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How to choose a veiled chameleon and where to buy one
Chameleons are often regarded as a distinctive type of lizards coupled with awesome features and abilities. There are some general attributes associated with Chameleons irrespective of the species. Such attributes include sluggishness, shyness and an ability to camouflage when harm is sighted.
Choosing a veiled chameleon: “Captive born and bred” and “Wild-caught”
Choosing a veiled chameleon shouldn’t be a problem especially when you’re to choose from numerous quantities of “captive born and bred”. I initially pointed out the fact that you must choose a “captive born and bred” because of the dangers associated with “wild – caught” veiled Chameleons. “Wild- caught” veiled Chameleons are usually affected with a vast number of parasites and diseases (internally and externally).
If care is not taken, these parasites might spread and therefore affect other reptiles and pets of yours, causing illnesses and other abnormalities. So, it is better to be on the safer side by getting yourself a “captive born and bred” chameleon which hasn’t been exposed to the dangers and stress of the wild and terrestrial environment. Moreover, “Wild-caught” are usually stressed, dehydrated and aggressive while most of them find it hard to adapt to their new environment.
Choosing a veiled chameleon: Examine the Veiled Chameleon body
When you’re about to choose your veiled chameleon, it is important to examine its body. An unhealthy chameleon can easily be identified through an abnormal body structure. Metabolic bone disease can be noticed as well. This disease is usually caused by a poor diet and is usually unfixable.
It is also important to examine the veiled chameleon’s eyes as a healthy veiled chameleon will keep its eyes open in order to examine its environment and it is also necessary to examine its eyes to ensure that they aren’t sunken as that is a clear sign of dehydration.
Furthermore, it is important to check and examine the color of the veiled chameleon you are interested in as this goes a long way in determining how healthy the reptile is. It is known that a veiled chameleon which has a bright color is healthy while a veiled chameleon with a dull color is either sick or highly stressed.
Read more: 9 Common Chameleon Diseases You Need To Know
Where to buy a veiled chameleon
Although its species natively associated to the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, thousands can now be found in the United States after being imported in the 1980s.
Veiled chameleons are now available at different and various pet shops and pet trade centers. Furthermore, most veiled chameleons that are available in the pet shops are “captive born and bred” which I have pointed out earlier as the most suitable choice of veiled chameleon you can make.
Basic facts about a veiled chameleon (size/lifespan and characteristics)
The veiled chameleon size
The male veiled chameleon is said to be about 43cm to 61cm that is about 17 to 24 inches long from its snout to the tip of its tail. The Female veiled chameleon’s length is generally said to be shorter when compared to the male veiled chameleon.
The female veiled chameleon is nothing longer than 35cm i.e. 14 inches. A male veiled chameleon has a higher head-casque and heel spurs while a female veiled chameleon’s head-casque is much more reduced in size.
The veiled chameleon’s lifespan
Various theories have surrounded the lifespan of a veiled chameleon but the verified and approved theory has indicated that a male veiled chameleon can live up to 8 years while the female veiled chameleon can live for as long as 5 years. The veiled chameleon is known to have the ability to breed more than once a year and they usually attain sexual maturity at 4 to 5 months.
The veiled chameleon’s characteristics
Like a typical lizard, the veiled chameleons are omnivorous in nature. Although they favor insects which include non-noxious, healthy and gut-loaded insects, they still eat plant matters and they usually substitute it as a use of water. The female lays large clutches of up to 85 eggs and buries them in the sand. Also, it is known that a veiled female chameleon changes colour across its reproductive cycles.
Veiled chameleons are naturally arboreal and they travel along the branches of trees in a characteristically clamp-toed, hand-over-hand, foot-over-foot style of progression. Also, the tongue of the chameleon is as strange as most other parts of its anatomy. The tongue is long — often as long as the combined length of the body and head — and may be projected at a prey item like a sticky-tipped ejectable and retractable club.
The veiled chameleon doesn’t submit willingly to being physically restrained or restricted as they flee at the sight of danger. Veiled chameleons usually camouflage themselves in a variety of ways but most famously by changing the colour and pattern of their skin and while homing in on a prey item, the lizard usually makes use of both its eyes. This leads to the usage of a binocular vision which probably enhances depth perception.
Read More: 35 Cool Facts About the Veiled Chameleon
Set-up for a Veiled Chameleon
Veiled Chameleons are very easy to breed and are also prolific in egg production. In spite of the fact that they can tolerate a vast range of conditions and also survive well in captivity, veiled chameleons become severely stressed when they are unnecessarily restrained. With this, you will agree with me that it is virtually impossible to replicate the natural home territory “wild-caught” veiled chameleons are accustomed to even though the goal is to make them comfortable as much as possible.
It is best to build or create screen-sided enclosures because of an increased airflow which is very necessary and greatly required for the wellbeing of veiled chameleons. Furthermore, it is advisable to keep veiled chameleons individually in their own cages or enclosures after they reach 8 to 10 months of age.
The best and ideal cage for an adult male veiled chameleon would be a screened enclosure of about 2 feet wide by 2 feet long by 4 feet tall due to the difference in size between both male and female veiled chameleons. Females are allowed to be kept in a screened enclosure which can be measured to be 18 inches deep and 3 feet tall.
Nonetheless, if you are planning on getting a baby or juvenile veiled chameleon, for starters, you can build a small enclosure and eventually move the veiled chameleons when they attain sexual maturity. Juveniles and babies are more befitting and are best kept in smaller screened enclosures measuring about 16 inches long by 16 inches deep and 30 inches tall.
Read more: Best Terrarium size for a Veiled Chameleon
Veiled Chameleon lighting and temperature
Herpetologists have made us understand that veiled chameleons need two essential forms of light for almost 12 hours a day. The first light they are in need of will serve as a good source of heat, in order to regulate and maintain their body temperature. Take note that devices such as heat rocks, heat tapes, ceramic heat emitters, and other similar or lookalike heating devices will not serve as sources of heat which is recognizable by veiled chameleons. As such, it is therefore important to make both a heat bulb and an incandescent fixture available.
To allow proper calcium absorption and avoid conditions such as metabolic bone disease, veiled chameleons also need lighting that will provide ultraviolet B (UVB). Veiled chameleons kept outdoors can derive these same advantages from sunlight but as for indoor veiled chameleons, it would be preferable to make use of a full-spectrum tube. Always remember however that UVB rays are usually filtered out by glass so it is better to place the full-spectrum light right on top of the screen top of the cage or enclosure as the closest perches are positioned approximately 6 to 8 inches beneath the cage.
Well, considering my various experiences with veiled chameleons I have been able to deduce that this species of chameleons regulate their own body temperature and all that is important is to provide them with a temperature gradient are placed inside their cages or enclosures. Forget whatever it is that you might have read, I am categorically telling you that the best and most suitable temperature for veiled chameleons during the daytime is room temperature which falls between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Veiled chameleons also do well with a night time temperature drop, and because of this, you don’t have to make provision for an extra source of heat except for the night temperature at that particular geographical location requires a source of heat. In such a case, it is, therefore, better to find that which doesn’t emit too much heat, such as a ceramic heat emitter utilized from a considerable and safe distance.
(Absorbing some nature sunlight)
It is extremely important to understand a veiled chameleon’s diet as it doesn’t only play a role in determining how healthy they will turn out to be but also how responsive they might be as pets. Earlier, I pointed out the fact that veiled chameleons are omnivorous in nature and they can be fed a staple amount of crickets as long as the veiled chameleon’s head is big enough to devour the cricket.
Adult veiled chameleons should be fed daily while babies and juveniles should be fed once or twice a day.
It is very essential to supplement or fortify the crickets with calcium and vitamin so as to help promote the veiled chameleon’s growth and also to avoid the veiled chameleon suffering from the metabolic bone disease.
Also, plants like dandelions, hibiscus, mustards, and beet greens can also be made available for its consumption. Babies and juveniles can eat aphids, fruit flies and other tiny insects available. Babies and breeding females’ feed should never be short on the provision of calcium and vitamin D3 as essential nutrients.
There’s a big probability that veiled chameleons might eventually get bored when eating the same meal, therefore it is advisable to add some varieties in order to spice up the feed. Varieties might include grasshopper, roaches and even spiders; this will make the feed more interesting for the veiled chameleon.
In the wild, veiled chameleons tend not to suffer from the deficiency of vitamins, especially Vitamin A, as the insects which they prey on are usually rich in such required nutrients unlike the ones (crickets and insects) purchased from commercial providers, whose diets have been lacklustre.
To be on a safe side, it is better and advisable to feed the crickets and other insects before offering them to your veiled chameleon in order to supply them with efficient vitamins. Also, always try to have it at the back of your mind that the more ‘nutrient rich’ the insects you offer your veiled chameleon to prey on are, the healthier your veiled chameleon becomes.
Moreover, veiled chameleons seldom drink from a dish unless the surface is roiled by an aquarium air stone attached to a small vibrator (or other) pump. Yes, these creatures might be that funny. Veiled chameleons will drink pendulous droplets when their cage is misted. They tend to find it difficult to drink when water is directly spread at them, it is then advisable to make use of a water drip system and on the other hand, veiled chameleons do not typically encounter standing water such as that found inside a water dish, which is one of the numerous reasons why they typically don’t recognize dishes as a means of drinking water.
How to handle a veiled chameleon properly
Stress! Stress!! Stress!!!
In whatever you do, avoid stressing out your veiled chameleon. Veiled chameleons are always at alert but can be relatively slow-moving reptiles that often perch in the open. People usually make the mistake of restraining their veiled chameleon.
Well, the end result and eventuality of such activity leads to stressing the veiled chameleon. Even when it is extremely important to move your veiled chameleon, it is much better and advisable to allow your veiled chameleon climb unto your hand or arm. But if you are not comfortable with the veiled chameleon having physical contact with you, you can find a stick or rod but try everything possible to make sure you avoid grasping and restraining the veiled chameleon.
Also, ensure that once it is on your hand, try as much as possible to keep it elevated due to the fact that veiled chameleons feel more secure when at or above ground level. Please, abstain from picking your veiled chameleon from above as they tend to go into a defensive mode when approached from above. Hand feeding your veiled chameleon is also a fantastic approach to building trust and creating a good rapport between you both.
Also, for those who eventually find themselves having a physical contact or about to work on the veiled chameleon terrarium, such a person should endeavor to wash his or her hands before and after having physical contact in order to avoid possible contamination by Salmonella spp. and other suspected bacteria.
In addition, whenever a healthy veiled chameleon is stressed out or frightened, you will notice it hissing loudly, puffing itself up with air and then eventually changing color. If you find your veiled chameleon in this situation, don’t try to pick it up or move and push it until it calms down. All you have to do is simply put your finger in front of it and allow it to walk unto your finger. Although not particularly skittish, veiled chameleons tend to be wary of quick motions and are less frightened when approached from the side. Furthermore, it is very important to enrich your knowledge and understanding with relevant facts about handling a veiled chameleon even before purchasing one. You need to know its needs and all that is required to make it more comfortable in its new home.
Read more: Don’t Worry about Chameleons’ Bite!
How to take care of a pregnant veiled chameleon
Yes, just like other reptiles, chameleons lay eggs and pregnant veiled chameleons are always in a critical and delicate stage especially when they are filled with numerous eggs.
Diet is very important at this time as what they feed on mostly determines how fertile their eggs will turn out to be. As an owner of a pregnant veiled chameleon, you must make sure the food she feeds on are enriched with solid supplementation and required minerals plus vitamins so as not to lead to a deficiency of an important nutrient. Research has shown that a lack of essential nutrients is the leading cause of chameleons laying infertile eggs.
Also, ensure that the pregnant veiled chameleon doesn’t sustain any minor or major injury even in its terrarium. It is also very important to control and keep the pregnant veiled chameleon’s movement in check because if an injury is sustained during this period, there is a big chance that it might lead to stress which is the last thing a pregnant veiled chameleon needs.
In short, Letting a pregnant veiled chameleon experience a stress-free chained and series of events is non-negotiable. In addition, you should always keep the pregnant veiled chameleon’s terrarium neat in order to prevent the invasion of ecto-parasites and possible infection.
When a pregnant veiled chameleon is close to laying eggs, it begins to gain a lot of weight and at this point, it is advisable to get a gram scale in order to monitor its weight.
It will also start to look more rounded and usually get very restless. These symptoms are totally normal with no or little effect regarding the food she feeds on and there’s a probability she abandons her food at a particular moment. If this happens there’s no need to panic, it’s totally normal as it signifies that she will soon lay her eggs.
Most of the time, you see pregnant veiled chameleons roaming about in their terrarium or cage, looking for a spot to lay their eggs. It is very important to provide a laying bin earlier as soon as it has been noticed that the female veiled chameleon is pregnant and try not to check on her continuously or move her back and forth from time to time as the stress of being watched or being moved too often will make females pretty uncomfortable and prevent them from laying their eggs even when due.
Read more: Complete Guide for Chameleon Pregnancy Care
How to take care of baby veiled chameleon
From the incubation period to eventually getting hatched, it takes extreme conscientiousness and meticulousness to successfully nurture a baby veiled chameleon. After been hatched, try as much as possible not to be in a rush to move the babies to their new homes, it’s better to wait for few months and monitor their development before moving them.
Owners need to understand that baby veiled chameleons need to have an abundance of water and should feed on only small prey items at least twice within 24 hours. Small prey items may include hydei fruit flies and pinhead crickets but ensure that the crickets are been dusted with a quality calcium supplement as researchers have shown that baby veiled chameleons have a tendency for a high growth rate.
The terrarium or cage made for the baby veiled chameleon should be small so as to easily be able to find the insects. However, it is of extreme and high importance that the babies are kept in a high humidity environment.
I also recommend that automatic misting or hand misting should be done a couple of times each day (if possible). From time to time, try to sort out your baby veiled chameleons base on their size. It is a strategy to prevent bullying and stiff competition for food and resources. Also, avoid them being overexposed to lighting as they easily get dehydrated.
Chameleon calyptratus (the scientific name for a veiled chameleon) can make an excellent pet for first-time chameleon owners. Moreover, when you realize an irregularity or abnormality in the veiled chameleon, never be afraid to go visit a veterinary doctor as the health of the pet is utterly important.
Here are some symptoms that might prompt you to go visit a vet doctor, excess mucus, foaming at the mouth and sunken eyes etc. Here is the heads up, the majority of these symptoms indicates the invasion of Infections but getting a professional help goes a long way in solving such a problem. In addition, make sure your veiled chameleon is not in a high traffic area so as to reduce stress and you should also avoid excessive handling in order not to aggravate the animal.
They don’t mix well with other animals, no wonder they are referred to as unsocial animals, it’s best they should be kept in an isolated place.
Read more: Can You Put Two Chameleons Together?
I believe I have been able to give a complete guide to knowing and even owning a veiled chameleon. You can easily read over to have a better understanding of the subject matter.
Thanks for reading.