Jewels of Madagascar
The Carpet chameleon comes from Madagascar and is also known as Jewelled chameleons because of its stunning colours. It is the female that sports the familiar eye pattern but the male can display lovely greens with shades of blue around the eyes and feet.
Like many chameleons, the colours are at their best when either displaying to a mate or rival. When the female is gravid the jewelled effect is most pronounced. Environment and mood play their part and a basking Carpet chameleon can exhibit combinations of deep reds, blues or black.
Carpets require the basic chameleon care, such as UV lighting, the correct delivery of water and heating, etc. I always recommend natural sunlight for health and best colours, if your location is suitable.
The Carpet chameleon is a charming addition to the chameleon collection and ours ‘tamed’ quickly, allowing hand feeding and more interaction than the larger chameleons such as Panther and Veiled.
Breeding Carpet Chameleons
They breed readily and the female produces batches of 10 to 25 eggs, which can take 6 to 10 months to hatch at 26°c. At six weeks give the eggs a one-month diapause at 15°c.
A cage of 40 cm x 40 cm x 60 cm is adequate if they are kept separately but should be larger if a pair is kept together. Provide plenty of leafy plants in the cage for shade and to allow for hiding places. Ficus are good plants for this.
It is possible to keep pairs in one cage but always advisable as not all pairs are compatible, so watch them carefully at the outset. Never keep males together as they are territorial. If the female is gravid it is best to separate her from the male.
Coming from various parts of Madagascar, they are not restricted to one habitat or ecosystem. This means they are fairly tolerant of temperature ranges but the following are optimum: daytime between 25°c and 30°c, dropping at night by 5°c to 10°c. Do not let the temperature fall below 12°c or rise above 32°c. The Carpet chameleons may survive but they could become stressed.
The diet should be varied but crickets are eagerly eaten and in a quantity that belies their smaller size. Silkworms and grasshoppers make good additions.
Wild versus Captive Bred
Wild-caught Carpet chameleons are often heavily parasitized and stressed, frequently with short life expectancy. Another problem with wild-caught specimens is the ease with which they mate. Young females kept in crowded cages awaiting shipment will often mate too small, resulting in poor quality eggs and often a dead female.
Captive-bred animals will be healthier and should live longer.