How Much Humidity Do Chameleons Need?
Chameleons are generally healthy reptiles with few health issues to worry about. However, too little or too much humidity in their enclosure can lead to several problems such as tail rot, chronic dehydration, and shedding. Whether you have a nosy boraha chameleon, a Jackson, or a veiled chameleon, follow our guide to keep your pet chameleon healthy and happy.
To maintain the proper humidity, you first need to know how to measure it. If your pet store did not already recommend one, purchase a hygrometer as part of your enclosure set-up. Guessing is not good enough and can risk your pet’s life.
Hygrometers are inexpensive, especially considering their importance to a reptile’s comfort. Digital hygrometers cost a bit more than analog models but are more accurate and reliable. Hygrometers that also measure temperature are highly recommended.
How Much Humidity is Enough?
A chameleon’s natural environment is moist and warm. They spend the day alternating between climbing trees to bask in the sun and hiding in the undergrowth to cool off and enjoy the humidity. Exactly how much humidity your chameleon needs depends on what region the reptile is from. Desert chameleons require less humidity than species that originate from the jungle.
Veiled chameleons are originally from the forested areas of Yemen. They live in areas with high rainfall and an average humidity level of about 50%. They can adapt to less humid environments if needed, but keeping them at levels over 50% for extended periods may cause health issues such as tail rot.
Tail rot can cause reptiles to lose a large portion of their tail. Without a tail, chameleons are not able to climb and balance in trees. Fluctuations in humidity are expected in the natural environment, but you should keep humidity levels between 40% and 60% for your pet’s best health.
Nosy Boraha Chameleon and Other Panther Chameleons
Panther chameleons like the nosy boraha are from Madagascar, an island off the coast of East Africa. Madagascar is hot and humid, with about 70% humidity. Achieving that high level in a home enclosure would be almost impossible with the modern conveniences of air conditioners and heaters. Fortunately, Panther chameleons are hardy and can thrive with 50% humidity.
Jacksons are from the mountainous regions of Kenya and Tanzania, where there is a wide range of humidity levels. The optimal level for a Jackson is around 60%, but they can survive living in levels as high as 80%.
Tips for Maintaining Optimal Humidity Levels
Creating the perfect environment for your chameleon isn’t difficult, but it does take consistent effort. Consider the following tips for maintaining the proper humidity level.
Use Real Plants
Like chameleons, plants are living, breathing organisms. The soil required to grow plants creates natural humidity, and the leaves provide cool shade where a reptile can rest. Be sure to use only plants that are non-toxic to your chameleon since they will enjoy nibbling on leaves from time to time.
Some recommendations include:
- Dracaena (Madagascar Dragon Tree)
- Golden pothos
- Grape ivy
- Boston fern
- Corn plant
- Thai plant
Even people with a brown thumb find it easy to care for plants in the humid environment of a reptile enclosure. The benefits of natural plants far outweigh the small amount of work it takes to maintain them.
Foggers release a fine mist that simulates natural fog. The moisture settles on leaves inside the enclosure and provides dew drops for the chameleon to drink. Fogging is especially recommended for Panther and Jackson breeds or if you live in a dry area.
Misting is primarily used to provide an additional source of hydration, but it also boosts humidity levels. You can install a misting system in your chameleon’s enclosure or do it manually with a fine-mist spray bottle. If you opt for an automatic misting system, be certain you limit the misting schedule to avoid oversaturating the enclosure.
Drippers drip water over the plants in the enclosure to simulate natural dew and rain drops. Dripping fulfills three purposes: it keeps plants watered, provides drinking water, and keeps humidity levels stable.
What Type of Water Should You Give Your Chameleon?
Giving any reptile pet water straight from the tap is not advised. Though safe for humans, tap water contains chlorine, metal particles, and other particulates that could be harmful to a reptile. The wrong type of water could cause edema and lead to serious health problems.
Test your tap water to determine the pH level. The ideal pH for a chameleon is 6.5 to 8.5. If your tap water is the proper pH, consider using a filter pitcher to remove most of the chemicals before giving it to your pet.
If tap water is unsafe, purchase distilled water or, if possible, use rainwater.
Total Chameleon Care
With the right care, your chameleon will enjoy many years. Maintaining proper humidity levels is only one step in keeping your pet healthy. The knowledgeable team at Spectrum Chameleon is happy to answer all of your questions and help you create a perfect enclosure for your new pet.