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Graceful Chameleons - Chamaeleo gracilis

Graceful Chameleons - Chamaeleo gracilis
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The basic body color of the Graceful Chameleon is anywhere from green, yellow, or a light brown. Dark vertical bands may appear on the body and tail. Rays extend from around the eye for a short distance. Males have a slightly higher casque (cranial crest) than females, but are smaller in average size. When a female is receptive to breeding, she will show yellow or orange spots. Older females can grow to as large as 15 inches.

Habitat: Distribution/Background

The Graceful Chameleon Chamaeleo gracilis was described by Hallowell in 1842. The Graceful chameleons are widespread throughout Central Africa. They are a commonly imported animal, unfortunately they often arrive with many serious health issues. They are not highly valued and often little extra care is given to them during the collection, exportation, importation and distribution process that would ensure their health and well being as wild-caught captives.

Food and Feeding

Graceful chameleons will eat just about anything from crickets, fruit flies, mealworms, the occasional wax worm, and many other small insects. Be careful collecting prey foods from nature as they could have been exposed to insecticides, fertilizers, and could harbor parasites detrimental to your chameleon's health.

Prey items can be dusted with a vitamin supplement to increase the nutritional value. RepCal and Herptivite are two excellent supplements. Crickets should also be gut loaded to help provide more nutrients. Gut loading your crickets with fresh fruit, vegetables, fish flakes, and any of the commercially available gut load diets will increase their nutritional value.

This chameleon should be misted twice per day with dechlorinated water. Make sure to spray the leaves well, as this is how the chameleon will drink. A good dechlorinator is Repti-safe, as it also provides calcium and electrolytes.


In the wild, these chameleons lived mostly in forest-like environments, so the easiest way to keep them is to closely mimic their natural habitat.

A thirty gallon tank is the smallest recommended tank for these chameleons. Keep in mind that they need more height, so a 55 to 75-gallon tank would be excellent. They have more height than a 40 gallon breeder, a tank that is commonly used for reptiles. Provide a good substrate, a mix of sand and either peat or a coconut-fiber bedding works well, and when misted daily helps keep the humidity level up

Chameleons tend to need many things to climb on. Provide a variety of climbing branches, vines (whether natural or artificial), and other things to climb on and move about. Misted vines are one of the best ways to get water to your chameleon. It provides them with their natural way to get a drink, where it collects on the leaves. Many pet stores will sell artificial vines with suction cups to attach them to your tank.

A screen top will be necessary as chameleons are able climbers, if somewhat slow at times. A chameleon can easily climb out of its tank and encounter many dangers; the bleach spilled on the counter, other household pets, and possibly temperatures too extreme for its liking. Make sure you buy a tank with a screen top.

Cage Care

Cage maintenance is an important part of keeping reptiles healthy, and long-lived. Reptiles being kept in a confined area as pets need to be protected from harmful micro-organisms and parasites. The reptile cage needs daily and weekly maintenance. Provide fresh food and water in clean dishes everyday. Check on a daily basis to make sure that the tank is clean. As with any reptile, feces should be removed as soon as they are discovered.

Everything you put into their home should be washed and disinfected weekly. This includes dishes and cage decor. All of the substrate should be changed every three to four months. Never clean with a phenol such as Pine Sol. Chlorine and alcohol based cleaners are tolerated much better, but need to be thoroughly rinsed.


Graceful chameleons have a reputation for being rather aggressive. They should be kept singly and out of sight of any other chameleons to prevent unnecessary stress for the animals. In many chameleon species, even being in the constant sight of a male is enough to put the female off of her food, so be careful.


As with any reptile, these are not tame pets. Most will not bite, however they should never be carried around outside of their cage for long periods of time. Most chameleons can be taught to accept gentle handling over time. Be sure to wash your hands before and after handling, for the chameleon's health and yours.


Females will have one to two clutches of eggs per year, with numbers between 20 and 40 per clutch. They will incubate at 74{deg} F for six months before hatching. When the young hatch, let them remain by or inside their egg until they have absorbed their first meal out of the egg. From this meal, they will be full for a day or two, so do not be alarmed if they do not eat. After that you can begin to provide them with pinhead crickets and culture fruit flies.

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