You probably just got a veiled chameleon or you are planning to get one and now you are asking yourself how much time you will have with this wonderful creature. I have some good news and some bad news for you.
The bad news is that veiled chameleons do not live that long. The good news is that there are ways to make sure that your veiled chameleon has a relatively long life (for a veiled chameleon). So here is how to increase the lifespan of your veiled chameleon and how old they really get.
How Old Do Veiled Chameleons Get?
Okay, so here are the bad news in detail. The oldest male veiled chameleon I know of became 9 years old. I mean, 9 years isn´t that long, but it does not sound to bad, right? The problem is that most veiled chameleons do not even get 9 years old.
Most people say that the average veiled chameleon does not get older than 5 years old. However the truth is that a lot of veiled chameleons do not even get 2 years old. Why is that so? Well, the reason for that is bad husbandry. And this is the point were the good news start.
How To Increase Your Veiled Chameleon´s Lifespan
So you are in control here. Of course it might happen that you just have a very weak chameleon that is very prone to diseases, but 95% of the time you can make sure that your veiled chameleon has a long life. So here are a couple of reasons a lot of veiled chameleons do not even become 2 years old.
Metabolic Bone Disease
You might already know of this terrible disease. Let me explain it to you. Veiled chameleons need vitamin D3 to process calcium in their bodies. Calcium makes sure that their bones stay solid and that your chameleon stays healthy. The problem is that a lot of reptile keepers do not have the optimal vitamin D3 source for their chameleons.
In most cases this isn´t done on purpose, of course. Often people who bought a chameleon in pet shops are misinformed because pet shop sellers do not really know how to keep chameleon properly and just want to make sales. So the unaware new reptile keeper sets up an enclosure for their veiled chameleon which isn´t appropriate and that´s where problems begin.
In order to prevent metabolic bone disease, you need two things. First you need a very good UVB light besides your heat lamp.
I recommend this UVB light, since it is simply the best of all. You could also take this UVB light which is two in one. It is a heat lamp and a UVB lamp at the same time. The choice is yours, they are both good.
Second, you need a good calcium supplement. The best UVB light is worth nothing if your veiled chameleon doesn´t get enough calcium. Get a calcium supplement here!
Okay, you just learned how to prevent one of the biggest veiled chameleon killers there are.
Chameleons in general are known for being easily stressed. In my opinion it is not as bad as most people think, but you should not stress your chameleon too much. Make sure that the enclosure is placed in relatively quiet place in your house. While most veiled chameleons get used to a busy place, some chameleons might not and this could reduce the life expectancy.
It is easy to tell if your veiled chameleon is stress as they show it in color, they puff up and hiss a lot if they feel threatened or stressed, so it is just common sense. If your chameleon is showing this signs all the time and it doesn´t get better, find what stresses your chameleon and remove it or change it.
Here is a tip, get a lot of plants for your veiled chameleon enclosure. Always make sure that your chameleon is able to hide if it want´s to. Your chameleon will feel much better with a lot of plants.
Don´t Feed Too Much!
Veiled chameleons eat a lot when they are babys and grow like hell in that time. However as adults, veiled chameleons should not eat that much anymore. There should be fast days and you shouldn´t feed 5 huge locusts every time. It is absolutely okay if you feed less than that. Your chameleon even will survive if you don´t feed for a couple of days.
Unfortunately, most people feed too much with good intentions. The problem is that chameleons get fat from the inside. Their organs get fat. The result is fatty liver disease for example.
Further don´t feed feeder insects that get too big. Rather get medium sized feeder insects like these. If you feed insects which are too big, your chameleon could get hurt while trying to swallow the insect. Every wound could end up as infection.
Besides that, your veiled chameleon can´t digest too big feeder insects properly. I have seen feeder insects that came out of the chameleon as they came in - so not digested at all. This is a sign for a irritated digestion.
Gut Load ...Always!
Gut loading means loading the feeder insects you are about to feed your chameleon with vitamins and making sure that the feeder insects are as healthy as possible. Here is how you should do that:
First, get a cricket keeper box like this. Maybe put some small, thin branches in it so that the feeder insects can climb on them. This box offers enough space for a lot of feeder insects. The insects won´t start to attack each other and therefore stay healthy and alive for a long time (which will save you money).
Feed the feeder insects with fresh vegetables and fruits and make sure that the food doesn´t get moldy. I recommend to take the food out after one day. The insects are now loaded with vitamins which will be absorbed by your chameleon when you feed them.
Further the cricket pen makes it easy to get those insects out without any escapes.
Exo Terra Cricket Pen
Excellent for housing feeder insects and keep them alive and healthy.
Create The Right Environment
Besides lighting there are a lot of things to know when setting up a veiled chameleon. They need a lot of fresh air, the right humidity and so on and so forth. That´s where most mistakes happen, but don´t worry. I wrote a comprehensive guide on this topic. If you need help, read my veiled chameleon habitat setup guide here.
Parasites And Other Horrible Stuff
There are a lot of things your veiled chameleon should get, but if you keep the things I mentioned above in mind and take action accordingly, you shouldn´t have a lot of problems. You should still get a fecal test at your reptile vet from time to time to make sure that your chameleon is healthy and doesn´t have any parasites or something like that. Once a year is absolutely okay and doesn´t cost that much.
What Else Could You Do?
I know it sounds a little bit harsh, but if you do not have already got a veiled chameleon you could take a male one if you want to make sure that it lives a little bit longer. Female veiled chameleons do not live as long as male veiled chameleons in general. Most probably because they lay eggs multiple times a year which costs a lot of energy.
However there are female veiled chameleons that got 8 years old, so no need to be sad if you already got a female one.
As you see, you can do a lot of things to make sure that your veiled chameleon has a long and happy life. If you need any help, leave a message in the comment section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.