Pygmy Chameleon – Profile, Facts & Care
Tiny as they come, Pygmy chameleons are the most amazing reptiles you may come across. Originally from East Africa woodlands, the species has a couple of variations that differ on physical appearance. Despite their disparities, all Pygmy chameleons are easygoing and low maintenance.
Still, they can be quite handful and more suited for experienced chameleon devotees. Follow as we expound on traits, care and requirements for this adorable reptile.
Pygmy chameleons may not possess vibrant colors like other species, but they are unique in their own kind. An average pygmy measures 3 to 31/2 inches long, including the tail.
Depending on the variant, the color ranges from gray to light brown. Sometimes, you may notice green, brown or even red stripes on the skin.
In their natural habitat, these colors help them perfectly blend with the surrounding. During the mating season, the colors glow and become more vibrant.
On structural appearance, almost all species have short tails. This is because pygmies live on forest grounds and do not climb on trees like other species.
Hence, they do not require an elongated and flexible tail to swirl through branches. Altogether, you can pinpoint major differences like horns, duck-like lips and an overhang around the chin.
The first thing you notice about this petite reptile is their sociable and lovely temperament. It is through this disposition that pygmy chameleons have a multitude of admirers. Still, do not mishandle your little friend because of their docile nature.
Like any other chameleon, they easily become stressed and can affect their wellbeing. One main sign of a stressed pygmy is a continuous buzzing sound.
Rarely do these chameleons mount on the plants in the terrarium. Therefore, their favorite spot would probably be beneath the foliage.
Even if they may not complain, do not keep several males in one enclosure due to territorial conflicts. Though it is safe to keep over one female in one tank, ensure that there is ample space for each reptile. Note that giving your pets a designated territory makes them feel safe and more relaxed.
Even under optimal care and habitat, pygmies do not live for long durations. On average, a healthy chameleon survives for one to three years. Although your lovely friend may not enjoy a lengthy lifetime, you can still make fond memories along the way.
General Care & Requirements
For such a fantastic pet, give them the best care and a comfortable environment. If possible, place them in a tank that replicates their natural background. Then add plenty of plants either fake or real. This creates an ideal hiding spot and makes them feel safe.
Before you place the plants in the cage, wash them with mild soap to avoid contamination and remove pesticides. Since chameleons often nibble on the plants in the cage, this helps in keeping them healthy. Below are other important ways to keep your pet in good physical shape.
– Temperature and Lighting
Given that pygmy chameleons spend most of the time underneath the trees, they actually do not require plenty of UVB rays or extreme temperatures. UVB rays are undetectable rays that come directly from the sun. In almost all chameleon species, they are vital in helping them process calcium when kept as pets.
Similar to human beings, UVB contact with the skin converts to vitamin D3, which then secretes in the digestive system. In the process, it allows the body to absorb calcium. Take note that without vitamin D3 influence; the calcium would pass through the digestive tract as waste.
All in all, safe temperature for pygmy chameleons ranges from 65 to 80 degrees. It is crucial not to allow the temperatures to surpass these levels, as it’s harmful to your pet. Compared with other chameleons, you do not need tank heaters and basking lights.
During dark winter months, you can add a tiny UVB bulb in the cage. However, ensure that you switch it off for average 12 hours at night to allow your pet to sleep.
A constant source of humidity in the terrarium is vital for your pet chameleons. Usually, pygmy chameleons do well in humidity levels of 60 to 80%. The best way to attain such levels is to mist the cage at least twice per day.
In the process, do not make the environment overly wet. Instead, use a hand sprayer or automatic misters for best results. Another effective method is to include live plants in the enclosure. Not only does it add some natural appeal, but also increases the humidity levels.
– Cage Size
In their miniature body structure, pygmies do not require huge setups. In an actual sense, a terrarium of about 3 by 3 by 2 inches would do them good. Likewise, a 5-gallon glass cage makes an ideal fit for a single chameleon.
Since they are not avid climbers, concentrate on giving them copious horizontal space. This is quite important if you have several chameleons in a single spot. In such a scenario, the more space you get, the easier it becomes for your pet to establish individual spaces.
Finally, cover the tank with a strong lid. This protects your chameleons from climbing out of the enclosure and keeps them safe from predators.
Food & Nutrition
A proper diet keeps chameleons healthy and happy. For tiny pygmies, it does not cost much to offer them the most nourishing meals ever. The first thing you need to consider before buying food is the body size of your chamelon. If it is larger than your pet’s head width, your little friend may not munch on it comfortably.
Mainly offer them gut-loaded live insects like fruit flies and baby crickets. This is because insects on their own do not contain vital nutrients beneficial to your pet. Equally, a little green would do no harm to pygmies. Favorite leafy greens for chameleons include turnip, kale, broccoli, zucchini, cooked peas, alfalfa, dandelion leaves and others.
The best time to feed your pets is early in the morning to give them sufficient time for effective digestion. In younger chameleons, you may notice that they have a higher appetite compared to the aged.
Between three and six months, ensure that you provide them with nutritious fruit flies and pinhead crickets. At this stage, a maximum of ten insects several times in a day would be perfect. As they age and become more docile, you can reduce the numbers of insects to about 4 to six in a day. For less active nesting chameleons, feed them as much as they want.
Note that apart from house flies, always gut load other insects before feeding to your pet. Keep in mind that inadequate feeding leads to deficiencies and complications. Therefore, balance between commercial gut loads and fresh plants.
Although some experts recommend wild insects, they might spread parasites and diseases. Still, there are commendable insects that you can catch in your backyard. Some of them include grasshoppers, moths, stick bugs and locusts.
Above all, avoid wild hornworms. Due to their great love for tomato plants, they can be acidic or toxic. The thumb rule is to understand well the insect’s species before giving it to your pet chameleon.
– Supplements & Vitamins
Nothing replaces the rich nutrients in natural fauna. Even with properly gut-loaded insects, you still need to add supplements in a domesticated chameleon’s diet. Lack of enough minerals, calcium and vitamins causes serious complications and sometimes death. A well-known calcium deficiency condition is the metabolic bone disease.
There are several methods of giving supplements to your chameleon pets. The most recommended combination is multivitamins, and or calcium with vitamin D3.
You can dust the supplement on the gut-loaded insects every day. Yet, an overdose can be toxic to the animal. Talk to an expert on the best dosage and intervals to add supplements in your pet’s food.
Naturally, chameleons take in water from the droplets made after misting. Therefore, ensure that you mist the cage with a clean source of water.
After misting, allow the cage to dry out completely before the next session. This approach held in raising relative humidity. The best option is to use natural rainwater because of minimal toxins and chlorine.
Pygmy chameleon’s breeding process is rather uncomplicated. After a female lays fertilized eggs, they bury them in any part of the terrarium. It may take around two to three months for them to hatch. Caring for baby chameleons is another story, but with some knowledge and experience, you can raise them too.
To avoid over-breeding issues, place the females in different enclosures to allow them replenish their nutrients and rest. Within weeks and if you find it necessary, you can allow her to breed again.
Why Get a Pygmy Pet Chameleon?
Although fragile, we recommend pygmy chameleons as pets anytime. From their amazing tiny structure, uncomplicated care regime and effortless breeding, it can never get better.
However, keep in mind that these timid reptiles stress out real quick. Hence avoid mishandling or housing them with different or aggressive species. Rather, keep them happy by providing them with optimal care and nutrition.