What Do You Need For A Pet Chameleon

Do you want to get your own new pet Chameleon, but you want to know what you’re getting into?

Are you excited about getting a new reptile pet, but you don’t know what you need before you start?

It’s the best option to get everything you need ahead of time.

Having all the right gear and setup for a new pet will help your pet live a long and healthy life.

So you may be wondering:

What do you need for a pet chameleon?

All you need for a pet chameleon are the items to set up a habitat correctly and a way to keep their diet stable and healthy. Most of these items are a one time purchase, so you don’t need to worry too much about recurring costs.

Read ahead for more information on what you need for a new Chameleon Pat.

what do you need for a pet chameleon

What Do Chameleons Need In Their Cage?

In this section, we’ll go over the items you need to have for the correct set up for your chameleon’s habitat.

As we go, we’ll link to our favorite options for each of these products.

Enclosure/Cage

Chameleons are naturally arboreal creatures meaning they need a lot of space to move, and they need space to climb.

By this logic, the best chameleon cage is going to be one taller than it is wider or longer.

We recommend a chameleon cage 2′ feet (0.61 meters) long by 2′ feet (0.61 meters) wide by 4′ feet (1.22 meters) tall.

It’s possible to get away with a tank only 3′ feet (0.91 meters) tall, but the extra foot will help your Chameleon feel comfortable.

The Chameleon tank should also allow for good ventilation.

This means at least a few of the sides would be better off being made out of a mesh or screen material, often aluminum.

This allows for fresh air to move around the cage and helps keep bacteria out of the chameleon’s lungs.

With young chameleons, especially, stale air coming from poor ventilation is the main cause of respiratory infections.

With adults, this is bad enough, but for young chameleons, this can prove deadly.

For more information on chameleon cages, check out our review of the best chameleon cages.

If you don’t want to check out this article, hop on over to see the Repti Zoo cage.

We highly recommend this cage for its appropriate sizing, good material, and excellent construction.

Zoo Med ReptiBreeze Open Air Screen Cage, Extra...
  • Size: 24 x 24 x 48 inches
  • For Old World Chameleons, hatchling Green Iguanas, geckos (including Crested Geckos), anoles and other arboreal species of...
  • Large front door for easy cage access plus bottom door for easy substrate removal

Heaters

Most chameleons come from tropical rainforests having higher temperatures.

Their habitats should reflect this higher temperature as well.

There are three temperatures to look for with chameleon cages:

  • Basking spot temperature should be 85° – 95° degrees Fahrenheit (29° – 35° C)
  • The overall temperature should be 72° – 80° degrees Fahrenheit (22° – 27° C)
  • The nighttime temperature should be over 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C)

There are a few ways to reach these temperatures, but the most common set up is like this:

First, there is a heating lamp 6″ to 7″ inches above the basking spot.

This heating lamp will get the basking spot up to the correct temperature and also help to heat the overall tank.

There are a lot of heating lamp options out there.

We recommend the Repti Zoo duo heating lamp/UVB light.

This lamp is affordable, lasts a long time, and provides good heat for its energy output.

Sale
REPTI ZOO Dual Reptile Light Fixture for Reptile...
  • Dual lamp cap integration design,each can bear Max 150W(suit for :Reptile ceramic heat lamp, UVB UVA basking spot lamp,UVB...
  • Solid and heat-resistant ceramics lamp cap ensure long time use.
  • Two independent switch power lines for easy control separately lamp.The hanging hook easy to hang it with the lamp stand.

Most Chameleon heating lamps are placed outside the cage itself, but there are some which allow for space to put the lamp inside the cage.

The next place you have to worry about heating is the overall tank temperature.

In many cases, if the room itself is warm enough, you can get away with just the heating lamp heating the rest of the tank as well.

But if you find the other parts of the tank aren’t staying up to where they’re supposed to be, then you may need to pursue another option.

Other common options include an overhead heating light or an under the tank heating pad or mad.

Many chameleon cages will come with an easy to access lower bottom door for you to clean substrate and access your heating mat. Check out the Zacro reptile heating pad.

Zacro Reptile Heat Pad - Under Tank Heater for...
  • Durable material: made of high quality PVC material, its soft surface can be flexible and folded.The heat mat is easy to...
  • Powerful function: Helps reptile for daily activity, appetite and metabolism.It can keep reptile tank warm without any harm...
  • High efficiency: High-quality heating wire heating, stable performance and long service life.

The nighttime temperature shouldn’t be a problem.

You just have to watch for the 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C) mark and make sure it doesn’t dip below.

It’s unlikely the room in your house where you keep the cage is below 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C), but if you have the cage near a window, then you might have a problem.

Check the temperature a few times in the winter and throughout the year at nighttime to make sure the temp is not dipping below this mark.

If it is, you may have to keep your heater on a little longer.

We recommend keeping the tank heated for 12 hours during the day and then turning it off at night.

This range of temperature better simulates the chameleon’s native environment and its day-night cycle.

As a cold-blooded reptile, chameleons can handle some variation in temperature by slowing down their bodies’ process.

But for a long and healthy life, do you want to make sure the temperature is as stable as possible.

Humidity

Keeping track of the relative humidity in your chameleon’s cage is important, but it’s especially important with baby chameleons.

No chameleon cages relative humidity should dip below 50%.

The range can go up to 75%, but with adults, this higher humidity doesn’t need to be reached.

For baby chameleons, we recommend keeping it up closer to the 75% mark, so when it does dip down, it won’t go below 50%.

Use a good hygrometer to measure the relative humidity of your chameleon’s cage.

This Habor digital thermo/hygrometer measures temp and humidity.

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Habor Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer, Humidity...
  • POCKET SIZE & MAXIMIZE SPACE: It's a compact and lightweight design, so you can easily put it in your pocket and take it...
  • HIGH RELIABILITY & ACCURACY: Fast response that measures every 10 seconds with 24 sensitive VENTS to provide updated and...
  • AIR COMFORT LEVEL INDICATOR: Level icons indicate comfortable, un-comfortable and normal conditions. Habor hygrometer...

Low humidity results in some health problems for your reptile pet.

The first one you may see are shedding problems.

Without the appropriate humidity, shedding becomes difficult and painful and, in some cases, can injure the skin of your lizard.

The bigger concern with all chameleons, but especially young ones, is the danger of respiratory infections.

Respiratory infections are caused by low humidity making the lungs work harder.

Respiratory infections are dangerous enough for adults, but they are very serious in young chameleons, as mentioned above.

We recommend using this hygrometer to keep track of the humidity.

In most cases, all you’ll need to do to keep the humidity up is spray down the tank with a spray bottle twice a day.

If you notice the humidity isn’t staying up high enough, then you may need to spray more often, or you may want to purchase an automatic sprayer such as this blah blah one.

Furniture

As we mentioned above, chameleons are arboreal, meaning they like to live in trees and climb a lot.

The furniture in their tank should reflect this.

You’re looking for a mix of fake and real plants to give the Chameleon a lot of places to climb up and a lot of horizontal purchase to rest.

Some good fake plants include these Exo Terra vines, which are durable and adjustable.

Real plants are important to include, as well.

They keep the relative humidity up, and they provide more oxygen for your Chameleon.

This keeps the air fresh and helps avoid respiratory risks.

All real plans must be non-toxic in case of accidental ingestion.

Another important piece of furniture in your chameleon’s cage is a water drip.

Chameleons absorb water through their skin and by drinking droplets of water on leaves after a rain.

If you use a water dish and chameleons tank, it probably won’t know what to do with it.

A water drip, such as Choco Nose‘s water drip, helps simulate rain and attract chameleon’s attention.

It also raises the humidity of the tank.

Lighting

As with most reptiles, chameleons need a lot of exposure to the sun.

They absorb the UVB rays from the sun and soak up the vitamin D.

This vitamin D, in turn, allows them to better absorb minerals from their food, most importantly, calcium.

Most reptiles, including the Chameleon, or at a higher risk of calcium deficiency’s wedding captivity.

Too little calcium will result in metabolic bone disease.

This disease is dangerous and hard to recover from.

If left unchecked, metabolic bone disease can cause permanent deformities and, in the worst cases, death.

To help avoid this problem, your chameleon should be exposed to a UVB light for at least 12 hours per day.

Some heat lamps will give off UVB rays, but it’s best to use a dedicated UVB light or a combo unit such as the one in the heating section.

Keep this light on at the top of the tank, also near the basking spot for 12 hours a day.

At night, It’s just fine to turn this light off.

As with heating, this helps to stimulate the day-night cycle of the chameleon, and it allows a Chameleon to get a good rest.

Pro tip: Be sure to have extra UV will be lights on hand in case one burns out before it’s supposed to.

Diet

The chameleon’s diet is pretty simple, but stability is key to a long life for your Chameleon friend.

Chameleons are insectivores in almost every species, meaning they eat only insects.

For most of your chameleons, crickets are going to be the main insect to eat.

Chameleons can feed every other day.

Make sure the size of the cricket is no bigger than the width between the chameleon’s eyes.

Crickets larger than this could choke or cause impaction on the chameleon’s digestive system, which will cause health problems. 

During the chameleons feeding, give the Chameleon as many crickets as it will eat within a 10 to 15 minute window.

Then, remove the remaining crickets after the feeding time is done.

Live crickets are always better than dead ones or pellet food.

It allows for better nutrient absorption and stimulates the chameleon’s hunting instinct.

Even feeding chameleons the appropriate amount at the right time, your pet may still develop some mineral deficiencies.

This is because captive crickets don’t have all the natural nutrients they would normally get when they live in the wild.

To fix this problem, we have two options.

The first thing we should do is make sure we sprinkle the crickets with calcium powder.

This will allow the Chameleon to absorb some extra nutrients from the insects.

We recommend this powder supplement by Rep Cal. It’s affordable and really easy to use.

Rep-Cal SRP00200 Phosphorous-Free Calcium...
  • Rep-Cal Ultrafine Powder Is An Excellent Source Of Calcium For All Reptiles And Amphibians
  • Scientifically Formulated From 100-Percent Natural Oyster Shell Phosphorous-Free Calcium Carbonate With Vitamin D3 To Aid In...
  • Mix with vegetables, fruits and pastes approximately 1/2 tablespoon Rep-Cal with 1/2 tablespoon herptivite per lbs of food

The second thing we should do is to gut load the crickets one day before we feed them to the Chameleon.

When you gut load crickets, you’re feeding crickets high nutrient food before they cricket the Chameleon eats them.

This allows the cricket to have more nutrients in its system, which in turn will allow the Chameleon to absorb more nutrients.

This method is more effective at providing better nutrition than a powder supplement, but it’s harder to do since you have to do this a day in advance, and it involves you dealing with the crickets more.

As a good balance, you should try to gut load your crickets at least once per week and sprinkle the powder supplement on them the rest of their feedings.

For a good gut loading product, try the Fluker’s cricket feed.


Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed learning about what you need for a chameleon.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a lot you need, and most of the items are one time purchases.

Getting these items may seem tricky at first, but most of them are available online at a reasonable price.

Click on the links we mentioned above for samples of products we recommend in each category.

Now you know what you need, go out there and adopt her oddly cute pet.

Spend Less Time Figuring Out What To Do And More Time Enjoying Your Pet

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