Beyond doubt, the mere mention of veiled chameleons may trigger inquisitiveness to an unfamiliar audience. Furthermore, what is the connection of a veil with reptiles?
Initially from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, veiled chameleons got the name from the flange on top of their head known as a casque. For that reason, the industry also recognizes them as cone-headed or Yemen chameleons.
Indisputably, the unique head feature, stunning coloration, and low maintenance instigate pet devotees to fall in love with this species instantly. However, their aggressive and territorial inclination inhibits inexperienced pet lovers from enjoying a meaningful relationship with them.
Follow as we expound on essential facts and care tips destined to keep your docile pet friend at ease.
Apart from the famous casque, veiled chameleons are well known for their prehensile solid tails, clasping feet, and long super-fast tongue. As tree dwellers, this makes it possible for them to grasp fast on shrubs and branches.
Fortunately, what chameleons lack in speed, they make up for it with their fast tongue. In a 2016 report, experts announced that the chameleon tongue measures about twice the total body size.
Surprisingly, smaller chameleons have longer tongues compared to the burly ones. Another fantastic fact is the tremendous tongue speed when catching insects. Incredibly, a veiled chameleon can shoot out its tongue to almost 8,500 feet in one second.
We cannot mention all these fantastic features and forget about veiled chameleon’s capability to alter their skin color. Contrary to what most people believe, chameleons do not change their skin color to blend with the environment.
Instead, this becomes possible because of exceptionally pigmented cells under the skin. When calm, male veiled chameleons generally portray greenish color with brown, blue, and yellow hues. On the other hand, females have white markings on light green skin.
If agitated, males exhibit intense colors like orange, red, and even white. During a confrontation, if a male turns off the bright colors, it is a sign of defeat or surrender. In addition, color change acts as a communication tactic to probable mates.
As a response to a mating cue, females display a neutral color. Once they become pregnant, the skin turns dark with turquoise and orange spots. On average, a veiled adult chameleon weighs 3-6 ounces and measures 10 to 25 inches.
In the wild, veiled chameleons are lone tree-dwellers, a trait they carry on to captivity. While they are passive to human beings, they can become overly belligerent to other reptiles. For that reason, permanently house your pets independently unless when mating.
Remember that chameleon’s pets may not give you cuddly affection like cats or dogs. Instead, they are more suited for visual display than handling. Unless necessary, avoid mishandling chameleons as it makes them excessively stressed.
It is of essence that novice owners learn how to build trust with their pets. The trick is to let your chameleons do their thing with minimal interference.
Then, you can start with brief handling sessions as the animal rests on your hand. It might take time to win over chameleons, but eventually, the experience is worthwhile.
When on a proper diet and living in favorable conditions, healthy veiled chameleons live for about six to eight years.
Typically, they are more inclined to stress-related and respiratory complications compared to other reptiles. Equally, stomatitis, vitamin A and calcium deficiencies are relatively common ailments.
Not to forget the famous metabolic bone disease and parasitic invasions that reduce chameleon’s lifespan to great lengths. The bottom line, provide your reptiles with nourishing meals, sufficient UVB light, and a clean environment.
Consult a reliable veterinarian immediately you notice unusual symptoms like low appetite, wobbly legs, excess saliva, and others.
General Care & Requirements
Like any other chameleon species, veiled ones deserve optimal care. Below are basic requirements you should consider to keep your pet happy.
The most effective method to achieve favorable heat requirements is incandescent light or a heating element. Ensure that you place these sources of heat outside the terrarium to prevent burning.
During the day, a temperature range within 75 to 85 degrees in the cage is ideal. Additionally, create a basking spot of about 90 to 95 degrees. If your house temperature does not drop below 65 degrees, it is unnecessary to heat the tank at night.
In captivity, an ultraviolet light source is vital for chameleons. If possible, expose them to about 12 hours of UVB/UVA light—this aids in vitamin D3 formation and absorption of calcium in the body.
Depending on the manufacturer, the bulb position away from the cage may differ to around 6-9 inches.
Keep in mind that you have to replace the bulbs twice a year. On sunny days, you can take your pet outside to bask. Be conscious of overheating and place them under the shade.
Veiled chameleons thrive better in humidity levels of around 50-70%. To achieve this, mist the cage twice a day. In between, allow the enclosure to dry completely to enhance humidity levels.
Given that chameleons do not drink water from containers, misting acts as an ideal water source. Often, use a hydrometer to evaluate humidity levels.
– Cage Size
Although most pet owners prefer a transparent view, avoid glass or fine metal aquariums. Instead, settle for an alternative that gives unsurpassed ventilation.
A spacious cage of 36 by 24 by 48 works best for veiled chameleons. Keep note that veiled chameleons love mounting on higher grounds, if more elevated, the better
Place plenty of natural and artificial non-toxic fauna both for humidity and as a snack option. Among the most preferred plants include hibiscus, dracaena, and pothos.
Hygiene is a significant priority to ward away mold and bacterial growth. You can line the tank with newspaper or paper towels to simplify the cleaning process.
Food and Nutrition
Although chameleons enjoy regular intake of fresh insects, this die may not meet the required nutrition needs. Follow as we give further details on what to incorporate in their diet.
A nourishing diet for veiled chameleons includes various insects like crickets, roaches, locusts, flies, grasshoppers, silkworms, mealworms, and super worms. Due to likely contact with pesticides, avoid catching wild insects for your pets.
Instead, buy healthy portions from reliable and approved pet shops. Also, integrate with fruits and vegetables such as sliced collard greens, apples, pears, blueberries, kale, zucchini, red pepper, etc.
It is vital to gut load feeder insects to enhance proper nutrients intake. For baby chameleons below six chameleons feed them at least twice or thrice a day. From six months and above, you may notice an appetite decline. Therefore, a single meal in a day would work perfectly well for them.
Either way, monitor the eating pattern and adjust the quantity if necessary. If you notice plenty of uneaten insects, cut down on the amount. Clean off food remnants to minimize flies and infections.
– Supplements and Vitamins
Comparable to the wild, a home-based diet may not offer enough nutrients to your pet chameleon. It is wise to dust the food with vitamin D3 and calcium at least twice or thrice a week. You can also add phosphorus and multivitamin supplements once weekly.
According to experts, chameleons require double calcium intake compared to calcium. However, if the enclosure provides optimal UVB light, trim down calcium supplement.
Then, increase the beta carotene supplement as it is a vitamin A antecedent. This helps in improving the mucus membrane, immune system, vision, and skin.
Chameleon water intake mostly depends on their place of origin. For instance, veiled chameleons from the dry Arabian Cape may not drink as much water as panther species from wet Madagascar rainforests.
Still, there are no set rules on when you should give water to your chameleons.
Most definitely, as long as they are thirsty, they will make use of the water available. You can tell a dehydrated chameleon if they rush to the water source immediately the dripper turns on.
Nevertheless, if your pet appears healthy, alert, and poops normally, that’s a sign of a hydrated chameleon.
Veiled chameleon’s courtship period lasts an average of three days. First, the males coil the tail and walk in a halting gait to appear more prominent. Others bobble their heads as they approach an interested female.
If the union bore any fruits, you can observe the female rejecting further male advances. It might take approximately 20 or 30 days for a female chameleon to lay 30-100 eggs in clusters. Depending on the environment, the eggs may take about six months to hatch.
Should You Get a Veiled Chameleon?
Certainly, there are key reasons why veiled chameleons take the lead in the reptile pet industry. Not only are they hardy, but they can endure several mishaps.
Before bringing one home, remember that they are cold-blooded and oblige proper temperature, humidity, diet and hydration parameters.
In contrast to the chameleons born in the wild, bred in captivity species make better pets. Finally, do not forget to take your veiled friends for regular visits to an exotic vet.