top of page

Chameleon care

Chameleon set-up

Minimum Requirements

  • An adult requires a 90 x 45 x 90cm terrarium.

  • A heat bulb on an appropriate thermostat.

  • UVB - 12% T5 pro kit.

  • A broad range calcium and vitamin supplements.


Heating: The recommended heat source for this size enclosure is a ceramic bulb. All heat sources should be positioned at the same end of the vivarium to create a hot basking area. This allows for a temperature gradient so that the opposite end is cool. Thermostats regulate the temperature for you allowing for a stable and accurate temperature at all times within the vivarium. Positioning of the thermostat probe will depend on the heat source being used. A basking temperature of 90F is ideal during the day. This should be monitored if you live in a specifically cold house. Babies are more susceptible to the cold so ensure you only turn the thermostat down at night to no lower than 75f whereas, adults can go as low as 65f. You must cage any heat bulbs used to prevent any accidental injuries.Temperature parameters are particularly important to keep your chameleon safe and healthy. Digital thermometer / combi meter are recommended so that you can visually see what is happening with regards to temperature at the basking area and cooler area.Do not position your enclosure in direct sunlight, a draft or near a radiator. This can affect the thermal gradient.

UV: UV lighting is required for 12-14 hours a day. We recommend the T5 Pro 12% UVB lighting which should be 2/3 the length of the vivarium to create a UVB gradient. The benefits of the T5 range are that the UVB wavelength can reach a further distance with a 12 month virtually guaranteed UVB output. Using a reflector increases the amount of UVB reflected down. Reptiles are adapted to live with strong UVB from above; ensure you position the UV lighting from above and not at eye level or within 45 degrees of the eye as this could cause severe damage (photokeratoconjunctivitus or cataracts). If other UVB tubes are used ensure to replace them every 6 months unless the manufacturer advice otherwise. Failure to provide the correct level of UVB lighting for your bearded dragon can result in irreversible metabolic bone disease.

Cleaning, Substrate and Furnishings

There are two options for setting up a chameleon enclosure. Bioactive with live plants or to decorate with fake plant. The bioactive set up allows for better humidity oxygen levels for your chameleon as real plants are being used. Either set up will require spraying twice daily to keep the humidity at 65-80%. This is also required as chameleons tend to drink from the droplets of water on the leaves. Dripper and misting systems can be used to simulate this for you. In either type of set up soil and moss are recommended as these are good at holding the humidity there is also success with orchid bark. The vivarium should be spot cleaned on a regular basis, if done thoroughly a full clean should only need to be done every 4-6 weeks. Ensure you only use disinfectants specifically intended for reptiles. Other products can be toxic. Bioactive require less cleaning as they have a clean up crew. Ensure décor/furnishings are from a recognized dealer to ensure they’re safe for use with your chameleon. Chameleons require plenty of climbing material such as branches, vines, and plant coverage to climb and hide in. you will need a minimum of three plants for coverage.

Diet & Nutrition

Your chameleon is mostly an insectivore. Feeding on insects every other day. Safe insects include locusts, crickets, mealworms, Dubai roaches and wax worms. The best way to determine the amount of food your chameleon requires is to start off with 6 hoppers and if they are all eaten straight away provide your chameleon with more until they actively stop chasing the food. We recommend locusts over crickets as they have the tendency to bite your lizard. Grubs and worms tend to be quite fatty, so we normally offer these 1-2 times a week. Morio worms and cockroaches can be difficult to digest so we would normally only provide these to mature chameleons (12-18 months or older) and only 1-2 times a week. You can occasionally offer your chameleon vegetables, dark, leafy greens are best when finely chopped. Not all species will eat these, and that is fine.


Remember never to leave excess food loose in the vivarium as they have the potential to cause injury to your animal.

A good quality vitamin, mineral and calcium supplement is necessary to the health and wellbeing of your chameleon. ALWAYS read the packaging carefully. We recommend nutrobal, Earthpro-A combined with Earthpro-Ca dusting twice a week on livefood. If this duty is not fulfilled there is a risk of irreversible illnesses such as metabolic bone disease. Ensure livefood is well gut-loaded before feeding to your pet ensures the food is of the highest quality. This can be done through products such as livefood care packages or greens/carrot.

Health & 

If you are worried about your animal’s health, seek advice from a respected dealer and if still in doubt contact a specialist veterinarian. There are a few symptoms to monitor:

• Unusual lethargy

• Prolonged lack or loss of appetite – only if losing weight

• Dehydration – skin being wrinkled

• Cloudy, unclear or sticky eyes

• Discharge from the nose runny or bubbly

• Excess mucus around the mouth or not closing properly

• Prolonged diarrhoea

• Unable to right itself, dizzy appearance

• Shaking or twitching

• Bone structure forming abnormally – this can usually be seen in the tail or spine.


It is important that you allow your chameleon to settle in before you start handling. 2 weeks is usually sufficient as long as your chameleon Is feeding and expressing natural behaviours. Chameleons are not always the most welcoming to being handled. It is important to build a positive relationship with handling. This can be done by following positive reinforcement and chameleon etiquette which includes letting your chameleon walk on to your hand rather than grabbing them and reinforcing with treat food. It is also important to read their behaviour and placing them back when they show any signs of upset such as going dark or showing aggression. During shedding it is best not to handle them as they can become irritated from this, it is also common for them to stop feeding around this time and behaviour to change. Ensure plenty of humidity to aid in shedding. Always check after shedding to ensure all skin is off all toes and the tail.


Chameleons are naturally solitary animals which would only come into contact during breeding season. It is important they are housed on their own. Females can become ever stressed when housed with a male for too long leading to fertility issues and stress leading to illness which can even be fatal. Please do further research before placing two chameleons together for breeding.


Always follow basic hygiene principles after handling your animal.


So, you think you're ready to take home your new chameleon?
Download our check sheet to be sure:


Pop in store for a free print out of this care sheet, or download a PDF version here:


Don't forget that the team at Small World Reptiles are always here for you - whether you are a first-time snake owner or an experienced one. 

Services we offer:

bottom of page