At Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital one of the most common reptiles we see is Chameleons. They are very special and have very different needs than cats or dogs. They, in particular, have special requirements for caring and housing. In Alberta, it’s very hard to keep temperature and humidity accurate in cold winters. Here are some tips for housing and feeding your Chameleon to help keep them warm and happy!
- Chameleons need two forms of light for approximately 12 hours a day. First, they need a light that will serve as a heat source, so they can bask and regulate their body temperature. Heat rocks, heat tape, ceramic heat emitters and other similar heating devices will not provide chameleons with a heat source they will recognize, so it is important to provide them with a basking spot using a heat bulb and an incandescent fixture.
- Secondly, they need lighting that will provide Ultra Violet B (UVB,) to ensure proper Vitamin D absorption and avoid conditions such as Calcium Deficiency. Use a full-spectrum fluorescent tube. Keep in mind that UVB rays are filtered out by a glass, so place the full-spectrum light on top of the screen top of the enclosure, with the closest perches positioned approximately 6 to 8 inches beneath it.
- The best ambient temperature for chameleons during the day is room temperature, between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. By placing the heat bulb approximately 6 to 8 inches above a perch inside the enclosure, a basking spot of approximately 85 to 95 degrees should be achieved. This results in the warmest temperatures directly under the heat bulb and cooler temps lower down in the enclosure, so your chameleon can position itself wherever it feels most comfortable.
- They drink water from morning dew and rain that has fallen onto leaves, so it is important to mist your chameleon enclosure with a spray bottle twice a day for approximately two minutes, including all the leaves and branches in the enclosure. Your chameleon will lap water up from the leaves. You can also purchase a drip system, which will allow water to slowly drip out of a water container over a period of time, spattering onto the leaves below.
- Nutrition is very important to chameleons. “Gut Loading” the crickets is very important, feeding them before your chameleon eats them is important. Feeding the crickets a commercial supplement or items such as carrots/potatoes/dog kibble/lettuce/squash/oranges. Dusting juveniles daily with a vitamin supplement, then decreasing to 3-4 times a week from 6 months of age on through adult hood. A multivitamin supplement powder is the best for chameleons throughout their lives.
If you are thinking of adopting a reptile it is a good idea to call Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital and one of our team members would gladly assist you. Reptiles are unique creatures and they deserve the best love and care as any other family pet would.
Written by Taylor, RVT