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Chameleons (Chameleo, Furcifur spp.)

Care of your Chameleon



Care of your Leopard Gecko

General- Chameleons can be generally hardy and easy to care for if you obtain a quality, captive bred animal that has been well cared for from the start. Do your research here and buy from a reputable source that can and will answer all of your questions and be available to help you if need be. It will make all the difference in the world. Animals that have been shipped, stressed, improperly maintained or neglected for any length of time can quickly dehydrate and become difficult to get back on a healthy track. Be certain to start out right, even if it means spending more money for the healthy one, it will have a much better result in the end.

Hatchlings- Start out with a diet of crickets of an appropriate size (for hatchlings, depending on the species of chameleon, "pin head" crickets or eighth inch). Very small hatchlings may need fruit flies in the beginning. The right size food item will be no longer than the width of the lizards own head. It is important to supply vitamins and minerals to your growing chameleon. This can be accomplished by “gut-loading” crickets by feeding them such items as orange slices, carrots, salad greens, fish flake food, or a commercially available cricket food prior to giving them to your lizard. Additionally, the crickets can be dusted (coated in powder) with a quality commercial vitamin/mineral powder just before providing them to your chameleon to eat. Hatchlings should be fed every day (and in some cases several times a day) to maintain a healthy growth rate. Little chameleons eat a lot and grow fairly rapidly, so be prepared with enough food for your lizard. As your chameleon grows, it is a good idea to vary the diet by offering other insect prey such as mealworms, superworms, waxworms, butterworms, silkworms, hornworms, and roaches. Remember to keep the prey size appropriate and use these worms sparingly, as some are mostly fatty or chitinous.

Pay close attention to watering your chameleon, especially a young chameleon. The smaller they are the more prone to dehydration they are. A spray bottle or misting system of some description is the way to go about providing water to your chameleon. Most chameleons do not recognize standing water, so simply providing a water bowl will not suffice. I have successfully used many ways to provide water to chameleons, ranging from placing ice cubes on the top of screen enclosures (make sure heat sources are available) to punching a hole in the bottom of a plastic cup for a constant drip until the water runs out to an expensive automatic misting system (which I absolutely love and highly recommend).

Adults- The adults are maintained in much the same way. Using a larger prey item feedings can be scaled back to three to four times a week. They don’t need vitamin supplementation quite as often either. We now provide calcium suppliments (with D3) twice a week and multivitamins once every other week for our adults. You can offer adult chameleons an occasional pinkie mouse to vary the diet and supply a more complete diet. This is good for breeding females as well, to keep on a little extra body weight to compensate for reproductive energy expenditures.

How to Care for your Leopard GeckoGeneral- Chameleons are diurnal (active in the day time) lizards with many fascinating specializations. These lizards come equipped with feet that have fused toes for better gripping power among the branches of trees and shrubs, a long tongue with a sticky end for capturing their prey, independent eyes that rotate in their sockets for a full 360 degree view of their surroundings, and of course, their incredible color changing abilities.

Housing- a vertically oriented screen enclosure is suitable to house most chameleons in. It is also important to provide proper ventilation in the enclosure while keeping proper humidity, so misting several times a day is necessary. Add branches, vines and plants (ficus and "pothos" work well) to make a comfortable landscape for your chameleon and position these such that a thermal gradient is present where your chameleon can bask in optimal temperatures. Provide areas of thick cover where they can hide. I prefer not to use any substate on the bottom of the cages as it is much easier to keep clean.

Lighting- Proper lighting is essential for the long term health of your chameleon. Natural unfiltered sunlight (through a window pane doesn't count!) is the best scenario. If this is not an option due to where you live, you have two choices here, as I see it. Option #1: a 100w mercury vapor bulb such as Zoo Meds Power Sun (see Products page). Option #2: a flourescent UVB bulb such as the ReptiSun 5.0 bulb combined with another incandescent bulb that will provide heat. This will require two fixtures and more frequent changing of the UV bulb (every six months is recommended).

Temperature/Humidity- Most species of chameleons require a daytime temperature range of 78 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit (26 to 31 degrees Celsius) and a nighttime temperature drop to around 70 degrees F (21 degrees C.). Most species require a relative humidity of 50 to 85 percent that can be maintained by misting the enclosure several times a day. Plants can help in maintaining required humidity levels.

Helpful Links:

www.chameleonforums.com-a forum for Q&A with other keepers, care info, nice site!

www.adcham.com-husbandry, care info, feeding, vet info!

www.chamaeleonidae.com-caging, captive care info, feeding, etc

Other Helpful Info:

̃ Always buy a healthy captive bred animal and learn as much as you can from the source that you are buying it from, such as age, sex, what is it eating, etc.

̃ Find a local veterinarian who is knowledgeable about reptiles before any problems arise!

̃ Buy a good book about Chameleons or at least a book with a decent section about these animals and keep it on hand for reference. This care sheet contains only initial information to get you started and is by no means complete.

̃ Enjoy your Chameleon! These are fantastic and rewarding pets.


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