Chameleons look very striking and unusual. One reason for this is because their eyes move independently, and can swivel around even when a lizard keeps his head still. Some of these little guys even change color. I recommend veiled or panther chameleons for first-time reptile owners, as they are a bit easier to care for than other chameleons.
Chameleons are arboreal, which means that trees are their natural habitat. Your pet can live in a glass terrarium, wire cage, or even a big birdcage. Be sure to offer your chameleon lots of climbing branches! Once your pet is fully grown, he can live in a ficus tree. Just keep in mind that you will have to maintain conditions in that room, rather than in a tank. Of course, if you want to pamper your scaled friend, give him a tall cage with a ficus tree in it. You’ll need a suitable substrate, such as reptile substrate, newspaper, paper towels, or butcher paper.
Chameleons do need specific environmental conditions. Your pet will need UVB lighting. You’ll also need some heating equipment, such as heat-emitting bulbs or basking bulbs. Your lizard will also need humidity. Your will also need to maintain proper humidity levels. Ask your vet for specific advice.
Feeding chameleons is definitely not for the squeamish! They eat live bugs, such as mealworms and crickets. You’ll need to dust the bugs with nutritional powder before offering them to your pet. Bigger chameleons can also eat pinkie mice on occasion. Your lizard will also enjoy some leafy greens, such as dandelion greens or kale. Just like any other pet, chameleons need fresh water. However, they often prefer to sip droplets from leaves rather than drinking from bowls. Your vet may recommend a mister or fogger.
Dehydration is very common in chameleons. Watch for warning signs, such as sunken eyes, weight loss, weakness, and dry/loose skin. Call your vet immediately if you see any of these red flags.
Do you have questions about chameleons? As your Marion, IA vet, I’m happy to help! Call me anytime!