Is a Chameleon The Right Pet For You?

Interested in having a new pet but want something out of the box? Maybe you should get a chameleon, but only after reading everything you need to know.

Although unusual, many people love the color-changing, quirky-eyed look of the chameleon. Many are simply fascinated by these slow-paced creatures. But they don’t exactly have a clear idea of what owning a chameleon would look like, or if it would be a good pet. The thing is, chameleons aren’t for everyone, but they can make excellent pets if they are kept under the right circumstances. Chameleons need to have a pretty specific care regimen, requiring you to be more hands-on. Some pet owners might find this preferable, but others might be put off by it. Just like how you need to consider some factors before getting a dog, you also need to keep some things in mind before getting a chameleon. This article addresses a few points for you to ponder on before you make up your mind about getting a pet chameleon.

Basic Info About Chameleons

Chameleons belong to the Chamaeleonidae family of reptiles and are found in tropical settings such as Asia, Hawaii, Madagascar, Southern Europe, and Africa. They have a low and shy temperament making them usually prefer to be in solitary. They range in color from green, blue, yellow, orange, red, and brown. Their lifespan can range anywhere from two to ten years. They can weigh up to 4 ounces and grow between 12 to 20 inches in length.

Their most distinguishing characteristic is the ability to morph their skin color to blend in with their environment. Since the chameleons like being in solitary, you won’t need to buy them a companion. Chameleons have solid personalities and can get stressed if you plan on showing them off to your friends. They might also require food and care which tends to be on the expensive side. Following are a few more facts to help make up your mind.

They Aren’t Very Cuddly

The chameleon you get isn’t going to hang out on your lap all day as it does not like to be handled. Their health actually can get impacted negatively if you try to handle them too much. There are certain perfumes and laundry detergents that can cause some chameleons to get sick, so you need to be cautious when you put them on your clothes or touch them with your hands. Avoid any sudden movements as they might get startled. Some lizards such as geckos and bearded dragons are known to be quite social, but chameleons are known to keep to themselves in their cages.

Dietary Requirements

Their diet is pretty specific and strict, meaning you can’t feed them anything you want. It mainly consists of insects such as mantids, locusts, dubia roaches, stick bugs, grasshoppers, and crickets. You can use tongs to feed them as their tongues can be twice the length of their body. Adult chameleons eat one big meal every alternate day.

Make sure you get proper nutritional value when you buy insects for them. Reputed companies offer Dubia Roaches for sale online which are safe and nutritious insects for exotic animals.

Big Enclosures

Although most chameleons are just 18 to 24 inches long, they require a high enclosure with plenty of vegetation to climb around in. This is mainly because they live in trees when in the wild. Try to make the height and length of the cage at least 4 x 4 feet respectively. They love to snooze and bask in the morning sun or climb up branches for leisure. Try not to compromise with the height of the cage and not to substitute any space.

Special Climate Conditions

Chameleons naturally belong to tropical climates. This is why you need to set the humidity to around 65% to 80%. To make them comfortable, you need to keep the temperature between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Gauges are available in the market which allows you to monitor the humidity and temperature levels inside the enclosure. Chameleons stay hydrated by licking water off leaves inside their cage. Hence you should buy misting systems that will keep the plants watered automatically at regular intervals.

Sensitive Souls

Chameleons can’t handle external stressors very well. They need a very specific set of environmental conditions to thrive otherwise they can get sick quite easily. All of these factors make chameleons particularly challenging for first-time pet owners. You need to handle them very meticulously to avoid any severe consequences.

You may not realize it, but chameleons may have issues with several toxins and chemicals. This is why you must avoid using aerosol sprays or household cleaners in and around the enclosures they live in. Too much exposure to these chemicals might cause your pet chameleon to get very sick or even threaten its life. That’s why having a pet chameleon requires much more attention and care than caring for a dog or a cat.

Chameleons Don’t Completely Change Color

Chameleons are known to be able to change their color, making them interesting and attractive as pets. They have guanine crystals inside the cells of their skin, and they can shift the space between the cells of these crystals. The reflection of the light from the skin changes as a result. The male chameleons are known to change color more than their female counterparts. But you must know that chameleons don’t change their color drastically. Some might change their color between hues of oranges, blues, and pinks, while others stay mostly between green or brown shades.

Chameleons Need to be Taken to the Vet

You might think otherwise, but chameleons need to be taken to the vet too. It might be a bit of a challenge to find a vet who has experience with chameleons, so check in advance in your locality for exotic vets before you get a chameleon. Most regular vets who handle dogs and cats may not have the required expertise to care for chameleons. But they might be able to refer you to the right vet. It’s best if you can take your chameleon to the vet for a regular bi-annual check-up. Keep in mind an exotic pet vet will probably be pricier than a regular vet so best to keep some funds aside for emergencies.

Summing Up

It’s quite exciting to get an exotic pet such as a chameleon. But all that fun might go quickly downhill if you are not prepared for all that it takes to own a chameleon. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some basic information that will help make up your mind.