It’s no brainer that chameleons are beautiful animals. Their natural ability to camouflage, beautiful eyes, and a sparky personality has managed to steal the hearts of many animal lovers everywhere!
However, raising a chameleon of your own requires hard work and responsibilities. If you’re thinking of adopting one of your own, be sure to read through this article for things to consider before investing on a chameleon.
1. Invest on a Young Chameleon
If you are a beginner, it helps to raise a young chameleon first. This grants you a blank canvas to foster a good personality on. Chameleons by nature are wild animals that, when exposed in that environment all their lives, could form feral personalities. By raising a young chameleon, you should be able to domesticate them easier.
2. Check for Deformities
It is common to find an extensive report on a chameleon’s medical background if you approach a professional breeder. However, in the off chance where you were not provided with the materials, consider these things that tell-tales their overall health:
- Eyes: sunken eyes are an indicator for dehydration. Frequent shut eyes during the day are signs for common malaise.
- A dark and dull exterior indicates stress, cold ness, and general decline of health.
- Chameleons with a noticeable bone deformity (e.g. swollen jaw, unstable head, spine problems) are often caused by an insufficient supply of calcium.
- Green substance and other foreign materials found surrounding a chameleon’s mouth are usually caused by bacterial infection commonly known as “mouth rotting”
- If a Chameleon heavily opposes to being touched, then they could be in physical pain.
For any other suspecting symptoms, it is best that you consult professionals to diagnose your chameleon a little further. Common practices in medical check ups would include stool tests and worm medication.
3. Prepare a Good Habitat
Since the physique and needs of chameleons is different for everyone, be sure to choose a habitat best suited for your chameleon. Invest on a portable cage too: a place where you could transport your animal companion for medical check ups. Aside from a comfortable size, consider the below in finding the right habitat:
- Generally, the minimum size of a chameleon cage is 91x91x122 cm
- Common forms of chameleon habitats are usually: wired cages with easy access to cleaning, glass terrariums, or huge bird cages. Allow a good height for them to climb and move around
- Chameleons strive on 30 degrees weather
- Vivarium is another ideal habitat. It is constructed with 3 sides made with wooden material (or insulation materials) and a glass surface. This habitat allows efficient ventilation and thermal heat.
- Locate your chameleon’s habitat in a calm corner of your house. Chameleons are prone to stress and should be placed in a quiet corner to live comfortably.
- Avoid direct sunlight so that your chameleon doesn’t overheat. Place them in cool shaded areas.
4. Place a Substrat in Their Habitat
Substrats are what you layer the bottom of your chameleon’s cage with. This allows easy access to cleaning and a comfortable surface for your chameleon to move around on. Examples of common Substrats are in the form of parchment paper, old newspaper, or thin towels. However, before investing in one, do consider the following factors:
- Do not replace wood, sand, or moss for a Substrat. These materials often harvest dangerous bacterias that could do more harm than good to your chameleon friend.
- Substrats have to be regularly changed every week. The surface of your cage should also be sterilised and cleaned with water and antiseptik.
- Deep cleanse the habitat once every month.
- Provide branches in the habitat for your chameleons to move around in. Add variety to the lengths and heights. You could find these in your local pet shops. This creates a fun and comfortable living space.
- Add greenery to the habitat. Choose wisely, for some greens could be poisonous. Greenery is not only for aesthetical reasons but it creates a humid environment and could be a water source when it rains (water flows on the greens). Good examples of greenery could include Hibiscus, Ficus, Ara trees, and Bamboo trees. Be sure to clean them from harmful chemicals first!
- Place a lightbulb for light and heat (90-150 fahrenheit) source. Fluorescent light is an excellent source of UVB / A and vitamin D3. Be sure to test on the watts first though.
- Do not turn the lights on at night to avoid overheating. Use a thermometer to regulate the habitat’s temperature: the ideal for night time is mid 70 fahrenheit and 80-90 for day time. Do not invest on heated rocks, as they could burn your chameleon.
5. Pre Breeding Preparation
In order to breed other chameleons, you would have to invest in a pair. Consult with other breeders to provide you with the healthiest pair in order to produce healthier children. We also recommend you to adopt young adult for two reasons: one, their personalities have developed enough to tell if they’re a fit and second, they aren’t old enough to reproduce unhealthy children.
Older chameleons are in bigger risk of producing unhealthy children. To add to that, their life span is unpredictable and could pass before they could raise their children properly.
After investing on a healthy pair, we recommend that you place them in a separate cage before mating them. When they are grown enough and are ready to mate, only then you could place them in the same cage. This is to prevent female chameleons to breed before their bodies could handle pregnancy.
When finally introducing your chameleons to each other, be sure to monitor the process carefully. Male chameleons would tend to be more aggressive and would dominate the situation. Female chameleons, when ready to mate, would show specific signs.
Reproduction would only succeed during the female’s ovulation stage – which is not usually noticeable when the time comes. One obvious indication, however, is when the female chameleon is receptive to the male’s forward. If the female declines the male’s advances, they would run and hiss at their male counterpart.
When the female chameleon does accept, they would approach their male counterpoints slowly and proceed to copulation for give and take 5-30 minutes. In the chance that the female chameleon changes her mind mid way, remove her from the premises because the male chameleon could harm her. For safety precautions, it is advised that you keep a careful eye on the pair for 24 hours and then separate them again the next day.
Congratulation, you now know the things to consider before investing on a chameleon! The reality is that investing is the easy part, because maintaining and breeding is on another level. When your female chameleon falls pregnant, give her roughly about 35 days for her eggs to hatch and give birth. The timeline may differ for each chameleon, so be sure to have good professional connections to consult about your chameleon’s health and wellbeing.