A chameleon is quite an interesting creature. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats. However, these unique reptiles are commonly found and breed in warmer environments. They can be found in rainforests, as well as in deserts. They find bushes, low woody growths, and trees as their appropriate habitats. If you plan to have a chameleon for a pet (like many have found to be an interesting thing to do), this post will provide you with some tips in creating the appropriate habitat for your pet reptile.
Chameleons are one of a kind!
There are about 200 known species of chameleons found all over the world. They usually abound in Africa, Madagascar, southern Europe, and across southern Asia as far as Sri Lanka. These bizarre reptiles have a unique attribute. They can colors. They can also move each eye independently from the other. Aside from that, they can roll their eyes to give each a full 360-view. That means that they can not only focus on two different things at the same time, but they can also have an eye looking at the back while the other looking straight ahead! But if they want to focus on a prey in front of them, they can use both eyes and look in the same direction to have a better view. Can there be anything cooler than that for a pet?
Can they really change their colors?
One more thing about these absolutely extraordinary creatures is their ability to change color (or so it seems). How they change their color to camouflage with the surrounding hue is an unusual feature that only a reptile like a chameleon can do. But they don’t really change their skin color. Instead, the nerve impulses and hormonal changes in a chameleon’s body allow it to blend colors in its different skin layers to mimic the hue or the pattern of its surrounding.
It’s interesting to note that these smart creatures have four different skin layers: the outer or the protective layer (also called the epidermis); the chromatophore layer, which contains yellow and red pigments; the melanophore layer, which contains the dark pigment melanin and creates brown and black colors or reflect blue; as well as the nether layer, which only reflects white.
These are just a few interesting facts that may have enticed many reptile lovers to have one of these docile reptiles as a pet.
As interesting as their features are their habitats. Like any other pet reptile, they require the proper care for them to live happy and satisfied. That includes their housing and everything that will keep them protected while under your care.
To provide the husbandry that these reptiles require, you need to make sure that you create an environment that mimics their original habitat. Unlike other house pets like cats and dogs, chameleons need special attention so they will live longer. And they do live longer in captivity than in the wild. Their average lifespan in captivity is about 5-10 years. While in the wild they live shorter. Some live about 2-3 years in the wild, some to just about 4-5 months. They even spend longer inside their eggs than after they are hatched.
Best chameleon cage with glass terrarium set with a screened top, a screened or wire cage, and even a large and tall bird cage can serve as a housing or habitat for a pet chameleon. Glass terrariums, however, are a better option for those living in dry or cold climates as they provide better temperature and humidity control .
The longest chameleon, the Madagascan (or Oustalet’s) chameleon reaches to about 23 inches (60 centimeters) in length. The shortest, the Pygmy leaf chameleon, reaches to just about 0.9 inches (2.54 centimeters) in length. When looking for the right length of cage or housing for your pet chameleon, one that is about 2′ x 3′ x 3′ will fit chameleons about a foot or less in length. For bigger and longer-sized chameleons, the bigger the cage the better.
To make the housing a better suitable place for your pet, you can place a Ficus Tree or some branches for the reptile to sit on or climb and hang its tail around, as well as places for it to drink. You can also include some leaves where the reptile can hide and rest and also from where it can drink droplets of water.
Light, Heat, and Humidity
Your chameleon will also need a source of heat and light. Fluorescent UVB bulbs will work well and will ensure that your pet reptile will get enough exposure so it can thermoregulate. Just make sure that the lights are placed where the reptile can’t get too close and possibly get burned.
To maintain the cage temperature, you will also need to setup basking bulbs and heat emitting bulbs in one of the sides of the chameleon’s housing. Creating temperature gradients within the housing will help your pet to regulate heat by moving within it.
Reptiles do not only need heat but humidity as well to remain healthy. Each species has its own humidity requirement, however. As for your pet chameleon, a humidity level between 50 – 70% will just be great for it. This will vary depending on the reptile’s species, however. If it is too hot within the cage, you will need a fogger or a mister to mist the reptile once in a while. It is also recommended that you install a thermometer and humidity gauge to maintain the heat and humidity setting within your pet’s cage.
Food and Water
Your pet will need a food bowl where you can place insects like mealworms when it is time to feed your chameleon. Place the food bowl in a location within the cage where your pet spends most of its time. Make sure that the bowl is secured (try attaching it to the side of the cage or a branch) so it won’t tip over or spill.
You will also need a dripper which will drip water onto some of the leaves and other possible items within the cage from where your chameleon can drink.
The most economical, disposable, and even recyclable substrate for chamaleon that you can use for your pet is the newspaper or paper towels. Whatever substrate you would like to use, however, just make sure that it will be easy to clean and sanitize. A potting soil will also be a good substrate for your pet if you decide to have it live on a Ficus tree or any other type of tree (make sure that it won’t be poisonous to your pet).
An appropriately set enclosure, as well as proper husbandry, is necessary for your pet chameleon to live healthy longer. Here we provide some great tips to accomplish this.