How to Care for Senegal Chameleons

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Care for Senegal Chameleons
Care for Senegal Chameleons (Image: www.flickr.com)

The Chamaeleo senegalbonding potentialensi, more commonly known as the Senegal Chameleon, is a fascinating species of reptile that makes an excellent pet. They are a smaller variety of Chameleon, rarely growing larger than 7 or 8 inches, and tend to be a drabber shade of brown or green than many other species, although they change color often. They are docile and quiet pets, but not ideal for the first-time owner, as most Senegal Chameleons are wild caught and not bred in captivity.

Things You'll Need

  • Screen cage
  • Double florescent light fixture
  • Reptile approved light bulbs
  • Basking lamp
  • Live plants/branches
  • Watering system
  • Insects/feed

Set up an appropriate living area. Most species of chameleon do not like seeing their reflection in glass, such as an aquarium. Therefore, a screen or mesh cage is best. It offers adequate airflow and eliminates the potential problems associated with glass cages. Vertical area is important in chameleon cages, as they like to climb, so minimum cage size should be no less that 24”L x 24”W x 48”H. The cage should be well furnished with live plants and trees, which are vital to proper Senegal care. The ideal temperature should range from 75 to 98 degrees F, with 50 to 100% humidity for thriving chameleons.

Provide appropriate lighting. Lighting is absolutely essential for proper Senegal care. Your chameleon needs daily exposure to reptile-approved UVB florescent bulbs. A minimum of 12 hours a day is recommended for most Senegals, as well as free access to a heat bulb. Chameleons need to regulate their core body temperature, and if allowed free access to heat bulbs will keep themselves warm or cool enough depending on their needs. The best way to ensure your Senegal gets enough light is to install a simple timer on your lights, set for 12 to 14 hours a day. Daily exposure to natural light is also good for your chameleon, so placing the cage in an area with good sun exposure is an added bonus.

Keep your chameleon hydrated. Dehydration is one of the fastest ways to kill your chameleon so proper watering is essential. Chameleons, unlike many reptiles, will not drink out of a watering bowl or other type of container. They prefer to drink water that accumulates on leaves in their habitat. A misting system is an ideal watering setup, as it not only allows water to slowly accumulate for your Senegal, it also offers humidity and moisture vital to a chameleon’s skin and eye health. Run the mister frequently throughout the day, making sure your chameleon is drinking enough to stay hydrated.

Feed your Senegal Chameleon properly; this is vital to ensuring optimal health. Senegals will eat nearly any insect they come across, making feeding them fairly simple. They do not require any man-made supplements, and thrive off of small insects such as house spiders, fruit flies, butterflies and worms. They only need to be fed 1 to 3 small food items daily, and fasting for a day or two per week is perfectly acceptable.

Allow stability, quiet and routine for a happy Senegal. The less they are disrupted, the healthier and happier they tend to be. Spot cleaning cages eliminates the need for frequent total cage breakdown, so remove uneaten food and feces as soon as possible. Frequent changes in temperature or humidity can be very hazardous to its health, so a stable environment is important. Wild caught chameleons are often infested with parasites, so be sure that your new friend is seen immediately by a reputable, knowledgeable reptile veterinarian to get rid of these pests. Healthy Senegal Chameleons shed their skin every 3 months, until they reach old age. Simple care and proper feeding of your Senegal Chameleon can easily yield 5 or more years of fun and companionship.

Tips & Warnings

  • Senegal Chameleons love to spend time outdoors, so during the summer you can transport them to an outdoor area for brief periods of time. Just be sure they stay hydrated and don’t overheat.
  • Do not handle your chameleons too often. They are extremely sensitive to the oils and trace chemicals on our skin, and they can become ill from over handling.
  • Do not allow the temperature in your chameleon area to go below 60 degrees. They are tropical creatures and need to be in a warm, moist environment.

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