Veiled chameleons that do not get proper care, could develop growth retardation. This means they are not as big as they should be for their age and sex. It is caused by improper diet: too little food, missing vitamins or lack of calcium. Sometimes a chameleon just slows down its growth and can catch up when fed properly again. If the improper diet or lack of food continues the chameleon may become permanently smaller and not grow to normal adult chameleon size.
How to assure proper growth in chameleons
To assure proper growth, you should make sure:
- Your chameleon has enough insects as food
- The feeder insects are cared for properly
- You add calcium powder to the chameleons food
- You use a UV light
- You add vegetables or extra vitamin supplements to your chameleons diet
- You keep the chameleon at the proper temperature
A chameleon that is young and is still growing will require a lot of food compared to when its adult. I recommend to feed a young chameleon as much insects as it wants. It is okay to feed it a bit less one day a week, but generally it should eat plenty. When it is still growing it will not become too fat. When it is adult you will need to feed it much less.
Recovering from lack of growth
A chameleon with growth retardation has a smaller crest (helmet on its head) and a smaller body. When its adult you cannot help it to increase its body size. It is how it is. When it is younger than 4 months old it can catch up with growth retardation when you start to feed it properly. It can reach normal adult size because it has a 5 to 6 more months of growth until it reaches adulthood.
A chameleon with growth retardation is generally less strong and healthy because of improper diet. When you improve its diet, this will mostly go away. It will be healthy and can live just as long as a normal chameleon, it just won’t become normal size.