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Chameleon Care sheet
Chameleon Care sheet

Chameleon Care sheet


Chameleon Care Sheet


Housing your chameleon:
Chameleons live in trees and bushes. They are adapted for climbing, and will need live plants and branches in their cage to feel secure. Screen cages are much healthier for them than all glass terrariums. They need space! The minimum size cage for a chameleon is 2 feet high, 2. feet wide , and 1.5 feet deep. Set up the new cage before you bring your pet home.


Each species has specific temperature and humidity requirements, so find out before you buy. You will need a thermometer and a good humidity gauge in the cage to keep track of the environment for your pet. As with all animals, wash your hands after handling.


A good cage set-up will cost you much more than your pet! Special heat spotlights and ultraviolet fluorescent tube lights must be used, and can be expensive. Don't use heat rocks -- chameleons can burn their feet on them. Let your pet bask outside in sunlight for a few hours a week in warm months -- there's no good substitute for real ultraviolet light from the sun. The cage must cool off at night to at least 10 degrees lower than during the day so the chameleon can sleep properly. Humidity must rise at night also. Raise humidity by spraying the plants with water in the evening.


Feeding your chameleon:
Most chameleons eat live bugs only, and lots of them! They shoot them with their long sticky tongue. If the bug is not moving the chameleon may not see it. They are fussy eaters, and will often stop eating if offered only one type of food. Give them a variety, such as crickets, mealworms, locusts, and waxworms. Wild caught bugs from a pesticide-free yard are nutritious and a real treat. Feed adult chameleons every 1 to 2 days. Don't leave crickets loose in the cage overnight. They can chew on and hurt your pet while it is asleep. Ensure that mealworms cannot escape from the container and burrow into the skin.


Most insects are missing some vitamins and minerals. Feed any bugs you buy fresh salad, cereals, and fruit for 3 days before they become lunch for your pet.  Once or twice a week dust crickets with calcium and vitamin powder before you give them to the chameleon. Vitamin deficiencies are common, so read up on what is needed.


Pet chameleons often die from slow dehydration. They live in humid places in the wild, and. Just putting water in a bowl in their cage will not work! Water must be dripping or running for the chameleon to see it and start to drink. They lick rain or dew off leaves and branches in the wild. You must mist or spray water on the cage plants 2 times a day so they will drink. The spray will also raise the humidity of the cage. Do not leave a bowl of water in the vivarium,as the chameleon will not recognise the water, will think it is solid, and may drown.


Use live plants instead of artificial ones to keep the humidity up. Breathing humid air is important for your pet's lungs. Don't keep the cage wet all the time as moulds can make your pet sick. Some pet stores sell water drip systems or you can make your own. Make sure you see the chameleon drink each day!

Chameleon personality:
Chameleons are shy and slow-moving. They are easily startled and need a quiet place for their cage. Chameleons are loners, so they don't want to share a cage or see another chameleon (even their own reflection)! They have very sharp eyesight but poor hearing. Because handling and petting causes them fear, they don't make good pets for children. To a chameleon, you are the predator. If their captive environment is too different from what they are used to in the wild, they don't adapt, they die. But, if you accept and understand its personality, a chameleon can be a gentle friend.


Chameleons change colours for several reasons, not just to match their background. They can turn dark to absorb heat when cold, turn light when too hot, and show bright patterns when frightened or angry. Each species has its own pattern and colour range. Your pet can tell you how it is feeling by its appearance. When frightened they will puff up with air and hiss loudly. Forcing your chameleon to display its bright colours too often will lead to great stress and can kill it over time. Some large chameleons will bite hard enough to cause bleeding, so be careful.


The chameleon's tail is prehensile, and vital for climbing around in trees and bushes. They can't drop their tail like other lizards. Their feet are adapted for clinging to branches, and are quite strong. Never pull a chameleon off a branch by force. You can break their toes or legs and damage their claws. Claw damage can lead to serious infections. Move slowly and gently coax your pet to climb onto your hand instead.


Signs of sickness:

  • Not eating or drinking.
  • Eyes that are closed, sunken, or look flat against the head.
  • Swollen toes with black claws and swollen legs.
  • Heavy breathing with mouth open (other than a quick hiss).
  • Drooling, a lot of sticky saliva, yellow or white stuff at the comer of the mouth.
  • Thin looking -- ribs and pelvic bones showing through the skin.
  • Skin is wrinkled and dry, not supple.
  • Does not change colour when picked up.
  • Lumps or coiled bumps under the skin (parasites).
  • Does not react to lights and movement around the cage.

Chameleons hide signs of illness until they are very weak. By the time many of these symptoms show up, survival is poor. Veterinary treatment can be difficult and expensive. It is best to buy a healthy animal and do all you can to keep it that way. If you don't know what a healthy one should look like, ask an expert for help

Jungle Trade Supplies, Buxton, Derbys

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