Wednesday, December 12, 2007
In a natural environment we can only speculate as to what a wild veiled chameleon is consuming. How many different types of insects? How much plant matter? vertebrates? dirt?
In a captive situation, the best we can do is provide a good selection of insects, make sure they are gut-loaded with a nutritious diet, provide non-toxic plants...and supplement!
There is not so much controversy about supplementation, as there is variation in schedules and definite opinions on frequency and rotation.
In an effort to provide basic information, a schedule will be mapped out here that can certainly be "tweaked" but if followed exactly, should work quite well.
Some thoughts on oversupplementing:
Less is more! Over-supplementation is quite common among keepers who are trying to make sure their animal gets everything it needs. Very often people ask about the crusty white discharge that has started to appear in their veiled chameleon's nostrils ...this is how the animal eliminates excess minerals and salts and is a sign of over-supplementation.
Try to be aware of how small this animal is....how big is the vitamin tablet you take compared to the size of your body...how big would it be if you were the size of your chameleon?
Crickets do not need to be drowned in supplement, nor do all of them need to be dusted. Dust a few of them very lightly with that days supplement and you're done!
Calcium powder without D3
Calcium Powder with D3
Herptivite (or other multi-vitamin)
Pre-formed Vitamin A
Calcium should be provided on a few feeders 3 to 4 times a week, Calcium with D3 should be provided 1 to 2 times per week for young chameleons (up to 6 months old) and reduced to once or twice per month for adults.
Your cham can overdose on Vitamin D3. It is produced in the body and enables calcium absorbtion. The primary reason for a UVB light is so the body can produce this vitamin. The light is not as effective as the sun, so we supplement with additional D3.
This supplementation is an insurance policy...and a little is plenty. Remember your cham is making his own as well.
Herptivite is a multi-vitamin. It's sort of a broad spectrum supplement. Ideally it meets some dietary needs but it should only be provided a couple times a month.
Pre-formed Vitamin A is vitamin A from an animal source. Your chameleon would get this in it's natural habitat by eating a vertebrate or blood-sucking insect. Chams can overdose on A, but hypovitaminosis (under-supplementation) is more common. Still, a very small dosage is recommended. One very small drop of fish oil or vitamin A (gel-cap for humans) on a feeder once every two weeks is sufficient, and let me stress again...one tiny drop.
Beta Carotene is not a source of preformed Vitamin A, and it is believed by many that chameleons cannot convert it.
Plant matter (collard greens, dandelion, kale) is another great source of vitamins, moisture and calcium, and veileds do consume it. This can be offered as often as you like.