Reptile Information from
|REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS|
JACKSON'S & OTHER OLD WORLD CHAMELEONS
(High Caste, Graceful, Flapnecks, etc.)
Housing: A wire cage, such as a bird cage or rabbit cage, is best. This allows air to flow freely through the wire. A glass aquarium or other type of enclosed cage would restrict air flow and keep the temperature too constant for the animal. The stressful situation that could result would be unhealthful for the animal. If you insist on using a glass aquarium, use a mesh top to allow as much air flow as possible.
Temperature: Most Old World Chameleons, such as Jackson's Chameleons, come from a mountain range in Kenya, East Africa. In their natural environment, the mornings are cool (55-60 degrees F), afternoons are warm (70-75 degrees F), and the evenings cool down again to 55-60 degrees F. The Old World Chameleons do very well in California coastline weather because it is similar to their natural environment. Many have successfully raised and bred Old World Chameleons outside all year round.
Care needs to be taken during the high temperatures of our summers. Keep their cage in the shadiest part of your yard, and place your garden hose on top of their cage, letting water drip slowly over their foliage all day long.
If the cage is set indoors, place it in the coolest area available. Never put the cage near an air conditioner, heat vent, or any window that gets direct sunlight.
Water: This is extremely important. The animal's life depends on it. In order to properly water them, you need to first understand how chameleons drink in the wild. They come from rain forests where it rains several times a day. As it rains, the animal will drink the droplets off a nearby leaf. This is why you need running or dripping water in their cage. On the next page, we have provided diagrams of a few simple devices you can make for watering your animals.
One word of advice: Misting them with a water bottle is not really effective, as you are relying on the animals to drink only when you mist them. It is more beneficial to have the constantly dripping water, so the animal can drink when it needs to, is too warm, or after feeding.
Food: In their natural environment, chameleons eat all kinds of insects as well their favorite foods of snails and slugs. If you want to offer them snails or slugs, keep them small to medium sized at first, switching to larger size food later if you wish. This gives the chameleon time to adjust to North American snails and slugs, which differ from the ones back home in Kenya. Be sure that none of the snails, slugs, or insects have come in contact with any insect spray or snail killer -.it will end up in your chameleon and very likely kill it.
Chameleons can also be fed live crickets. Use a small container of Superpreen and/or Rep Cal vitamin powder to "dust" the crickets before feeding them to your chameleon. The vitamins will end up in the chameleon, helping it live longer and increasing the chances for reproduction. To "dust" the crickets, put them in a plastic bag or bucket and sprinkle a pinch or two of vitamin powder on them. Shake the crickets until they are covered with the powder. This should be done weekly.
To keep the crickets inside a wire cage, buy a fine mesh netting, such as nylon net or mosquito netting, from a yardage store, and wrap it tightly around the cage. Fasten it with duct tape or plastic pressure tape.
A word to the wise: feed mealworms only as a last resort. They are the larva stage of a beetle, and as the larvae becomes older, its outside becomes harder, making it difficult for your chameleon to digest. They can also cause intestinal blockages, resulting in the death of your animal.
Cage furniture or decorations: Always keep tree branches with lots of leaves or live potted plants with your animals. This way they have leaves from which to drink as well as places to hide from each other. In a bare cage, one dominant male chameleon will hinder other males from feeding normally. With plenty of vegetation (plants, branches, and leaves), the less aggressive male animals can escape and behave normally. Female chameleons seldom fight among themselves.
Handling: When handling your chameleon, the first thing to remember is not to grab it by its stomach and pull it off the cage or branch. A chameleon's feet are very delicate, and pulling it off can cause damage to your pet. In addition, most female Jacksons have developing embryos (babies) in their abdomen, and handling them this way causes an extremely stressful situation for the animal, and may even cause death.