Veiled Chameleon Growth: Factors Explained
When your Veiled Chameleon hatches, they begin growing almost immediately. The younger they are, the quicker they will put on weight under most circumstances.
There are many factors that contribute to the development of your Chams such as maturity, heating, feeding regiment, and overall husbandry.
In this article I will be going over the factors that affect the rate of growth.
How Long Does It Take For Veileds To Mature?
As with any type of animal, over time your reptile will age and mature. They will be sexually mature around 6-8 months of age and won’t stop growing until they are at least 2 years old.They live an average of 5-7 years although some have reported up to 10 years. Sexual maturity means they will be able to physically lay eggs although I would not recommend breeding them until at least 18 months. At that age, males will be around 16-24 inches long and females roughly 12-14 inches.
At around 3 months time, your Veileds will start to color up and will look different. They usually start off a dull green but will become beautifully vibrant with age. In my experience, growth tends to slow down within 5-6 months. Also, being heavy bodied these chameleons tend to weigh more than other species. They will be wider instead of longer. Mature males will also weigh more than their female counterparts. For example, my current one year old male weighs 138 grams while my female is only 110 grams.
They will continue to grow for the remainder of their lives but it slows to almost a crawl after 24 months.
Ideal temperatures are important for putting on weight. Veiled Chams like ambient temps ranging from 72-80F with a “hot spot” or basking area of 85-92F. On the lower end of the spectrum (72F) I’ve noticed my lizards tend to grow at a much slower rate. Heat directly affects appetite and thus the higher the output, the better feeding response in most cases.
For this reason, I keep my basking area at 95F and my ambient around 78-80F. I can say with confidence that this attributes to better growth in my chams.
- Make sure to purchase a infrared temp gun for accurate readings
- You don’t need to buy “reptile bulbs”, you can go to your local hardware store and pick up some soft white incandescent lights that do the job.
- Be sure to place your heat lamp at least 6-8 inches away from your chameleons to avoid any burning injuries.
- I use a 50 watt bulb here in California and it gets the temps just right.
- I suggest you test with different wattages to find your sweet spot.
- The idea here is to make your enclosure just a little bit hotter than normal encouraging the boosting of metabolism which will cause your reptiles to consume more.
- Another tip is you can purchase a dimmable bulb and a rheostat. This way you’re not wasting money and can adjust accordingly. Turn it up if it’s too cold or dial down if it’s too warm.
The most accurate way to keep track of weight gain is to weigh every other week. I tend to do this once a month just to keep tabs on progress especially hatchlings. You can also measure them with a body or soft tape measure.
As with anything, how often you feed and the quality of foods offered will adversely affect your chams size. Generally, Veils aren’t very picky eaters and will usually gobble down anything they can catch. Below I have listed the different types of feeders that can be used as staples for your cham:
- Silkworms – great for hydrating and high in protein which is essential for bulking.
- Hornworms – not as high in protein but contains more water which is good for hydration.
- Superworms – great inexpensive feeder that’s easy to gut load.
- Lobster roaches – amazing insects that can move robustly and climb almost any surface. These will definitely get the attention of your Chameleons.
- Dubia roaches – one of the best food items on the market. Only downside is their ability to burrow and hide. Try to offer these in a bowl for easy pickings.
- Turkistan roaches – my personal favorite, about the size of a cricket with more nutritional content. Again, use a bowl whenever possible.
- Crickets – Medium level item that’s highly accessible and available. They jump and make noise which I don’t really like.
- BSFL – Black Soldier fly larvae high in calcium and low in chitin. Amazing choice for your herps.
Remember, variety is important and beneficial to your herp. If you feed only one type of critter, they may be missing out on important nutrients.
I also recommend gut loading your prey items prior to feeding to boost calcium, protein, and vitamin levels.
- Allow your pets to eat a much as they want within a 10-15 minute time span
- Feed hatchlings and juveniles twice a day every day.
- Adults can consume less frequently, every other day.
- Be sure to offer some veggies as they are omnivores.
- Don’t stress too much if they refuse vegetables especially when young.
- Feed appropriate prey items no longer than the space between their eyes.
- Be sure to mist to keep them hydrated as water helps absorb nutrients.
Hatchlings can eat tiny dubias, pinheads crickets, and small lobsters or lateralis. These will generally be around ⅛” in size. Juvenile Chams can eat anything that’s ¼” inch in size and sub adults can consume ⅝”. Adults can eat large prey items as well as harder to digest items like superworms.
As adults age, a common misconception is that you must starve your chameleon by feeding less frequently along with smaller prey items. Keepers also recommend lowering temperatures which will cause them to eat “less” and have a weaker appetite. I highly advise against doing so for a couple reasons. First, your herp has natural instincts which help preserve its current state of health even as it ages.
Second, adult females can lay infertile eggs even without the presence of a male and this can be extremely taxing on their bodies. They need vital nutrients for egg production and if you’re feeding less, you can be unintentionally putting them at risk. In my experience, my females will stop laying when their biological clock naturally tells them to do so. Like all my reptiles, I keep the temperatures constant and feed accordingly. I simply allow for nature to take its course and have not had any issues.
Feeding every other day, once each day is recommended and will provide more than enough nutrients for your adults. I try to keep a consistent schedule such as feeding my hatchlings at 10pm and once again at 6pm. This time frame allows them to get hungry but not starving. They also need time to digest their food before going to sleep. They are diurnal and active most of the day like us humans. So I give them at least two hours to digest before it lights out.
Be sure also to only feed captive bred animals as wild insects often contain parasites. The amount of bugs consumed also depends on the animal itself. I’ve had clutch mates who grew at different rates but ate the same amount. This leads me to believe that genetics also dictates the size of your lizard. Overfeeding can also be an issue which is why I only allow what can be eaten in 10-15 minutes. Lastly, some keepers like to offer their lizards treats such as wax worms. These are very high in fat thus making them tasty to your pets. I personally do not offer any “treats” for my chams and instead offer a variety of bugs. They love lobsters, turks, and silkworms.
If you follow the steps outlined above, your chameleon should be growing at a healthy rate. Generally day old hatchlings will be around 1 gram in weight. Looking over my charts, the average weight gained per week was about half a gram. So 1 month olds should be around 2.5-3 grams total. Parasites can stunt and inhibit the ability to grow as they leach nutrients from your herps. If you truly aren’t seeing any improvement in mass, I would advise you contact your local vet and have a fecal test done. It’s inexpensive and offers peace of mind on this issue.
I also suggest providing your pets some natural sunlight whenever possible as this aids tremendously. If not, you should be using a 10.0 rated UVB bulb for the same effects and avoid colored bulbs, sticking with flourescent is your best bet. A proper light cycle is also needed to encourage sleep. Like humans, they rejuvenate when sleeping. You can turn the light off during the night as most Veileds can handle temps down to 50F. It is possible that your reptile was the “runt” of the clutch. This happens often since most chameleons will have large clutches which require a lot of energy from the laying female.
Not all eggs will have proper nourishment. Runts are okay so long as they are active, eating, and happy. Lastly, if you are assist feeding such as with tongs or hands, your pets could potentially be accustomed to this method. I hear it time and time again of Chameleons refusing to eat. They can be spoiled and can be tough to get back to eating on their own.
If your animal is shedding, this is a good sign. They will only shed if they are growing hence why hatchlings do it more often than adults. They will eat very little to none when undergoing this process.
It should also only take 24 hours to complete but can sometimes go on for 2 days.
- You’ll notice discoloration or a pale coloring right before
- At this time, up the mistings and humidity to ensure a proper cycle
- If you notice stuck shed, after 3 days then you might need to aid in removal
- Should go back to feeding 2 days after
Recommended Enclosure Size For Optimum Growth
As your chameleons grow, they will need more space. Too small and your lizard may become stressed. Too large and they may have difficulty finding their prey.
- Minimum cage size for an adult male should be 24x24x48
- Glass or screen will do so long as you can maintain adequate space and humidity
- Hatchlings can live in the nano exo terras which are 8x8x12
- Adult females will be fine in 18x18x36