Things You Should Never Do  
Chapter 5:
General Care

  • Never house two chameleons together. Even if they appear to be agreeable initially, they will become stressed and can injure or possibly kill each other (they have even been known to eat each other!).

  • Never have your basking lamp closer than 1 foot away from your chameleon! If placed any closer it could result in thermal burns.

  • Never have your UVA/UVB light farther than 10 inches away from your chameleon. The closer the better!

  • Make sure you don't overdo it with plants and sticks. A chameleon needs a place of privacy but also "space".

  • Never use "hot rocks". Many reptiles do not recognize when they are being burned. Just as a basking light can burn a chameleon, so can a hot rock. Unfortunately, they are not too smart when it comes to heat! Even if they do get burned, they will not "learn their lesson" and can keep going back hoping to get as close to a hot surface as they can! "Thermal pads" are good for many reptiles, but NOT chameleons, as they do not spend much time on the ground. Remember, chameleons require both a hot zone and a cool zone so they can adjust their body temperatures. Keeping them hot all the time will dehydrate them and cause a fast death.

  • Never leave your chameleon outside unsupervised. Even for a second! It will be gone in an instant. They can move quickly when they are excited, and will be gone up a tree, or under a bush without you knowing. By the time you start looking in one spot, they will have moved to another in the opposite direction, and you have virtually no hope of finding him. Is it worth leaving your pet for an instant with this at risk? If you must leave, take you pet with you or you may never see him again. Even though they may appear to be basking, and relaxing, they become extremely stimulated when outside and will bolt to the nearest tree at any moment. Remember, they live to climb! Personally, I never let my chameleons roam freely, even if I am supervising them, as birds are a very dangerous threat as are pesticides and toxic plants.

  • If your chameleon does get lost (it only takes a few seconds), it will become so camouflaged it will be like finding a needle in a haystack. Your chameleon will either die from lack of water, food, fall prey to a cat/bird or most likely lack of heat. Summer nights can be very cold and don't forget fall and winter, so don't risk it.

  • How do you prevent this? Simply, put your pet on your shoulder (hold onto its tail!) and take it for a walk! NEVER let your pet run around on the ground a bird could scoop it up, or get hit by a car, or could burn its feet on hot pavement.

  • If you do take your pet with you, bring water (a small container and an eye dropper and spritz bottle). NEVER travel with your chameleon unless you are willing to purchase a large travel container, provide it with water and bring ALL the essential housing requirements.

  • Make sure you come home before it cools down, or your chameleon will get cold. Remember, they should not go below 65 degrees!

  • A good way of letting your pet enjoy the summer months is to either construct an enclosure or purchase a birdcage (at least 3 feet x 3 feet). I find this the cheapest and easiest method. It's also transportable and strong. Just make sure it is sitting on solid, level ground and preferably on a table, away from cats and other critters. Remember, chameleons like a bird's eye view and will not enjoy sitting on the ground in the middle of the backyard. They will feel very vulnerable.

  • Ensure your chameleon cannot squeeze through the cage. This type of outdoor housing is only suitable for large adults. Smaller ones know how to angle their heads to fit through. You'd be surprised what a small space they can squeeze out of. They will also crawl around the perimeter of their new outdoor enclosure looking for a "way out". Ensure there are NO tears or gaps! Observe your chameleon, it may begin to rub his head against the metal trying to squeeze out. One of my Boys actually rubbed the tip of his casque off by attempting this. If the skin breaks, infections are a risk.

  • Never use real plants that have been treated with pesticides. If you purchase a plant that has fertilizer or small white balls that look like Styrofoam mixed in with the earth, replant it, as your chameleon will try to eat these!

  • Never leave your chameleon in his outdoor enclosure alone. You may be tempted, as they weather is so nice and you think your doing him a favor, however, remember chameleons cannot regulate their body temperatures. They take on the temperature of their surroundings. As the sun moves through the sky, your chameleon will either get too hot or cold. Move the cage around, but never leave it stationary and unsupervised. It may start to rain, wind may blow the cage over, your chameleon could die in an hour if over heated or a curious cat may wonder by. Be responsible!!!

  • When constructing an outdoor enclosure, you can use fresh leaves from surrounding trees (see list of toxic plants to avoid). You can also use non-sterile branches ONLY outside, once inspecting them for bugs, thorns, splinters, fungus etc. NEVER bring these items inside and be sure to change them daily, as the heat will cause all foliage to wilt and render them useless. The heat, moisture and lack of ventilation can cause bacteria to form inside and your pet is in their for at least 12 hours a day! But its all right to use these non-sterile materials for a couple of hours outside when changed daily. Ensure your pet has a shaded area to retreat too so he may cool down, and a basking area to warm up in. You can weave leaves through a birdcage well, so accommodate this environment.

  • Never pull your chameleon off a branch! It can be frustrating when you want to get your pet down from a stick or rope, as they are so slow moving and hesitant to release their grip. However, pulling your chameleon can cause stress and make it grip on tighter. A chameleon is delicate, and you can break an arm or leg in a second if you pull or twist them. To entice him down, slip your fingers under his hands and feet one at a time. Remember, holding and pulling his "body" will not reassure him and make him release his grip, as he needs his feet on solid ground first!

  • Never house your chameleon in a high traffic zone. They require privacy. Stress will shorten their lives considerably.

  • Never place your enclosure directly next to a window. They will be too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. A sunbeam may appear to be a warm comfortable spot for your pet, but don't forget the "greenhouse effect". Your aquarium will heat up and your chameleon will have no way of cooling itself down. You can place your chameleon in view of a window if you take care to close the blinds when it's too sunny or cold. You should always keep the blinds closed in the winter as your chameleon will seasonally change and react to the shortened diurnal cycle.

  • If you see your chameleon walking around the bottom of his enclosure or scratching the walls of his enclosure, he may simply want "out" or there maybe something wrong. Ensure the temperature is all right. If this action persists investigate further. There maybe something irritating him, as this is not normal behavior. If you have a female, it is a sure sign that she wants to deposit her eggs!

  • Never put your chameleon is view of another, near a mirror or surface where it may see its reflection. It will cause extreme stress, as they are very territorial.

  • Never try to get a chameleon to change his colors for you on demand. Any type of stress is detrimental.

  • Never expose your chameleon to a group of people, or curious children. Chameleons are solitary, shy creatures. Share your chameleon with one individual at a time, under supervision.

  • Beware of things like; fire places, hot stoves or open toilet lids. You get the picture.

  • If you take your chameleon into the shower or steamy bathroom under your full supervision, remember that moisture is beneficial, but steam for to long or that is to hot will cause dehydration! Again remember, more is not better.


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