Veiled Chameleon Care Guide

When it comes to Veiled Chameleons, they’re one of the easier of the Chamaeleonidae species to care for, however, they’re not for beginner reptile enthusiasts.

In this article, I am going to give you a full in-depth guide to Veiled Chameleon care, including;

  • Terrarium Sizing
  • Lighting Requirements
  • Temperature & Humidity Requirements
  • The Enclosure Setup
  • Cleaning Schedule
  • Diet
  • Safe Handling Practice

Species Overview

Scientific NameChamaeleo Calyptratus
Natural HabitatArid Mountain Areas – Arabian Peninsula
Lifespan5-8 Years
Adult SizeMale: 18”-24” | Female: 10”-14”
DwellingArboreal
DietOmnivore
Hunting MethodAmbush Predator

Pros & Cons Of Veiled Chameleons

Pros

  • Vibrant colorations
  • Long lifespan
  • Don’t smell

Cons

  • Difficult to care for
  • Territorial
  • Don’t like being held
  • Expensive enclosure setup

Terrarium Requirements

Getting the correct setup for your Chameleons’ enclosure is paramount to their well-being. You’ll want to replicate their natural habitat as best as possible, providing correct lighting, temperature, and humidity levels. 

Protip: When deciding where you’ll be housing them in your home, consider the climate you live in and keep them out of direct sunlight. This can alter the ecosystem you’re creating within the terrarium.

Terrarium Size

Depending on whether you have a male or female Veiled Chameleon will alter what size terrarium you’ll require.

You’ll want to choose a terrarium providing a lot of height for climbing as Veiled Chameleons are arboreal reptiles, meaning they live in trees and bushy areas. There is no limit to how tall you’d like the enclosure to be, your pet will use it all for enrichment.

The minimum sizes I recommend are;

  • Adult Male – 24”x24”x48”
  • Adult Female – 18”x18”x36”
  • Hatchling/Juvenile – 16”x16”x30”

The transition to a larger terrarium should be done once your Chameleon reaches 6 months of age.

Lighting

The lighting schedule for your Veiled Chameleons enclosure must be 12 hours on and 12 hours off cycle to replicate a day and night schedule in the wild. This photoperiod provides vitamin D3 synthesis for calcium absorption and assists in preventing metabolic bone disease.

You’ll want to use a linear UVB bulb as opposed to a compact UVB bulb because the compact variants of this lighting don’t provide the necessary UVB rays throughout the enclosure.

Temperature & Humidity

You’ll want to create a temperature gradient throughout the enclosure, this is easier to achieve with taller terrariums due to heat naturally rising, this will make the lower end of the enclosure cooler.

At the top of the enclosure, you’ll need a basking bulb (UVA) placed no less than 6 inches above the highest perching point your Veiled Chameleon can climb to. 

The temperatures need to be between 70°F-95°F during the day and no less than 65°F at night. It’s important to use temperature and humidity gauges to accurately measure the levels within the enclosure.

Veiled Chameleons only require 40%-60% humidity levels during the day and at night it needs to increase to 60%-70%. 

The best way I find to achieve the humidity changes is to mist the enclosure for 3-5 minutes in the morning when the lights go on and to do the same in the evening when you turn the lights off.

Temperature & Humidity Summary

  • Daytime Temperature: 70°F-95°F
  • Nighttime Temperature: 65°F-70°F
  • Daytime Humidity: 40%-60%
  • Nightime Humidity: 60%-70%

Substrate

Due to Chameleons being arboreal dwellers, the need for specific substrates isn’t there. However, you should avoid some to prevent impaction in your pet. 

Good Substrate

  • Reptile liner
  • Reptile carpet
  • Newspaper

Bad Substrate

  • Sand
  • Wood chips
  • Gravel
  • Soil

Decoration

Decorating your Chameleon’s enclosure is an important aspect of the initial setup and maintenance. Because they’re arboreal, they’ll spend all their time climbing and hiding within shrubbery and leaves. 

Fill as much of the enclosure with live plants as best as you can. A rule of thumb is, if you can see your Chameleon at all times, you don’t have enough plants or branches.

Ensure the highest point they can climb to is a minimum of 6 inches below the lights and heat lamps to prevent burns.

Never use artificial plants, Veiled Chameleons are known to snack throughout the day on vegetation, and if they attempt to eat fake plants this can cause fatalities from choking and impaction.

These plants provide a source for your pet to eat and hydrate from;

  • Cistcus
  • Croton
  • Hibiscus
  • Pothos
  • Schefllera

Cleaning Schedule

You’ll need to have a regular cleaning schedule to ensure a healthy environment for your Chameleon. 

I recommend conducting spot checks daily for feces, urine, and, excess food your pet didn’t eat. 

Every two weeks, the enclosure will require a deep cleaning consisting of;

  • Removing your Chameleon from the enclosure
  • Remove all feces and urine
  • Clean misting system with reptile-safe cleaning products
  • Replace/Clean substrate with reptile-safe cleaning products
  • Return Chameleon to clean enclosure

Veiled Chameleon Diet

Veiled Chameleons are omnivores eating a diet consisting of insects and vegetation. It’s best to keep their diet to insects as close to what they’ll eat in the wild as possible.

  • Chameleons under 12 months of age should eat between 10-20 small insects every day
  • Chameleons 12 months and older in age need to be fed 8-10 insects every other day

You don’t need to provide vegetation in your Veiled Chameleons diet as they’ll eat the foliage within their enclosure as and when they like. 

You’ll also be providing all the nutrition they require by dusting and gut loading their meals prior to feeding.

What To Feed Veiled Chameleons?

Veiled Chameleons will eat a variety of insects in their diet, but depending on if your pet is a fussy eater or not may make it a difficult experience to find what they like. 

Here is a list of safe insects you can feed your Veiled Chameleon;

  • Crickets
  • Locusts
  • Silkworms
  • Hornworms
  • Mealworms
  • Waxworms
  • Dubia Roaches

Remember, after they’ve finished eating, remove all excess insects from the enclosure to prevent them from biting and irritating your Chameleon.

Gut loading & Dusting Veiled Chameleon Food

Instead of providing fruits, vegetables, and greens on a dish, you’ll need to gut load their meals prior to feeding them. 

Gut loading is where you feed the insects nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. This is so when you feed your pet, all the nutrients the insects have eaten will be ingested by your Chameleon when you’re feeding them. This provides the nutrients your Chameleon needs.

You’ll need to dust your Chameleon’s meals before feeding them with phosphorus-free calcium supplements and have no vitamin D.

Here is a table showing what you can gut load the insects with;

FruitsVegetablesGreens
MelonSweet PotatoKale
StrawberriesCarrotsLettuce
BananasButternut SquashDandelion Leaves
GrapesZucchiniCollards
ApplesSweet PeppersEndive
Pears

Hydrating Veiled Chameleons

Chameleons will very rarely drink out of a water dish in their enclosure, they’ll hydrate themselves by lapping up the moisture and water droplets from the leaves. 

This is achieved by the misting you conduct in the morning and evening times. The most efficient way to mist the enclosure is by using reptile misting systems or water droplet systems.

I still recommend providing a water dish as your Chameleon may use it, but also it will increase the humidity in the enclosure providing more moisture in the air which will also hydrate your Chameleon.

How To Handle Veiled Chameleons

Veiled Chameleons don’t like to be handled, these are observation pets and shouldn’t be removed to be handled unless necessary.

If you do need to handle your Chameleon for trips to the vet or enclosure cleaning, you’ll need to present your hand slowly to them and let them come to you. The more you build trust between each other the easier this will become.

I have found hand feeding your Veiled Chameleon a couple of times a week will help build the bond and show them your hand is friendly and not something to be threatened by.

Cohabitation

Veiled Chameleons are solitary reptiles, meaning they should only be housed alone unless they’re being bred. As they get to around 8 months of age they’ll become more territorial and be aggressive toward other Chameleons within the enclosure. 

Summary

The key to Veiled Chameleon’s well-being is replicating their natural habitat as best as possible, by providing correct lighting, temperature, humidity levels, and a nutritious and balanced diet. 

With proper care, Veiled Chameleons can live up to 5-8 years and make a great pet due to their vibrant colorations and long lifespan.