Owning Pet Veiled Chameleons in Our Homes from Mother Nature
Chameleons are very interesting pets. However, before buying one, there are many things that should be taken into consideration. Remember: buying a chameleon means taking on a long-term commitment. With life spans as high as 9 or 10 years (sometimes more), chameleons are definitely not, and should never be impulse purchases.They are amazing creatures, but sometimes are not the best choice as pets.
That is because they are not for the beginner and their requirements are quite specific, and they are easily stressed. One should learn the fundamentals of chameleon care as the minimum prerequisite before purchasing one.They do not like to be handled so pass this reptile by if you want to be able to handle your reptile.
When selecting a chameleon, it is without question best to find a captive bred one. Wild caught specimens are usually extremely stressed, carry a heavy parasite load, and difficult to acclimate to captive conditions. Chameleons are not the hardiest nor easiest reptile to keep and starting with a stressed pet will only make matters worse (especially the veiled species of chameleons). In addition, the capture and shipping of chameleons (which fortunately is being more tightly regulated) results in the death of many animals due to stress, dehydration or starvation – many more die in transit than make it to the pet store. (The same can be said for many exotic pet species.) Observe the chameleon – it should be bright and active, able to change colors, and have a well fleshed body.
Some experienced chameleon keepers recommend a male, especially for the beginner, as their nutritional needs are somewhat simpler and they seem a little more hardy. Being territorial and solitary animals, chameleons should be kept singly. In any case, two males should never be kept together as they will be very aggressive with each other.
The Habitat of a Pet Chameleon
The natural habits of chameleons make them tricky to care for – they are arboreal, living exclusively in trees. They are solitary, and easily stressed. As a result, they need a cage with ample foliage for climbing and privacy. The enclosure must be quite large – for the larger chameleons a minimum of 3 feet by 3 feet by 4 feet tall should be provided – but the more space the better. Ample ventilation is required, and a cage screened on three sides is best, with poly mesh or vinyl coated wire preferred to prevent injury due to toes becoming caught. You can also check out reptile magazine for an awesome monthly read sent to your home.
Lots of branches of various diameters need to be provided for climbing and the bulk of the cage space should be filled with branches or live foliage. Ensure that the plants are not toxic, as the chameleon may sample the foliage. Some enthusiasts recommend avoiding ficus plants as well. Substrate made up of small particles (gravel, sand, bark, moss) should be avoided to prevent the chameleon from accidentally eating it while catching prey.
Several basking areas of various temperatures must also be provided, ranging from the upper limit of the species temperature preference to the loser end of the range, to allow the chameleons to thermoregulate.