Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Chameleons (family Chamaeleonidae) are a distinctive and highly specialized clade of lizards. They are distinguished by their parrot-like zygodactylous feet, their separately mobile and stereoscopic eyes, their very long, highly modified, and rapidly extrudable tongues, their swaying gait, the possession by many of a prehensile tail, crests or horns on their distinctively shaped heads, and the ability of some to change color. Uniquely adapted for climbing and visual hunting, the approximately 160 species of chameleon range from Africa, Madagascar, Spain and Portugal, across south Asia, to Sri Lanka, have been introduced to Hawaii, California and Florida, and are found in warm habitats that vary from rain forest to desert conditions.

Chameleons can do well in captivity but their very specific, generally unforgiving, care requirements place them on our list of lizards best kept for more advanced handlers. Chameleons available in pet stores are often wild caught and difficult to care for, carrying a variety of parasites and diseases. Captive bred animals are a must.

Though chameleons are beautiful, they are best not being handled unless it is an absolutely necessary as they are easily stressed or hurt. They need very high humidity and a specially set up terrarium with natural or fake plants and ideally with an automatic misting system. Chameleons can make wonderful, fascinating pets but they require much more research, commitment and care than many other lizard species.

Scientific name : Chamaeleonidae

Common name : Chameleon

Housing Size : Variable as per species

Housing Type : tropical and mountain rain forests, savannas and sometimes deserts and steppes

Adult Size : Variable

Level Of Difficulty : Difficult

Life Span : Up to 5 years

Diet : Insectivores, small birds

Common pet chameleons

1. Veiled Chameleon

- Scientific name : Chamaeleo calyptratus
- Size (male) : 14'' - 24''
- Size (female) : 10'' - 13''
- Color : Green & Light Colors
- Life span : Up to 5 years

2. Jackson's Chameleon

- Scientific name : Chamaeleo jacksonii
- Size (male) : 9'' - 13''
- Size (female) : 10'' - 13''
- Color : Green & Light Colors
- Life span : Up to 5 - 10 years

3. Panther Chameleon

- Scientific name : Furcifer pardalis
- Size (male) : 15'' - 21''
- Size (female) : 9'' - 13''
- Color : Darker Colors
- Life span : Up to 5 years (2-3 for birthing females)

4. Bearded Pygmy Chameleon

- Scientific name : Rhampholeon brevicaudatus
- Size (male) : 2'' - 3''
- Size (female) : 2'' - 3''
- Color : Brown, Beige, Green
- Life span :Up to 3 - 5 years

5. Spectral Pygmy Chameleon

- Scientific name : Rhampholeon spectrum
- Size (male) : 3'' - 4''
- Size (female) : 2'' - 4''
- Color : Tan & Gray
- Life span :Unknown

6. Pygmy Chameleon

- Scientific name : Rhampholeon temporalis
- Size (male) : 2.5'' - 4''
- Size (female) : 2'' - 3.5''
- Color : Gray & Brown
- Life span :Unknown


Glass aquariums can lead to respiratory diseases due to the stagnant air not being circulated, and they will be stressed if they can see their reflection. These Chameleons also need a large enclosure to climb around in; and smaller enclosures will stress them. A 3' x 3' x 3' habitat is best, but larger is better. Offer lots of vines to walk on and leaves to climb. Try to place some foliage between the outside and the Chameleon, as the activity in the room can stress them. For the bottom, use either a reptile carpet, or a digestible forest substrate from your local pet store. In the summer months, you should bring your Chameleon outside. The sun provides natural vitamins for them that they can not get otherwise. To help keep stress to a minimum, place the Chameleon in a wire cage (a bird cage works great), with places to walk and climb.

Food & Water

You want to offer your Chameleon a wide range of foods, to provide a varied diet. Crickets are the staple food and should make up most of their diet. You should also feed them mealworms, silkworms, butterworms, waxworms and superworms. Waxworms are very high in fat so limit this feeder insect. Chameleon will even eat earthworms. Not all Veiled Chameleons will eat the same insects, so try different ones to find out which ones your pet likes. Some Veileds will eat plant matter, so offer some lettuce greens, spinach and other green leave vegetables. It is imperative to offer a calcium supplement with the food. Calcium aids in the growth of their bones, and without it they will be weak and in pain. Dust the insects with a powdered calcium supplement every second feeding while they are young, and 2 - 3 times a week for adults. You should switch to a multivitamin supplement when they are around 6 - 8 months old. Make sure this multivitamin supplement contains calcium.

Lighting, Temperature & Humidity

During the day it is important to offer lighting which creates a heat gradient of 80 degress F to 95 degrees F. The Chameleon will find its own comfort level by basking at different levels within the habitat. Do not use heating pads at the bottom, as this can seriously burn your pet. Chameleon's heat-sensors are on their backs, not their stomachs. At night, the lights should be turned off. You can also use a night time bulb, which creates the illusion of a tropical nightime atmosphere. The heat gradient at night should be from 70 degrees F to 85 degrees F.

Humidity should be kept to a minimum for Veiled Chameleons.

Flourescent lighting should be offered to provide the Chameleon with needed UVB rays. Specialty UVB bulbs can also be purchased from your local pet store. A broad-spectrum heat bulb should also be used at the top. At night time, use a night blub, either a blue or red light, which still offers the Chameleon a heat source.

Article source :

Veiled Chameleon

Jackson's Chameleon

Panther Chameleon

Bearded Pygmy Chameleon

Spectral Pygmy Chameleon

Pygmy Chameleon