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Veiled Chameleon Care

Veiled Chameleon Care

Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)

also known as the Yemen Chameleon

Popularity: Make good, interesting pets; however, they frighten easily and may bite if restrained. They should be handled only when absolutely necessary, and you should always wear gloves when doing so.

Origin: Mountains of Yemen and Saudi Arabia

Native habitat: Semi-arid; from tropical and subtropical plateaus to semi-desert valleys

Size: 14-24 inches

Lifespan: 3-8 years

Appearance: Males are green, and this green ranges from a bright lime green to a red olive drab depending upon the lizard’s emotional state and the surroundings. The green color is marked with bands of bright gold, green and blue mixed with yellow, orange and black, and spots of yellow, brown, and blue. Non-breeding females and juveniles are typically uniform green with some white markings. Breeding and gravid females are a dark green with blue and yellow spots. Males have small spurs, or heels, on the back their rear feet; females do not. This spur grows larger with age. Males are larger than females, sometimes by 12 inches or more. Males and females both have a decorative growth called a “casque” on their heads, with the male’s being taller than the female’s. They have a flatten body meant to mimic a leaf, and feet that grasp limbs and branches. Their tail acts as a fifth appendage and aids in climbing. Their eyes work independently of one another allowing the chameleon to look in front of and behind itself at the same time. They use their long, sticky tongue to capture insects.

Diet: Omnivorous: insects, leaves, blossoms, and fruit

Activities: Veiled chameleons are tree dwellers. They are ambush predators capable of lying still for a long time while awaiting an insect to eat.

Misc characteristics: They are solitary lizards that become stressed if housed with other animals, including other Veiled Chameleons. Two males kept together will fight. Females should not be kept with other females; or even with males.



The enclosure needs to be tall enough for climbing and roomy enough to provide a thermal gradient. For an adult chameleon, the minimum size should be 4 feet long x 3 feet wide x 4 feet high. Avoid enclosures made entirely of glass, such as aquarium tanks, even if they have a screen top. A Veiled Chameleon needs the cross-ventilation that a wire mesh enclosure provides.


They must have plenty of branches upon which to climb. Their feet are shaped to cling to branches, and they dislike walking on flat surfaces, so they need a lot of thick plants in the enclosure. Provide enough branches to offer sleeping spots, basking spots and perches. All branches should be at least as wide as the lizard’s body. If you use real plants, they must be non-toxic and free of chemicals and fertilizers.


Butcher’s paper is a good substrate, but not sand or gravel. The chameleon’s sticky tongue may accidentally pick them up, leading to intestinal blockages.


Keep the ambient temperature in the enclosure at 80-85 degrees F in the daytime and in the low 70s at night. There should be a 90-95 degree basking spot. Use a combination of heat lamps and incandescent bulbs to supply the heat. Measure it with three thermometers: one for the cooler area, one for the warmer, and one for the basking area.


Veiled Chameleons need 10-12 hours of daily exposure to direct UVB rays for good health. Use UV lamps specially designed for reptiles. To give the Veiled Chameleon a natural day/night cycle, leave lights on for 10-12 hours during the day and turn them off at night.


Crickets are the staple for the Veiled Chameleon, but you should feed it a variety of insects, as well as some vegetable matter such as romaine and mustard greens. Other insects should include night crawlers and cockroaches, and only occasionally waxworms and mealworms. Never feed it wild-caught insects because they can contain pesticides and disease. Gut load and dust all insects 48 hours before serving them.


Chameleons prefer to drink water that is in drops or on leaves. They do not always recognize standing water and may dehydrate if that is their only source. You can mist an area of the enclosure to provide the water drops.

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