Meta Description: Chameleons make great pets, but they have very specific care needs. So read this article to find out if you should get a chameleon for a pet.
Chameleons are territorial pets who should be kept solitary. They are known to live for three to ten years in captivity. Chameleons get stressed fairly easily and have very specific care needs, making them not the ideal choice for the beginner herpetologist. The fact that chameleons can change their color does make them very popular as pets, though.
Temperament and Behavior
Younger chameleons have a restricted ability to change colors and are usually a dull brown/gray color. At about five months old, they reach adulthood and also develop the ability to change their color to a more varied range, such as turquoise, green, and black. Being able to change colors helps the chameleons in a variety of ways, including being able to communicate with one another, regulate their temperature, and also improve their camouflage.
A chameleon is prompted to change its color when it comes into another chameleon’s presence when it is excited or stressed or when there is a change in lighting or temperature, among other things.
A brighter color on the chameleon shows that it is in a good mood, while the dark black to brown color indicates that the chameleon is stressed. The tongue of the chameleon can be 1.5 times the length of its body, and it is used to catch prey, even from a distance. Chameleons mostly eat insects, while vegetables and small invertebrates are also popular choices.
Chameleons spend most of their lives on tree branches. Their feet have three toes that point in one direction and two toes that point in the opposite direction, giving them a good grip on the branches of the trees. Their eyes rotate like turrets while moving independently. These globular eyes allow them to scan a particularly wide radius when on the lookout for predators or food.
Insects are the most common food for a chameleon as they do best when they are provided with a diet that consists of a variety of insects. Superworms, mealworms, crickets, wax moths, wax worms, and roaches are the more common insects to include in their diet. You can check out TopFlight Dubia Roaches if you are looking for nutritious insects online for your pet chameleon.
The insects that will be used as prey food need to be dusted with a calcium supplement and gut-loaded using calcium before you feed them to your chameleon. Chameleons also eat leafy greens and a few vegetables occasionally, so you can also offer this. Just be careful to avoid lettuce, spinach, and cabbage.
Chameleons do not drink water out of a dish as they get their water from the droplets on leaves. To ensure adequate water intake, you must arrange for the enclosure to be misted or have a drip system.
You can arrange a drip system by placing ice cubes on the top of the cage and letting them melt slowly and drip inside, or by placing a water container with a pinhole attached at the top of the cage. The dripping location needs to be consistent so the chameleon does not get confused as to where to find the water source.
Creating a Habitat for Your Pet Chameleon
Chameleons have a habitat that makes caring for them slightly tricky. Chameleons live mostly on trees as they are arboreal. This is why you need to make the enclosure large enough so they can climb up the foliage and have ample privacy. You should aim for having as much space possible, but at least have a cage that measures three feet by three feet by four feet in height for the larger chameleons.
You also need to ensure adequate ventilation and screen the cage on all three sides with wires that are coated with vinyl or mesh so that their toes are protected from injuries.
You need to fill most of the space inside the cage with branches and foliage so the chameleon has ample opportunity to climb around. Chameleons are sometimes known to eat the foliage, so make sure that the plants are not toxic. If the substrate is made of gravel, moss, sand, bark, or other small particles, the risk remains that the chameleon might accidentally ingest some while catching prey. So avoid that as much as possible. You also need to provide several basking areas.
Chameleons need to be exposed to UVA and UVB rays to stay healthy and maintain some physical functions. To arrange to expose your pet chameleon UVA and UVB rays by installing lamps inside their cage.
You must also ensure that you read the manufacturer’s notes carefully and follow them accurately while using the lamps so there are no accidental cases of thermal burning for your pet chameleon. It is also required for the chameleon’s healthy and happy life that you allow some natural sunlight to pass through an open window.
If chameleons don’t receive the proper nutrition, they will suffer from vitamin A and calcium deficiencies. Another common infection that chameleons face is mouth rot or stomatitis. This infection causes redness around the mouth, along with drooling. Metabolic bone disease is another common health issue among chameleons. Suffering from this disease causes their bones to get spongy, resulting in them losing their appetite and appearing lethargic.
This condition can be fatal if not treated appropriately. If your pet chameleon seems to be stressed or ill, get it checked out by a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles. It is also best to not try any home remedies to treat the chameleon’s health issues unless a vet has been consulted.
Having a chameleon as a pet can be very enjoyable, provided you are aware of its care guidelines and can provide the required care to keep it healthy and happy. Be informed of all the things that you will be required to do to take proper care of it in advance and only then make the decision to bring a pet chameleon home. Best of luck!
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