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How to care for your Yemen Chameleon (Chameleo calyptratus)

Yemen or Veiled Chameleons are gentle, intelligent and confident lizards, which makes them interesting and rewarding pets. They grow to around 50 cm in length and show real personality. They are one of the more hardy chameleons but providing the correct environment is critical.

Yemen Chameleon Hatchling - Chameleo calyptratus

Housing

Male Yemen chameleons should be housed individually, females will sometimes tolerate another female if the vivarium is large enough. Males and females should be kept apart (except for mating – if you intend to breed).

Yemen Chameleons are large and active, arboreal species so should be given a large vivarium, a minimum size of 90 x 90  x 60 cm (Length x height x depth) (36x36x24”).

Mesh terrariums are often recommended, although in a domestic setting they can be very difficult to maintain temperatures and humidity. Wooden vivariums can be excellent, but often are not well enough ventilated. Glass terrariums do strike the middle ground, being well ventilated but very good at maintaining humidity and preventing draughts from affecting your chameleon.

Heating

Temperature is very important in reptile care as they cannot produce their own body heat and need to be kept within a suitable range to help the body function correctly.

These temperatures can be achieved by using basking lights. A thermostat should always control basking lights.  The basking temperature should be around 32-35° C (90-95° F) with an ambient temperature of 24-32° C (75-90° F).

At night the basking lights should be switched off and the vivarium should drop to between 19 and 24° C (66-75° f)

It is very important to know what the temperature is, so check regularly with an accurate thermometer. Do not guess or take temperature by hand (if it feels warm or cold)

Lighting

Yemen Chameleons require UV light to help use calcium from their diet and prevent Metabolic Bone Disease. We recommend using lamp with 10-12% UVB such as Zoo Meds ReptiSun 10.00 or the Arcadia D3+. These lamps need replacing every 12 months.

A simple 12 hour light cycle is ideal for a Yemen Chameleon.  

Water

It is important to provide your chameleon with fresh water every day, they will not drink from a bowl so this should be provided by spraying the vivarium 2 -3 times a day. Dehydration can be a problem so it is important not to neglect the spraying. Automatic spraying systems are very good investment. 

Hides and Décor

Yemen chameleons require a few good branches of different sizes to climb on. The vivarium can be decorated with plastic plants as these look very attractive and offer some privacy. These will also be used by the crickets and locusts to hide in, encouraging your chameleon to actively hunt them. Live plants however are a poor choice, as the heat will kill them very quickly and the chameleons and crickets will eat them. The exception to this is if you are planning a fully bio-active system.

Feeding

Yemen chameleons are mainly insectivorous and will eat crickets, locusts, mealworms, and wax worms. Crickets and locusts are to be used as the main foods as they are lower in fat than wax worms and easier to digest than mealworms. Vitamin powders are very important to prevent problems such as Metabolic Bone Disease, which is a calcium deficiency, and can be a serious problem and happen very quickly with young Chameleons that are growing quickly. It is easy to prevent with the regular use of vitamin powders. Insects should only be offered to your chameleon every other day.

Treats of mealworms and wax worms can be offered occasionally.

Chameleons will also eat leafy salads, such as rocket, watercress, dandelions and mixed salads which are readily available and easy to use. Try to offer variety to keep a balanced diet. Salads should be offered everyday, it is easiest to hang large leaves up in the branches away from the heat.

Maintenance

Chameleons can produce quite a lot of waste so the vivarium and decorations should be cleaned regularly. Depending on cage conditions, remove all substrate & cage furniture and completely disinfect using reptile safe disinfectant. Rinse the enclosure thoroughly and allow to dry before replacing cage furniture and your chameleon.

Shedding

Yemen chameleons shed their skin as they grow and will do so a little at a time. They rarely have any problems shedding.

Conclusion

Yemen chameleons are rewarding pets to keep. Be prepared for the amount of food and space they require.

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