Managing your Veiled Chameleon’s Water & Humidity

Veiled chameleons are not desert reptiles, many are from mountain areas where there is high humidity, mists and good fresh supply of running water.

Chameleons do not drink from bowls like other reptiles either, so we need to provide them with clean, running or dripping water. We also need to keep the humidity levels in the appropriate ranges depending on the species. Without these two combinations, proper hydration and humidity, a veiled chameleon will not survive.

There are several ways you can provide a good supply of dripping water and misting. This will be how your chameleon will keep well hydrated. Some species require more water intake than others, so do research the specie of chameleon you have to make sure you are proving adequate amounts of water for it.

THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT WATERING YOUR VEILED CHAMELEON:

  • Use filtered or mountain spring water if at all possible. Many of us live in areas where our water supply is full of chemicals such as chlorine and other things that can be harmful to the chameleons system.
  • All water receptacles and catch basins should be kept clean on a daily basis. Bacteria will build up quickly in these containers and pose health problems to your veiled chameleon.
  • Use warm water at all times! This is a must. In their natural habitat, the mists and rains are not cold, but are a nice warm temperature. This tropical warm water temperature also helps keep the humidity up. Using cold tap water when misting and watering is like giving your chameleon a cold shower. It is a shock to their system and often a chameleon will not drink as often or as much if the water temps are too cold..
  • Do not allow cages to stay wet or allow water to collect at the bottom. This is a potential bacteria breeding ground. All cages should be allowed to dry between watering and mistings. A damp atmosphere will create mold, fungus, and even enable parasites to thrive.
  • For baby and small chameleons, you will want to be VERY careful that you cover any drip water basins covered with a screen mesh. If not, then your chameleon can fall into the water and drown. Also, if you have a gravid chameleon that is a live bearer, keep hers covered as well as some breeders have had the horrible experience of coming home and finding the newborns have fallen into the water and drowned.
  • Never use ice cubes on the top of the cage to melt and drip. Again, this is using cold water and not recommended. This is particularly bad for younger veiled chameleons. Some mountain species who are outside in the summer temps may be better able to tolerate colder water temperatures, but under normal circumstances use warm water, or at least room temperature water.

Direct Watering

Most veiled chameleon keepers use a drip bottle as pictured above. Some others have created their own drip bottles and devices using items that can be easily purchased in stores. Drip bottles provide a good constant source of moving water for the chameleon. The drip bottle is usually placed on top of the screen cage and allowed to drip on the branches and leaves below it where the chameleon can easily get to it and lap it up.

It is important to keep the areas where the water drips clean of feces and other things that the chameleon can ingest. A quick wipe with a clean sponge and water with a cage disinfectant or quatricide solution will make it easy to clean these areas, as well as the drip bottle and drip water catch basins on a regular basis.

A drip bottle is made so that you can adjust the drip flow. Most species will need a good steady drip coming out to allow it to intake the necessary water it needs to drink.

Misting

Providing Dripping water for your chameleon goes hand-in-hand with misting. Misting promotes humidity along with another opportunity for the chameleon to drink up water collected on leaves, vines and branches. Some veiled chameleons hate being sprayed with water, but in general, if the water temperatures are right, and the mist is a fine mist, they do enjoy it.

Mistings are very important for the mountain species as well as the hatchelings and juvenile chameleons. You will want to mist the foliage and vines for about 20 – 30 minutes on average. This gives the chameleon ample time to start lapping at the water, and keep misting until you see the chameleon stop drinking for at least five minutes. Some species such as the melleri, are very slow to begin drinking, five or ten minutes into a misting period is about the usual time it takes for them to start lapping at the water dripping on them and around them. Melleri will drink for very long periods, sometimes 30 minutes is not enough. You will want to check to see how each chameleon is doing during the mistings.

Hand Spray Bottles

You can use the common hand spraying mist bottles. These can be bought at pet stores, or found in your home & garden departments in many stores. When shopping for one, make sure it has an adjustable nozzle for controlling the stream of water it sprays out.

If you have more than one or two veiled chameleons, you might want to look into the next few options. Hand misting each individual chameleon with a squeeze bottle can tire your hands and wrists out rather quickly. I prefer using either a garden sprayer or automated drip system myself. These two methods provide a nice steady mist of water for the chameleon and I do not have to be present to mist. This is one of the down sides of using the hand spray bottles, you need to stand in front of the cage where the chameleon can see you, often leading to stress for the chameleon.

Garden Sprayers

This is my preference for misting chameleons if I did not have so many to do each day. The garden Sprayers can be adjusted easily and set up on an objected and aimed into the cage from above or the front to allow a good fine mist of warm water for 20 or more minutes at a time. You do not have to stand there to operate it if you get the kind that has a lock on the handle to keep the flow of water misting out.

Misting Systems

Buying an automated misting system is pretty expensive. Depending on how much money you have, and how many veiled chameleons you have will be the deciding factor on what system you will go with. There are many good ideas for making your own misting system.

Very effective system, but on the expensive side. Would be an adequate system for those who have their chameleons in a greenhouse.

Waterfalls

While providing your chameleon a constant flow of water by using a waterfall may seem convenient and pleasing to look at, there are many things to consider before buying and using one. Most veiled chameleon keepers avoid the waterfalls due to the high maintenance they require.

Waterfalls use a circular pumping sustem to generate a flow of water. Under normal circumstances, this water in not filtered. Thus, you face a potential bacteria and health problems involved from such because the fountains circulate dirty water that the chameleon will drink.

If you plan on using a waterfall in your chameleon habitat, you will need to clean the fountain and water resivoirs daily! A very time consuming task and one that cannot be left undone.

Humidifiers

Humidifiers can be used to help keep the humidity levels up in the room and cages where your chameleons live. Using the cool mist humidifier is the one most recommended unless you need the additional heat that warm mist humidifiers put out. Depending on your set up and the species you maintain, you will need to know which humidifier is best for you.

Humidifiers can be setup near your chameleon cage, and the mist will rise into the cage itself. Use a humidity guage to keep track of the levels throughout the day.

If you have more than one veiled chameleon and need to provide humidity to several cages, You can create a system where the humidifier will pump the humid air into each cage. Doug Johnston has perfected a real simple system. The humidifier has been modified with PVC pipes and vinyl tubing to direct the output to several cages at once and even uses a timer to go on and off at specified times. Very effective and really works on keeping the chameleons healthier.

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