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There are many types of Chameleons...for the purposes of this care sheet, we will focus on the Common Chameleon (C. Chamaeleon). If you have another type of Chameleon, please research its specific care needs.
Chameleons do not rate highly on our Pet Rating System because they are not a beginner pet. Their specific habitat requirements, health concerns and start-up costs make them a difficult pet for beginners. Let's explain our rating of the Chameleon; they rate low on the ease of care because they are not easy to take care of, they rate high on temperament because they are not biters, however, they are aggressive towards other chameleons, they rate medium on intelligence because they have the ability to recognize their humans and interact (however, are very intelligent), they rate low on cost of upkeep because start-up costs are expensive and if not cared for properly can be costly, they rate low on lifespan because they live only about 5-6 years.
Chameleons make an exciting and unique pet experience. Because of the Chameleons exotic look and abilities to change color they have become a favorite pet. However, before getting a Chameleon keep in mind that their beauty comes at a cost of money and time.
Housing - Please no aquariums! Chameleons can become stressed by seeing their reflections as well as aquariums do not allow for proper ventilation or come in the proper sizes. Chameleons should be housed in a mesh or screened terrarium that is taller than it is wide (perfect for climbing). A good starting size is 48h x 34w. Substrate should be moss and the habitat should include plenty of climbing structures of varying sizes and textures for foot health. There is no need for natural plant material which can also harbor pests. Artificial vines, plants and wood work great as well as being easy to clean. You can add at least one potted plant which will help to maintain humidity. Visit our Advanced Chameleon Care and FAQ's for more information.
Temperature and Lighting - Each species is different, however, most do well in a very moist and humid environment. Temperatures should range between 80-85 degrees, never falling below 80 degrees. You can provide waterfalls and misters within the enclosure to provide constant humidity. Your Chameleon requires two lighting and heating sources. Heat can be provided by basking lamps. Do not use basking rocks or heat rocks which can burn your Chameleon. Chameleons are baskers and require a basking light for warmth. However, we recommend a temperature gradient within the enclosure so that your chameleon can regulate his temperature as needed. It is very important for your Chameleon to have full-spectrum lighting as well as a basking lamp. Full-spectrum lighting is needed to replace sunlight and helps provide Vitamin D3 which is needed to help the body absorb calcium. If no UVB/UVA is provided, your Chameleon may develop bone abnormalities from calcium deficiency. Use a thermometer to accurate regulate the temperature.
Water - Chameleons do not drink from water bowls. In the wild, they get their water from rain drops and moisture found on trees and leaves. It is very important that you mist your Chameleon and terrarium plants at least once per day. Misting your Chameleon directly will also keep his skin in good condition.
Food - The main diet of Chameleon consists of crickets...it is very important to gut-load your crickets with calcium since store bought crickets are deficient of any nutrients. You can gut-load your crickets easily by keeping them in a separate container and feeding them calcium enriched food for a couple of days prior to feeding. Chameleons will also eat mealworms, fruit flies, moths and grasshoppers. Make sure they are the appropriate size for your chameleon. An adult Chameleon has a large appetite, eating about 20 bugs per day. They should have constant access to food since in the wild they eat as needed not when told to.
WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF CHAMELEONS! HAVE FUN!
For more information on Chameleon Care: