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Warm Climate Chameleon

includes carpet, panther and veiled chameleons

Warm climate chameleons are known for their ability to change colors and for the long, sticky tongues they use to catch their food. Chameleons can move each eye independent of the other.

warm climate chameleon

Warm Climate Chameleon Facts

Average Adult Size up to 24 inches long, depending on species
Average Life Span up to 5+ years with proper care, depending on species
Diet insectivore

Will reach adult size in 9 to 12 months, depending on species and under ideal conditions; upgrade habitat size as your reptile grows.

Diet

A well-balanced warm climate chameleon diet consists of:

  • A variety of insects, including gut-loaded (recently fed) crickets, mealworms and waxworms.
  • Juvenile chameleons may eat dark, leafy green vegetables such as collard greens; pothos and ficus leaves.

Feeding

Things to remember when feeding your warm climate chameleon:

  • Rely on moisture on plants for water; mist plants 4 to 5 times daily and/or use a dripper.
  • Feed daily. Juveniles should have a constant supply of food.
  • Sprinkle food with calcium supplement daily and a multi-vitamin supplement once or twice a week.
  • Vegetables not eaten within 24 hours should be discarded.

Housing

  • Size - Appropriately sized and shaped habitat to accommodate normal behavior and exercise; preferably taller than wide, with screened sides. Chameleons do better in a well-ventilated habitat. Habitats constructed of mesh or screen are recommended.
  • Habitat - Create a dense area of non-toxic plants on one side for hiding; create a more open, exposed area of branches for basking on the other side. When selecting branches, consider the width compared to the size of the chameleon's feet and their ability to grab on to them. Maintain up to 70% humidity (depending on species). Mist plants as needed to provide water for your chameleons to drink, even if you have a dripper.
  • Substrate - Use alfalfa pellets, sphagnum moss and mulch-type substrates.
  • Temperature - Temperature gradient (100°F for the warm end and 70°F for the cool end); Use an incandescent light or ceramic heater as primary heat source.
  • Lighting - UVB rays with full spectrum lighting for 10 to 12 hours a day is required. An incandescent day bulb can be used for basking area during daylight hours only; can use a ceramic heater or nocturnal or red incandescent at all hours.
  • House adult veiled chameleons separately and do not house different reptile species together.

Normal Behavior

  • They are tree-dwellers and reside on branches and in plants exclusively.
  • Chameleons change color, depending on temperature and mood.
  • Males are generally larger and more vibrant and colorful than females.
  • Most chameleons become highly stressed when handled; regular handling is not recommended.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect the habitat at least once a week: place chameleon in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all traces of bleach smell; dry the tank and furnishings completely and add clean substrate.

Grooming & Hygiene

  • Chameleons regularly shed their skin; ensure humidity of habitat is at appropriate level to allow proper shedding. To facilitate shedding, provide a shed box, a hide box with sphagnum moss, that will aid in the shedding process.

Health

signs of a healthy animal

  • Active and alert
  • Clear eyes
  • Body and tail are filled out
  • Healthy skin
  • Clear nose and vent
  • Eats regularly

Red Flags

  • weight loss or decreased appetite
  • mucus in mouth or nose
  • swelling
  • lethargy
  • bumps, sores, or abrasions on skin
  • labored breathing
  • paralysis of limbs
  • abnormal feces
  • non-rotating eye(s)

If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Gastro-intestinal disease Symptoms or Causes Runny stools, caked or smeared stool around the vent area and loss of appetite caused by bacterial or parasitic infection. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian.
Health Issue Metabolic bone/vitamin deficiency Symptoms or Causes Inability to absorb calcium due to insufficient UVB light or improper calcium/vitamin D. If untreated, can lead to a disorder characterized by deformities, softened bones, swollen limbs and lethargy. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian and provide ample UVB lighting and the proper amount of calcium/vitamin supplements.
Health Issue Respiratory disease Symptoms or Causes Labored breathing and mucus in the mouth or nose. Can be caused by a habitat that is too cold or damp. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian and ensure habitat is the proper temperature.

Sources

Ask a store partner about Petco's selection of books on warm climate chameleons and the variety of private brand products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All private brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all reptiles are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for reptiles and should consider not having a reptile as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about Geckos and disease.

This care sheet can cover the needs of other species.

Note: The information in this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the sources on the following page or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.