There are a few things to consider before making the decision to buy a chameleon. If you take the time to go through this list, you may find your first purchase a little less intimidating. Remember one thing; don't be afraid to ask questions when you are about to purchase your chameleon. The salesperson should be able to answer most of the questions you have for him/ her. If they cannot give you the answers you are looking for, don't be afraid to go elsewhere.
Also, take the time to inspect the chameleon carefully. Look for some of the signs of a sick chameleon listed below. You can avoid a lot of problems, and heartache just by being an informed consumer.
Do you have the space that is required to house an adult chameleon?
The size of the enclosure that you have for your 6-8 week old chameleon, and the size of the enclosure that you will have for your adult chameleon will be significantly different (enclosure sizes vary between species). Typically, a 6-8 week old chameleon can be housed in a 25-35 gallon reptarium (see housing). This will easily fit in most apartments, or houses, but by the time your chameleon is 4 months old, it will need to be moved to a larger enclosure. The size of the final enclosure will vary somewhat between species, but you should have approximately 48" h x 32" w x 24" d of space to use. It would also be best if the enclosure could be elevated off the ground (so the higher limbs are above eye level) in a low traffic area of your dwelling.
Do you have the time to take care of your chameleon?
Taking care of a chameleon can be a great responsibility. You must make sure that the enclosure is within a certain temperature range, it must be at a certain humidity level, the enclosure must be kept clean, the lights must go on and off at regular intervals, etc. Consequently, you may not be able to impulsively stay away for the night, or go away for the weekend without planning ahead. Although this may seem a bit bothersome at first, it soon becomes a daily ritual. There are some who would argue that all of this attention to detail is unnecessary, and that the chameleon will do fine without it. However, if you are looking for optimum results, as well as a happy healthy pet, then being meticulous is a small price to pay.
What species should you start off with?
Not all species of chameleons require the same amount, or type of care. Some require much more time and effort, while others will do just fine with the basic requirements of most reptiles. Some of the easier species to care for are the Veiled Chameleon, Jackson's Chameleon, and Panther Chameleon. Although most chameleons are now captive bred, make it a point to ask if the chameleon was captive bred. Wild caught chameleons can be much more difficult to care for and far more likely to carry parasites or disease.
How old should the chameleon be?
When chameleons are purchased they usually vary in ages between 3 and 8 weeks in many pet stores (3 being very young). Most reputable breeders will not sell a chameleon that is less that 5 or 6 weeks old to someone who is inexperienced, but many pet stores which do not really specialize in reptiles are less cautious. You should try to avoid buying a chameleon that is less than 6 weeks old. Take the time to ask the approximate age of the chameleon. If the salesperson really has no idea, go somewhere else. This is something that a reputable dealer or breeder should know.
How can I tell if the chameleon is healthy?
Here are a few things to look for when purchasing your chameleon. Any one or combination of these could be a sign of existing problems or problems to come. If the chameleon exhibits any of these symptoms, you might want to reconsider purchasing it.
More detailed information about chameleon illnesses are available by Clicking Here.
- Sunken in eyes.
- Swollen joints.
- Visible bumps or swelling on the body, limbs, or around the mouth.
- Sores on or in the mouth.
- Lethargic behavior for extended periods of time.
- Lack of activity while being handled.
- Weak grip (a chameleon's grip is surprisingly strong for its size).
- Seemingly malnourished.
- Breathing from the mouth (unless angry).