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Veiled Chameleon Care Sheet

Scientific Name: Chamaeleo calyptratus

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The Veiled Chameleon, or Yemen Chameleon, is naturally found in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They are arboreal lizards, spending the majority of their lives in tree tops.


Other Names

Yemen Chameleon


Natural Location: Yemen, Southern Saudi Arabia
Average Lifespan: 4 - 7 Years
Estimated Size: Females: 12" to 18", Males: 18" to 24"
Captive Care Information

Gender & Sexing

Determining gender in Veiled Chameleon's is very easy right from birth. Males have a small, triangular lump on their back legs, right at the base of their foot. This is called a tarsal spur. You can also tell from their casque (the crest on their heads). This is a more difficult way of determining gender, and can only be seen later on in their development. The male casque is much straighter, pointing upwards, and can reach 4" high. The females are more curved, and does not reach as high. Males will also display more prominent colours; reds, blues, oranges and yellows. Females take on softer colours; shades of green, brown and often times oranges.

Food & Water

You want to offer your Veileds 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. Veileds 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.

Veiled Chameleons do not like standing water, and will very rarely drink this way, if at all. Water should be either sprayed into leaves twice a day, or seen dripping into the enclosure. To do this, place ice cubes on the screen and let the water drip onto plants. Some Veileds will hardly ever drink, and some will always drink when you spray. It is imperative for young Chameleons that you spray a heavy mist once a day.

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.


A full-screen enclosure is a must for Veileds. 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.

Veiled Chameleon Diseases

1. Metabolic Bone Disease: This is one of the most important diseases to pay attention to and to prevent. It occurs when your Chameleon is not receiving enough calcium and Vitamin D for their bones to grow properly. You will see stunted-growth, soft bones, and possibly paralysis.

Treatment: Provide full-spectrum lighting, gut loading the feeder insects with healthy foods, and dusting the insects with a calcium/multi-vitamin powder.

2. Vitamin A Deficiency: This results in eye problems, respiratory problems, neurological dysfunction and difficulty shedding.

Treatment: Give a solution orally (usually by the veterinarian), dusting with multi-vitamin powder (2 times a week), gut load insects green leafy vegetables, carrots and sweet potatoe.

3. Hypervitaminosis
Excessive Vitamin A: This interferes with their metabolism in conjunction with Vitamin D3, which will result in metabolic bone disease. Excessive Vitamin A supplementation leads to toxicity of their organs.

Excessive Vitamin D3: High levels of Vitamin D3 and calcium combined will lead to toxicity of their organs. Also leads to metastatic calcification or gout, which usually appears as irregular, firm swellings over joints in limbs, or on ribs.

4. Renal Disease: This is a common cause of death in Veiled Chameleons. It is due to chronic dehydration, low humidity, and inadequate watering. Symptoms include anorexia, weight loss, depression, weakness and sunken in eyes.

Treatment: Monitor their water intake, making sure they are getting enough. Shower your Chameleon with a misting system, or provide a wooden perch in your bathroom shower. (20 - 30 minutes twice a week)

5. Respiratory / Sinus / Ocular Infections: Bacterial infections of this type are common. Symptoms include increased mucus, noise while breathing, open mouthed breathing, over inflation of lungs, sinuses involved with bumps and swelling on top of head or between eyes, eye problems, discharge, swelling, holding eye closed, sneezing, or a discharge of clear / white fluid.

Treatment: Treatment is aggressive and must be initiated early. An antibiotic treatment should be administered for 21 - 30 days (see your veterinarian). Give Vitamin A, more water, better ventilation (do not use a glass aquarium), and check all environmental temperatures.

6. Abcesses / Cellulitis / Osteomyelitis: These are caused by damage to skin from sharp corners in cage, sharp materials or from bite wounds from insects, damaged nails from screen, pulling off branches while climbing, trouble shedding skin off toes. All these will eventually lead to bone infections.

Treatment: Medical treatment is needed, please see your veterinarian. Surgical intervention may be needed, possibly even amputation. In some cases an antibiotic treatment for 4 - 6 weeks is all that is needed.

7. Parasitic Infections: Intestinal parasites, resulting in weight loss, anorexia, vomiting, or malformed stools.

Treatment: Treatment is very simple, keep their cage clean. In severe cases, medical attention will be needed, so please see your veterinarian.

Read more about Lizard Diseases.


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