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What Should I Consider before I Buy a Chameleon?

By Nicky Sutton
Updated May 17, 2024
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Before you buy a chameleon, consider which species you are able to care for. Some species are less hardy and have special needs such as a larger cage. The ability to meet the care needs of your chameleon is fundamental to its survival and you need to provide appropriate housing, food, water, heat and sanitation. Levels of ongoing care must not be underestimated, as chameleons require daily and weekly routine maintenance over their lifespan of about 10 years.

Plan how to minimize stress levels for the chameleon during the transportation and re-homing process. Prepare the cage first and have all the necessary equipment ready. Do not compulsively purchase a chameleon or make it a surprise gift for a friend. The needs of this reptile are great and preparation is key.

Consider its habitat before you buy a chameleon. An aquarium is only suitable in the short term for a young chameleon and does not allow for suitable air circulation. You will need an aluminum screened enclosure. The mesh-covered frame of the enclosure allows for airflow and good ventilation. Include plants and plant limbs for the chameleon to climb, as well as artificial vines, so long as they are made from non-toxic material.

Research proper lighting for the enclosure to enable the chameleon to produce vitamin D, and be able to absorb calcium for healthy bones. Chameleons require full spectrum UVA and UVB lighting. Ensure proper light tubes are fitted out of reach of the chameleon, to prevent accidental burning.

Think about the ongoing care that a chameleon requires, such as cleaning the cage out weekly. These reptiles rarely drink from a bottle or bowl and need daily spraying from a clean spray bottle. An artificial dripper can also be set up. Feeding requirements should also be respected and maintained. A diet of up to 20 meal worms, crickets, moths or grasshoppers per day is required and must be regularly purchased from your pet store or online.

Before you buy a chameleon, choose which species that you can care for. A hardy species is best for beginners, such as the Yemen chameleon or the panther chameleon. Chameleons can live up to ten years or longer, so be prepared to care for it throughout its lifetime.

Consider the best place to buy a chameleon. Reptile exhibitions or conventions allow you to talk to breeders and look at a wide range of species. Buying from an established and trusted breeder is preferable to buying from a pet store because breeders often have specialist knowledge and experience. Learn about chameleon health issues such as symptoms of eye and respiratory infections, subcutaneous worms and dehydration, and be prepared to visit a veterinarian if these should occur.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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