Authored by Karen Stockman
Breeding Veiled Chameleons | Lizard Love Gone Astray
Watching baby chameleons (Chamaeleonidae) hatch never gets old. Even after several years and a few different species, I am still beyond thrilled every time a little face pokes out of an egg, quickly followed by the rest of the tiny confident little lizard strutting in the incubator like he’s leading a parade. *Editor’s Note: I couldn’t have described this experience better they truly march!
Like most people, I started with veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus). I thought, and still think they are one of the coolest species. I was enamored right away and even though I acquired other chameleon species, I really loved the veileds with their cool headgear and spunky attitudes.
So with this love of veileds, why am I writing an article titled “Is it time for us to stop breeding veiled chameleons?
It is in fact my love of veileds driving me.
Why You Shouldn’t Breed Veiled Chameleons
I see too many inexperienced people breed less than healthy veiled chameleons as they are cheap to acquire and easy to breed, even if kept in poor conditions.
All too often, unhealthy and neglected veileds are available at pet stores and reptile shows, in many cases being sold too young because the “breeder” can’t afford to feed so many mouths and found out too late; breeding chameleons is not the get-rich-quick plan they envisioned.
There’s far too many veileds in need of rescue, in many cases suffering from a variety of life-threatening illnesses from infections to metabolic bone disease.
Too many veiled Chameleons are bought on impulse (more on this here Disposable Pet Nation); when the excitement wears off, the new owner realizes the time and expense necessary to care for one. They are often then re-homed or given to a local store or rescue.
Chameleon Education & Outreach, a rescue dedicated solely to chameleons, is often so filled with unwanted veiled chameleons that there is no room for other species.
Despite all of the above, never breeding veiled chameleons is not the answer. Having a healthy, captive bred population to be kept as pets is much better than continuing to remove them from the wild.
What Do We Do to Reduce the Overbreeding of veiled Chameleons?
First of all, we need to make sure the veileds already here are being kept in the proper conditions, as explained in my other articles here. Make sure you have the proper husbandry and set-ups for your animals. Enjoy keeping them before thinking about breeding them.
Why Breed Chameleons?
- If you are breeding veileds or plan to, ask yourself why?
- Are you breeding to improve the species?
- Are you breeding only the healthiest animals and raising babies until they are well started and ready for new homes?
- Are you making sure the new owner has a care sheet and understands how to provide care?
- Are you discouraging those who want a sibling pair as future breeders?
(Inbreeding is a touchy subject and while it is done, there is no need for new breeders to start with a related pair given the low cost and readily available supply of veileds.)
As a breeder, I make sure anyone who buys from me has a set up ready in advance, (for more on Chameleon Set-ups check out the Chameleon Page) a care sheet of up-to-date information and also, the understanding that they can contact me anytime with questions. I also let them know I will take any animals back, at anytime, regardless of health, or situation.
I also take time to answer any questions regarding care, even if the chameleon was purchased elsewhere.
Editor’s Note: Too often I read about breeders being insulted by people asking questions after buying animals elsewhere and this is simply egotistical. If you’re in this for the animals then help that animal thrive period. Because of my strong feeling on breeding veileds I have made the choice to no longer continue breeding them. It’s a choice that saddens me, as I really love the species. However, I will continue to rescue veileds in need, help new keepers succeed in keeping them, and of course, I will breed other species of chameleons. There are many species that need to gain a foothold in captivity so we can stop removing so many from the wild. They are not as “easy” to breed as veileds, but the challenge is exciting.
And please, if you are looking to give a home to a chameleon, visit ChamEO.org to see the adoption animals. There are always beautiful veileds in need of homes and the adoption process is very easy.