Questions and Answers

By Jared Cain


Cain, J. (2010). Questions and Answers. Chameleons! Online E-Zine, July 2010. (

Q. Eye problem with Furcifer oustaleti.

Hey man, my girl has been doing good, but since I got her I noticed her left eye was a bit "off" recently shes been keeping it shut when shes getting ready to rest (4:30-6:00) when she eats (yeah she eats great) she opens them both readily, and she does not keep her eye shut much during the middle of the day, what do you think? Been misting her extra (plus shes got a mistking) but still nothing.

A.  As always seeking a qualified vet is the best route to go when dealing with eye problems. A chameleon keeping one or more eyes closed can mean there are other underlying issues besides the eye is irritated or infected. Shipping can be stressful on an animal and sometimes they can damage their eyes from being mishandled or poorly packed. Knowing that the chameleon has been shipped recently and that it was in known good health prior to shipping you can try a few techniques to see if the eye gets any better.

Prolonged waterings, as you are doing, can sometimes help if the eye is irritated by a foreign object. There are few ways you can offer longer waterings. If you use an automatic misting system you can set it to run in longer intervals. If you hand water you can sit there and water for longer periods of time. Personally , instead of hand watering for a long period, I would place the chameleon in the shower on a plant. Make sure to use luke warm water. Not cold or hot. Direct the shower head towards the wall so the water bounces off and then on to the plant and chameleon. DO NOT direct the shower head so the water is coming straight out of it onto the chameleon. This can create way too much water being directed onto the chameleon stressing it out and possibly making it aspirate water drowning it or causing it to have a respiratory infection. As long as the chameleon is not stressing out you can keep it in the shower for 30 minutes to an hour.

Another technique you can use for a foreign object is to squirt saline solution into the eye. Squeeze the bottle to create a jet stream that you can shoot into the eye. Fill the eye up to maximum inflation and stop. Do not stick the bottle directly into the eye. Repeat 2 to 3 times.

If you do not see any improvement using these techniques within a couple of days seek vet attention so they can prescribe the necessary eye drops. If you see a haziness to the eye or eyes seek vet attention immediately. You will not have long before permanent corneal scarring can occur.

Q. Temperatures for Kinyongia uthmoelleri.

So my enclosure is 18 by 18 by 36 super densly planted, braches, the whole shabang. It gets to about 68 at night down here, lately its been going much lower, but in the summer thats as low as it goes. I plan on providing a weak basking spot (80 maybe) but the rest of the enclosure is mid 70s to high 60s on the bottom. what do you think? I want to make sure I know what Im doing before I jump into something since Im only vaguely farmiliar with K. Utho.

A. Your enclosure sounds perfect for a single animal. Kinyongia uthmoelleri like a very well densely planted enclosure. They tend to bask in the morning and seek shade the rest of the day. Your day time temperature gradient sounds good. I would provide him with a basking site in the lower 80’s.

As for the night time temperatures they really need to get into the lower 60’s and upper 50’s. As with most montane chameleons a sufficient night time drop is essential for their health. Very small periods where the temperatures do not drop quite so low may be tolerated but prolonged periods should be avoided. Humidity should be around 90% night time and can drop below 40% during the day in the dry seasons. Personally I do not let the humidity drop below 60% at any time.

One way you can provide cooler temperatures at night is with an extra air conditioner in the room the chameleon is in. You want to make sure the A.C. does not make the humidity drop too low. I would use an ultrasonic humidifier accompanied with the A.C. to make sure it does not drop too low.

If you can not provide these lower night time temperatures and higher humidity that montane chameleons need I would stick to keeping low land species.

Q. Getting ready for Kinyongia tavetana.

I guess it is time to suck it up and go for it! What size terrariums do you keep your guys in? I figure each Tav should have a separate terrarium but I don't know what size. It also talks about lots of air flow, do the exo terra have adequate airflow? Let me know and I will get the terrarium's in and set up. What do you feed them? I need to have all the correct food items and sizes available for them.

A. I keep my Kinyongia tavetana in 16x16x30 screened enclosures. This species may be small but they are very active. Of course you want a very densely planted enclosure for them also. Day time temperatures should be between 70 and 80 degrees with a basking site in the lower to mid 80’s and a night time drop into the lower 60’s or more is essential for this species health. Humidity should be around 80% or higher at night. In their native habitat humidity can drop below 50% day time however I keep it no lower than 60%.

Reports have said a pair can be kept together in a very large and densely planted enclosure. However, I recommend all animals be housed separately unless for breeding. As with most chameleons males will fight each other and they can also stress a female out from repeated attempts to breed when she is unreceptive. They may be competitive for food and basking sites. One may be more dominant than the other resulting in the weaker one not being able to utilize basking sites or catch enough prey items. It is also easier to monitor behaviors and food consumption when animals are housed separately.

Air flow and air quality is especially important for all species of chameleons. Stagnant air can cause respiratory infections and other problems such as mold issues. The exo terras will be fine for them. Terrariums are fine however aquariums are not. Terrariums come with ventilation holes unlike aquariums. This topic and the use of terrariums is being discussed in this issue of the E-Zine.

In my experience with Kinyongia tavetana I have found they will readily accept any quick moving or flying insects. I have noticed they will not accept slow worm type feeders such as silk worms, horn worms and fly larvae. My experience with this comes from around 12 adult specimen and three clutches of captive hatched babies. Of course every chameleon is different and there is no reason not to see if your pair will eat them. Diversity in feeders is very important for nutritional value and to keep your chameleon from going on hunger strikes. Neonates of this species will accept the usual fruit flies and can start off eating 1/8 inch crickets right out the egg.

Q. Kinyongia multituberculata VS Trioceros ellioti.

I am thinking about getting some Multis. How do you like yours? I have wanted some for a while, but the incubation lengths make me not want them. But have you found that they are active, or are they lazy? Also, do you recommend these? I was thinking about gettin elliot's because I heard they are a communual species but  I am not sure I want to work with another live bearing species since my first run was not very successful.

A. Personally, I think Kinyongia multituberculata has been one of the most fun and fascinating chameleon species I have kept. They are very active! I would definitely recommend this species for someone wanting to keep a more active species, as long as they can provide the correct husbandry for them. They are very fun to watch eat and get really excited at feeding time. Of course you want to feed them a varied diet so they stay excited about feeding. Lots of color variation, neat horns and a super long tail is another reason I like the species so much. Incubation can be a rather long wait at around 11 months. However, as with any other chameleon species, it is worth the wait! This species can be found sometimes as captive bred or captive hatched. Wild caught specimen can be tricky to acclimate and often imported in very poor shape. Buy captive raised specimen whenever possible and only buy wild caughts from known reputable sources. You can read more about them and their care in this article on the E-Zine (

Trioceros ellioti is another interesting chameleon species. However, much different than Kinyongia multituberculata. They are a more sedentary species and will usually wait for their meal to come by instead of eagerly chase it down like the multituberculata. They have much shorter tails in comparison to the body. They do have a wide variation of colors with very cool patterns. Colors can range from blues, greens and browns with nice white lateral stripes on the face and body. Not to mention that they are live bearers!! Birthing is really neat if you can catch it and the wait for babies may seem shorter than waiting for eggs to hatch. They can be housed together in large densely planted enclosures. However, I do not recommend housing any chameleon species together until one has experience with the species behaviors. Besides competition for food and basking sites, territorial disputes and repeated breeding attempts by males it is harder to monitor food consumption. Individual attitudes are also a factor when housing animals together. Just because a species is known to tolerate being housed together doesn’t mean every animal of that species will. This is another species that requires high humidity and cooler temperatures.

Sorry to hear about your first attempt at a live bearing species. Live bearing species can be very tricky since most specimen for sale are wild caught. As with any wild caught animal the condition it is in when you receive it is very crucial to being successful. Also being able to provide the animal with correct husbandry and necessary medical attention will decide whether you are successful or not. Again, always buy captive raised specimen when possible or wild caughts only from known reputable sources.

In conclusion. I think either species is very interesting. Both are very different from each other so its really up to what sounds more interesting to you.

Q. Basking site for montane (mountainous) chameleons?

Hello. I am looking to get into other species of chameleons and really like some of the montane species. I have read that some keepers are successful not using basking lights for them. Do you offer yours a basking site?

A. Yes, I do provide my montane chameleons with a basking site. I have heard other keepers do have success with out providing them with a site to bask. Although montane chameleons do not need basking sites as high as low land species I feel it is needed for them to be able to thermoregulate their body temperature properly. Chameleons are cold blooded animals that use the sun to warm themselves to proper body temperatures. Being able to warm themselves to proper temperatures aids in digestion. If it can not reach optimum body temperatures it will not be able to utilize all the nutrients from properly gut loaded and dusted insects. Basking lamps also provide UVA rays which stimulate appetite. Using a small localized basking site for montanes will allow you to keep a nice temperature gradient in the enclosure which is very important. Keeping your cage cooler on the bottom and gradually warming up at the top with a basking site low to mid 80’s (for montane species) will allow them to warm up and cool down as needed.

Jared Cain

Jared Cain has been interested in all animals since a young kid, especially reptiles and amphibians. Currently he only keeps chameleons and has been doing so for around 7 years. His main focus is on species in the Kinyongia genus, while keeping a few species from the Trioceros genus. He is also enthusiastic about importing captive bred species to provide to the chameleon community and helping spread correct husbandry practices. Currently Jared is an Assistant Editor for the Chameleons! Online E-Zine and can be emailed at

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