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Veiled Chameleon Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Veiled Chameleon
Scientific Name:Chamaeleocalyptratus
Life Span:5 to 8 years
Size:From 4 inches (hatchlings) to 2 feet (adults)
Habitat:Grasslands
Country of Origin:Middle East (Saudi Arabia and Yemen)

Physical Description

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What typically describes the appearance of a common Veiled Chameleon is the casque or the helmet-like head that protrudes upwards in a cone-like shape. This helmet-like structure is found on the top of their heads and gives the Veiled Chameleon seem like it has a crown of sorts. The main purpose of this casque is to steer water that falls on their head so that it goes directly to their mouth.

While some Veiled Chameleons have patterns that vary, what is common among them is that their bodies are usually color green but are banded with different colors as well depending on where they come from. There are some that are plainly green in color. Meanwhile, other Veiled Chameleons tend to have bands that are yellow or brown in color to make it easier for them to blend in with their surroundings. Such colors vary in terms of shades.

Veiled Chameleons have tiny spines that line their backs all the way down to their tail. These spines are so tiny and are almost hair-like in appearance instead of looking and feeling like actual spines. They also have similar tiny spike-like structures that line from their chins all the way down to their bellies. 

The body of a Veiled Chameleon is typically large and stout. Meanwhile, they have limbs that are quite skinny in proportion to their body. This reptile’s tail also seems to be skinny as well and maybe just as long or a bit longer than its body. It is common for a Veiled Chameleon to curl its tail down. Its tail improves its balance by acting as a fifth leg and or by helping it hang on to branches.

Veiled Chameleons have large circular eyes that allow them to see their surroundings in a 180-degree angle without having to turn their heads or even move their bodies. These eyes can look in two different directions at the same time.

The tongue of a Veiled Chameleon is so long that it can potentially extend more than twice the length of its body. However, the tongue is also extra fragile that it can actually get sprained when it hits a solid surface a bit too hard. This makes feeding this reptile somewhat tricky.

Gender plays a big role in determining the size of a Veiled Chameleon. Males are usually the bigger ones and are mostly somewhere between a foot and a half to 2 feet in terms of length. The females are drastically smaller and have an average length of about afoot. Meanwhile, neither male nor female is pretty heavy. They mostly weight somewhere between 3 to 6 ounces and are generally light species of reptiles. 

Male Veiled Chameleons have casques that are higher and bigger than the females. The heels on their hind legs also have spurs that females do not have. Males also tend to have different sets of colors on their bands, which usually are yellow or light gold. Females, on the other hand, have patterns that are more or less close to white in terms of color.

Types

There are two main types of subspecies of Veiled Chameleons. The first is C. c. calyptratus and the second is  C. c. calcarifer. While there are not a lot of differences between these two types of Veiled Chameleons, the most prominent one is the size of their casque or the helmets at the top of their head. 

Lifespan 

The Veiled Chameleon typically has a short lifespan compared to other reptile species. It usually lives an average of 5 to 8 years. Most pet owners tend to have Veiled Chameleons that only live an average of 5 years. But, with proper handling, care, and diet, some of these reptiles can reach 8 or so years. 

Breeding and sex make a big difference in the lifespan of a Veiled Chameleon. For example, male Veiled Chameleons are expected to have a lifespan of about 6 to 8 years. They generally live longer than females. Meanwhile, the female Veiled Chameleon has shorter a shorter lifespan because it takes a lot of energy for them to continue to produce eggs indefinitely. Female Veiled Chameleons are a lot like chickens in the sense that they will still produce an infertile batch of eggs. This puts a lot of strain on their bodies and will eventually wear them down. As such, female Veiled Chameleons tend to live an average of about 5 years or somewhere between 4 to 6 years.

Eating Habits

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Veiled Chameleons are mostly carnivores in the sense that their diet is regularly composed of insects. However, these reptiles are also omnivores because they also rely on vegetation to supplement their diet. That means that a healthy Veiled Chameleon should have a balanced diet that is composed of regular protein from insects and other nourishing vitamins and minerals from vegetation.

Veiled Chameleons usually eat for their protein are insects that are not necessarily tiny. As long as the insects are at most the size of its head, the Veiled Chameleon will eat it. That said, they usually like hunting for their food on their own by extending their tongue out to an insect. However, it also does not hurt to provide them with their food without the need for them to hunt. As such, it is perfectly alright to give them a tray of dead insects that were already cut up so as to save them the trouble.

Veiled Chameleons love crickets, cockroaches, and worms. When feeding them worms, you may want to go for mealworms, silkworms, or earthworms that have already been cut up. When you want to feed them cockroaches, you can opt for the Madagascar hissing cockroach.

When feeding your Veiled Chameleons with insects, the best way to provide them with a lot of nourishment is to gut load the insects or to feed them with a high-calcium diet to decrease the levels of phosphorous naturally found in them. To do this, provide the insects with food that is high in calcium and vitamin A for a period of about 24 hours before feeding them to your Veiled Chameleons. You can also give the crickets chicken feed to increase their calcium levels. After that, you can safely offer them to your reptiles.

While it is alright to provide your Veiled Chameleon with dead food, it is better to provide them with live insects placed in a plastic cup. It is okay for the insects to roam around the enclosure because there is little to no chance for them to escape due to the reptile’s quick reflexes and ability to extend its tongue long enough to prevent a cricket or two from escaping. 

Hatchlings and juvenile Veiled Chameleons should be provided with enough food. They should have a regular source for their meals and should be fed about once or twice a day depending on the quantity you provide them. This allows them to obtain the necessary nourishment they need to grow quickly and healthily into thriving adult Veiled Chameleons.

Mature Veiled Chameleons no longer need to be fed regularly. They can do well being fed only every other day. You should also take note that adults are prone to overeating. In that sense, you should very well monitor how many insects you feed them and make sure that they do not get to eat more than what they need to.

When feeding your Veiled Chameleon with vegetables, go for the ones that they naturally see in the wild. Try to give them small bits of carrots or broccoli or even spinach. In some cases, you can even feed them with fruits but not in large quantities. It is also okay to feed them with spinach or pesticide-free hibiscus. Keeping a hibiscus plant in the enclosure is also a good idea because it not only acts as a food source but is also a good decoration.

Sleeping Habits

Baby Veiled Chameleons really sleep a lot and can spend more than half a day sleeping. During the winters, they can even sleep about 14 hours in an entire day. As they get older, they will lessen their sleeping time but will usually spend 12 hours sleeping regardless of whether they need to do so or not. As long as the lights off, Veiled Chameleons will most likely find a reason to sleep. So if you want to decrease their sleeping time a bit, you may need to alter their light schedule.

Veiled Chameleons love sleeping on branches in the wild. As such, you may want to decorate their enclosure with tree-like objects that will allow them to perch. Hatchlings or babies usually love sleeping on branches under leaves to make it more difficult for predators to see them. Also, when they are perched on a branch, a slight touch can make the Veiled Chameleon fall off easily as a form of defense mechanism against predators.

Water

The unique thing about Veiled Chameleons is that they do not like drinking from bowls or direct water sources such as pools. Instead, they would much rather drink water when it falls off a leaf. In some cases, these reptiles get their water from the vegetation they eat. What all of that means is that there is no need for you to provide your Veiled Chameleon with an actual water dish. This is something quite unique or rare when compared to other types of pet reptiles.

One of the best ways to provide your Veiled Chameleon with the water it needs is to mist their enclosure with a water spray regularly so that they can catch water off of the leaves in their enclosure. Do this regularly and for about 4 to 5 times a day. You can also provide them with a dripping system that can regularly supply them with water so that there is no need for you to go through the hassle of constantly misting their enclosure. 

A good thing about this is that it dispenses the need for you to provide them with a water dish that needs to be cleaned out and disinfected regularly. It might be a hassle for you to mist the enclosure regularly or to use a dripping system but you can be sure that the water you provide them stays clean and fresh compared to the water you provide your other reptiles through bowls or dishes that easily get contaminated.

Development and Reproduction

As mentioned, there are plenty of physical differences that would differentiate a male Veiled Chameleon from a female one. First off, males tend to be larger and have spurred at heels of their hind legs. The male Veiled Chameleons also have larger casques, which they can use to attract females by impressing them with the size of their casque. Males also have different color patterns in the bands all over their body compared to females.

Veiled Chameleons usually reach sexual maturity in about half a year even before when they are fully developed. However, there have been cases when females were already sexually mature when they were already 4 months old. Most breeders would opt to keep the females away from the males for about a year even though they were already sexually mature when they were 4 to 6 months old. This is because there have been a lot of cases where early breeding has caused early deaths in females because of how their bodies find it difficult to lay eggs compared to the older females.

How to Breed

Before breeding, make sure that you provide your female Veiled Chameleon with a lot of nourishment. It should be well-fed but not to the point of obesity. Having a female of about 4 ounces should be enough for breeding. Females are receptive for breeding once every 10 to 15 days. Males can tell that the female is receptive because of how the female has blue spots lining her back. In some cases, receptive females have blue streaks on her casque to show that she is unmated and is willing to mate.

Having a large enclosure is important to breeding Veiled Chameleons. Make sure that the airflow is good in the setup and that the conditions are not too humid. In some cases, these reptiles breed better at nighttime temperatures of about 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure that the enclosure has several perches that will allow the chameleons to feel like it is a natural habitat. 

Veiled Chameleons are very territorial reptiles that should be kept away from one another at all times except during breeding. As such, when you introduce a male to a female, it is best to keep your eyes on the pair at all times to check if one is aggressive with one another. You should focus on the female to see if it is receptive to the male’s advances. If it is, she will clearly allow the male to copulate with her. This may happen a few times before the female starts changing her color, which is an indication that she is pregnant and that she is no longer receptive to breeding. When the male gets the signal, he will start to keep away from the female. You may want to separate the two at this point because of their nature as territorial reptiles.

Common Health Problems

Veiled Chameleons already have a short lifespan of about 5 to 8 years even when they are taken care of properly. This means that any sort of illness or disease can potentially become a very big threat that could very well shorten this reptile’s lifespan. As such, if you own a Veiled Chameleon, it is crucial for you to know such illnesses and the ways to prevent or treat them so that you can maximize your reptile’s lifespan.

Respiratory diseases

Like any common pet reptile, Veiled Chameleons are prone to respiratory infections and diseases caused by poor habitat conditions. If their enclosures are too cold or too damp for their kind to live in, there is a really large chance that your Veiled Chameleon will easily suffer from respiratory diseases.

Symptoms of respiratory infection include wheezing, lethargy, difficulty in breathing, and mucus. In some cases, it can lead to poor appetite, which can affect the reptile’s overall health. 

Parasitic infections

Parasitic infections are also quite common when it comes to domesticated or captive reptiles. In the case of a Veiled Chameleon, parasitic infections usually lead to gastro-intestinal diseases that can cause a lot of complications in your reptile’s health. Some symptoms of gastrointestinal disease caused by parasitic infections are runny stool, poor appetite, and lethargy.

These parasites can be contracted through food or poor hygiene in their enclosure. Meanwhile, those caught in captivity usually have parasites in them but have strong immune systems that prevent such parasites from taking over the entire reptile’s system. However, due to transport and other stressful conditions when taken into captivity, the Veiled Chameleon’s immune system weakens and allows the parasites to propagate. 

Kidney failure and Gout

Kidney failure is one of the causes of death for a lot of Veiled Chameleons in captivity. This is a really tricky illness because it can be caused by two things: dehydration and medication. Dehydration is easy to avoid so long as you keep misting your reptile’s enclosure and providing them with ample water for hydration. However, kidney failure induced by medication can be quite difficult to avoid because there are veterinarian-prescribed antibiotics that are useful in treating other types of illnesses but can be difficult for the animal’s kidneys to process.

Metabolic bone disease

Metabolic bone disease is another common illness that can be found in most reptiles. It is usually the result of a poor diet or nutrition wherein they do not get enough calcium or vitamin D in relation to their phosphorous intake. In some cases, it can be caused by poor UVB lighting, which is essential to most reptile species’ health. This can be very dangerous to your Veiled Chameleons health because of how it causes poor bone density and muscle weakness, which could both cause deformities or bone fractures.

Preventing Illness

One of the best ways to prevent illnesses in your Veiled Chameleon is to make sure that they stay in an enclosure that is hygienic and clean. Always clean their habitat on a regular basis to avoid the buildup of harmful bacteria that can cause different types of infections. Knowing the conditions that your reptile needs to thrive well is also a must if you want to avoid respiratory issues that are caused by cold and damp living conditions. Meanwhile, supplying your Veiled Chameleon with a good UVB light as well as calcium-rich food by gut loading their insects is essential in avoiding metabolic bone disease since this counteracts the phosphorous naturally found in their regular diet. 

In any other case, the best way to really know how to avoid illnesses is to take your Veiled Chameleon to a vet that specializes or at least knows how to treat reptiles. That way, you can have the doctor check your reptile for any issues that can potentially harm their health in the long run.

Behavior

While it may be true that Veiled Chameleons are really good to look at, what is equally true is that these reptiles do not like being handled and are very territorial as well as unreceptive to humans. They are aggressive reptiles regardless of whether or not they were born in captivity. As such, you should respect their temperament and make sure to avoid handling them as much as possible to avoid injuries on both sides.

In any other case, here are some things that Veiled Chameleons commonly do:

Tree-dwelling

By nature, Veiled Chameleons are tree-dwellers that love to perch on branches and leaves of trees or of any similar object. That means that they do not like staying on the ground. In that case, it is best on your part to provide them with something to perch on in their enclosure. It is best that you choose trees that have large leaves because they also like hiding underneath leaves.

Changing colors

Veiled chameleons can easily change the color of their skin depending on different conditions. Such conditions include temperature and mood. In the case of females, they will change their color if they are receptive to mating. Meanwhile, mated Veiled Chameleons also have colors that would tell males to back off.

Stress

Handling Veiled Chameleons puts them in a very stressed state that can cause them to become aggressive towards you. These reptiles do not handle stress very well and will very much also attack you regardless of whether or not you have aggressive tendencies towards them. As such, it is best in your case to avoid touching or carrying these reptiles because of their temperament. You can even go on to say that Veiled Chameleons are mere eye candies that can add a touch of flair to a certain environment because these pets do not like the normal pet-like treatment that other captive reptiles enjoy quite a bit.

Hibernation Cycle

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Veiled Chameleons do not undergo the normal hibernation cycle that most other reptiles do. In fact, they do not even hibernate in general. Even during the winter season, they may not be as active as they usually are throughout the whole year but the cold weather does not cause them to hibernate. That means that you should very well keep temperatures up regardless of the season to make sure that your Veiled Chameleon does not fall into a deep state of lethargy.

Similar to their decreased activity level during the winter, it is also common to see them going through a period of decreased feeding during the colder seasons. Do not fret or worry too much because everything will eventually return to normal after the winter season or so long as you keep the temperature in their enclosure steady and consistent. 

Shedding

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Reptiles commonly shed their skin to renew. For younger Veiled Chameleons, the act of shedding is very normal because they are constantly growing and will need new skin to accommodate their growing bodies. As such, these young reptiles will often shed every few weeks or so but will eventually slow down once they get to their mature size. Adult Veiled Chameleons shed only once every two months. It is common for these reptiles to try to scrape the skin off on rough surfaces such as branches.

Once you notice that the skin becomes dull and loose, that is when you will know that it is time for these reptiles to shed. There will be moments when your Veiled Chameleon refuses to eat during its shedding period. That should not be a major cause of concern for you.

Low humidity levels can cause the shedding to slow down, which will irritate your reptile. As such, always make sure to keep their bodies hydrated enough by providing them with a lot of moisture in the air so as to not make shedding difficult for them. You will know that there is something wrong in their living conditions when it takes three days for your Veiled Chameleons to shed their skin.

Habitat

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Veiled Chameleons are natural tree climbers that love to perch on branches and on other high surfaces as a means of defending themselves against possible threats on the ground. In that case, make sure to provide them with an enclosure that is tall or high instead of wide. This allows them to be able to get a lot of exercise by climbing branches or trees. You will also be providing your reptiles with a ton of exercise this way.

In relation to that, it is also best to keep a lot of tall plants or small trees in the Veiled Chameleon’s habitat. It is advised to keep this part dense with greenery so as to mimic the reptile’s natural habitat. Also, see to it that the plants you use are non-toxic because Veiled Chameleons naturally hydrate themselves by catching water falling from the leaves of trees. There are also times when they eat the leaves of trees for extra nutrition. Keep the cage clean at all times to prevent all sorts of different infections or mold, which is the result of too much humidity.  

Lighting and Humidity

When it comes to lighting, Veiled Chameleons prefer to stay active during the daytime. They prefer to sleep during the nighttime. In that sense, give them an environment that can provide them with ample daytime lighting for about half a day. Use an ultraviolet B light to provide them with the B vitamins they need to thrive well and healthily. However, you should also use a heating lam like an incandescent bulb to provide them with the heat they need in their basking area.

In terms of humidity, make sure that you keep their enclosure quite humid. It is best to keep the humidity levels of about 50% but not more than what is necessary to avoid molds from building up and to prevent common respiratory infections such as colds. The best way to keep the humidity levels up is to regularly mist the enclosure. These reptiles hardly drink water from dishes or bowls. That means that using water dishes should be out of the question. As such, you should best use a misting system or a dripping system to keep the environment humid and to prevent external and internal dehydration.

Temperature

Veiled Chameleons, like most reptiles, thrive in environments that are quite hot because these animals rely on the external temperature to keep their cold-blooded bodies warm both internally and externally. That means that it is best to keep their enclosure quite hot. They prefer to be in an environment that has normal temperatures of about 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a UVB light to provide them with this temperature. However, give them a hot basking area with temperatures of about 85 to 95 degrees. To do this, it is ideal to use a heating lamp such as an incandescent bulb. Place the lights at a distance of about a foot away from the highest point that your reptile can climb to.

At night, it is alright for the temperatures to fall to about 65 to 70 degrees. You do not have to keep the temperatures up so long as it does not get too cold for your Veiled Chameleon. However, during the cooler periods such as winter, you may want to keep the heat up to normal conditions so as to prevent any illnesses associated with the cold weather.

Sanitation

Sanitation is very important when it comes to your Veiled Chameleon’s habitat or enclosure because there are a lot of illnesses they can contract due to poor hygiene. That means that it is vital for you to keep their housing clean by regularly removing any fecal matter and by cleaning out mold buildup. And for shedding purposes, you may want to keep a shed box handy so that your reptile can have a place they can use to shed their old skin off.

Natural Environment – Substrate

Using a substrate that can mimic the ideal conditions in the wild is essential for giving your Veiled Chameleon an enclosure that is as close to natural as possible. You can line the cage with paper towels or with newspaper. On top of that, you can place reptile dirt or soil. The substrate does not have to be too deep because Veiled Chameleons are not natural diggers.

Avoid using wood chips or any other similar type of substrate because there is a danger or a risk involved in it in the sense that your reptile can accidentally ingest it. This can cause blockages in their internal system and can potentially harm their health in the long run.

Hydration

Veiled Chameleons are not heavy water drinkers but that does not mean that you can disregard their hydration. They do not like drinking water out of a pool or a water dish. Instead, they love drinking water falling off leaves. Misting the enclosure is vital in this case so that there will be water falling off the leaves. You can also opt for a dripping system instead because of how it can be too much of a hassle misting the enclosure 4 to 5 times daily.

Availability – Where to Get One?

Veiled Chameleons are actually very common pet reptiles that can easily be found in a lot of pet stores. Even stores that do not specialize in reptiles and on different types of exotic animals will sometimes sell Veiled Chameleons. But, if you want to make things easier on your part, it might be best to look for these reptiles online and from trusted and reputable breeders.

How to Care for a Veiled Chameleon?

Here are some tips on how to care for a Veiled Chameleon:

  • Veiled Chameleons do not like getting handled. These reptiles are not receptive to physical care from humans and are quite defensive. At times, Veiled Chameleons can be quite aggressive. That means that it is not advisable for you to handle these reptiles. It might be best to just look at them.
  • Go for a reliable water drip system or on a good misting system to provide your Veiled Chameleon with water because these reptiles do not like drinking from a dish. This allows them to stay hydrated internally and externally.
  • Feed your Veiled Chameleons with gut-fed crickets or insects to provide them with the calcium they need to normalize their calcium to phosphorous ratio. This helps prevent metabolic bone disease that is the result of relying on a diet that is mostly composed of insects, which are naturally rich in phosphorous.

FAQ Section

How big should Veiled Chameleon enclosures be?

Veiled Chameleons prefer enclosures that are high or tall instead of wide. In that case, go for an enclosure that is about 3 to 4 feet in height and 2 to 3 feet wide.

Do Veiled Chameleons need light at night?

They generally do not need light at night because Veiled Chameleons prefer a drop of temperatures at night. It is also preferred to give them only 12 hours of light a day.

How often should you feed your Veiled Chameleon?

It depends on how old your Veiled Chameleon is. The younger types of these reptiles love to eat and should regularly be fed while the older and more mature ones need to be fed every other day.

Can you feed Veiled Chameleons with vegetables?

Yes, you can. Even though these reptiles are primarily carnivores, Veiled Chameleons thrive well as omnivores by eating vegetation and other types of greens.

Can you handle Veiled Chameleons?

Of course, you can but it is not advised for you to handle them because Veiled Chameleons are pretty defensive creatures that can get aggressive when you try to touch or carry them. That means that you better not try to handle them if you want to make sure that both sides stay clear from any possible injuries.

How long do Veiled Chameleons sleep?

Veiled Chameleons are active during the day. At night, they usually spend 12 hours of sleep.

Is it okay to put two Veiled Chameleons together?

Generally, you should not do this because Veiled Chameleons are very territorial reptiles. That means that putting two males together can be disastrous while putting a male or a female together in the same enclosure will not always yield positive results.

How many days can a Veiled Chameleon go without eating?

While adult Veiled Chameleons should not be fed regularly, it is still important for you to make sure that they are well fed by providing them with food every other day. They can go without eating for only two or three days.

Do Veiled Chameleons hibernate?

Veiled Chameleons do not hibernate and can still function well during the cold seasons although their activity levels will drop. During fall or winter, keep the temperatures up over 70 degrees to make sure that they stay healthy and thriving even when it gets cold.

How long can a Veiled Chameleon live?

It depends on their gender. Male Veiled Chameleons can live up to 8 years while the females, due to the stress of constantly laying eggs whether fertile or not, will only live for about 4 or 5 years.

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