Questions and Answers

By Jason Descamps


Descamps, J. (2005). Questions and Answers. Chameleons! Online E-Zine, December 2005. (

Q: Pregnant Veiled

My name is Tracy and I have a male and a female veil chameleons. I had taken them both out of their cages and before I new it they were hooked together. So, now I am facing babies. I am new at this we have only had our chameleons since Feb of this year. I have printed out eve article on babies and pregnant chameleons. I have question is silkworms the same as superworms? How long is the female pregnant and how long does it take for the babies to hatch? If you can help me out I would appreciate it.

A. Tracy, silkworms and superworms are different species, however both are very good options for a feeder insects. Silkworms (Bombyx mori) are the soft bodied larvae of the silk moth. High in calcium and protein these make excellent feeders for all types of reptiles. The February 2005 issue of Chameleons! Online E-Zine has an excellent article outlining the basics of silkworms and their care. Superworms (Zoophobas morio) are the harder bodied larvae of the darkling beetle from South America. Although they do have a tougher exoskeleton than silkworms they are still quite digestable and often relished by the larger species of chameleon.

The amount of time calyptratus carry eggs can vary but in most cases oviposition occurs between 30-45 days after successful copulation. Incubation time for this species varies from 6-8 months depending on temperature and humidity levels. I will add a note of caution to this answer and state that female Ch. calyptratus should not be bred at young ages. It is always best to wait until your female reaches 10-14 months in age before introduction to the male. More information on Ch. calyptratus can be found in the March 2003 issue of the Chameleons! Online E-Zine.

Q: Urate Concerns

I love your chameleon website, I read it every month! It is a great resource for chameleon owners. However, I am writing you because I am concerned about my 1 1/2 year old male veiled chameleon. For the last couple of days, his urine has been spotted with what appears to be blood (it looks kind of pinkish-yellow). Other than that, he is showing no other obvious symptoms of illness. His eyes look good, he is active, he has an appetite, etc. My mom, who helps me take care of him (I'm not a kid :), seems to think he has been drinking a lot of water lately, but I have not noticed this behavior, I think he has always been a "drinker". His staple food is crickets sprinkled with miner-all vitamin powder, although he also eats occasional hibiscus flowers and green grape sections (but all he has had recently is crickets). We usually buy crickets from PetSmart, but this last batch came from a small local pet store. Could he have gotten "bad crickets"? Have you ever heard or encountered any of these symptoms? Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated!

A. Thank you for the compliments on the site. Now on to your question, while I have seen and heard of many different consistencies of feces and urates in Ch. calyptratus I can't honestly say that I have ever encountered what I would describe as pinkish-yellow. It is entirely possible that you are indeed seeing blood in its stool and if this is the case you are looking at a serious condition that requires immediately veterinary attention. Your best course of action would be to take a fresh stool sample to a qualified reptile vet for a fecal exam. This test is normally quite inexpensive and can reveal a lot about the health of your animal and its current state.

Q: Lot's of questions

About 5 months ago we became the owners of 3 chameleons. We took ownership of them when my brother-in-law left them with my in-laws and they did not know how to take care of them. Since we have had a couple of tree frogs and some anoles - my in-laws figured we would be able to provide a good home for the chameleons until my brothe-in-law returned. We agreed to take care of them as we have soft spot for reptiles (b/c my 4 sons LOVE them) and we figured we could do some research and it would be no big deal. WOW - chameleons are a lot more work than frogs and anoles!!! Anyway, about a month ago it became clear that we would be the permanent owners of the creatures so I decided I should take them to a reptile veterinarian to make sure that we were caring for them properly -- I did not want one of them to die and find out that it could have been prevented. PLUS - I had no idea if they were male or female or what type of Chameleons they were. The vet said they appeared to be well taken care of and in good health. WE have one adult male veiled chameleon who has his own cage b/c he once ate a hatchling iguana so we decided he should be kept in solitary confinement. The other 2 are juveniles (I believe now about 10 months old??? just guessing). One is a veiled male and the other is a panther female. A few weeks ago the panther began turning black and orange. I now know that is b/c she was "gravid" -- does that mean pregnant or just that she was becoming fertile? Anyway, the reason I know this now is b/c she lad a bunch of eggs last night. She had been digging in her cage recently... now I know why. Well, after she laid the eggs we got on-line and did some quick egg research. We purchased some items to make an incubator and now we are waiting. I have a few questions though.... (1)I am pretty sure she is no more than a year old - is she old enough to lay viable eggs?? (2) the eggs are very small, about the size of a "jelly belly" jelly bean - is this normal? (3)I found 10 eggs last night in her cage -- is this a normal size clutch or should I be looking for more?.. (4)obviously the little guys will be half-breeds (veiled/panther), will they live? Will they have 2 heads and 6 legs?? I realize they are not genetically "perfect" but who is?? (5) how often do chameleons mate? is this an annual thing or more frequent? are there certain times of year that they usually mate? how do I know when she is fertile?

OK, enough questions, I am obviously going to need to buy a good book b/c I just keep coming up with more questions. Can you recommend a good book on breeding/raising chameleons? I might just have to buy a male panther to breed with my female!! Your articles on-line were very helpful last night in providing us with info on setting up an incubator. THANKS a lot --

A. Lot's to address here, let's see if I can hit them all. Gravid is universally accepted as pregnant. The black and orange coloration you witnessed if often displayed by gravid F. pardalis and is a good indicator of their current state of receptivity.

On the subject of "half breeds" I doubt that the eggs that were laid are the result of a breeding between Ch. calyptratus and F. pardalis. While not out of the realm of possibility it is highly unlikely that these two species would mate and produce viable offspring. More likely you are seeing the result of a prior mating with a male F. pardalis in which sperm was retained and the eggs were fertilized. It is also important to note that Ch. calyptratus and F. pardalis hail from different regions and have differing husbandry requirements and as such should never be housed together. Also, Ch. calyptratus are known to be highly aggressive and an adult male would have the capability of killing a female F. pardalis in a short amount of time. I would recommend that you separate these animals as soon as possible for each of their own good.

Captive chameleons have the potential to mate year round but few species do. Most successful breeding occurs on a seasonal schedule, but these seasons vary with species and husbandry parameters.

I can recommend a few fantastic books for you as more research and information is definitely needed in this case. The two most popular and accurate books available now are "Chameleons: Their Care and Breeding" by Linda Davison and "Chameleons Natures Hidden Jewels (2nd Edition)" by Petr Necas both can be found on many online book stores and are must haves for any chameleon keeper.

Q: Brookesia

I came accross your site looking up information on Brookesia perarmata and it said on the site to send questions to you. I was wondering if you know who is a breeder or who imports Brookesia perarmata in the US? I am very interested in working with the species but seems like I can't find anybody who has them available. Which is sad because these little guys are oustanding. So if you know anybody with Brookesia perarmata, or any Brookesia at all, for sale or on how I would go about to obtain the species I will be very very appreciative. Thank you for your time.

A. Brookesia perarmata was recently added to CITES appendix I, and therefore are restricted from international trade. As a result of this designation and the poor captive propagation of the species B. perarmata are rare, if not non-existant, in US collections. Other species of Brookesia are available from time to time but rarely in any large quantities and they often fetch a high price on the open market. Unfortunately obtaining Brookesia species will be difficult under the current trade climate.

Q: Chams and Frogs

I currently have a 30 gallon tall terrarium containing one tomato frog (terrestrial) and 3 Vietnamese tree frogs (arboreal). These two species do not seem to bother each other due to their different habitats in the terrarium. However, I am looking to upgrade my enclosure to a 47 gallon columnar and was thinking about adding a chameleon.

First of all, I am concerned about ventilation. The tank would have four glass sides and a screen lid. I thought that by adding a waterfall (if it is properly cleaned everyday) would help the ventilation. Is this true?

Secondly, if I were to purchase a chameleon for this terrarium, could the tomato frog and Vietnamese tree frogs still be housed safely with it?

I want to do everything to ensure the safety and well-being of all the animals in my collection. I am just looking for a compromise between a glass tank, which would be best for the frogs, the peoper ventialtion for the chameleon and a chameleon that could be mixed with the frogs. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

A. A waterfall would do very little for the ventilation on an aquarium and would actually be more of an issue than a help as these often become little more than a bacteria breeding ground when enclosed in a terrarium.

Housing a chameleon in the same enclosure with a frog is really not a good idea. Chameleons can be easily stressed and this stress can be very subtle. Housing multiple species in the same enclosure could lead to a myriad of health problems for each of the species involved. If you are interested in acquiring a chameleon as a pet I would recommend a separate enclosure, made of screen or some other high air flow material. There is a plethora of good information available on this website that can help you with your decision.

Q: Veiled Troubles

I hope you can help me. I had aquired a female Veiled about 1 month ago from my daughter who had recieved 3 Chameleons ( a breading pair and the small female offspring) that I ended up with. When my daughter got them I was there and noticed they all seemed quite healthy.

Apparently she is about 6 months old. After aquiring the cage and all the nessessities need for her I went to my daughters a week later to bring her home. But after watching her I noticed she didn't move the same as the adults and that she was on the floor of the small cage at my daughters,

So for the next few days I kept a close eye on her. She stayed at the bottom of her cage all day and night. She doe's not get up on and walk around at all, instead she drags herself along. She has a little bit of grip in her hind legs and still curls her tail. After 2 days of this and noticing a black tail I took her straight to the vet.

The vet looked her over and did an ex-ray. She is packed full of eggs. The vet also noticed a couple of healed bends in her tail and that her back bone near the back may have a problem also. They kept her there for a week. They tried to induce her so she would hopefully lay the eggs, but she didn't. There was no change in her condition except her tail isn't black anymore.

Now I have her at home. I am giving her food by suringe, liquid calcium. She will eat a mealee worm on her own and a couple of crickets if she feels like it. I have to pinch the crickets legs so they can't jump away because she can't move very much.

She seems quit alert and her color if beautiful, she doesn't mind me picking her up to feed her or move her from the basking spot when I see her getting aggitated. I've got the damp sand for her hoping she'd use it to lay her eggs, but she can't do the whole digging thing.

I will be taking her back Monday Nov.28th to decide what to do. I feel that if I leave this problem to long she will just keep getting weaker and die. The vet suggests that she should remove the eggs and sterialize her so this won't happen again, especially if she doesn't get he full use of her back legs again.

My question is this. Is the surgery dangerous? And what would be her quality of life be like if she doesn't have full use of her hind legs? The vet seems to feel that the pressure of the eggs on her spine my be causing the hind leg problems.

A.From your description my first thought would be that this female is suffering from metabolic bone disease and that the egg binding is a secondary issue from this ailment. Removal of the eggs and spaying would be in the best interest of the animal in my opinion. All surgery has risks involved but if performed by a qualified vet the chances of a problem are quite low. Quality of life in regards to a chameleon is a question of personal feeling. What you may view as a fair quality of life others may not. Ultimately you and your vet must make the decision as to what is best for this animal.

Jason Descamps

Jason Descamps has been keeping and breeding reptiles and amphibians for over 12 years. To date he has worked with over 135 species of reptiles including breeding 18 species of chameleons. His current focus is creating a stable captive chameleon gene pool through the CCBTD and working with rarely bred chameleon species such as C. (Tr.) weidersheimi, C. (Tr.) werneri, and C. (Tr.) fuelleborni. Jason served as an assistant editor for the Chameleons! Online E-Zine from December 2005 through February 2008.


Join Our Facebook Page for Updates on New Issues: