How to care for a chameleon


Because large quantities of imported chameleons captured in nature, especially from Madagascar and South Africa, one might think that chameleons They are abundant animals in our terrariums. This is certainly not the case. Anyone who knows the difficulties associated with caring for chameleons You can imagine how many of the imported animals manage to survive for a long time after arriving at the importer's facilities, and how many more survive in the hands of the normal buyer. These are very territorial animals that cannot live in company, or stress will kill them. Almost all the chameleons they have parasites, which multiply dramatically in animals that have weakened during transport and that can be another cause of mortality. The fan who buys a chameleon In such an unfortunate state you will have very little chance of keeping him alive for more than one or two months. Thus was born the legend of how difficult it is to properly care for chameleons.

The terrarium

The ideal location of a terrarium for most of the chameleons It should be a place exposed to direct sunlight only during the morning or evening hours. The chameleons They are very susceptible to excess temperature. Even more, in the case of chameleons ground, the terrarium must be installed so that it never receives direct sunlight. The rooms facing south are only conditionally suitable for having mountain species, because in summer the temperatures can be too high. In summer it is convenient to put the terrariums outdoors.

Unfortunately there is no universal terrarium for maintenance and upbringing. On the contrary, each terrarium has to be built, equipped and maintained according to the needs of the species it will contain.

The easiest and most useful terrariums are the aquarium glass tanks, with the panels glued with silicone adhesive. Any pet store will have a good assortment, with tanks of different sizes and shapes, at reasonable prices, and can also provide you with custom made terrariums if you prefer.

All the chameleons they prefer very wide terrariums to those that are long but narrow. The possibility of retreating to the back of the terrarium contributes substantially to the welfare of the animal. The dimensions of the terrarium depend on the size and temperament of the animal. For the chameleons that live in trees and shrubs, the height of the terrariums must be greater than the length or width. For the chameleons of land, the terrariums whose length and width are greater than the height are adequate. Most commercially sold terrariums are suitable only for chameleons of land, but it is not too expensive or difficult to have special high terrariums made to order.

Ventilation openings are important in the selection of the terrarium. Especially in small terrariums, ventilation openings should allow the regulation of the needs> grid, the relative humidity increases. Animals originating from rain forests, including most of the chameleons of soil and leaves, they need a relative humidity of 100% during the night and 70 to 100% during the day. This can only be achieved in terrariums with quite small ventilation openings that are sprayed frequently and completely. For certain chameleons Highland Africans, terrariums made with wooden or aluminum frames and with walls made of metal grid are suitable. Opaque divisions of some kind (eg towels) must be placed between adjacent terrariums to prevent eye contact between neighbors.

The terrariums we use for most of our chameleons They have glass walls. The sides and bottom are covered with thick cork plates or with a colored plastic bottom, and the bottom can also be lined with cork. Also, all customary materials can be used as a substrate. With some species it is helpful to glue a small flat stone to one side of the bottom wall, the chameleon You can use it to dry loose skin when you molt. The accessories consist of climbing branches that help to divide the interior space and that satisfy the need to climb that feels the chameleon, or in a few climbing plants placed around the ornaments. If terrariums are installed on opposite walls of a room, care must be taken that there is no possibility of eye contact. If necessary, a curtain can be placed between the terrariums.

Special needs

Let's now look at some special needs that must be met for particular groups of chameleons. In the first place we will mention the females of the oviparous species. In order for them to bury their eggs without hindrance, they need a substrate of a depth that depends on the species. A perlite or plastic pellet substrate covered with 10 or 30 cm of a slightly wet mixture of sand and peat has proven to be successful (do not use plastic pellets with chameleons of small land). If there are no suitable conditions for laying, the female will retain the eggs, or just a pot of flowers. However, these species are few.

With the chameleons ground should not put a substrate and instead stick cork plates on the bottom of the tank. On top of these plates is a layer of cork shavings, on which the chameleons They enjoy running and in which the females lay the eggs. This layer acts as a substitute for the plant soil of its natural habitat. Obviously, the females of the chameleons They also bury their eggs in the true plant soil when they have this substrate, but then it is very difficult to find the eggs, which is why we recommend not using real soil for that.

Many small containers are suitable for raising chameleons newly born. Slightly modified food storage containers are used because they are easily available, and are manufactured in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Rectangular and transparent plastic containers, at least 12 cm long by 12 cm wide by 18 cm high, are excellent. The lid is cut completely and a thin wire cloth is glued in place. An additional hole, which will also be covered with a grid, can be cut on one side. On the opposite wall an opaque plastic sheet or a cork board is glued, so that the containers can be placed side by side without establishing eye contact between neighboring animals. The ornaments consist of twigs and a climbing plant, like a Ficus pumila. After putting a fluorescent tube on top of the container, the breeding tank will be ready for use. If the temperatures in the tanks are too low, they can be easily heated from the bottom by means of a heating cable - but be careful, because the chameleons Young people can die quickly from excess heat. So that the set does not look like a simple collection of containers, they can be placed neatly on an attractive piece of furniture.

To the fan who has offspring of chameleons regularly and in quantities, you should build a permanent facility for parenting. The recommended minimum size is a small terrarium about 10 cm long by 10 cm deep by 30 cm high, which can be easily enlarged as the animals grow, reaching a size of about 20 cm in length by 20 cm in length. width by 50 cm height. Terrariums 10 cm long by 15 cm deep by 50 cm high have proven to be especially effective. Due to the high risk of excess temperature, the entire upper part and a wide strip of the front part would have to be used for ventilation. For lighting we use exclusively fluorescent tubes for a time after birth, and only quite later we install a spot reflector to complement the available light. The facilities and accessories are exactly the same as for large-sized terrariums.

All newly acquired animals should be handled with great precautions, especially at the beginning. It is absolutely necessary that chameleons undergo a fairly long period of quarantine. All normal terrariums can be used as quarantine cages, especially plastic models. Accessories should be as simple as possible: a newspaper substrate, a potted plant, and some branches. If there is a parasitic infection, everything must be discarded before the end of the quarantine period and the necessary treatments. There has to be a plant, because otherwise the weakened animals would be subjected to constant stress due to the absence of hiding places and this would weaken them further. During the acclimatization period the fan has to control the terrarium to see if the animals eat and drink satisfactorily and to see if they have wounds. It is advisable to submit your droppings to laboratory tests to see if there are parasites, several times during the quarantine period.

Some species of chameleons they can be released in rooms and in greenhouses where the environmental conditions are suitable for these animals. Some chameleons They develop well in window boxes with abundant vegetation. However, you have to look at some points. For example, a spot reflector must be installed under which the chameleon I can sunbathe whenever I want. A container with food must be placed within reach and within sight of the chameleon. As the relative humidity is usually lower in a room than in a terrarium, a chameleon in freedom you must always have water to drink. The drinking water needs will be satisfied if the plants are sprayed with a little water every day and the lizard is given water in a drinking fountain on alternate days. It is essential to enter the room in which you are free with many precautions chameleon, looking first at the ground, because many chameleons They are not afraid to eat on the floor and it is easy to step on an animal or crush it with the door against the wall. In this case, a mirror installed on the floor near the door can help to see behind the door when it only opens slightly.

Pregnant females of oviparous species present a problem. Several days before the start they start looking for a suitable place to lay eggs. We don't have to say how a gardener will look after a female Chamaeleo pardalis He has made numerous test holes. It is convenient to put a fertile female in a suitable terrarium immediately after mating and leave it there until she has laid the eggs.

If you want to know more about how to take care of your chameleon, we recommend the publication Manuales del Terrario Camaleones of the Editorial Hispano Europea:

Latest Comments on this article (1)

By jesur16 on 11/15/2011 at 08: 21h

hello! my wife just gave me a camalion like the one that appears in the photos of this publication and I would like to learn more about this species because I really like chameleons and I would like to learn more about how to maintain and take care of my chameleon too I would like to reprodusir and ps I do not know which are the females or males I hope they can help me and give me the opportunity to learn more about these animals well thank you very much until soon

What kind of food does a chameleon have

Actually chameleons need a type of food that you might dislike, and that is do not accept dead or processed foods, as you think, etc., but they need a live food.

You should know that their diet is based on insects although some species also accept to feed the fruits and vegetables as part of their diet.

The foods that reptiles like most are the following:

  • Irons: This is the basis of their diet, but we must be careful and not give them too large prey since they will try to eat them anyway and could choke.
  • Cockroaches: These are somewhat more indigestible so, although they are also the basis of their diet, we can avoid giving them on a daily basis.
  • Silkworms: their properties are very beneficial for chameleons, but the problem is that they are not easy to find.
  • Zophoba: a food perhaps too fatty, so it is more advisable that we give it as a treat sporadically.
  • Mouse pups or pinkies: The excess of feeding based on mouse pups can cause diseases such as gout due to its high content of uric acid, for this reason it is recommended to give only to adult chameleons and rarely.
  • Fruits and vegetables: without being the basis of food, you can offer vegetables and fruits of all kinds, cut into slices or small pieces.

The best feeding options for a chameleon

Knowing all the types of food we can offer our chameleon, and especially recommended amounts, we can stop at how and when to feed it.
We can do it on a daily basis or on alternate days, it will depend on what suits us and the animal's custom.
The amounts can be very different, according to the species of the chameleon in question, since the chameleons of the jungle are more voracious while the mountain ones feed lighter and more slowly.
On the other hand, we must bear in mind that both females who are pregnant as the offspring must feed properly, so we must give them all the food they want to eat.

You can also give the food in a pot or feeder and so you control what you are eating and when you eat it, or you can leave it free inside your terrarium, and stimulate the chameleon to catch it.

What we have to be clear and take care of is that your diet is the most varied, offering you the foods that best suit you and based on the foods that form the basis of your diet, such as crickets or cockroaches, and sporadically giving them the foods we have mentioned as such, to make them more attractive.

Where to buy food for chameleons

When we go to buy the food of our chameleon we must choose the site well since, the place where the different types of animals and live insects that we provide come from must be reliable, because the food they eat can be very indigestible and even Harmful to our chameleon.

Another option is raise their own prey for your chameleon, but take good care of them and feed them correctly, since they will be the food that the chameleon later ingested.
One option, something macabre but valid, is "seasoning" with some supplement.
Take good care of your diet to keep your chameleon healthy and strong.

Independent and lonely stress can kill them

He chameleon It is the anti-pet. The concept of a pet is associated with a pet. An animal that we can touch, catch, play, that looks at us ... chameleon It is a solitary and extremely territorial animal. Sharing space with another partner can literally kill you from stress and requires you to always have live food. So, How to care for a chameleon?

Before buying your chameleon, choose one that has been raised in captivity. The Chamaeleo calyptratus and Furcifer pardalis are two of the easiest species to care for and are also the most spectacular. The chameleons that come from farms raised in semi-freedom usually come with a large number of internal parasites that reproduce at the speed of light and also tend to come very stressed.

Food running or flying

The crickets are the food favorite of chameleons. Pet stores offer different types such as ‘loaded crickets’ that are gourmet crickets, fed in a special way to help the reptile get its nutrients. There are also calcium coated.

Flour flies, moths, grasshoppers, worms ... They are other "delicatessen" for your chameleon. You can also buy them at a store or if you have a garden you can become the new Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente and dedicate yourself to hunting insects for your pet.

Water should not be missing. Sprinkle the terrarium plants with water so that you can lick them or place a waterfall in your terrarium, it will also be very pretty.


Chameleons do not drink from a container, so we must have a drip system so that it falls on the leaves so that they drink from the drops. They are practically insectivorousThey eat: lobsters, crickets, silkworms, tenebrios, zophobas, flies, cockroaches ... all alive, and must be from hatcheries so that they do not carry pesticides. It is good to pre-feed insects with fleshy fruits and leafy vegetables and Occasionally sprinkle your meal with calcium supplement and reptile vitamins.

Like lizards in the sun

Surely you've heard the expression of lying like a lizard in the sun. Chameleons love to sunbathe and it is a way of absorb vitamin D That your body needs. They are very hot friends. In the terrarium you must have a thermometer to control the temperature that should always range between 29 and 33 degrees. Heating lamps are necessary so that the animal is not cold.

If you do not dare to take it out to the Sun, place a UVA light, that of the rays, but make sure it is not a fluorescent and is a focus.

Humidity It is another aspect to take into account in the life of our curious friend. The terrarium should be kept at a humidity of 85%. The terrarium floor must be protected so that moisture is not lost.

A house in front of the sun

When placing the terrarium the location is essential. We must think of a place where direct sunlight arrives and in summer they can be placed outdoors. It is better to be wider than long because they feel more comfortable and are very similar to the aquariums.

You must have ventilation so that we can ensure adequate temperature and humidity conditions and especially so that the air does not stagnate. Poor ventilation is a focus of diseases. Most are those with glass walls.

Then we can furnish it with climbing plants so that they can climb, branches and a smooth stone that can be used to dry during the molting season.

-Light and heat:

We will need to place special tubes for UVB / UVA lizards to give them light 10h a day (consult with specialists) and they should take at least a day a day light and natural sun, so it is good to place your cage near a window but carefully do not have power because it's not good. Each chameleon species is different and will need a different temperature, if we do not live in very hot or tropical climates: The panther chameleon needs a temperature of 24 to 35ºC and a humidity of 60 to 85%, the veiled chameleon a temperature of 26 to 35º and a humidity of 50% and the chameleon jackson a temperature of 21 to 29 ° C and a humidity of 50 to 80%. In the morning they need about 25 or 26 degrees and at night 5 or 6 degrees. If at night at home it is less than 18ºC we will have to put the heating.

Beautiful Jackson chameleon (species) - Wikipedia

Love me a little

Every chameleon He has his personality and some like to have them in their hands and others do not. It is recommended that when you feed her, you give her food with her hand, so she will become familiar with it and will not be so aggressive with you. Of course, never wear something red, this color stresses them like when you jump a last hour in a newsroom.

Do not expect to see him run, the chameleon is the laziest animal. His way of walking is slow and he can remain motionless for a long time. Little sociable, lonely and extremely territorial even with the human. When you have confidence and after the odd "bite" you can get it to end up trusting you and it even goes up your shoulders.

How to care for a chameleon is a tip for Reptiles, and talks about Care.

Tip number 2: fresh air, but not so much.

A urban legend He says chameleons need fresh air to live. Well, it depends. As a habit accustomed to being free, the chameleon enjoys pure air, but this pet is very sensitive to variations in temperature, a cold and continuous stream of air can make you easily sick. The trick is to place a grid on top of the terrarium to get air to circulate freely inside, but to sift the force and volume of the air that enters your "home."

They don't always like to be in sight of everyone!

Tip number 3: a little privacy.

Remember that your chameleon is an animal that stress the excess of company, you need to withdraw from time to time from prying eyes. This an animal needs to take a break from time to time so he will always look for a protected and secluded corner where to rest. Choose, then, a terrarium wider than long and containing enough decorative elements such as branches, climbing plants, pots with natural plants or large and quite bulky stones. That is: place enough non-toxic elements in the terrarium that allow your chameleon to create a hiding place perfect.

Tip number 4: a place to spawn.

The females of some chameleon species are oviparous, that is: they put eggs. Chameleons in the wild usually bury their eggs in the ground, so if you want to reproduce their natural habitat, you should place a layer of topsoil about 20 or 30 centimeters deep at the bottom of the terrarium.

Tip number 5: don't ride a commune.

Chameleons are not gregarious animals. Not only do they not "love" the company, but they shy away from it like the plague. If they are forced to socialize they can enter a dangerous stress level for their Health. Thus, if you want to have several chameleons, you must place them in different terrariums or in the same terrarium but well compartmentalized and that hides some from the sight of others. Of course, don't you think of putting a gecko in the terrarium to keep your chameleon company, it would be sapped in two minutes.

Tip number 6: remember the water.

It is not well known why, but many chameleon caregivers believe that these animals do not need to drink fresh water daily. Big mistake. Chameleons in freedom can drink water whenever they want and your homemade chameleon should also do so. It is recommended that you place a drinking fountain at your fingertips (not hidden) and, also, that you spray the plants of your terrarium with fresh water so that they accumulate water on their leaves and the chameleon can be entertained by absorbing it.

Tip number 8: fasting day.

Don't worry if your chameleon stops eating for a full day. Some species of these animals keep a day of voluntary fast a week to clean your body. Of course, if they spend two days in a row without eating ... start worrying.

Don't worry if you don't eat for a day. But do it if you don't eat for two!

Tip number 9: calcium and vitamins.

Veterinarians have doubts about the perfect diet of these pets. Some believe that the food based on insects is sufficient, others claim that they should also take some vegetables. But what they all agree on is the importance of strengthening their diet with calcium and vitamins. In stores specialized in exotic you will find a wide variety of these essential products to keep your green friend in top shape.

Tip number 10: crazy about flies.

In animal stores you will find many food products for your pet, but for a chameleon the best delicacy is ... a fat and juicy fly. But veterinarians in exotic do not recommend hunting flies, crickets or cockroaches in freedom because they are contaminated with pesticides. So, if you want your pet to enjoy like a dwarf, it's going to touch you raise your own insects. It seems more difficult than it really is: you just have to buy live larvae in a product store of fishing, keep them in a warm place and, after an incubation period of about 15 days, a lot of insects will come out of the pupa. Well, to think about it ...

Do you have a chameleon? What is your advice for the rest of the mascoteros? And if you want to know more about what life is like chameleons in their natural environment, do not miss this video to be able to give your chameleon a much fuller and more natural life: