Questions and Answers

By Jason Descamps


Descamps, J. (2007). Questions and Answers. Chameleons! Online E-Zine, February 2007. (

Q. Hi Jason

I have a Panther Chameleon (Nosy Be), housed with a separate UVB light and heater. I have been using a ceramic heater on a thermostat so I can keep the night time temperature around 68-70, but was wondering if one of the infa red 24hours heaters would be better as they would not disturb him at night (or so I have read) but would give off a bit of a glow during the day ,as the ceramic heater give out no light at all so he only has the uvb light source during the day which is rather dull ..what do you think is the best option ? Would the 24hour Infa Red heaters give him enough heat during the day?

Whoops sorry meant to ask about him refusing to eat Crickets when he used to love them any ideas why?

A. My suggestion on the lighting would be to couple your UVB tube with an additional "daylight" style fluorescent tube for more light output. That should increase the overall light output to a more usable level and is something that I have utilized for years with good success. In regards to the ceramic heat emitter, I generally try to sway keepers from utilizing these sources of heat with their chameleons. Chameleons show a strong association between heat and visible light, and often under utilize a ceramic heat source since there is no visible light associated with the heat. Along the same lines the use of a red or purple bulb at night is usually not recommended as well. Chameleons thrive with a night time temp drop and the additional light usually does little more than raise your utility bill. As long as your house is not in the 50's at night you should be just fine with no supplemental heat at night. If the daytime temps are too low I would suggest upping the wattage of your basking bulb to create a more variable temp gradient.

On the subject of refusing crickets, this is something that occurs quite frequently with captive chameleons. They often tire of the same food sources and will often flatly refusing to eat them for some time. The best suggestion I can make on that is to offer as variable a diet as you are able to provide. Roaches (Cockroaches - Chameleon food Par excellence!), moths, flies, etc. all make great additions to your chams diet and will aid in keeping it interested in food. For other feeder ideas you can check out the alternative feeder article in the May 2006 issue of the E-zine, "Alternative Feeders".

Q. I see several websites and forum posts saying that its okay to use dog food or cat food for a gutload instead of buying the expensive stuff from the pet store. Is there any reason why I shouldnt use dog food?

A. First off, you should always take forum posts and other websites with a cautious view. While most people are simply trying to help, you rarely know who these people are and if they are responding with any real experience to back up their opinion. Always get as much info as you can through your own research to go along with what you see on the internet.

To answer the question, in my opinion there are many reasons not to use dog or cat food for a gutload. Most dog and cat foods on the market today are high in corn content and while some corn is fine in a gutload it is difficult to digest and holds a relatively low level of nutrients. They are also high in salts, fats and animal proteins which can all lead to possible health issues. Unfortunately, most gutloads you see on the store shelves arent without their share of issues too. There are several recipes online as well as good pre-made products available online that will be far better choices than dog or cat food. There are several nutrition articles available in past issues of the Chameleons! Online E-Zine that will aid in choosing the best gutload for your chams.

Q. There is a local pet store that is selling week old panther chameleons at a decent price. They are pretty small but they are so cheap. Is it worth the risk?

Q. I recently came across some very young veileds for sale at a pet store. The store has them setup in small plastic tanks with heat lights and no branches or plants. I feel so sorry for them. Should I buy them?

A. The short answer is no, it’s not worth the risk. Far too often pet stores, and some “breeders”, will sell chameleons that are a few days or weeks old at a “blowout” or “killer” price “just to make room for...”. These chameleons usually end up in the hands of novice keepers who are attracted to the great price or the tiny baby chams that are just too cute to pass up. They take them home and give their best effort to keep them alive only to find a small dead chameleon a few days later. While there is a possibility that these chameleons will be okay and will thrive in your care they will most likely perish quite quickly. It is far better to save a little more money and buy an older animal from an established breeder. You’ll be much happier with the end result.

On the subject of “saving” chameleons from the pet store, reptile show, or “breeder” you will only be serving the overall goal of these individuals. While many of the same points apply as previously mentioned, these individuals or organizations are simply in it for the money. And by purchasing the animals from them in an attempt to save them you are simply feeding money to the store so that they may purchase more chameleons and house them in similar situations. Again it is best to shop elsewhere for a healthy chameleon from an established breeder and not “feed the monster” so to speak.

Q. I have a pair of veileds that I would like to breed. If I just put a bucket of sand in their cage will she lay her eggs in them? What can I incubate the eggs in? Thanks

A. Before you attempt to breed your veiled chameleons please be sure that you are fully prepared for this undertaking. Ch. calyptratus in captivity lay large clutches of eggs which often hatch in rapid succession leaving you with a large number of hungry little mouths to feed. You will have to allow for feeders, lighting, caging, supplements, etc. for 20-50 baby chameleons for several months. That can be a lot to deal with for anyone. Then you have to deal with finding responsible homes for all of those baby chameleons-again not an easy task. Some more info on what to expect can be found in the July 2002 issue of the e-zine (The Business of Breeding)

Assuming that you are up for the task of breeding I can happily answer your questions.

You could try a bucket of sand in the females cage (I am assuming that you meant to say HER cage instead of THEIR cage as this species should never be housed together unless in very large, room sized enclosures) but I have personally had much better success with the trash can method. I utilize a 32 gallon trash can with 1’-2’ of a sandy soil mixture placed in it. The substrate is moistened to a point where a tunnel can be made and held without excess moisture. I usually place a small ficus plant in the trash can as well as some branches for climbing. Top it off with a basking bulb and you are ready to go. The female will dig to her desired depth and lay the eggs with the added privacy of a solid sided enclosure. When she has finished you can remove the chameleon, plants and branches and remove the eggs for incubation.

Incubation can be done any number of ways, most prefer a warm shelf in a dark room or closet or the use of a styrofoam chicken incubator. Either method will work well for chameleon eggs as long as the proper temperature range is met. The July 2003 issue of the E-Zine has a great article on incubation techniques that should help fill in the blanks a bit more. (Incubation Strategies)

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.


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