FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
“Best” is subjective, my recommendations are; Schefflera arboricola or umberella plant (one of the very few safe and non-toxic schefflera species safe for reptiles) and Pothos vines for outdoor.
My personal favorites are hibiscus and long leaf ficus.
What are safe vegetables and fruits I can feed my insects and/or omnivorous chameleons (such as Veiled’s that eat both insects and vegetables)?
Please refer to this link
Males have a thicker tail base due to their hemipenal bulge. A lot of people have trouble noticing the slight difference in size, but the trick I have learned through the years is to compare the base of the tail to the hind leg. Which one looks like its tail is bigger in comparison to the back leg?
Secondly, look at the size of the tail directly after the vent. Does it look fairly even in size/circumference (then slowly dimish) or do you notice a slight, but more even, decrease in size from the vent to the tip of the tail?
Loss of appetite and weight loss (followed by lethargy and emaciation-including sunken-in eyes and overall boniness). Chameleons are very good at hiding ailments, the better you know your chameleon (and their habits) the easier, and faster, you’ll notice something is wrong.
B) Vitamin imbalance/deficiency
C) Improper lighting
Dehydration is fairly easy to spot; sunken-in eyes and lean/boniness, especially around the casque and head area. Note that these are also symptoms of emaciation, and could be due to a number of ailments.
In the wild chameleons hydrate via breathing in humid air and drinking small droplets of water from leaves/foliage. They will typically go hide in the foliage during a rainstorm and then begin to drink when they find a comfortable spot.
Thus, it is important to use both a water dripper and a mister. You can buy a 1 gallon pump garden sprayer from home depot for around $10 or online. Try to ensure it has a locking mechanism for continuous spraying. Look for one in the paint/wood sealant section used for spraying wood sealant that has a lock on the handle. With this you can pump it a few times and leave it locked while it mists for 5-10 minutes+ depending on how many times you pump it and how much water is in it. It mimics natural rainfall more than something like a mist system – or mist king – and sprays long enough to give the chameleon time to drink. Do this 2x per day for indoor chameleons with a dripper that lasts about an hour. Also spray them/their surrounding area first thing in the morning and right before bed. Chameleons have been shown to gain weight during the night due to increase in the nighttime humidity levels.
A dripper can be bought, or made easily by poking a tiny hole in a cup, water bottle, milk jug, Tupperware, etc…
*Keep in mind fake vines and plants typically do not hold water as well and also do not have the added benefit of increasing humidity.
*Some may recommend training your chameleon to drink from a water bowl. As far as the majority of chameleon species, especially the ones we keep as pets in captivity, this is unnatural for them. At Greenhouse chameleons we cannot recommend this as it does not mimic their natural environment (we advise to mimic the natural habitat they thrive the best in as close as possible) and could easily become more unsanitary than frequently flowing water like that of a dripper or mister. The flowing water will also help to keep the cage and foliage clean as long as you don’t let humidity levels stay too high or mist too often.
For outdoor enclosures:
Though there is not much research on artificial misting systems (and this is highly dependent on where you live at) we recommended that misters are set to go off 4x daily for 20 minutes. Zak’s misters are set at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm. The artificial rain system (as seen in the YouTube video) may be more natural and mimics rainfall better but uses an enormous amount of water, it is set to go off 4x per day for 3 minutes right before the misters. The misters and rain system are also set to go off for 5min at midnight to help them hydrate at night as seen in the wild (aside from colder days).
Note: these times are adjusted based on rainfall and temperatures. On especially hot days Zak will go use his garden hose and shower all cages during the heat of the day if they are dry. Rain delay is used on rainy days (especially during the rainy season), and times may be lowered to 10 or 15min during winter/colder temperatures.
For those wondering, chameleons can handle temperatures above freezing. While we suggest spoiling your baby, Zak has left dozens of chameleons outside at temperatures in the mid 30’s (Fahrenheit), but never below freezing. The only time Zak explains he has taken every chameleon inside was before hurricane Irma (in which he also went out and rescued 23 wild veiled chameleons from a forestry area that was wiped out by the hurricane). BB, aka Broken Back (pictures on IG), was found a few days after the hurricane (near the forestry area) and recovered fully under Zak’s care (though her spine was crooked and bent nearly 30degrees) with part of her spinal column exposed.
Lastly; a couple people have noted that some misters can be controlled and set by your smart phone.
First of all, Chameleons are diurnal, which means they sleep at night and hunt/eat during the day. Yet we feed them nocturnal insects (which are easier and cheaper to breed). This is contradictory to what chameleons eat in the wild, which is why we have vitamin problems in captivity. Nocturnal insects (and nocturnal organisms in general) have different dietary requirements than diurnal animals like chameleons. One being that they don’t require as much (or often don’t need any) UVB from the sun. Another being eyesight, chameleons have very advanced eyesight (as mentioned on the homepage chameleons can see a fruit fly from ~33ft away), and rely heavily on their eyesight.
With that said, this is still a hard question to answer due to the fact that chameleons are very good at hiding signs of an ailment until it’s nearly too late. But refer to FAQ #1 for the first signs/symptoms of a sick chameleon. There also isn’t a whole lot of information on chameleons and nutrition, but from personal experience, research, and the studies that exist; Calcium deficiency, Vitamin A deficiency, and Vitamin D3 deficiency (Note that Vitamin D3 toxicity is also seen regularly due to the amount of people supplementing Calcium with Vitamin D3 daily. Vitamin D3 is highly toxic when over supplemented and seen much more often than Vitamin A overdose) are the most common vitamin problems. These are also vitamins that most nocturnal organisms are lacking (enough of) because of their different dietary requirements.
Luckily, there is enough research to prevent most vitamin deficiencies and imbalances with the correct vitamin supplements (i.e. dusting you insects). If your chameleon is indoors it is recommended to supplement with all 3 (Vitamin A, D3, and Ca). You can gut load your insects, but even then all the evidence based scientific research available shows that gut loading is not adequate and dusting your feeder insects is essential. Thus you need to use a vitamin dust with Calcium, and a pre-formed source of Vitamin A (such as retinol, carotenoids are not sufficient). Additionally, if kept indoors, even with the use of a UVB bulb, vitamin D3 should be supplemented as well. Carotenoids – a precursor to Vitamin A – is recommended as well. But to date, there is still insufficient evidence to suggest adults can readily convert carotenoids to vitamin A. Thus far research suggests gut-loading insects with high amounts of carotenoids is still insufficient – and thus all evidence suggest a preformed Vitamin A source is necessary. There is evidence that suggests carotenoids are utilized by the growing embryos of chameleon eggs, thus this is a vitamin that is recommended, especially for females, along with preformed vitamin A.
“Punchy’s Powder” is based on that of several evidence based research studies which is made to provide all necessary vitamins in the amounts recommended for the daily intake of chameleons (RDI). The only difference in the outdoor powder versus the indoor powder is that the outdoor powder contains no Vitamin D3 (a fat soluble vitamin like Vitamin A, D3 can also build up and cause toxicity).
Punchy’s Powder has been a work of Zak’s since early 2015, and with the help of the most current evidence based research articles available, as well as UF’s Reptile and Amphibian Pathology program, Punchy’s Powder has been fine tuned with very specific levels of each vitamin. As mentioned, it is a multivitamin to be used daily, or 6/7 days a week (Zak mentions he takes Sundays off from dusting completely). He also emphasizes to dust lightly “like fertilizing a plant, you don’t want to over-do it” he states. While it could be said that adults need less vitamins than growing juveniles, we are still feeding nocturnal insects to diurnal chameleon. Additionally, just as we take one multivitamin per day instead of 7 multivitamins once a week, or even 14 every two weeks (as suggested by many online bloggers, and even many reptile supplements), it seems common sense to do the same for our chameleons (a little everyday instead of a lot once every 7-14days).
My chameleon prices are as listed, $225 for juveniles and $300 for sub-adults showing colors. You can expect to spend nearly double that ($450-$600) for the entire set-up. At pet store expect to spend $600-$1,000 (for a Panther and full set up).
As aforementioned, the most important factor you can do for you chameleon is get a correct initial set up. You can buy a cheap cage off of Craig’s List, spend $10 at home depot for a 1 gallon pressure-pump sprayer for misting, make your own dripper out of a cup or empty bottle, and spend ~$8 for a light fixture from home depot and another ~$8 for the correct UVB bulb (again zoo-med 5.0 has been used in most studies), and ~$10 for vitamin dust (make sure it contains pre-formed vitamin A, Calcium, [and Vitamin D3 for indoors] and follow their recommended instructions–or use Punchy’s powder daily). But you get out of it what you put in (I.e. Invest in a good initial set up and spend the time and effort to build a bond with your chameleon, keep him happy and healthy, and he will return the gratitude via his personality).