There’s nothing cuter than a baby chameleon. However, don’t let the cuteness fool you. Baby chameleon care is not an easy task like most people think. Whether you’re buying a baby chameleon from a store, a breeder, or it’s born in your own home, they are easily prone to stress.
Most baby chameleons don’t live past their first month because of stress due to improper care. For this reason, you need to know how to care for them from the day they are born.
Baby Chameleon Birth
When they are born, right after birth from an egg or live birth, they are able to start crawling right away. This is due to their instinct which is to keep them safe from predators. Even in captivity, it’s a dangerous world after birth so baby chameleons need to be able to get up and going right away.
With chameleons, there’s no maternal behavior, so the mother doesn’t care for the babies whatsoever. When the female is ready to lay her egg, she finds a soft spot in the soil close to a tree and begins digging a short tunnel into the soil. The tunnel is usually 6-12 inches deep and about 5 inches wide. After the hole is dug, she begins to lay the eggs in a stacked format. Once all the eggs are laid, she covers them with soils and walks away from them forever.
After several months later, baby chameleons hatch and start to crawl their way to the surface. Once to the surface, they will find the nearest tree or plant and start climbing it right away for protection. This is where they will stay for the next couple of weeks to strengthen their bodies. As for food-wise, they learn right away to hunt for prey.
With other species like the Mt. Meru, Jackson’s chameleons, Werner’s chameleons, and Rudis chameleons, they give live birth instead of hatching from an egg. When the female is ready to give birth, she would crawl along with a plant and begin to drop the baby chameleons. They will land on the leaves of the plants and stick to it like glue. This is possible due to the amniotic sac. A couple of minutes later, they will begin to wiggle themselves free from the sac. If you have them in an enclosure, make sure to get them out of the enclosure as quickly as possible. If not, other adult chameleons in the enclosure can eat them.
What Food To Give To A Newborn Chameleon
When they are born, they usually don’t need food for a couple of days. This is due to the yolk sac that is attached to them when they are born. The yolk sac provides nourishment for them for several days. During this time period, they will usually remain in a single location and will not be interested in anything yet. When they are ready to eat, they will start exploring the cage. Once you’ve seen them starting to explore the cage, this would be a perfect time to start feeding them.
Best Foods For Baby Chameleon
Baby chameleon care includes giving them the best food. Chameleons are insectivores which means their diet includes lots of insects. Older chameleon’s diet can also include plants, fruits, and vegetables. However, for baby chameleons, the best type of food to give them are small insects such as fruit flies and pinhead crickets. You’ll want to get insects that are smaller than your chameleon’s head. This way, they are small enough for the baby chameleon to eat and swallow. You don’t want an insect that is too big or they’ll have a hard time swallowing it. Worst-case scenario, they could die from the insect being stuck in their throat.
The best food for baby chameleons are insects, especially crickets. Insects have a lot of nutrition, which baby chameleons need for their growing body. Crickets should be their main diet, but you can add other insects to the mix. Some of the best insects beside crickets to feed your baby chameleons are:
Chameleons are picky eater and you might need to go through a lot of different insects before you find the one they like. Just remember, crickets should be fed to them daily because it’s the bulk of your chameleon’s diet. Chameleons tend to get bored with the same food each day. Feeding them crickets every single day, the chameleon will start ignoring it. To prevent that from happening, throw in different insects daily along with crickets.
When choosing the food for them, it is best to choose ones that are alive and healthy. Those that are sick might have diseases, which will get passed down to your baby chameleons. If you are getting insects from your local pet store, pick each individually and examine them closely. Make sure there are no injuries or signs of illness on the insects. On the other hand, if you prefer to buy from an online retailer, make sure they offer a money-back guarantee. When they are delivered to you, inspect each insect to make sure they are healthy. If they are not, you can return them back to the store.
Supplements For Baby Chameleon
Since baby chameleons grow fast, they will need an adequate amount of vitamin and mineral supplements. Supplements are an essential way to ensure that your chameleon is getting a balanced diet. For baby chameleons, it’s important to give them the following vitamin supplements:
- Vitamin A – Improve vision and immune system
- Vitamin D3 – Support proper bone development
- Vitamin E – Support cell function and skin health
Besides vitamin supplements, they will also need calcium supplements. Calcium supplements are required to prevent common vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as metabolic bone disease. This disease can destroy the chameleon’s bones, which eventually will kill the chameleon. The most popular calcium supplements are Repashy SuperCal LoD or SuperCal NoD.
The best way to feed calcium to them is to dust the crickets or small insects with calcium supplements. You should do this once per day. For multivitamins, you can dust the insects once per week.
How Do You Feed A Baby Chameleon?
For baby chameleons, there are 2 ways to feed them. The first method is by providing free-range food for them. The other method is by feeding them using a cup. Both ways are a great way to feed your baby chameleons.
Free-Range Feeding Method
The free-range food method is the best way to feed them. You simply put live insects in the cage with the chameleons and they will start hunting for it. This method not only provides food but also provides hunting skills for the baby chameleons.
Place the insects on branches and leaves of the trees. If you don’t have trees or plants in your habitat, you can place the insects on rocks, furniture, or other items in the cage. Try to place the insects a couple of inches away from the chameleons. The baby chameleons will start to walk slowly toward the insects and start investigating. They’ll usually stay still for a minute or so before flickering out their tongue to catch the prey.
When putting the insects in the cage, try to put only a few at a time. After all the insects are eaten, you can add more. Placing too many insects in the cage can be an issue for your chameleons at night. Some insects are aggressive and could bite the chameleons. Those that don’t get eaten will hide in the rocks and trees. Make sure to fully check everything in the cage for insects after you’ve finished feeding them.
Cup Feeding Method
This method works great too and will involve using a plastic cup. The recommended size of the cup should be an eight-ounce cup. However, some people find that a 12-ounce cup and even a 24-ounce cup works. Most importantly, crickets and other insects can’t jump out.
The cup should have opaque sides. It’s not recommended to use a clear cup as the baby chameleons could injure themselves. If you use a clear cup, a chameleon may not realize the cup is there and run into it or injure their tongue trying to catch the prey.
Once you have a cup, simply fill it with 5-10 insects. Also, this would be a good time to dust the insects with vitamin or mineral supplements. Make sure that the insects can’t escape from the cup. If they can, try using a taller cup.
The baby chameleons will likely come at the cup from above, so it’s a good idea to place the cup under a tree or plant. You may also put it on the branch of a tree if it’s big enough. Secure the cup with a string attached to the tree. This way, when the chameleons flick their tongue at the insects, it doesn’t tip the cup over.
If you’re planning to leave the cup in the cage, make sure all the insects are eaten first. Escaped insects could bite and injure your chameleon at night time. When it’s time to feed them again, wash the cup first to remove any insect’s parts that might be left in there.
How Much To Feed Baby Chameleons
When picking what to feed them, crickets should be the majority of their diet, fed to them daily. Before feeding them, measure the overall size of the crickets. This can vary based on your chameleon’s age, size, gender, and species. In general, the entire body of the cricket should not be larger than the width of the chameleon’s head.
The number of crickets to feed them will depend on the chameleon you have. Below is an example of how much to give them based on their species:
- All Species Of Chameleon: Chameleons under 3 months old should be fed as many crickets as they can eat.
- Flapneck, Graceful and Senegal Chameleons: Chameleons that are 3 months to 6 months old, should be fed 10 to 12 small crickets each day. A juvenile that is 6 months to a year old should be fed 10 to 12 medium-sized crickets every other day. Adult chameleons should be fed 6 to 8 large-sized crickets every other day.
- Jackson’s Chameleons: Chameleons that are 3 months to 6 months old, should be fed 10 to 12 small crickets each day. A juvenile that is 6 months to a year old should be fed 10 to 12 medium-sized crickets every other day. Adult chameleons should be fed 6 to 8 large-sized crickets every other day.
- Pygmy Chameleons: Chameleons that are 3 months to 6 months old, should be fed 6 to 10 small crickets each day. A juvenile that is 6 months to a year old should be fed 4 to 6 medium-sized crickets every other day. Adult chameleons should be fed 4 to 6 large-sized crickets every other day.
- Veiled and Panther Chameleons: Chameleons that are 3 months to 6 months old, should be fed 10 to 12 small crickets each day. A juvenile that is 6 months to a year old should be fed 10 to 12 medium-sized crickets every other day. Adult chameleons should be fed 6 to 8 large-sized crickets every other day.
Cage Setup For Baby Chameleon
For baby chameleons, the cage is important for them. Their cage is what keeps them safe from other pets you might own and prevent them from wandering off to places in your home that could cause them harm.
It’s best to buy a cage just for the baby chameleon. It’s not a good idea to put them in with the other chameleons if you have them. Baby chameleons tend to be alone for the first couple of months. Putting them with other chameleons could cause them to be stressed, which later could lead them to be sick. In addition, the other chameleons could hurt them too.
When choosing a cage, it’s best to buy a small enclosure cage. Small cages make the baby chameleon feel secure. However, remember that chameleons tend to grow fast so you’ll want to choose a cage that has just the basic amenities. About 8 months or so, you’ll need a bigger cage for them.
The cage for baby chameleons should have some plants, rocks, and other small items. The plants are where they will spend most of their time so it’s important to have these. Rocks and other items are for really for decoration purposes, but adding them could make it like their natural habitat.
For lighting, you need to add artificial ultraviolet light as well as basking bulbs for them. Basking lights are necessary to help the chameleons regulate their body temperatures. The lights can be mounted on top of the cage. The basking lights should be placed close to where they can go under and bask.
How Long Do Baby Chameleon Sleep?
Baby chameleons need as much sleep as they can. They will sleep more often and for a longer period of time when coming adult chameleons. If you find them sleeping more than your other chameleons, don’t be alarm as this is normal.
For baby chameleons, how long they sleep will depend on the season. In the summer months or when it’s warm, they will sleep for 13 to 15 hours each night. During winter months or when it’s cold, they will sleep for 10 to 12 hours each night.
On occasion, you’ll catch your baby chameleon closing its eyes during the day. They will take a quick 2-3 minute nap, which is normal. However, if they are sleeping for a longer period of time, there could be something wrong with them. For baby chameleons, the most common reason why they sleep during the day is stress. It could be other chameleons in the cage that is causing them to be stressed or loud sounds in your home.
How Fast Do Baby Chameleons Grow?
Most species of chameleons tend to grow fast. One, in particular, is the veiled chameleon, which grows fast and one of the biggest species of chameleon. At birth, they are about 3 to 4 inches long. By the time they are 8 months old, they have already reached the length of an adult. Male will usually be bigger and longer than the female. The male will be between the length of 15 and 19 inches, while the female will be between 12 and 15 inches.
For all species, once they have reached their final length, they will continue to gain weight until they are 2 years old. In the wild, they will stop gaining weight at 2 years old, but in captivity, they could still gain weight after 2 years old. This is due to the abundance of food available to them. If you feed them a lot of insects and other foods, they will gain more weight.
As you can see from above, baby chameleon care isn’t that hard as it seems if you know what baby chameleon’s needs and wants are. Hopefully, after reading this, you found it helpful. If you are planning to raise a chameleon from a baby, just make sure to give it all the love and support you can. By doing so, the baby chameleon will grow healthy and strong, and a long happy life.
Dan got started with his first reptile, which was a green iguana, at the age of 10. From there, he has raised many different species of reptiles. Besides caring for reptiles, he enjoys woodworking, playing basketball, and spending free time with my 4 wonderful kids.