A Guide to the Pygmy Chameleon
The pygmy chameleon originated in the tropical rain forest of Tanzania. They are one of the best reptiles for beginners to keep as pets because they are so small, and taking care of them is easy compared to most other reptiles. Like other chameleons, they are very beautiful and they can change into many colors to camouflage themselves in their environment.
The pygmy chameleon only grows to be three or four inches as an adult. They need to live in moist tropical-type conditions and they relish hunting for insects. They can be lots of colors, including yellow, tan, brown, green, white, orange or black. They are the most active at dusk and dawn. If you take good care of your pygmy chameleon, he or she could live to be eight or nine years old.
In order to have long life, your pet chameleon needs just the right set-up in terms of housing, temperature and food. You can keep two to three adults in a twenty gallon tank or vivarium, but you should never put two males together in the same tank. You have to have separate tanks for each male. Your pygmy chameleon will do best in an area that looks and feels like the tropics.
You should set up the habitat with a basking area (chola wood) and the water dish needs to have fresh water every day. The water dish should also be large enough for the chameleon to crawl into it. All kinds of plants and bushes will also make a pygmy chameleon a happy camper. So, have plenty of live plants, rocks and a sand substrate. Your pet will even entertain you by hanging from the various branches you provide for him.
Reptiles have very specific needs for heat and light so make sure you have your habitat set up right for both. This chameleon likes temperatures of 62 to 82 degrees. They also need lots of humidity to make them feel like they are still in the tropics. You can maintain the humidity by keeping a spray bottle of water near the tank and spraying it inside often. The pygmy chameleon does fine with fluorescent lighting.
As for feeding your chameleon, these guys are no problem at all because they are not finicky like many other reptiles. However, they do not like freeze-dried foods. They will do great with a steady supply of live food, such as crickets, meal worms and other types of insects and worms.
Because a pygmy chameleon is so tiny, you do need to be careful handling one. You will want to be friendly right away, but give your pet some time to settle in and get used to his new home before rushing in and picking him up. Let him get used to the new digs and make sure he is well fed the first few days. Then start socializing with your new chameleon a little at a time. That means just handling him very gently and only for a very small amount of time at first. As the reptile gets more used to you and his environment, you can increase the amount of time you spend with him. All animals and reptiles are very stressed when they are first moved from one home to another. After your chameleon gets used to you, he will be quite friendly.
Because males need to be housed separately, make sure you know how to tell the difference in sex before you house pygmy chameleons together. The male generally has a longer tail and a higher crest, while the female will be wider overall than the male.