|Common Name||Carpet Chameleon, White-lined Chameleon, Jewel Chameleon|
|Scientific Name||Furcifer lateralis|
|Captive Lifespan||2 – 4 Years|
|Size||5 – 13 inches|
|Mass||No data available|
|Habitat||Humid, varied habitats, ranging from mountains, rain forest, and deserts habitats|
|Country of Origin||Madagascar|
Out of the variety of chameleons in the world, the carpet chameleon is considered relatively small in size. Even though both male and female carpet chameleons can reach a maximum length of 6.6 and up to 9.8 inches (including the tail) in the wild, captive carpet chameleons are known to typically grow to about 5 inches in total length.
Furcifer lateralis is one of the most vividly colored chameleon varieties. Males are less brightly colored than the females, and they are largely green, often with a white stripe that appears when the males are at rest.
Meanwhile, the body coloration of females is distinctively vibrant, exhibiting a wider assortment of colors than males. As compared with males, females are heavier-bodied. They are colored in brown or dark-red with visible white spots when resting, and with bands ranging from yellow, orange, black, red, and blue, when fully colored.
The lips and throats of both male and female carpet chameleons are stripy.
Depending on their environment, as well as on their mood, Fucifer lateralis change color throughout the day, starting with a dark color that helps them to rapidly warm up after waking up by exposing themselves to sufficient sunlight.
There are two subspecies of Furcifer lateralis; namely, Furcifer lateralis lateralis, and Furcifer lateralis major.
Up until 2012, Furcifer viridis and Furcifer major used to be counted among Furcifer lateralis. However, up-to-date, Furcifer lateralis is described as own species.
Habitat & Lifespan
The carpet chameleon is an endemic species occupying Madagascar and can be found around the entirety of the island country, except for the northern parts.
Estimated to be distributed over an area of 467 634 sq.km. , in the wild carpet chameleons can be found at varying elevations, ranging from 394 and up to 6316ft. above sea level.
The preferred habitat for these lizards includes areas where humidity is high, and moderate shade, as well as access to direct sunlight, are available. Carpet chameleons are particularly fond of shrubs and small trees, due to their arboreal lifestyle.
Although carpet chameleons have the reputation of being quite short-lived, delicate species, this is only partially true. Indeed, they are short-lived, when compared to other reptiles, but given the proper care, captive Furcifer lateralis species can live healthy and happy for between three and four years on an average.
In the wild, carpet chameleons are believed to live for about five years on an average, or possibly more, if the conditions are favorable. However, sufficient research on the lifespan of these incredible creatures in the wild still lacks up-to-date.
Furcifer lateralis is stringently arboreal. Similarly to most other chameleon species, carpet chameleons are also strictly diurnal.
During the early part of the day, from the very moment they wake up, these lizards are to spend their time warming up. Warming up is done by exposing as much surface area of their bodies to abundant sunlight, assuming a very dark body coloration for the purpose of enhancing the process of warming up.
Once carpet chameleons are to reach the desired body temperature, it is time to go hunting for prey, which is how these creatures typically spend the rest of the day before dusk.
Male carpet chameleons are strongly territorial. They go through elaborate color changes, hissing, as well as an array of posturing in order to scare off any male competitors nearby. Also, unless a female carpet chameleon is in a breeding condition, males are to chase the female away from their territory, too.
Furcifer lateralis is a creature of habit. With a rather shy and timid temper, the carpet chameleon is to follow its daily routine so religiously that it can even get to sleep on the very same branch every single night!
- The most suitable type of enclosure for captive carpet chameleons is a glass or a full-screen tank.
- For housing an adult carpet chameleon, the caregiver should ensure that the enclosure will be at least 1-foot long x 1-foot wide x 2 feet tall. Please, mind that these dimensions are the absolute minimum that carpet chameleons require in order to thrive. As a rule of thumb, the more space you can provide these creatures with, the better!
- Fill the carpet chameleon’s enclosure with various non-toxic plants, such as orchids, and Ficus benjamina and Scheffelera arboricola, among others. Also, provide various basking-friendly items.
- At any cost, make sure to set up the enclosure in such a manner, as not to allow the carpet chameleon to see its own reflection on any of the walls, as this will inevitably lead to unwanted stress.
- To ensure that the enclosure will allow the carpet chameleon to climb around, the caregiver needs to place different suitable objects of varying sizes at different angles. Sticks and vines will do a magnificent job.
One of the easiest to maintain the type of substrates for most chameleons, including carpet chameleons, is the newspaper. Using flat newspaper as the substrate is an affordable, easy to dispose of, and nonetheless, recyclable option.
For creating an aesthetically-pleasing, bioactive enclosure, keepers need to go the extra mile.
Firstly, on the very bottom of the enclosure, layer 1 -2 inches of pea gravel or clay pellets for proper drainage (mind that drainage is crucial!).
Secondly, place the porous fabric on top of the drainage layer. The porous fabric will act as a soil and root barrier.
Thirdly, add a 3-inch deep layer of soil mix over the porous fabric. The soil mix should consist of equal parts peat moss and sand. Whatever type of living plants you may add, these can be directly planted into the soil layer.
Finally, to complete the bioactive substrate, add 1 inch of dead leaves on top of the soil layer.
Kitty litter, gravel, cedar, and corn cob bedding should be avoided, just like any other type of substrate that contains particles that can be swallowed, leading to health issues in return. Also, the substrate must not hold excess moisture.
Temperature, Lighting & Humidity
- In the wild, carpet chameleons love basking in the sun. However, they also do require a shaded retreat to cool down whenever needed, so caregivers want to simulate the natural environment of these lizards as much as possible by creating both a shady, as well as a “sunny” zone within the enclosure.
- Keep the ambient temperature within the 70 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit range, with the topmost part of the terrarium hitting 80 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit, while the temperatures toward the bottom, as well as in the shaded retreat area should fall down to 70 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Do not allow temperatures to exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit! It is only in the localized basking spot where temperatures should be maintained within the 90 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit range (but not any higher!). For terrariums that do not exceed 24 inches in height, halogen puck lights can do a wonderful job when it comes to creating a sweet basking spot.
- At nighttime, allow the temperatures to drop down to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is usually accomplished fairly easy by simply turning OFF all lights within the enclosure, following a strict day/night light cycle.
- During the winter season, all of the temperatures mentioned above should be maintained to approximately 5 – 10 degrees cooler, as to mimic the carpet chameleon’s natural environment as well as possible.
- For indoor environments, artificial lighting remains a must, since even if the caregiver is to place the enclosure at direct sunlight, the amount of sunlight received per day is impossible to control strictly. Also, it is very easy for direct sunlight to lead to overheating the enclosure, which can be fatal for the carpet chameleon.
- These lizards will thrive when provided a heat dome light, as well as a full-spectrum fluorescent light. Dual fluorescent bulbs fixtures can work fantastic, with the one bulb being in the 6500K color spectrum, while the other being UVB-producing.
- For the purpose of lighting multiple terrariums, linear fluorescent bulbs are the best bet. For housing a single carpet chameleon, a compact fluorescent light bulb is sufficient.
- For larger terrariums, mercury vapor bulbs make an excellent choice. Do mind, though, that these bulbs produce a whole lot of heat, so even though the bulbs also emit a wonderful amount of light and superb UV, they are only and strictly recommended for large terrariums.
- Make sure that the carpet chameleon will not be able to get in direct contact with the light bulbs, as this can result in nasty burns.
- For enclosures over 24 inches in height, a high-output T-5 fluorescent lighting unit will work great.
- In order to help your carpet chameleon pet thrive, keep humidity levels higher than 70% at all times. For this purpose, the enclosure must be misted/sprayed daily.
- Caregivers are further encouraged to use a humidifier to control humidity levels precisely and without much of a fuss, especially if one is to opt for a high-quality humidifier with auto shut-off. Only use distilled water to fill the humidifier, as this will help to prevent mineral buildup, which results in malfunction-related issues in the long run.
Carpet chameleons are almost entirely insectivorous. In the wild, these unique lizards are known to prefer feeding on insects that reside in shrubs and trees, such as crickets, different insect larvae, as well as flies.
In captivity, adult carpet chameleons will typically gladly take other very small lizards or newborn rodents.
The major part of a captive Furcifer laterilis diet should consist of the following:
- Various small insects
- Bean beetles
- Medium-sized crickets
Mature carpet chameleons should be fed every other day, with a suitable example feeding routine consisting of six gut-loaded, appropriately-sized insects per 1 meal. To select appropriately-sized insects to feed to your carpet chameleon, pick insects that are as long as the space between the lizard’s eyes. If it comes to mealworms, though, they can be a bit bigger than the length of the space between the eyes.
Feed young carpet chameleons as much as they will eat, usually about 12 insects every single day until the juvenile lizard is to mature.
It is highly recommended that the caregiver will feed live insects, allowing the prey to move freely within the enclosure so that the chameleon will have no other choice but to catch its meal. This way, keepers can ensure the lizard’s healthy activity, longevity, strength.
Even in the case that the keepers are not to feed live insects, it is strongly advisable not to place the meal in a feeding container. Due to chameleons’ tongues suction power, placing food in a feeding dish can result in possible tongue damage. Do not underestimate tongue damage, since in severe cases, it can lead to the carpet chameleon’s death.
Carpet chameleons hunt their food in the traditional chameleon style. By using their excellent eyesight to precisely spot their prey, they will first slowly creep through the branches. Next, the chameleon will get as close to the prey as feasible before finally quickly extending its tongue, and successfully seizing the prey.
Like other chameleons, carpet chameleons are to catch their prey by making use of their long tongues, sometimes as long as these lizards’ total body length, ending with a sticky tip.
As carpet chameleons are strictly diurnal, you will find them inactive during the night when they will be peacefully resting up in the branches.
- Carpet chameleons will not drink from a water dish, as the way they keep themselves hydrated is by taking water from the accumulated water droplets on the sides of the enclosure, and the plants within the enclosure. Provide water to your carpet chameleon two-three times every day by misting, spraying, or dripping the enclosure for a minute or so per session. Be careful and quiet, limiting any possible stress to the bare minimum.
- Although many caregivers report using tap water for misting purposes, using de-chlorinated water will work better to ensure the reptile’s well-being.
- Always make sure to diligently wet the plants within the enclosure, as well as the sides of the enclosure and the carpet chameleon’s body. The major goal of each misting/spraying/dripping routine is to thoroughly cover the sides of the terrarium, and the living plants alike, until water droplets are easily visible, yet NOT to let the soil become overly wet.
Development and Reproduction
Maturing at a fairly short period of time, carpet chameleons are usually ready to reproduce as soon as they reach three months of age. However, with some specimens, this period may take longer, primarily due to poor husbandry.
Since male carpet chameleons tend to be rather territorial, they are known to try attracting the females into their territory.
Female carpet chameleons are to deposit clutches of eggs into the soil by digging the soil to create a depression. Up to three clutches of eggs can be laid per year, with the clutch size usually ranging from 8 to up to 23.
The incubation period lasts for approximately 6 months. In order for the eggs to hatch, the temperature should be close to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to Breed
Being well-known as prolific breeders, carpet chameleons’ hatch rates are nonetheless high, with successful breeding possibly leading to about 20 eggs being deposited by the female every 6 to 8 weeks.
As a rule of thumb, male carpet chameleons are known to mate without any fuss, at virtually every mating chance they are given. However, the carpet chameleon ladies are more pretentious, so breeders should pay closer attention to the females in order to breed these amazing lizards in captivity.
Below are certain signs to watch out for, indicating that females are ready to mate.
- The females’ mating readiness shows by changes in body coloration. Females that are ready to mate will turn into visibly softer nuances of purple, pink, blue, or green. As soon as the breeder is to notice the change in the female’s body coloration, the female should be placed in the male’s enclosure as soon as possible.
- After placing the female within the male’s enclosure, keep track of the changes or lack of changes in body coloration. If the female turns into vibrant, dark colors and/or if she puffs, then she is not OK with the male, so it is best to remove her from the enclosure and try re-introducing her again a few days later. However, if the female is to stay in the soft-shaded colors mentioned above, then she is OK with the male.
- Even if the pair seems to enjoy each other’s company, it is the breeder’s responsibility to keep a close eye on the lizards at all times. If they become hostile, immediately separate them, as they can hurt each other severely.
With carpet chameleons, copulation usually lasts for about 30 minutes. It is often the case, though, that these lizards will breed several times over the course of several days.
As soon as the female is not receptive anymore, the pair should be separated, so that no fights are to occur.
The hardest part of breeding carpet chameleons is actually the egg-laying and hatching process. Always do your best research prior to attempting to breed these extraordinary creatures, or else, you may expose their health and well-being to damage, without ever managing to actually help the eggs successfully incubate and hatch.
During your very first breeding attempt, it is best to seek professional advice provided by an expert in breeding carpet chameleons.
As far as handling a carpet chameleon is concerned, some say that these creatures are super shy and very, very easily stressed (which is absolutely true), and so they should not be handled at all, but instead, much like fish, should be only a look-but-do-not-touch type of pets.
Indeed, handling can easily lead to stress, thus, affecting the lizard’s longevity and well-being adversely.
However, as with all animals, the individual temper and likings of each carpet chameleon are highly influenced by various internal, as well as external factors. With this in mind, some carpet chameleons are known to be somewhat tamer than others and to actually enjoy being shortly handled, if proper training and loads of patience are applied.
If you want to be able to handle your carpet chameleon without causing unwanted stress or any other damage to the reptile, it is crucial to start attempting hand-feeding from the first weeks after acquiring the lizard, but not any sooner before the creature has already become better used to its new enclosure.
Remember that handling is not what carpet chameleons desire anyway. Plenty of patience is key, as well as the utmost respect for the animal. Do never force the animal to come and feed on your hand. Introduce yourself gradually, one step at a time, and let the chameleon “tell” you whether it enjoys feeding on your hand, or not at all.
When approaching the chameleon during your first hand-feeding introduction attempts, you want to hide behind a plant or other suitable object before slowly getting the creature to feel more comfortable eating in front of you. Then stop and wait an extra day, do not be pushy. Apply patience, patience, and some more patience.
If your carpet chameleon starts hand-feeding, you can gently and carefully take it out for a short walk (think like a minute or so) to a sunny spot in the room only every once in a while. Do not overdo the whole thing, though. Handling should be very brief, careful, and always with a mind to the animal’s well-being, and not for your personal enjoyment.
Finally, do not hand-feed your carpet chameleon any more often than every once in a week or so.
How to Treat and Prevent Possible Health Issues
1. If you notice that a carpet chameleon is to keep its mouth open, this might be a sign that the animal is angry, too hot or victim to respiratory infection caused by trouble getting air or breathing properly.
2. Stress is a major topic in carpet chameleon husbandry since these creatures are very vulnerable to stress. Stress can lead to illness, and even to the death of the carpet chameleon. Do never overlook the detrimental effects of stress, as these effects kick in very slowly in the long term, so excess handling or any other practices that can stress the reptile should be brought to a bare minimum.
3. Overheating issues are common with carpet chameleons. If the caregiver is to notice that the chameleon is panting and/or has turned light green or yellow in color, it might be the case that there is not a suitable shady retreat within the enclosure and/or that the animal requires higher humidity.
To help a carpet chameleon recover in the case of overheating issues, place the lizard on a suitable structure, such as a plant, and shower it continually with lukewarm water for between 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
4. As soon as you purchase a carpet chameleon, it is highly recommended to get a fecal check, as well as a blood test for parasites. This is your safest bet in getting to know whether the reptile has parasites or not, even though reputable vendors should be able to provide a guarantee about the lizard’s health status, including the absence of parasites. When caught early, parasites can be treated and cured successfully.
Captive carpet chameleon can contract parasites at any time, basically from feeder insects. Because of this, an annual fecal check is highly recommended, regardless of whether or not the chameleon has been captive-bred or wild-caught.
Possible Dangers to Humans
Carpet chameleons can not do humans any significant harm since they are not poisonous and do not have the powerful bites that other reptiles are notorious for.
However, it is a must to always wash your hands carefully and thoroughly after getting in close contact with the carpet chameleon and/or feces, as all reptiles and amphibians alike, even though in rare cases, can transfer Salmonella bacteria to humans.
Availability: How to Get a Carpet Chameleon?
It is best to opt for a captive-bred carpet chameleon obtained from reputable vendors. Wild-caught Furcifer lateralis specimen often tend to arrive in poor health by the time they get to reach the local retail markets. Plus, it is always better to support captive breeding practices.
1. The carpet chameleon’s common name stems from the unique patterns and vivid body coloration displayed by gravid females, resembling an Oriental carpet. Being much more ornate than males, females carpet chameleons are often preferred by lizard owners.
2. The carpet chameleon is one of the tiniest of the “true” species of chameleons across the globe.
3. In areas where carpet chameleons are common in the wild, these creatures greatly help to control insect populations, thus, having positive economic importance for humans.
4. Unlike other animal species that have fallen and kept falling victims to the 6th Mass Extinction driven by humans, carpet chameleons are known to actually do fairly well in their native habitat up-to-date. Despite habitat alternation, these lizards seem to be benefitting, at least to some degree, by moving into urban areas and are not listed as threatened with extinction.
5. Even though most captive-bred carpet chameleons are known to reach about five inches in length on average, their size actually greatly depends not only on the sex of the lizard but also on the conditions present in their habitat.
How to Take Care of a Carpet Chameleon
1. If the caregiver is to notice the carpet chameleon is stressing for seemingly no obvious reason at all, for instance, by changing to unreceptive or gravid colors, by puffing and/or hissing, it might be the case that the lizard sees its own reflection. When they see other chameleons, carpet chameleons become very stressed, so it is a must that the keeper is to act in a quick and adequate manner.
2. In the case the humidity within the enclosure is to drop below 70%, which might be the case with carpet chameleon owners who happen to reside in drier regions, deep hydration is required on a weekly basis by applying the shower method described above for treating overheating issues.
3. Non-breeding carpet chameleons should be supplied with vitamins, minerals, and calcium with every third feeding. Mind with supplements, less is more, so only lightly dusting the food items is required, as the opposite can do more harm than any good.
4. Plug all lights into a timer. By doing so, you will be able to establish a light cycle that your carpet chameleon can follow, thus, keeping you company and bringing you joy for longer, since these creatures are extremely habitual. During the peak of the summer season, keep lights ON for 14 hours vs. 12 hours during spring and fall vs. 10 hours during the winter season.
5. Using hand misters to keep humidity within the optimal rates is totally fine. However, one of the best investments a carpet chameleon caregiver can make is none other but to opt for an automated misting system. Being effortless and convenient to regulate precisely, automated misting systems provide a very fine mist without disturbing the animals or causing any unnecessary stress.
6. The caregiver needs to wait until all the water droplets have evaporated from the enclosure, and the topmost layer of the leaf litter and soil has begun to dry out, before misting the enclosure again. For the purpose of sustaining proper humidity without getting the substrate overly wet, proper ventilation is a must. Ensure that the enclosure’s entire lid is the screen, or that two-three sides of the enclosure have ventilation openings.
7. Finding the proper misting regime for a carpet chameleon’s enclosure does take some time and practice. As long as the humidity remains relatively high, and the lizard is given the opportunity to drink water daily, it is fine for the enclosure to dry out for most of the days.
Are Carpet Chameleons Good Pets?
Yes, carpet chameleons make good, and in fact, wonderful pets for the right keeper. Carpet chameleons have a reputation for being short-lived, as well as very delicate species. However, these creatures can do great in captivity, as long as some basic care requirements, and loads of love and patience are applied by the owner.
Can Carpet Chameleons Live Together in Groups?
It is not recommendable to cohabitate carpet chameleons. Carpet chameleons do best when only a single one is housed within the enclosure, with the exception of breeding purposes. Only very experienced carpet chameleon caregivers with years of accumulated knowledge can potentially allow a group of carpet chameleons to live together but only in a fairly large terrarium.
Can Carpet Chameleons Recognize their Owner?
Similarly to any other conventional pet, carpet chameleons are capable of recognizing their owner, as these lizards’ memory has been examined and shown through research. However, even though carpet chameleons may learn to recognize their owner, these creatures are not really social, and will not display a wide array of emotions in a similar manner as dogs and cats can.
Do Carpet Chameleons Get Lonely?
Carpet chameleons are considered rather territorial, and nonetheless, solitary creatures. Because of this, carpet chameleons do not get lonely. In fact, it is quite the opposite, since captive carpet chameleons are known to do best and live longer when kept on their own, rather than in group settings with any other reptiles.
How to Handle a Carpet Chameleon?
Carpet chameleons can be very easily startled, with stress leading to nasty health issues in the long run, so handling should be done as rarely as possible, and with extreme caution. To handle a carpet chameleon properly, carefully and slowly approach the enclosure, making sure that the animal can see you coming closer. Speak very gently while you are approaching the enclosure, and as you lower your hand to carefully grab the lizard, make sure it can see it coming.
Are Carpet Chameleons Aggressive?
In general, it greatly depends on the caregiver’s attitude, whether a carpet chameleon is to become aggressive or docile, even though this also depends on the individual carpet chameleon, as well. In general, carpet chameleons are not aggressive animals, but instead, rather shy and timid. A carpet chameleon may attempt to walk away when the caregiver is to try to come close and/or pick it, however, the chameleon will not bite or hiss.
Are Carpet Chameleons Intelligent?
The carpet chameleon, similarly to other chameleons, is believed to be an extremely intelligent species of lizard. Due to their unique coloration, as well as because of their timid nature, carpet chameleons can make incredible pets.
How do Big Do Carpet Chameleons Get?
Carpet chameleons can grow from about four and up to ten inches in length on an average, depending on the subspecies of Furcifer lateralis the caregiver may choose to opt for. Also, apart from sex, the conditions in their habitat can greatly influence how big they get.
Are Carpet Chameleons Endangered?
No, carpet chameleons are not endangered up-to-date. The population of Furcifer lateralis is stable and ranked as Least Concern by the IUCN.