Veiled chameleons are fascinating creatures to keep but not pets in the traditional sense. They are not social animals nor do they welcome handling. I have kept and bred hundreds of Veileds in South Africa and Malaysia over many years. My chameleons are kept outdoors in net cages unless the temperature became extremely hot or cold. I use an automated watering system and if it rains – great! They get natural UV and never suffer from rickets or any other disease due to a varied diet and the fresh air.
If their basic requirements are met, Veiled chameleons are hardy animals, easy to look after and great fun. Sadly, if you miss any requirement your chameleon will probably die. So do plenty of research before you buy one. The basics are:
• UV light – essential to avoid MBD or rickets. Ask your pet shop for the right strength. If you live in a climate that allows you to safely put the chameleon in natural sunlight do so but don’t allow it to overheat.• Varied temperature – nowhere is the same temperature 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Vary the temperature between night and day by about 10 to 15°F if possible. • Don’t use a water bowl – chameleons need dripping water, so use a spray or a misting system to give it water. If you use an automated system check it regularly; if it fails, dehydration will kill your pet. • A well-ventilated cage – Veiled chameleons do not like high humidity. • Varied food – don’t rely just on crickets. Try silkworms, hornworms, waxworms and various roaches. Avoid mealworms, as they are not nutritious. • Don’t overfeed – adults (except gravid females) can be fed alternate days. They come from areas where food is scarce, so they will eat like pigs if given the chance. If they grow too fast, without adequate UV and calcium, they will suffer health problems. • Basking lamps – if you use one, check the chameleon can’t reach it or get close enough to burn itself. Infrared lamps can be deceptive, so check the distance carefully.
Overall, I would recommend keeping a Veiled chameleon – if you can provide the right conditions. They are not friendly, nor are they good pets for children. However, anyone who loves reptiles and is fascinated by these awesome creatures, will thoroughly enjoy their antics.