Chameleons are a distinct group of lizards famous for their ability to change colour as well as their independently moving eyes and long, sticky tongues. Many chameleons available in the pet trade are arboreal species that require ample space in their enclosure to enable them to climb. Chameleons are finicky reptiles that are stressed easily and can be difficult to keep in captivity. Creating a healthy living environment that resembles their natural habitat is important to successfully keep chameleons at home.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Large mesh reptile cage
- Ficus tree
- Medical drip bag with plastic tube
- Heat lamp
- Ultraviolet light, full spectrum
Set up a large mesh reptile cage in a quiet location in your home where the ambient temperature remains in the upper 70s through the day and there is little foot traffic. The minimum size of the enclosure should be 4 feet tall, 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep to provide enough room for the chameleon to climb and stay active.
Place a small potted ficus tree in the enclosure. Chameleons spend most of their time in the trees and will climb all over ficus trees in their enclosure. Ficus trees have numerous branches that are large enough for a chameleon to grasp and they are also easy to care for indoors.
Fill a medical drip bag with dechlorinated fresh water and hang the bag above the enclosure. Position the plastic tube over the foliage of the ficus tree and adjust the flow of the water so that one drop falls every five to 10 seconds.
Position the heat lamp over a well-developed branch on the ficus tree to create a basking site for the chameleon.
Place a thermometer at the basking site and ensure that the temperature remains between 32.2 and 37.7 degrees C.
Install a florescent lamp over the enclosure with a full-spectrum ultraviolet bulb specifically for reptiles.
Tips and warnings
- Chameleons can only drink water from small droplets that hang from leaves or directly from the plastic tube.
- Like all reptiles, chameleons are exothermic animals and require an external heat source to warm their bodies.
- Chameleons require full-spectrum lighting to properly metabolise vitamins and minerals when kept in captivity. The ultraviolet bulb also encourages healthy plant growth in the enclosure.
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