|Welcome to the Senegal Chameleon Care Sheet section, this area is divided in to several separate sub sections – the introduction (this page), the housing Senegal Chameleons page, temperature and humidity, feeding Senegal Chameleons and breeding Senegal Chameleons sections.
Senegal Chameleon Care Sheet
The Senegal Chameleon (Chamaeleo senegalensis) is native to strangeley enough, Senegal in Western Africa, hence its common name. Generally speaking it is a small to medium size as far as chameleons go getting to around 12 inches in length half being the tail.
Senegal Chameleons are not a good starter chameleon (if there is such a thing) unless they are captive bred specimens.
READ MORE: Yemen Chameleon Care Sheet
Wild collected ones will not drink from waterbowls so the leaves and walls of the enclosure have to be sprayed or a waterfall installed, captive bred ones have been trained to drink from a water bowl.
Once settled though whether wild collected or captive bred they make excellent medium sized pet chameleons.
Chameleons are very shy creatures normally and want to hide away in a branch.
In captivity they will become quite tame and can be readily handled, many will often feed from your hand with their long sticky tipped tongue.
Housing Senegal Chameleons
The best enclosure I have seen for chameleons is the Reptarium from Apogee.
These consist of a strong plastic frame with a strong and machine washable mesh cover which has zip off ends.
The size of the enclosure should be large enough to allow the chameleon to move freely around to thermo-regulate itself (keep the right temperature). A size of 30 x 16 x 16 is a minimum (38G version) but a 30 x 16 x 28 inch one is better (65G version).
The Cage should have no substrate in the bottom as this can be accidentally eaten by the chameleon as it tries to catch food.
Instead plain paper should be used or better still, buy Reptarium Softray which slips over the base of the frame prior to putting on the outer mesh.
This is also waterproof.
In the UK you can safely put the entire cage outdoors in a sunny position. As the cage is mesh it will not overheat and the chameleons will benefit from the summer sun.
Make sure to spray at least twice a day if keeping outdoors during the summer and make sure that there is some shady places within the cage or put part of it in the shade and part in the sun, this will allow the lizard to bask safely.
Whatever kind of tank you choose you will need at least one other piece of equipment, a large tree branch, this should have at least 6 side shoots.
The branch should start at the bottom left corner and rise to the top right corner with the side branches going right up to the mesh sides.
This will allow the reptile to move in to either warm areas or cooler ones (thermo regulation).
A generous amount of artificial plant vine should be wrapped around the branch to act as cover for the chameleon, it will sleep in the ‘leafy’ area at night.
They are best kept singly as males will fight other males and keeping a male and female together will result in an unwanted pregnancy!.
You can keep two females together so long as the cage is large enough.
Temperature for Senegal Chameleons
In addition use a 100w spot light aimed at a particular fork in the tree branch.
The chameleon will position its body at a right angle to the light and warm up its body, it will then take a walk around its tree or branch in search of food and water.
One other important element for keeping chameleons is a source of UV light, chameleons need the UV light from the sun in order to metabolise the calcium in their diet.
READ MORE: Keeping Chameleons
The strip tube should be replaced every 6 months as the UV element gradually stops providing the required levels of UVB light.
The lighting system should be set to come on for 12 hours a day, this can be done using a simple timer switch.
Feeding Senegal Chameleons
Other foods which can be given include crickets, pinkie mice and occasionally soft fruit like peach.
The food being fed should be lightly dusted with a food supplement powder on every occasion until they are 9 – 12 months old, you need then only do it once a week.
This will give the growing chameleon all the minerals needed for speedy growth. Females will require more calcium in their diet to help with egg production so if the female is gravid (pregnant) give her food which is dusted at every feeding.
If feeding crickets to your Yemen make sure that there are none left in the cage overnight as they can attack the chameleon as it sleeps.
ALWAYS remove uneaten food items at night.
If your animal is wild collected then you should include a water bowl in addition to spraying the plants and walls daily.
If your animal is captive bred then it should be drinking from the bowl and the plants wont need wetting. The water should be changed daily.
Breeding Senegal Chameleon
The dry eggs should now be placed in an incubation chamber of some kind. A simply solution is to use VENTILATED cricket tubs.
A substrate or damp vermiculite should be put in to 2/3’s the depth of the tub.
The vermiculite should be measured by WEIGHT and not volume.
Each 1 ounce of vermiculite should have 1 ounce of water added. To create a damp crumbly texture.
The eggs should be laid out at 1 inch intervals, in a cricket tub you can get 8 eggs. The eggs should be 1/2 to 3/4 buried in the damp vermiculite making sure the vermiculite is in contact with the egg.
Replace the lid on the container.
The incubation time will be determined by the temperature at which they are kept.
For the first 4 months the temperature should be 75F during the day and dropping to a minimum 60F at night.
The eggs hatch better if kept in complete darkness so make sure to put the eggs somewhere dark and safe.
The eggs will need checking regularly to remove any that have gone off or are mouldy. A top up with water may be required to keep the vermiculite moist.
If it’s dry then add 20ml of water to the vermiculite in one corner.
Provide heat with a ceramic lamp (60w) placed 7 inches above the tank. The temperature should be 20C with no spot lights on, this remains on 24 hours a day.
To supplement the heat during the day a spot light is provided for basking purposes.
This light is again placed 7 inches above the enclosure and the temperature under the spot light should be no more than 30C.
There should always be cool retreat so the lizards can thermoregulate (keeping at the right temperature).
A new UV strip tube should be purchased to make sure the lizards receive the full benefits of the light, ZooMed™ ReptiSun 5 lamps work well.
Spray the walls and plants with water every morning and every late afternoon. Make sure that you don’t spray the babies directly, just the plants and walls of the tank.
The idea is to get the plants to have droplets of water on them but no water is allowed to collect in the bottom of the tank, small chameleons can drown in a tiny pool of water!
Feeding should commence the day after hatching and should be fat flightless fruit flies dusted with supplement powder, do this after the plants have dried (2 hours) so that the flies don’t drown in water.
The chameleons instinctively know how to use their long sticky tipped tongue and it is a joy to watch the hatchlings taking aim and catching their first flies!