure that none of the insects, which are tossed into babies enclosure, exceeds one-eighth inch in length.
Ten to fifteen fly cultures should be kept going at all times to provide a sufficient amount of food for five to fifteen babies. All insects should be dusted with a high calcium supplement before being fed off to the young veiled chameleons.
Do not remove veiled chameleons from their enclosures to other enclosures to feed. Veiled chameleons actually scent the branches within their enclosure. Moving them to other locations to feed them only stresses the chameleon to the point that they may cease to eat.
Baby veiled chameleons should be provided with a basking spot. This can be achieved with a clamp lamp using a 60-100 watt bulb. Take care not to overheat the enclosure. It is very important to monitor the temperatures inside the enclosure. The end opposite the basking area should remain room temperature.
Baby veiled chameleons have a very small body mass and in a couple of hours they can dehydrate and die if the enclosure is kept to hot. Again, a cool area is just as important as the basking area.
The dimensions on your screened enclosure for baby veiled chameleons should not exceed twenty-four inches in height. Baby veiled chameleons are very clumsy and may fall to the bottom of the enclosure many times during the day. Falling from high branches may result in a broken back or broken limb.
Exposure to natural sunlight whenever possible is important. Make sure the enclosure you provide outside for the veiled chameleon allows for proper ventilation so that the chameleon is not overheated while being exposed to sunlight. You should also provide a shade area inside the enclosure. Do not use glass enclosures to sun your chameleons. Glass enclosures can overheat in a matter of minutes. Ideally exposure to the sun should be three times weekly with a minimum thirty minutes exposure .
Indoor enclosures should have a high quality full spectrum light and a UVB producing light. UVB bulbs lose their UVB producing capability within five to six months and should be changed out twice yearly. These lights do not, however, take the place of natural sunlight. Natural sunlight has a major impact on heath and coloration.
It is important to follow the directions for exact placement of the UVB or eye damage may occur. Although a basking light should run the entire day of the light cycle UVB bulbs should only run four hours per day or eye damage may occur.
A word of warning on the compact UVB bulbs. There have been reported cases of photo-kerato-conjunctivitis (burning of the eye) reported caused by compact UVB bulbs containing phosphors. Make sure you are using the bulbs produced with linear and not phosphors. You can also ask the manufacturer of the bulb if it contains phosphors.