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Family: Chamaeleonidae

 A few of the over one hundred and thirty known species are now regularly available as captive bred babies. Veiled chameleons are in fact almost never available as wild collected. The species you are most likely to see as captive bred babies are veiled chameleons and panther chameleon’s theses species do very well in the terrarium and are considered among the easiest to keep. More and more species are being captive bred by enthusiasts namely jewel, four-horned, mountain, Jackson’s and a more each year. A great number are now available as captive farmed from their country of origin Madagascar, and Tanzania increases the number of captive bred (farmed) species by another twelve or so. In my opinion wild collected chameleons are valuable breeding specimens and can do as well as CB animals in captivity however you really need to know what you are looking at when buying a wild collected animal. This said without the wild collected species being imported in the first place where would the captive bred animals come from? Avoid wild collected animals unless you can be sure they are healthy if possible get an expert to look at them or have a vet health check done including checking for internal parasites. A well acclimatised wild collected animal should do as well as a captive bred animal. However there are enough captive bred chameleons on the market for beginners, if you really want to keep the more unusual species gain the experience required to keep them before you try.

Basically chameleons are a bit dim! They have set patterns and routines to life and stress easy. They are extremely antisocial not liking the sight of each other, chameleons can get stressed just by being able to see each other across a room! Babies can be housed together for a few months but you will see a distinct pecking order with growth differences. Sexually mature adults of the same sex should never be housed together, and male and female pairs should only be housed together if lots of room is provided. If you are looking for a pet and you really want to keep a chameleon get just one. If you intend to try and breed them keep them separate and put them together for breeding only. Don’t keep other species of reptiles with chameleons these will stress the chameleon out even if it’s not obvious.

So you have decided to get a chameleon and you know they don’t like each other so how do you keep one? The best cages to keep chameleons in are all or half meshed cages, they need a good air circulation but (most) also need fairly high humidity. In a standard vivarium this causes stale air, causing respitory problems. The other advantage with these cages is that all the required heating and lighting equipment can be housed outside of the cage. Ultra violate light is a must for all species, remember these tubes must be changed every six month just because they are still give out light does not mean they are still giving out UVB. All chameleons require a night drop of around 10ºc in my opinion the best way to heat chameleons is with a dimming lamp. This is very easily done as “dimming thermostats” are available at just about all reptile supply shops and through mail order. The lamp just plugs into the stat and then the required temperature set. Why are dimming lamps best? Reptiles naturally bask in sun light, the lamp for all intensive purposes replicates the sun and the animal will naturally bask under it. For temperatures research the intended species you are wishing to keep. Chameleons are especially dim when it comes to water, they can be sat next to a dish of water, but be dying of dehydration. They don’t recognise still water so moving water must be provided this is most commonly done with a dripping water supply. Chameleon drippers can be purchased from reptile shops. As discussed if you cage is all mesh the dripper can be placed on the top and a dish placed in the cage to catch the water. Daily spraying of the cage furnishings also works well but don’t spray the chameleon, this also helps to keep the humidity up. The cage should be decorated with thin branched able to hold the animal's weight, but not too large for them to grip with there feet, plastic or real plants will make them feel secure.

Feeding your chameleon(s) is great fun as just about everyone knows they have a long sticky tongue that they use to catch their pray. There tongue can be extended as long as there body. Most chameleons will ready accept food form your fingers, even if they are not the tamest. Chameleons will accept all commercially produced live food, they especially like locusts. Make sure you feed a wide diet not the same every time, and you dust the food with a good quality mineral & vitamin supplement as instructed on the product. Feed you baby chameleon a little food each day, don’t leave food in the cage as this will stress the chameleon. As they grow remember to offer larger foods, when they reach juvenile size you can offer food every other day or miss a day or two a week, adults will eat a few large pray items every other day.

How long do chameleons live? Chameleons are not long lived reptiles. However most captives will live at least twice as long as their wild cousins. Due to their fast growth rate many species can be sexually mature at 6-12 months! The average lifespan of a veiled chameleon Chamaelo calyptratus would be 2-3 years however many may live to see 5 years.

Chameleons are great characters and do make good pets as long as you know what you are doing and have fully researched the species. If you want a chameleon read as much as you can before you take one home, and remember they do require daily maintenance.

Fauna Import UK suppliers of quality reptiles, amphibians, and inverts for the pet trade. Supplying shops, wholesalers, and mail order companies.

Direct importers from North, East, and West Africa, Madagascar, Vietnam, Peru, Guyana, North America, and more.

Brokers of quality Captive Bred Reptiles, Amphibians and Inverts both UK and worldwide bred.

Supporting extensive captive farming fanatically and with equipment in two countries.