Meller’s Chameleon Care

Meller’s Chameleon (Chamaeleo melleri), also known as Giant One-horned Chameleon

Popularity: Make good pets. They range from timid to aggressive.

Origin: Africa

Native habitat: savannahs, mountains

Size: 18-24 inches

Lifespan: up to 12 years

Appearance: This is the largest of the chameleons from the African mainland. It has a small head in relation to the rest of its stout body. Its shape is more elongated than that of other chameleons. Its tail comprises only one-third of the body. A scalloped crest runs from the casque of the head to tail, and a crest runs from the eyes to the tip of the snout. The snout has a small horn, and the eye sockets are large. It has scales on its body, trunk and limbs. Spots and broad vertical bands that mark the flanks range in color from brown, dark green, yellow or even black. The basic coloration is deep forest green with white stripes. It changes color depending on mood and environment.

Diet: carnivorous

Defense Mechanisms: Changes colors for camouflage.

Misc characteristics: Their long tongues can reach prey up to 20 inches. Some will tolerate being housed in groups, and some won’t.

BASIC CARE

Housing

Housing should be a screen cage as large as you can make it. A single chameleon needs at least a 4′ x 6′ x 6′ enclosure. It should be furnished with various live plants. Set up large and medium horizontal perches to run diagonally and along the cage walls as resting places. Live potted trees such as Ficus are good choices. Paper towels are all that is needed for flooring.

Temperature and Humidity

Keep ambient temperatures at 65-80 degrees F. in the daytime and 50-70 at night. Provide a basking area of 80-90 degrees, but no more. Keep heat sources at least 10″ from the perching chameleon. Provide humidity that alternates from 20 to 80% throughout day and night. Too much reduces activity and invites bacterial and fungal infections, and too little irritates eyes and hardens the skin. Provide a source of flowing water, as the chameleon may not drink from a dish. Also, mist the foliage daily so it can drink the droplets from the leaves.

Lighting

For an indoor pet, provide a low-heat fluorescent bulb and a hot basking spotlight. To imitate the natural daylight cycle, buy lamp timers and set them on 12-hour cycles. These chameleons do best with a combination of outdoor natural sunlight basking and indoor care when weather is extreme.

Feeding

Feed juveniles 6 to 20 small crickets, young roaches, and moth larvae per day. Feed adults 1 or 2 large live prey including crickets, moths, butterflies, silkworms, butterworms, waxworms, giant and standard mealworms, locusts, grasshoppers, mantids, hissing cockroaches, earthworms, walking sticks, and other non-toxic prey once or twice every day or every other day.

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