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Yemen Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) Yemen Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)

Basic Equipment for a Yemen Chameleon


Vivarium AX24 Beech, Oak, Walnut
Use an Arcadia Control Gear Dry Viv14/15W for the UV light tube combined with a PT-2160 Exo Terra Repti-Glo5 (18”) 15 Watt tube, for the correct level of UV. Change the bulb every 9 months as the light quality breaks down dramatically, reducing the benefit to your Chameleon.
Use a PT-2045 Ceramic Heat Emitter 60 Watt This gives the Chameleon a hot spot that it requires so that it can digest its food. Combine this with a ceramic heater safety cage and a Pulse proportional thermostat set at 85-90°F.
Kitchen Paper or newspaper has to be used so that the Chameleon does not get its tongue fouled with Sand or Beech chippings etc.
Chameleons cannot see standing water so will not drink from a bowl, you should use a PT-2906 Exo Terra Waterfall and Pump - Medium this should be cleaned daily. The easiest way to feed a chameleon is to put its food in a tall feeding dish (a 1 litre washed ice cream container will do). This prevents the crickets / locusts from running around in the vivarium.
Use lots of branches, these need to be strong and sturdy. Fruit tree branches are good but do not use cherry as it is poisonous, as are conifer branches. Scrub them clean with hot soapy water, rinse and allow to dry. Finally use a selection of artificial vines and plants, PT-3000-3052 these are just for decoration and make the vivarium look more natural. We would recommend at least 2 large vines and a selection of 3-4 plants

Calcium and vitamins: Exo-Terra Calcium +D3. Exo-Terra Multi Vitamin Powder.

Many reptiles require a diet based on live or fresh foods, due to their specific feeding habits. These are readily available, but in themselves do not offer a balanced supply of nutrients. To ensure your pet receives a properly balanced diet, it is important to increase the nutrient content of these foods with a nutrient supplement.




Most chameleon species are fairly solitary and intolerant of other individuals being housed with them. Therefore one ADULT animal per cage is the general rule.
Veiled Chameleons all have their own personalities. Some individual chameleons may become tame to the point of climbing over to "greet" you at their cage door; others will only want to come out occasionally. Letting your Chameleon come out for a wander (supervised) every now and again is a good idea and helps keep them fit.
To tame your Chameleon, try and get him/her to hand feed from about 10 weeks old. Firstly, place a waxworm in the flat palm of your hand about 10 inches from your chameleon so as not to scare him/her. Then be patient! The waxworm will start to wiggle and eventually the chameleon will notice the food. Once your Chameleon is looking at the food with both eyes it should soon fire out its tongue to catch its prey. It might take a while at first but eventually the chameleon will become more confident and will eventually take food quickly every time. Once it is feeding confidently from your hand other foods can be introduced.
Chameleons can either be kept in purpose built Chameleon enclosures or normal vivariums (height needs to be about 20 inches plus for adults). If a normal vivarium is used, one of the glass doors should be replaced by a mesh panel as all Chameleons require a lot of ventilation (have the remaining glass door the same side as the basking lamp). Poor ventilation, like that found in a typical glass aquarium, will allow the air to become stagnant and provide an opportunity for fungus and bacteria to grow which in turn will affect the health of your chameleon (and may even kill it). The cage should be furnished with branches of different diameters so that the chameleon can easily navigate the entire cage. Live plants will provide good hiding places and add to the beauty and humidity of the enclosure. Because some chameleons are known for eating vegetable matter, only non-toxic plants should be planted in their enclosures. The most common choices among chameleon breeders are Pothos, hibiscus, Umbrella plants or Ficus benjamani, Ficus "Alii", and Ficus natidia. Plastic plants can also be used with or instead of real plants and have the advantage that they are easily cleaned. The arrangements of lights, plants and branches should be such to allow for at least one basking site where the temperature will reach the upper limits of the animal’s comfortable temperature range. The temperature in the rest of the enclosure should be lower allowing the animal to thermo regulate (chose its own temperature) by moving around the cage. Do not use substrate with chameleons as it can sometimes get it stuck in their digestive track causing problems.
Veiled chameleons, coming from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, need hot temperatures during the day. The basking area should be around 90ºF to 95ºF. At the opposite end to the basking spot the temperature should be at least 10ºF lower than the basking spot. Standard 40 /60 watt light bulbs can be used to create a basking spot. Vary the wattage to get the basking spot the right temperature. Alternatively attach the bulb to a dimmer thermostat with the heat sensitive probe situated near the basking spot. As Chameleons climb on anything its better not to cover the heat source with a wire cage otherwise they tend to climb on the cage and burn their underside. It’s better to situate the heat source far enough away from the nearest branch that they can’t touch it at all.
The basking spot light should be on for 12 hours a day.
Baby Chameleons should be kept a bit cooler than adults during the day.
Veiled chameleons are very hardy chameleons that can withstand a large range of temperatures. At night, it is necessary for them to experience at least a 10ºF to 15ºF drop in temperature. In a normal house, no heating is required at night. This allows better resting and simulates their natural habitat where temperatures drop significantly at night.
Lighting is very important for Veileds as it is for all chameleons. Veiled’s should be provided with a UVA/UVB producing light source and a basking light. UVA and UVB exposure allows chameleons to synthesize vitamin D3 into their skin. The synthesis of vitamin D3 allows the absorption of calcium which is critical for all chameleons.
The light should be on for 12-14 hours a day. All Chameleons love natural sunlight. On hot summer days take your Chameleon outside and put it on a bush to bask. No artificial light can really duplicate the full effects of the suns rays on a sun loving reptile like the Veiled Chameleon. Obviously make sure your Chameleon can’t escape or the local cat or bird of prey does not fancy a quick meal first! An outside aviary with a dripper system is Chameleon heaven on a summer day if you have the space. Always make sure the Chameleon can get out of the sun if it wants to though.
Few chameleons will ever learn to drink water from a standing water dish. In the wild, chameleons lick dew and rain droplets off of leaves, or are attracted to moving water. This means that in captivity, special watering techniques need to be used to keep chameleons healthy and hydrated. Chameleons are naturally attracted to droplets of water which reflect light. Chameleon keepers can take advantage of this by designing water systems that takes this natural behaviour into account. Drip systems are the most common form of chameleon watering system. They generally consist of a container of a water container that sits above the enclosure. A plastic tube with a flow control clamp runs from the water container and into the chameleon cage. Water slowly drips out of the end of the plastic tube. Pre-made drip systems are available and generally include some sort of adjustment to control the rate at which water drips from the tube. Other, simpler drip systems can also be used. A tub of water with a hole in the bottom made by a drawing pin works just as well suspended from the ceiling of the enclosure. If a drip system is used in a chameleon cage, care needs to be taken to prevent the cage from becoming too wet. This is easily accomplished by placing a container inside the cage to catch the dripping water. Make sure the chameleon can’t tip it over. Covering the container with mesh will prevent the chameleon or crickets from falling in. The water can then be emptied every day. Another method of watering your chameleon is to simply mist the inside of the enclosure several times a day. Chameleons will eagerly lick water off plants, as well as the sides of the enclosure.
With Veiled Chameleons you should mist twice a day and have a drip system going for about 10 minutes at a time at least once a day. If no drip system is used increase the spraying to several times a day. After a while you may find the Chameleon will drink directly from drips from the water spray.
Some Veiled’s rarely drink water however that does not mean it should not be available regularly.
Chameleons like clean warm drinking water. Pre boiled semi-cooled water or mineral water (warmed up with boiling water) is best. If using tap water leave it to stand for a while to allow chlorine etc to disburse.
Water temperature drops dramatically when sprayed. To get the right temperature, spray your hand from 12 inches away. If it feels warm then it’s the right temperature (you will find you have to use fairly hot water in the spray bottle to get a warm spray at 12 inches). Be careful if your Chameleon drinks directly from the nozzle of the spray bottle as the water for spraying could be too hot if coming out in drops.
Veiled chameleons will eat a bit of vegetable matter, along with their diet of live insects. You may find that the plants in the enclosure gradually get eaten by the Chameleon (although some never eat vegetation at all). Try watercress, grated carrot (or sweet potato) and chopped spring greens. Dandelion leaves are an excellent replacement for spring greens and watercress. Just make sure you pick them from areas that don’t use pesticides and wash them first.
All captive chameleons require calcium and vitamin supplementation. The specific reason for this is beyond the scope of this document. But in short, chameleons need vitamin D3 in order to metabolise calcium for growth and proper nerve functions. Many ´basking´ reptiles naturally produce vitamin D3 in their skin when they bask in the sun and are exposed to UV radiation. Since the UV outputs of most human-made full-spectrum lights do not provide the same UV exposure as the sun, additional supplementation is ESSENTIAL.
Feed your chameleon(s) daily by placing live insects with the fresh vegetables into a plastic container which is large enough to prevent the insects from escaping (a 2 litre ice cream tub is perfect). Vitamin &/or mineral supplementation when required can then be sprinkled on the insects and vegetables. Shake the container to evenly coat the vegetables and insects with the supplement. Alternatively use a plastic cup and suspend the container under the chameleon’s favourite perch. Do this in such a way that it is easy for the chameleon to reach the food in the bottom of the container. The insects will eat some of the vegetables so keeping them gut loaded and alive hence the chameleons will benefit even if they do not directly eat much of the vegetable matter themselves. For very young hatchlings, a baby food jar makes a nice food dish. The same vegetable mixture that is fed to your chameleons should also be fed to the insects you will feed to your chameleons. This will ensure the insects are healthy and nutritious by the time your chameleons eat them. Following is a list of the different insects you can use to feed your chameleon:
Adult Crickets - Brown Crickets are safer (Blacks can bite Chameleons at night when they are sleeping). When fed small slices of sweet potato (or carrot) and fresh greens they are nutritious and can comprise up to 80% of your chameleons total diet. Crickets however have a low Calcium/phosphorus ratio so additional calcium supplementation should be included with most cricket meals. Supplement lightly with pure calcium powder, not one with vitamins.
2 - 3 Week Old Crickets- Like adult crickets, but are small enough to be fed to juvenile chameleons.
Tip: Crickets should be gut loaded (fed) for at least a day prior to being used as food. Put a slice of carrot and a dandelion leaf (washed or spring green/cabbage) into the cricket tub. Leave them for 24 hours if possible before feeding to the Chameleon.
Locusts - A brilliant food for Veiled’s. Feed the locusts on grass and greens before feeding to the Chameleons. Small hoppers for babies and winged adults for Adults. Fruit flies are a great source of food for baby chameleons.
Mealworms - Mealworms are inexpensive and, like crickets, easy to load with valuable nutrition by feeding them a quality diet of fruits and vegetables. Commercial gut loading such as bug grub is also available and is excellent. Only feed occasionally as the hard chitin shell of the mealworm is not digestible and can cause blockage of the gut when overfed.
These should only be fed to your chameleon when your chameleon is large enough to eat them. Like crickets and mealworms they should be fed a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables (or commercial gut load) prior to using. These are much better than normal mealworm as there is more body compared to hard shell. Best fed when they have just shed their hard shell (when they are white in colour).
Waxworms- Waxworms are sometime called grubs. They are nutritious, full of moisture, and easy to store. Chameleons LOVE them. They can be made more nutritious by feeding them Bee Pollen Granules from a Health Food Shop. Unfortunately, some Chameleons love them so much they seem to get addicted and won’t take anything else. To avoid this, they should only take up a small proportion of your Chameleons diet. They are the best food to get chameleons used to feeding from your hand.
Wax Moths- Waxworms turn into moths, which your chameleons will love to eat.
Wild-caught Insects- Many chameleon owners set up insect traps during the summer to catch their own insects (not bees or wasps or hairy caterpillars). Grasshoppers, flies, crickets, and spiders will all be devoured by your chameleons. This also helps offer a diverse diet necessary for the health of your chameleon. It is important, however, that the insects be collected from areas where insecticides are not used. Moths can be collected at night and stored until the morning for feeding.
Pinkie Mice- Some people also supplement their adult chameleon’s diets with new born mice called pinkie mice. Not all Chameleons will take pinkie mice. They are definitely a matter of taste for you and your Chameleon and should only be fed once a week if accepted but they do help to get added calcium and nutrients into the Chameleon.
Veiled chameleons, when young, should be fed as much as they will eat. As they get older they should be given a more stationary diet (large crickets, large mealworms or Morio worms, wax worms, earthworms etc.). It is important that you limit the amount of food you feed an adult chameleon. Allowing a chameleon to gorge itself, will result in a very obese and unhealthy chameleon. When they are young they will devour anywhere from 6 to 20 small cricket sized insects daily. When they grow up to adults, they will eat about 5-15 full grown medium to large sized insects.
The following supplement schedule is recommended for your adult chameleons:
Calcium: Most feedings can include a light dusting of a pure calcium supplement such as Komodo Calcium powder although if all food is well gut loaded every other day is fine.
Multivitamins: Add a good dose of Nutrobal multivitamin and calcium powder 1-2 times per week. (Twice a week for babies).
Female Chameleons - Egg Laying
As with all egg laying lizards, females can have a tendency if not looked after properly to retain eggs, which can eventually kill them. A common misconception with Chameleons is that if a female Chameleon is not mated she will die egg bound. This is not true. If however she is not given a suitable place to lay her eggs then this is possible. Female Chameleons will produce eggs 2-3 times a year whether they have been mated.
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