There are lots of really cute baby things in the world, but for me, few things are cuter than a baby chameleon.
Baby chameleons are very fragile and require extra care and vigilance to help raise them into adulthood.
Don’t worry, this guide has you covered for what you need to have in place before bringing a baby home and how to help them thrive in your care.
There is an argument that says a baby chameleon needs to have a smaller cage because they’re excellent at hiding. A small cage makes it easier to find them and check on them to make sure everything is ok.
There is also the argument that a smaller cage makes it much easier to feed a baby chameleon, keep them at the right temperature, humidity and so on.
I can see the logic to both these positions, but personally I never had one for my baby veiled chameleon, I just went straight ahead and got a full adult sized one.
I found trying to find him all part of the fun and fascination of having a pet chameleon, and I never had any difficulty maintaining the correct temperature for him.
Should you want to get a cage for your baby chameleon, a screen one that is 16x16x30 is a good fit. You can check out my other recommendations for them here.
Any of the plants I’ve listed on my safe plants list will be suitable for baby chameleons, but make sure they’re bought at a smaller height if you have a smaller cage.
Full size plants are fine for baby chameleons. They are excellent climbers, even at such a young age, and will have no problem climbing across branches and making their way to the enclosure.
I really recommend buying a pothos hanging basket to start things off.
Baby chameleons need both a heat lamp to enable them to bask under to reach optimum temperature and a UVB light for digestive purposes and to absorb calcium into their bones.
Basking temperatures should be somewhere between 85° and 90° for baby chameleons because they are not that great at regulating their body temperature at their age.
Throughout my veiled chameleon’s life, I had a 50 watt halogen bulb for him to bask under. I placed it on the top screen roof of the cage and the perch for him to bask on was approximately 9 inches away.
This meant it was far away enough to keep the correct temperature when he was small and as he grew he naturally got closer to the heat source meaning his temperature increased to the correct level for adults without the need to move things around in the cage.
The UVB light for baby chameleons should be a 5.0 strength strip light placed across the top of the enclosure. This will need to be placed in a hood fixture with a reflector. The bulbs also need to be changed every 6 to 9 months, as they stop producing UVB to the same level afterward.
You can read more about the lighting a chameleon needs in my article here.
Chameleons don’t drink water like most animals. Instead, they lick water droplets that form on leaves after rainfall and early morning dew.
This needs to be recreated in captivity and is done in the same way for baby chameleons as it is for adults. How to do that can be read about in my article on the topic.
Even though the method of providing water is the same, I wanted to mention it specifically in relation to babies because a baby chameleon can drown accidentally if you’re not very careful when giving them water.
If you hand spray your chameleon’s enclosure, do not spray your baby chameleon directly with water or even if you use an automatic misting machine, the same caution still applies.
This is because baby chameleons are so small they will get drenched from this and can drown if too much water gets in their nose. It is very rare for this to happen, so don’t worry too much, just avoid direct spray, and you will be fine.
Chameleons are insectivores, this means insects are the main staple food of their diet. They will also eat fruits and vegetables, but for babies, you should concentrate purely on feeding them insects.
Baby chameleons can eat any insect on this list, but you should mainly concentrate on:
It’s important that the insects you feed your baby chameleon are the right size. Too big and your chameleon will have trouble swallowing their food and can choke.
A good rule of thumb is to never feed a chameleon insects that are bigger than the space between their eyes. For baby chameleons, this usually means insects that are at the first or second stage of development.
Pinhead crickets, fruit flies and first stage locusts are best. I also highly recommend baby cockroaches.
Always get your food from a reputable live food seller, either from a local store or online. Catching food from the wild risks parasites and other health problems for your baby chameleon.
Don’t forget to gut load the insects before feeding them to your baby chameleon. This means feeding the insects with nutritious food like leafy greens and vegetables.
This is because insects on their own aren’t particularly nutritious, but the nutrients in their gut from the gut load will be passed on to your baby chameleon.
You should gut load up to no longer than 12 hours before you feed your baby chameleon, otherwise they will not get the benefits of the nutrients.
You should offer them as much as they can eat each day, this is usually between 12 and 20 insects.
Supplements are extremely important for any chameleon, but especially so for babies. Supplements act as an insurance policy in case your baby chameleon doesn’t get enough nutrients from gut loaded insects.
The supplements baby chameleons need are:
- Multivitamin – This must include vitamin A for their eye health, vitamin D3 which chameleons make themselves but D3 supplement will act as a back-up in case they’re not making enough and vitamin E for skin.
- Calcium – This is absolutely essential and should be once a day for chameleons, babies and adults alike. Without calcium, your chameleon will suffer a serious illness called metabolic bone disease, which is very painful and more often than not causes death.
I personally use and recommend ReptiCal without D3 for calcium supplementation. Lightly dust one group of feeding insects a day with it, except for one feed a week when you must dust with a multivitamin supplement. For that, I recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD because it has calcium as well as multivitamins and vitamin D3.
When dusting insects with either calcium or multivitamins to feed a baby chameleon, just make sure you only give a light dusting. Don’t coat them so much they look like ghost insects! Just a light coating will be enough.