A Camouflaged Tree Dweller
As one of the largest mainland chameleons in the world, the veiled chameleon is one of the most popular pet reptiles because of its spectacular coloration. These chameleon’s base color is green with brown, reddish-orange, or blue stripes. They also have a prominent vertical crest or casque. Although more research is necessary to fully understand the purpose and function of the casque, it tends to be used for reproductive behaviors and displays as well as an act of aggression towards predators. Their zygodactylus feet and prehensile tails improve their ability to climb and grip branches. Chameleons also have a pair of independently operating eyes that give them improved depth perception and motor coordination.
These chameleons are native to Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia. Although they are arboreal, they can be found in dry plateaus, coastal plains, mountains, and river valleys. Veiled chameleons are highly territorial and avoid coming into contact with other veiled chameleons.
Housing must be completely sealed, ventilated, and escape proof. Zilla Fresh Air Habitats are preferred but Zilla Front Opening Terrariums may be used depending on your household’s average temperature. Juvenile chameleons can be housed in a small screen habitats until they are roughly six to eight months old. Adult chameleons should be kept in large screen habitats. Providing a substrate is optional as chameleons will rarely use it since they are arboreal. If you would like to use a substrate, Zilla Jungle Mix, Coconut Husk Brick, or Terrarium Moss can be used. Chameleons require vertical artificial foliage, branches, logs, and other furnishings to meet their climbing, basking and hiding activities. These chameleons will not recognize standing water and should be misted by hand to receive adequate hydration. Zilla Waterfalls or Spring Cave may be used to provide an adequate water source but misting is still recommended. Be sure to periodically replace the substrate, clean, and disinfect the enclosure and its furnishings at least every 2-3 months.
Temperature and Lighting
It is important to create a thermal gradient ( a warm side and a cool side) in the cage/enclosure. For a chameleon, that gradient will be vertical with the warmer end and basking area towards the top. Ideal temperatures for Veiled Chamelons range from 75-80°F on the cool side and 80-85°F on the warm side. Provide a 95°F basking area. Veiled Chameleons also require UVB lighting to thrive and be healthy. Using a Zilla Heat & UVB Fixture with a Zilla 50W Mini Halogen bulb and a Zilla Desert Series 50 UVB Bulb will provide the correct heat and UVB needed for your Veiled Chameleon. Without UVB, Veiled Chameleons can develop Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) resulting in deformations and eventual death. Spot clean the enclosure for urates, feces and uneaten food at least twice per week. Every 3 months, remove all substrate in order to clean and disinfect the tank and décor.
Feeding / Diet
Veiled chameleons are insectivorous and can be fed crickets, roaches, mealworms, superworms, and waxworms. Feeder insects should given Zilla Gut Load Cricket Drink. When feeding, spray the insects with Zilla Calcium Supplement and Zilla Vitamin Supplement Spray 1-2 times weekly for additional calcium and vitamin D3. Supplementing calcium is necessary in order to prevent metabolic bone disease. It’s important to not overfeed chameleons as obesity and other health issues may occur.
Veiled chameleons will generally not tolerate frequent handling as it can cause a high degree of stress. Should a chameleon be handled, it should not be forcefully picked up. Allow the chameleon to walk onto your hands. Chameleons are best suited as a display animal.
Also be sure to wash your hands after handling any animals.
Created in cooperation with the
Madison Area Herpetological Society, Inc.