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Chameleon Husbandry: Humidity

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Providing proper humidity levels is critical to your pet chameleon’s health and wellbeing. Improper humidity levels can cause tail rot, poor skin shedding, and digestion issues.

In general, a chameleon’s humidity needs are:

Veiled chameleon humidity: 50% during the day, 75% at night

Panther chameleon humidity: 50% during the day, 75% at night

Jackson chameleon humidity: 30% during the day, 75% at night

Why Chameleons Need Humidity

In the same way certain plant species can only grow in hot and humid climates, nearly all chameleons can only survive in humid climates.

Proper humidity level for all chameleons helps to maintain skin smoothness, eye health and is important for digestion.

A good humidity level and regular misting can also help aid a chameleon if it is suffering from impaction or constipation. Proper humidity levels also aid skin shedding.

Humidity Levels

These will vary from species to species, but, on average, they need a humidity level of between 50% and 70%.

The three most commonly kept chameleon pet species are veiled chameleons, panther chameleons, and Jackson chameleons. Each one has different humidity requirements.

Veiled Chameleon Humidity Level: 50-75%

Veiled chameleons are the easiest to provide and maintain humidity levels because they originate from the hot and dry climate of Yemen.

Rainfall is still relatively high there, particularly in the forested areas where veiled chameleons live, but 50% air humidity during the day is perfect for them. At night, this needs to be raised to between 75% and 100%

As this is the general room humidity level in most buildings, you don’t really need any extra special measures to maintain this level during the day.

Obviously, natural air humidity fluctuates all the time, so don’t worry if the area you live in has higher levels. It’s when you try and maintain a constantly high level of daytime humidity for veiled chameleons that problems can start.

Panther Chameleon Humidity Level – 70%

This is the ideal level that would make your panther chameleon the most comfortable. However, this is difficult to achieve in most homes competing with running air conditioners, heaters and the like.

A study cited in this book found that panthers kept at a humidity level of around 50% showed no adverse health effects associated with poor humidity levels.

So don’t worry if levels drop to this from time to time, between 60% and 70% will be fine.

At nighttime, this needs to be between 75% and 100%, like for veiled chameleons.

Jackson Chameleon Humidity Level – 60%

Humidity levels of around 60% or a little bit higher of around 65% will be ideal for a Jackson chameleon.

Like the previous two species, Jackson’s also need higher levels of humidity, between 75% and 100%.

Pro Tip: Humidity levels will spike throughout the day as you provide your chameleon with their water needs. A base level of 50%, which is the standard level of most rooms anyway, is a good place to operate from.

Maintaining Humidity Levels

You don’t have to go to these extremes, but a well planted enclosure really helps with maintaining humidity levels

Use Real Plants: I get it, you’re not very good at caring for plants. I can relate to that.

I was so bad at keeping plants alive I probably spent more money on them than anything else when I had my veiled chameleon, but real plants are ideal for a chameleon’s enclosure.

Why? Because they’re living breathing organisms, the soil they’re planted in provides humidity as well as the leaves and not to mention the extra oxygen your chameleon will benefit from.

Think of lush, green and steamy jungles, and you’ll see why real plants are a good idea.

Regular Misting: Misting is primarily for a chameleon’s hydration purposes, but it has the secondary benefit of boosting humidity.

I personally think many chameleon owners go a bit overboard with this step by setting time limits on how long to mist, how often, and so on.

In reality, you just need to mist until your chameleon has started the drinking response of opening and closing their mouth, until the enclosure is wet and the leaves are dripping with water.

I used to mist once or twice a day for my veiled chameleon, he lived until he was nearly eleven years old never showed signs of serious dehydration.

You can mist by hand, but that gets old pretty quickly, so instead I recommend getting an auto mister. It will make taking care of your chameleon so much easier.

Regular Fogging: This is similar to misting but instead of a spray, it releases a fine fog that settles over the enclosure and looks really cool! It has the added bonus of leaving dew drops on leaves that your chameleon can drink from.

I recommend this for keepers of all species mentioned above to provide for their nighttime humidity requirements. You can set it to run on a low to medium setting for a few hours at night while they sleep and in the early morning before they wake up.

This not only helps maintain those humidity levels, but also gives a more natural vibe to the enclosure as mist descends in the morning in their natural habitats.

Foggers are also useful for daytime requirements if you live in a particularly dry area or your residence has drier air in fall and winter time. A fogger will help to keep levels topped up throughout the day.

Dripper: This is simply a tub of water placed on top of the chameleon’s enclosure and set to drip at frequent intervals over the chameleon’s plants.

This again provides the double benefit of ensuring your chameleon has access to water all the time and keeps the humidity levels at a stable level, particularly when combined with real plants in the enclosure.

Measuring Humidity

To know the humidity levels of a chameleon’s enclosure, you’ll need to have a measuring device called a hygrometer.

You can get analog or digital hygrometers, but I recommend only getting a digital one.

Analog hygrometers can give wildly different readings each time you measure. This will make it difficult to provide you with an accurate overall picture of your chameleon’s humidity levels.

Consequences of Incorrect Humidity

It’s not too difficult to maintain the correct levels, but there are complications that can be caused by incorrect humidity.

Humidity Level Too High – This can cause tail rot and respiratory infections. High amounts of moisture in the air cause bacteria to breed more effectively and enter the chameleon’s system.

Humidity Level Too Low – Can lead to shedding problems and incomplete sheds because if the air is too dry it means the chameleons’ skin is too dry to fully shed. Bits of skin remaining aren’t usually too much of a problem, but these can become infected if left.

Low humidity can also cause digestion problems and blockage. Proper humidity helps food digest better and is partly why a good misting with warm water helps chameleons pass feces if they haven’t been able to for a while.

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