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Cuban False Chameleon – SUPER care sheet

The Cuban false chameleon, also known as the chipojo or chipojo de Cuba, is a species of lizard native to Cuba. Despite its common name, it is not actually a chameleon but rather a member of the iguanid family.

The Cuban false chameleon can grow up to 30 centimeters in length and has a distinctive appearance with a flattened head, large eyes, and a long, slender tail. Its coloration can vary from brown to green, with black spots or stripes on its body.

This species is arboreal, meaning it spends most of its time in trees. It is a diurnal animal, meaning it is active during the day, and feeds mainly on insects and other small invertebrates.

The Cuban false chameleon is considered a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, it is threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation and urbanization in parts of its range. Additionally, it is sometimes collected for the pet trade, which can put pressure on local populations.

Origin and History

The origin and history of the Cuban false chameleon is not well-known, but it is believed to be a native species to Cuba. The earliest known scientific description of the species was published by the French naturalist Georges Cuvier in 1829, who described it as “Iguana melanura” based on a specimen collected in Cuba.

The species was later reclassified as Chamaeleolis melanurus by the German herpetologist Wilhelm Peters in 1863, and then as Anolis baracoae by the American herpetologist Thomas Barbour in 1914. It was finally given its current scientific name, Chamaeleolis chamaeleonides, by the American herpetologist James Peters in 1957.

Throughout its history, the Cuban false chameleon has been subject to various taxonomic changes due to its morphological similarity to other lizard species. The species is also sometimes confused with true chameleons due to its flattened head and large eyes, which are characteristic of chameleons.

In recent years, genetic studies have provided further insight into the evolutionary history of the Cuban false chameleon and its relationship to other lizard species. Despite its taxonomic ambiguity, the Cuban false chameleon is recognized as a distinct and ecologically important species in Cuba.

Appearance and Behavior

The Cuban fake chameleon may be identified by its peculiar look, which consists of a head that is flatter than usual, huge eyes, and a tail that is long and thin. Its body may be brown, green, or black all over, and it may have spots or stripes of black all over it. This particular species possesses a prehensile tail, which indicates that it has evolved to be able to grip onto branches and support its body while travelling through the forest canopy.

The Cuban false chameleon is a species that is diurnal, which means that it is active during the day, and arboreal, which means that it spends the most of its time in trees. It is a lizard that is nimble and quick to move, and it is capable of making rapid motions along branches and twigs. This species is also noted for being territorial, particularly the males, who are known to protect their territory against other males of the species.

The Cuban false chameleon, like other anoles, has the ability to alter its hue, but the degree to which it can do so is not as substantial as the shift that occurs in real chameleons. It is believed that this shift in hue is associated with the animal’s mood, the animal’s ability to regulate its temperature, and as a means of communication with other individuals.

The Cuban false chameleon consumes mostly insects and other tiny invertebrates, such as ants, spiders, and grasshoppers, as the primary component of its diet. It is a predator that is very active and uses the length of its tongue to grab victims from a distance.

In general, the Cuban false chameleon is a fascinating and one-of-a-kind species that has evolved to live an arboreal existence in the rain forests of Cuba.

Cuban False Chameleon

Size and Lifespan

The length of an adult Cuban false chameleon is anywhere from 25 to 30 centimeters (10 to 12 inches), including their tail. This makes the Cuban false chameleon a very tiny species of lizard. Girls are typically noticeably more petite than their masculine counterparts.

There is limited information available on the length of time the Cuban false chameleon spends in the wild, although researchers believe it to be between five and seven years. They might survive longer if kept in captivity, where they would be given a food and environment more suited to their needs.

The growth rate of Cuban false chameleons may be rather quick, with individuals reaching maturity at an age ranging from around 12 to 18 months on average. This is similar to the development rate of many other tiny reptiles. After reaching this stage, the lizard’s development will begin to slow, and it will eventually reach its full adult size.

It is important to note that the proper maintenance of Cuban fake chameleons kept as pets is essential to guaranteeing that they will live a long and healthy life. To keep them healthy and ensure that they live out their entire lifespan, it is essential to provide them with an environment that is conducive to their needs in terms of lighting, temperature, and nutrition, as well as a proper enclosure.


The Cuban false chameleon is generally believed to be a placid and non-aggressive species. They are not often known for biting or assaulting humans, and they are generally thought to be a quiet species. On the other hand, much like the vast majority of other reptiles, they are susceptible to developing anxiety and fear if they perceive that they are in danger or if they are handled improperly.

As a general rule, it is not advisable to handle Cuban false chameleons on a regular basis or for an extended period of time. These reptiles are not known for being very gregarious or engaging, and excessive or frequent handling may cause them to get agitated. In the event that you are need to handle them, it is preferable to do so as little as possible while also being very careful and kind with them so as not to cause them any unnecessary stress.

In addition, it is important to keep in mind that Cuban fake chameleons spend most of their time in the trees, and as a result, they are prone to suffering from stress if they are housed in an enclosure that does not give sufficient vertical space or places for them to hide. It is essential to their general health and well-being to provide an appropriate habitat for them that is a representation of their native environment.

In conclusion, despite the fact that the Cuban false chameleon is typically a placid and non-aggressive species, it is essential to approach them with caution and to offer them an environment that is conducive to their needs in order to help them feel at ease and reduce the amount of stress they experience.

Enclosure size

The age and size of the Cuban fake chameleon will determine the minimum and maximum dimensions of the cage that must be provided for the lizard. The enclosure should, as a general rule, be large enough to offer the animal with sufficient area to wander around, climb, and bask in the sun. A bigger cage not only enables the construction of numerous temperature gradients, but it also gives the lizard additional places to hide in case it feels attacked or under stress.

An enclosure measuring around 30 by 30 by 45 centimeters (12 by 12 by 18 inches) should be suitable for a juvenile or hatchling Cuban false chameleon, however it is better to provide as much room as possible. The enclosure has to be expanded to accommodate the growing lizard at regular intervals.

It is advised that a habitat for an adult Cuban false chameleon have dimensions of at least 60 by 60 by 90 centimeters (24 by 24 by 36 inches). Again, increasing the amount of room available is always preferable, and giving the lizard with a larger cage can enhance its general health and well-being.

It is essential to make sure that the cage has a lot of vertical space for the Cuban false chameleon to be able to climb and perch, as well as a lot of places to hide and branches to give a natural and varied habitat for it to live in. In addition, making sure they have access to a source of heat and illumination that emits UVB is critical for their overall health and well-being.

In general, creating an appropriate enclosure for the Cuban fake chameleon that imitates its natural habitat is essential for the health and happiness of the animal, and it may also assist to guarantee that the animal thrives while it is being kept in captivity.

Cuban False Chameleon


The health and well-being of Cuban fake chameleons is directly related to the level of illumination provided for them. In the wild, they would expose themselves to the sun in order to maintain a consistent body temperature and produce vitamin D3 for themselves. In order to maintain the lizard’s health in captivity, it is needed to supply an artificial source of UVB illumination. This will guarantee that the lizard receives the necessary amount of UVB radiation.

The production of vitamin D3, which is essential for calcium metabolism and general bone health, is dependent on UVB illumination, which is essential for its production. If they do not receive a enough amount of UVB radiation, Cuban false chameleons run the risk of developing metabolic bone disease, a condition that can be fatal and causes the bones to become brittle and misshapen.

While selecting UVB illumination, it is essential to pick a high-quality bulb that is suitable for the dimensions of the cage as well as the requirements of the lizard. It is advised that you use a linear UVB lamp that extends over at least two-thirds of the length of the cage. The intensity of the bulb should be proportional to the height of the enclosure.

To ensure that the lizard is receiving the proper amount of UVB radiation, you should change the UVB bulbs every six to twelve months. It is also crucial to remember that UVB bulbs lose some of their efficiency with time, so this should be taken into consideration. In addition, it is essential to offer a basking zone in the cage that is heated to around 30-35 degrees Celsius (86-95 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the day. This will enable the lizard to control its body temperature and digest its food in the correct manner.

It is necessary to take the time to do research and invest in a high-quality lighting arrangement for their enclosure in order to ensure the health of Cuban false chameleons. Providing the appropriate UVB illumination is crucial for the health of Cuban false chameleons.

Temperature and Humidity

As Cuban false chameleons evolved in climates that are naturally warm and humid, it is essential to ensure that their cage is kept at a suitable temperature and has an adequate amount of humidity in order to protect their health and well-being.

The optimal temperature range for a Cuban false chameleon is anywhere between 26 and 29 degrees Celsius (79 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day, with a basking place that reaches 30 to 35 degrees Celsius (86 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit). The temperature can dip to roughly 20-24 degrees Celsius (68-75 degrees Fahrenheit) at night. It is essential to keep an eye on the temperature within the enclosure by using a thermometer or thermostat. Moreover, it is essential to ensure that the temperature varies sufficiently throughout the enclosure, allowing the lizard to roam freely between warmer and colder places as it sees fit.

In addition to temperature, the humidity level in Cuban false chameleon habitats is also very crucial for the animals’ overall health. The enclosure should have a relative humidity level of between 60 and 70 percent, and it should be misted occasionally to keep the humidity levels at the optimum ranges. It is essential not to oversaturate the enclosure with water since this might encourage the growth of germs and fungi, which in turn raises the likelihood that the lizard will suffer from respiratory diseases.

In addition to misting the enclosure, it is also a good idea to include a water dish within it. This will assist to keep the humidity levels stable and will also offer the lizard with a source of drinking water. Misting the enclosure is also a good idea.

It is necessary to monitor the temperature and humidity levels of Cuban false chameleons on a frequent basis to ensure that the lizard is prospering in its habitat. Overall, keeping suitable temperature and humidity levels is crucial for the health and well-being of Cuban false chameleons.


Maintaining a clean and hygienic environment in the enclosure is important to ensure the health and well-being of Cuban false chameleons. Here are some tips on how to clean the enclosure:

  1. Spot clean: Remove feces, uneaten food, and shed skin from the enclosure as soon as possible, ideally on a daily basis.
  2. Deep clean: Remove the lizard from the enclosure and remove all the decorations and substrate. Wash the enclosure with warm soapy water, rinse thoroughly and let it dry. You can use a reptile-safe disinfectant to ensure the enclosure is properly cleaned.
  3. Substrate: Clean the substrate as needed, based on its type. If using paper towels or other disposable substrate, replace as needed. If using a substrate that can be cleaned and reused, clean it by washing it in hot soapy water or a reptile-safe disinfectant.
  4. Decorations: Clean the decorations and branches with warm soapy water or reptile-safe disinfectant. Rinse thoroughly and let dry before placing them back in the enclosure.
  5. Water dish: Clean the water dish daily by removing any debris and scrubbing it with hot soapy water or a reptile-safe disinfectant.
  6. Wash your hands: Always wash your hands before and after handling the lizard or cleaning the enclosure.

It is important to regularly clean the enclosure to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria and maintain a healthy environment for the lizard. By following these cleaning tips, you can help ensure that your Cuban false chameleon stays healthy and happy in its enclosure.

Food and Water

The Cuban false chameleon is an insectivore, which means that its diet must include a wide range of insects in order for it to survive. Crickets, roaches, mealworms, superworms, and waxworms are some of the most nutritious foods for Cuban false chameleons, but they also eat mealworms and superworms. It is essential to provide the lizard with a wide range of insects so that it may maintain a diet that is nutritionally sound. You may also add a little bit of diversity by providing a selection of insects that range in size and kind.

It is essential to make certain that the insects you provide for your Cuban fake chameleon have been gut-loaded before to their consumption by the lizard. This indicates that the insects were previously provided with a diet that was rich in essential nutrients. This helps to guarantee that the lizard is receiving a sufficient amount of the necessary nutrients from the food that it consumes. It is also advised that the insects be dusted with a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement so as to guarantee that the lizard will receive an appropriate supply of these minerals.

It is essential to supply the Cuban fake chameleon with a source of clean water in addition to food in order to ensure its survival. In order to accomplish this goal, provide a small dish with clean water inside the cage. It is imperative that the water be replaced on a regular basis in order to maintain its sterility and cleanliness.

It is essential to keep a close eye on the lizard’s feeding patterns and to make any adjustments to its food. If you observe that the lizard is not eating, this might be an indication of stress or disease. It is crucial to check with a veterinarian who has expertise working with reptiles if you have any concerns about the lizard’s health.

It is essential to the health and well-being of Cuban fake chameleons to provide them with a feed that is both diverse and nutritious, as well as a source of water that is free from contamination.


Cuban false chameleons can be quite skittish and may not tolerate handling well, so it is important to be gentle and calm when handling them to minimize stress. Here are some tips for handling your Cuban false chameleon:

  1. Start slowly: If your lizard is not used to being handled, start with short handling sessions, gradually increasing the duration over time.
  2. Use both hands: Always use both hands when handling your lizard to prevent it from falling or feeling insecure.
  3. Be gentle: Cuban false chameleons have delicate bones and should be handled gently to avoid injury.
  4. Support the body: Support the lizard’s entire body when handling it to prevent stress and injury.
  5. Avoid the tail: Do not grab the lizard by the tail, as this can cause it to become stressed and drop its tail.
  6. Avoid sudden movements: Avoid making sudden movements or loud noises when handling your lizard, as this can startle it and cause it to become stressed.
  7. Watch for signs of stress: If your lizard becomes agitated or stressed, put it back in its enclosure to allow it to calm down.

It is important to remember that not all Cuban false chameleons will tolerate handling, so it is important to respect their individual temperament and comfort level.

Some may prefer to be observed rather than handled, while others may enjoy gentle interaction with their owners. With patience and a gentle approach, it is possible to build a bond with your Cuban false chameleon and make handling a positive experience for both you and the lizard.

Common Health Issues

Although though Cuban false chameleons are typically resilient reptiles, they are prone to a wide range of different health problems. The following is a list of some of the more prevalent health problems that are seen in Cuban fake chameleons:

Infections in the respiratory tract can be brought on by a number of different things, including improper temperature and humidity levels, inadequate ventilation, bacterial or fungal infections, and other similar conditions. It is possible for patients to exhibit symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and trouble breathing.

A shortage of calcium and vitamin D3 in the diet are the root causes of metabolic bone disease, which can lead to brittle bones, muscular spasms, and difficulties moving about.

Parasites: Cuban false chameleons can be affected by internal parasites like worms, which can lead to symptoms like as weight loss, diarrhea, and lethargy. Worms are an example of an internal parasite.

In order to avoid being dehydrated, Cuban fake chameleons always need access to a supply of clean, fresh water. Constipation, fatigue, and decreased appetite are just some of the symptoms of dehydration, which can lead to a range of other health issues.

Shedding issues: Cuban fake chameleons can often have trouble shedding their skin, which can result in retained shed as well as other concerns.

Mouth rot is a bacterial illness that affects both the mouth and the gums. It can be brought on by improper oral hygiene, as well as by a number of other circumstances. Lethargy, trouble eating, and swollen or discolored gums are some of the symptoms that may be present.

In the event that you observe any symptoms of disease or aberrant behavior in your Cuban fake chameleon, it is essential that you seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian who has prior experience working with reptiles. In Cuban false chameleons, keeping a healthy environment and getting routine checkups can be helpful in preventing a variety of health problems.

Cuban False Chameleon


It is possible to breed Cuban fake chameleons in captivity; but, doing so is a difficult procedure that calls for meticulous preparation and close attention to detail. If you are thinking of breeding Cuban fake chameleons, the following are some important considerations to bear in mind:

Sexing: It is crucial to sex your Cuban fake chameleons correctly in order to ensure that you have a male and female pair of chameleons. Casques, which are bony protrusions located on the skull, will be bigger and more noticeable on males, and they will also have hemipenal bulges located at the base of their tails.

Age is a prerequisite for reproduction in Cuban fake chameleons; the animals must first reach maturity. Around one year of age is the average time at which they acquire sexual maturity.

Enclosure: Be sure to provide a roomy and clean enclosure that’s big enough for the male and female to easily roam around in, as well as enough space for them to do so.

Temperature and humidity: It is important to make sure that the temperature and humidity levels are suitable for breeding, since these factors might have an effect on the amount of offspring that are produced.

Courtship: In order to attract a partner, Cuban false chameleons generally put on extravagant displays throughout the courting process. The male will show off his casque and colors, and he may shake his limbs or bob his head in an attempt to attract the attention of the female.

The female will copulate with the male after she has determined that he is worthy of her. It is essential to keep a tight eye on their conduct throughout this time period in order to guarantee that there will be no exchanges involving hostile behavior.

Laying of eggs: Upon successful reproduction, the female will deposit her eggs in an appropriate nesting place. To ensure that the eggs are correctly laid, you should provide a nesting box equipped with an appropriate substrate.

Incubation: The eggs must be incubated at the correct temperature and humidity conditions in order for them to be successful. This process might take many weeks, during which time it is essential to perform routine checks on the eggs to ensure that they are in good condition and growing appropriately.

The breeding of Cuban fake chameleons may be a very gratifying experience; nevertheless, it does need a significant amount of planning and focus on the finer points. If you are thinking of breeding your chameleons, it is crucial to perform the appropriate amount of study and speak with an expert breeder or veterinarian to ensure that you are giving your animals the highest level of care that is humanly feasible.


The price of a Cuban fake chameleon can change based on a number of different aspects, such as the individual’s age, size, gender, and coloration, among other characteristics.

In general, you should expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 for a juvenile or subadult Cuban fake chameleon, while an adult can cost anywhere from $300 to $500 or even more.

A larger fee may be asked for color morphs that are uncommon and highly sought for, such as blue or lavender.

It is essential to get Cuban fake chameleons from a reputable breeder or pet store in order to guarantee that they are in good condition and have received enough care throughout their lives. It is best to steer clear of buying chameleons from unauthorized or illegal merchants, as the animals may not be in good health or may have been obtained illegally. In addition, remember to figure in the expense of constructing a proper enclosure for your chameleon as well as the cost of feeding it with food, water, and any other supplies it may require.


The Cuban false chameleon is a fascinating and one-of-a-kind species of reptile that, in the hands of knowledgeable reptile keepers, has the potential to be a satisfying pet. They require a specialized food in addition to a certain habitat in which to live, one that fulfills certain requirements with regard to temperature, humidity, and illumination levels. It is important to provide your Cuban faux chameleon with the care and attention it needs in order to keep it healthy and happy.

If you are interested in keeping a Cuban fake chameleon as a pet, it is imperative that you conduct adequate study and seek the advice of knowledgeable reptile keepers or veterinarians in order to guarantee that you will provide the highest standard of care. In addition to this, it is essential to get chameleons from reliable sources in order to guarantee that they are in good health and have been lawfully obtained. Your collection of reptiles will not be complete without the inclusion of a Cuban fake chameleon if you take the time to provide it with the necessary care and attention.