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Things to Consider Before Buying a Chameleon

Chameleons are adorable pets that change their skin color according to their surroundings. When you come across a chameleon, you will definitely want to buy a chameleon as your pet! But the truth is, taking care of a chameleon is not an easy task.

You have to treat them like a baby throughout their life span. They need so much attention and care! Chameleons are not cuddly pets. You have to leave them alone and they always want peace.

Wild caught versus captive bred

When you decide to buy a chameleon, it is better to buy it from a breeder because they won’t have wild-caught chameleons. You have to be cautious when you are buying a chameleon because there is a chance that someone may fool you and make you buy a wild-caught chameleon.

The main problem with wild-caught chameleons is that they would have already lived most of their life in the forest and they definitely don’t make good pets. They will be stressed throughout their life span and often get sick due to the change in their environment.

Captive-bred ones don’t have much color range compared to the wild chameleons but they make good pets. They are less aggressive and they don’t get stressed often.

Striped Green Chameleon

You have to check whether it is legal to own a chameleon in your state. A few countries have banned and killed pet chameleons. So before buying a chameleon ensure it is legal, and always ask for the CITES papers when you buy a chameleon.

To own a chameleon, you need legal permission (CITES papers). This is an international agreement between governments. Remember, some types of chameleons are not even allowed to be bred, bought, or sold, even with CITES papers.

The list of the chameleon types that you can own will be listed in the CITES paper. If you don’t have the CITES paperwork for your pet, then it is considered criminal activity.

Which type of chameleon is best as a pet?

Mostly, you will find these 3 common types of chameleons in pet stores. They are:

  • The veiled chameleon
  • The panther chameleon
  • The Jackson’s chameleon

These are the most commonly used chameleons for pets.

Veiled chameleons

Veiled chameleons are not that aggressive and they easily adapt to new environments. Their life span is greater than other chameleons and is the longest of all. If you are a beginner, you should definitely buy a veiled chameleon!

The origin of veiled chameleons is in the deserts and mountains of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, so veiled chameleons will survive extremely high temperatures and lower humidity when compared to other species. This is the most recommended type of chameleon.

Pet Veiled Chameleon

Panther chameleon

Among other types of chameleons, the panther chameleon is one with a wide range of colors because they originate from Madagascar in Southern Africa. They don’t grow much, and they have a shorter life span. They take some time to adapt to their environment.

If you are interested in buying a chameleon but you don’t have much room for a pet, then go for a panther chameleon because they won’t grow much and you can easily fit the cage in your room.

Panther Chameleon

Jackson’s chameleon

Most chameleon owners prefer to buy a Jackson’s chameleon because they are easy to handle and are the least aggressive among other chameleons. They don’t have a wide color range and they won’t adapt to the environment easily. You will find Jackson’s chameleon is more friendly than other types of chameleons.

Buy a chameleon that synchronizes with your taste and with your environment. But for beginners, I highly recommend buying a veiled chameleon.

Should I buy a baby chameleon or an adult chameleon?

Buying a chameleon completely depends on your taste and your surroundings. However, I have highlighted the pros and cons of having either a baby or an adult chameleon.

When you can buy a baby chameleon, always go for them because the chameleon will know you from their earliest days. They will adapt to the environment, as well as to you, effortlessly. The baby chameleons are not as attractive as adult chameleons, but they start to develop their color range during the 4th month.

You can even house two baby chameleons together! But after 3 months, you have to place them in separate cages. Baby chameleons are not easy to take care of. They require constant medical attention, feeding, and care, just as you would do for your own child. When you buy a baby chameleon, you have a longer time to have them in your life.

When you are not ready to intensively take care of a baby chameleon, go for an adult chameleon. They won’t eat for few weeks and they won’t be very active. Mostly they will hide behind the bushes and after a few weeks, they will explore the cage and get used to the surroundings—and to you!

Before buying any chameleon search for the reptile experts and consult a vet so that they can guide you through the life span of your pet.

Should I buy a male or female chameleon?

Male chameleons live longer and have a wide range of colors when compared to female chameleons. If you are buying a chameleon to admire the colors, then go for a male chameleon. Male chameleons are easier to take care of, but require a big terrarium, high lighting, temperature, and food when compared to a female chameleon.

Male chameleons are more expensive than female chameleons because of the wide range of colors. The medical expenses for a male chameleon will be less than for a female chameleon. This is because females go through the gestation period and fall sick often, which reduces their life span.

If you have a budget and are ready to spend around $1,200 per year for your chameleon, you can go for a male chameleon! If not, you can get a female chameleon.

Do you hate insects?

If you hate insects, then a chameleon is not a pet for you. Chameleons are insectivorous which means insects are the only food the chameleons consume.

Can chameleons get along with any other species?

Sadly, no. Chameleons are a solitary species that love peace and quiet. If you have any other pets, like dogs, geckos, bearded dragons, or other reptiles, make sure that your chameleon cage is far away and at an appropriate height so that none of your pets can reach them. Better still, don’t buy a chameleon if you already have a cat or dog as a pet.

Are chameleons aggressive?

Chameleons are calm creatures; however, they will be aggressive if they are stressed, threatened, and when strangers are present. Male chameleons are more aggressive than females. So you should know to tame your chameleon from the moment you bought them.

When buying an adult chameleon, you will notice the below-mentioned activities. No need to worry about these! You are a complete stranger to them.

  • Hissing: When a chameleon feels threatened, they hiss; when they hiss, just back off and leave them alone.
  • Staring: Chameleons usually don’t stare; they frequently rotate their eyes in every possible direction. If they stare at you, then it is a sign of aggression, and they are getting ready to attack you. If they attack you, then don’t buy that chameleon: it will be quite difficult to gain their trust.
  • Changing color: Changing color is a normal phenomenon in chameleons, but when they turn a dark color when you are near them, don’t try to handle them. They may bite you.

How do you know if you are buying a healthy chameleon?

When you buy a baby chameleon, there is no requirement to check their health, since they are newly born and their health completely depends on you.

If you are buying an adult chameleon, then you have to check:

  • Their color (whether it is bright or not)
  • Whether they are active
  • Their body weight (to ensure they are well-fed)
  • Eye rotation (to ensure their eyes are not sunken)
  • Their tail color (it should be the same as their body color and should look like a tight coil)
  • Their figure (to ensure the structure of their bones. If they are suffering from metabolic bone disease, their figure will not be straight)
  • Whether the color of the mouth remains the same as the body-color

I would suggest you to take along a reptile specialist or a vet when you buy a chameleon.

Cost to take care of a chameleon

If you are planning to buy a chameleon, you should definitely calculate the yearly cost and check whether you can maintain a chameleon. Chameleons are definitely not the cheapest pet, but you can pre-calculate all the needs and try to stay within a budget.

When you calculate all the required parameters, like the initial cost of the chameleon, plants, cage food, gut-loading, supplements, lighting, plants, and medical expenses, it would cost you around $1,500 per year. Apart from these, the lighting and the automatic humidity or heat system might be turned on for more than 15 hours a day, which will also increase electricity costs.

There are several ways to cut down on a few costs. You can breed the insects, which cuts down on the purchase of insects for food, and you can buy a few things in bulk, which will definitely save you a few dollars. You can buy a second-hand chameleon and cage, in which you can save even a hundred dollars.

Budget Calculation Chameleon

7 things you need to remember after buying a chameleon

The main things you should always remember after buying a chameleons are:

  • Do not hold them in your arms or cuddle them too much. Chameleons are NOT cuddly pets!
  • They change their skin color according to their mood.
  • It is difficult to create a bond between you and your chameleon. You have to work a lot on that.
  • You have to care for your chameleon pet a lot to create a good bond.
  • You need to maintain the appropriate cage parameters, like temperature, humidity, showering, and misting.
  • Don’t hold your pet rigid and don’t try to hold them from above because you will seem like a predator. Even though they are pet chameleons and don’t have any forest exposure, their basic instinct never goes away. Also, don’t grab them when they are holding a branch since it may hurt them.
  • Take them to your garden to bask in the natural sunlight, but keep a close watch, since birds may be a threat to your pet. In this way, they will be happier and will come out of the cage without hesitation. Also, keep in mind that you should not repeatedly handle your chameleon as it will be stressful for them.

Final thoughts

Chameleons are not easy to handle. This does not mean that the person without experience should not have a chameleon as a pet. If you are a beginner at being a chameleon owner, you can still have a chameleon as your own pet.

If any person has confidence that he or she will make a good bond between the chameleon and themselves and knows all the potential negative behaviors of the chameleon, anyone in the world can have a chameleon as their own pet! All you need is to give them the space that they desire and treat them with respect and care.