However amazing they might be, chameleons can be pretty challenging when it comes to ensuring their living conditions. You might need one of the large chameleon cages available for sale to rest assured that you are giving your pet the right amount of space that he or she needs.
In this article, we’ll look at several tips that you can use to make sure that your chameleon’s health is always on par. We’ll even include some information on breeding if that’s something you might be interested in doing at one point or the other.
Choosing your first chameleon
It’s highly recommended that you get your chameleon either from a breeder or from a pet shop. Regardless, the truth is that captive pets do a lot better than wild caught ones, and that’s because they carry a less significant parasite load and are overall much less stressed compared to their wild counterparts.
Furthermore, they won’t have any particular issue adapting to any living conditions, provided that they are correct, of course. Do not try to get two pet chameleons right from the beginning. If they are both male, they can be aggressive toward each other.
This type of animal does best on its own unlike other small ones such as guinea pigs, for example, who would actually suffer in the absence of a companion.
Although many people call them cages, the truth is that pet chameleons’ living spaces are better defined as enclosures. They are closed spaces (of course, complete with ventilation) where you have to replicate a somewhat tropical climate for your pet to thrive in.
The accessories are quite important, too, since the chameleon needs a branch for climbing and a good amount of space should be filled with live foliage or similar branches. Sometimes, the chameleon might show a significant interest in the foliage, so he or she might try to eat it. To prevent any health issues, make sure that the leaves or plants that you place in the enclosure are never toxic.
The enclosure also has to come with (or you can get it separately but you need to install it, anyway) a drip system. Chameleons are widely known for not drinking water directly. They rather consume it from tiny drops. You can mist the enclosure twice every day or leave the drip system do its job. The excess water must be collected and removed to avoid increasing the humidity level.
Much like other reptiles, pet chameleons are cold-blooded, which means that they have to be exposed to both UVA and UVB rays. You could also allow the enclosure to be exposed to natural lighting through an open window, especially if the cage comes with a glass filter to get rid of the UV radiation.
You will have to leave the UVB lights on for around ten to twelve hours on a daily basis. Some chameleons like warmer climates whereas others like their enclosures to be a little cooler. Read the specifics of each breed before going out to the pet store and getting your chameleon.
Water and food
Pet chameleons thrive on a diet composed of both plants and insects. Naturally, some will manifest a particular interest toward one type of insect over others, but you should try to feed your pet chameleon with a large variety at first, just so you can tell which ones he or she prefers.
One important mention must be made with regard to the feeding of chameleons that lay eggs. In their case, you have to make sure that you dust the food with a Calcium and Vitamin D powder supplements.
As for the greens, chameleons love to nibble on lettuce, spinach, as well as cabbage, but you could also have the freedom to feed them some fruit, too. Just don’t overdo it with the fruit.
Typical health problems
No matter the type of pet you decide to care for, you will always have to do a bit of research before making a decision, especially when it comes to diseases and how they can be prevented. Pet chameleons, like other animals, can suffer from several health problems. Among these, the most common ones are calcium and vitamin deficiencies, and most of the chameleons will lack vitamin A (which can be found in carrots, for example).
Usually, these issues are a result of a poor quality diet or a diet offered by a chameleon parent who hasn’t done their homework on the matter. Metabolic bone disease is an extremely common health problem among many chameleons, and it can be lethal if it is not discovered and treated correctly. In such a situation, the chameleon would lose their appetite and become lethargic.
There are a wide variety of veterinarians who specialize in reptiles, so if you are under the suspicion that your chameleon might not be completely healthy, do some research on local vets and get in touch with one as soon as possible.
Most chameleons are ready to mate when they reach the ages of 6-7 to 9 months. Depending on the species of pet chameleon that you own, you might notice that the female develops a different coloration on her head and flanks. For example, minors chameleons develop blue and red dots on the flanks and a red coloration on the head.
There is no way of you knowing for sure whether the female is willing to accept the male other than by placing them in the same enclosure. If she is receptive, she will keep her coloration, barely make any move, and will not even react to the male. If she isn’t ready to mate, she might even lunge at the male or she could puff up with her mouth open.
Males rarely refuse an opportunity to mate, so you needn’t worry about that. Copulation can last from several minutes to well into half an hour. It’s a good idea to be present when these mating attempts are performed so as to separate the pair if any of the two becomes aggressive.