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Yemen Chameleon Care Sheet

Yemen Chameleon Care Sheet

We are frequently asked if chameleons make good herpetocultural subjects.  Our response is to answer positively given a set of certain circumstances:

1)       The chameleons are captive bred.

2)       They are recognised as an ‘easy’ species.

3)       The adult parental stock was well nourished.

4)       The babies have been raised under optimum conditions.

Our reasoning is logical.  Firstly, if the specimens are wild caught they will invariably be carrying high loads of parasites that will need controlling.  Additionally, stress, adjustment to a new environment, gravid female’s etc. can all pose problems.  Secondly, many species of chameleons are recognised as being quite intolerant with regard to their captive management.   Thirdly, babies hatched from calcium deficient females generally have a poorer start in life.  And finally, babies raised under sub optimal  conditions (ie: poor exposure to UVB, bad dietary supplementation etc. will have a low survival rate.

Captive bred Yemen Chameleons (Chameleo calyptratus) obtained from a reputable source should satisfy the above criteria.

Piedbald Yemen

Diet:  Yemen’s eat crickets, locusts, waxworms, mealworms and virtually any other insects offered to them.  Crickets and locusts should form the primary base diet with other insects being offered for variety.  Baby Yemen’s grow extremely fast and need a continuous supply of live food, which is well supplemented.  Likewise females tend to lay very large clutches of eggs which place great demands on their calcium supply.  Female Yemen’s begin egg formation process when they are less than one month old!  Thus to sustain this and their remarkably massive growth it is important that both a vitamin and mineral supplement such as Naturerep Vitarep, and a standalone high saturation calcium/D3 supplement like Naturerep Calcimax are used. Grown on Yemen’s also eat a quantity of plant and fruit material such as dandelions, cabbage, bananas, cherries etc. thus making them true omnivores. 

Generally speaking chameleons do not drink from water bowls, however Yemen’s are one of the few species that can be taught.  By setting up a drip system from a reservoir into a plastic leaf above a catch bowl, they will often drink from the catch bowl, after a time, even without the drip system on.  Spraying the terrarium daily with tepid water will also induce the chameleon to drink the resulting drips.  Although wild Yemen’s occur in some areas of high coastal humidity, others exist in much drier environments.  Normally only moderate humidity is required for this species in captivity.  Misting the terrarium when the chameleon is shedding it’s skin is normally a good idea. 

Housing: Yemen’s are amongst the most territorial of chameleon species.  Whilst babies can be raised with males mixed together, it is not advised to keep sexually mature males housed together.  When keeping pairs it is advisable to have a facility to split the cage, or have a spare cage available to segregate after mating.  Yemen’s reach sexual maturity at around 6 months of age under ideal conditions.



An all glass terrarium (eg: Pilbara Terrariums) of around 100x50x60cm or greater is suitable and should be fitted with a UVB 5.0% fluorescent tube (eg: Triton Reptile or Zoomed Reptisun 5.0), and a basking spot lamp of appropriate wattage (eg: Naturerep Hot Spot).


Yemen’s love to bask under spot lamps.  With a general ambient temperature of around 85F it is normal to achieve temperatures of around 95-100F directly under the basking lamp.  Make perching branches available at all levels and areas of the terrarium including under the lamp but not too close so they may burn themselves.  Nighttime temperatures are normally allowed to drop down into the low 70’sF.  Good ventilation is important to chameleons, many chameleon keepers in the U.S. keep their chameleons in screen mesh cages outside during sunny periods so they can fully utilise the sun’s natural light intensity and UVB.  However in the UK sunny periods are rare!, and hence the all glass terrariums are normally employed. Be sure that your enclosure is not in front of a window where direct sunlight can hit the tank.  This can cause overheating and kill your chameleons!


Recommended reading: Essential Care of Chameleons         The Herp Library

Care & Breeding Of Chameleons      The Herp Library         


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