If you are interested in adopting or buying a pet chameleon, then you are bound to have a lot of questions about owning this pet lizard. Perhaps the most important question is: “do chameleons make good pets?” In short, chameleons can make excellent pets, but only for the right people.
Although, there are around ten different types of chameleons available as pets, with each being a little bit different, in a lot of ways they are still similar. In order to know whether a chameleon would make a good pet for you, you need to learn what it would be like to own and take care of a pet chameleon as well as a few other things.
So, without further ado, 5 things you need to know before adopting a pet chameleon:
1. What It’s Actually Like to Keep Chameleons as Pets? Are Chameleons Good Companion Animals?
Chameleons are very interesting lizards to watch. Their eyes have the ability to move independently from one another and they can change the color of their skin. In order to catch insects, they also have very long tongues which are 1.5 to 2 times as long as their body. They move very slowly and often stay in one spot for hours.
Although, a lot of chameleon owners report that they have bonded with their pets, chameleons are not very social. They do not like to be handled, so it’s best just to observe them. They are definitely not companion animals like dogs and cats. So, if you are looking for a pet to keep you company, a chameleon is not the right choice for you. However, if you want an exotic pet that is interesting to watch, a chameleon might be the best option.
2. How to Take Care of a Pet Chameleon?
When deciding whether a chameleon is the right pet for you, you also need to consider how difficult it is to take care of these lizards. Chameleons are high maintenance pets. You cannot just bring one home, feed it and let it sleep on the couch. Chameleons need a very specific environment to live in.
In order to create that environment, you’ll need a terrarium or a cage with a screened top, UVB fluorescent bulbs, a heat emitter to keep the temperature in the terrarium in the right range (depends on the type of chameleon you have) and a dripper (mister/fogger) to create and keep humidity in the terrarium.
You’ll also need to check temperature and humidity levels in the terrarium, so a thermometer and a humidity gauge are necessary as well.
To decorate the terrarium and provide the lizard places to climb you’ll need branches for the habitat. As chameleons enjoy having places to hide, the habitat also needs some leaves. It would be recommended to buy artificial branches and leaves specifically designed for pet lizard cages, as real branches and leaves would quickly start to rot in the humid environment.
If you decide to get a pet chameleon, you’ll need to set up the habitat before bringing the lizard home. Building the enclosure and getting everything right can be quite difficult, but don’t worry, you can buy a kit that has everything you need for building the enclosure or even a fully set up enclosure.
After the habitat is ready and a chameleon has moved in, your life gets a bit easier, but there’s still a lot to do. You need to make sure that the temperature and humidity levels stay in the right range. Also, you need to clean the enclosure multiple times a week and provide your pet with food and supplements.
3. What Is the Cost of Keeping a Pet Chameleon?
Taking care of a pet is a responsibility. One of the things you need to think through is whether or not you are financially ready for taking care of a pet. The costs involved in owning a pet chameleon include: an enclosure (anywhere from $50.00 to $1,000.00), UVB lighting ($45.00 to $100.00), and a watering system.
You can get a handheld plant mister for as little as $1.00, but it would require you to manually mist the enclosure at least 3 times everyday. As such; you’d be much better off with an automatic rain system, which will set you back at least $100.00.
The cost of a baby chameleon can be anywhere from $50.00 for a baby veiled chameleon to $350.00 for a baby panther chameleon.
The initial setup and the chameleon are going to cost you a quite a bit, but thankfully chameleons are not expensive to feed. You should be able to get a bag of 1000 crickets (that’s what chameleons like to eat) for about $15.00, and it should last for two weeks.
While the food might be cheap, do not assume that it is going to be cheap to take care of a pet chameleon after you’ve paid for the initial setup. For example, if your pet becomes ill, medical treatment can cost you hundreds of dollars as well. It’s also very likely that you won’t be able to find a veterinarian in your area who knows how to examine and treat chameleons, so taking your chameleon to a vet might also include some travel costs.
4. Are Chameleons Good Pets for Children?
Depending on the personality of the child, a chameleon may or may not be an ideal pet choice. Chameleons are not very social and don’t like to be handled, so a child who is looking for a pet to cuddle with may not enjoy having a pet that does not like being touched. While they are interesting to observe, a child might quickly grow tired of only watching the animal and not being able to play with it. After a while, taking care of the pet chameleon (misting, cleaning the enclosure, feeding, etc.) can become tedious for a child.
5. Do Chameleons Make Good Pets?
As stated at the beginning of the article, the question really is not whether chameleons make good pets or not, but whether you would like to own one or not.
Chameleons can make good pets, who are exciting to watch and take care of, but they are definitely not for everybody. When deciding whether you’d really like a pet chameleon in your home or not, you need to consider what chameleons are like as well as the responsibilities and costs involved in owning a pet chameleon.
Most chameleons live 2 to 5 years. Some, like Jackson’s, Panther and Meller’s chameleons even longer. It’s important to consider the fact that if you take ownership of a chameleon, you’ll need to care for it for years to come.