Before getting one of those cool-looking glass cages for chameleons and such a pet, you might want to take a moment and ask yourself if this is indeed the best idea. This is especially important if you are not familiar to what having a chameleon as a pet actually means and this would be your first try.
These reptiles are difficult to care for and they are most certainly not the type of pet someone should start with. Originating from the lizard family, chameleons come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, offering considerable variation in terms of what type you could get.
The word chameleon itself comes from two Greek words, namely “chamai” and “leon”, which translate to earth lion.
You can find these lizards from sizes that go as low as 1 inch all the way to 30 inches. What makes them a highly popular alternative among pet lovers is their unique ability to change colors.
In the wild, chameleons use this to communicate, to blend into the environment as a form of protection, and to adjust body temperature. Moreover, these interesting creatures have the ability to change their colors the same day they hatch, and the spectrums they can attain vary from green and black, all the way to turquoise and blue-green.
Since they use their colors to communicate, these can indicate emotional levels such as stress or excitement. Dark colors indicate the former, while bright ones are correlated with the latter, exhibiting a good mood.
However, color changing is not the only aspect that makes these reptiles so interesting. They also have very long tongues that can stretch up to one and a half the length of their bodies. Moreover, they have the ability to rotate each one of their eyes independent from the other to get a panoramic view of their surroundings.
These fascinating reptiles are insectivores, and their diet in captivity consists of crickets, silkworms, flies, hornworms, dubias, and other similar ones. Some species can also have fruits and leaves included in their diet, but these types of food can only form a small percentage of it.
Therefore, if you are thinking about getting a chameleon, prepare yourself for some feeding habits that might not be the most appealing ones. This might not be the best idea if you are looking for a nice pet for your kid.
Although he or she might insist that a chameleon is the top preference, you should think about whether it might not be disturbing or dangerous. A large chameleon living in the wild can even eat other lizards or small birds. These are certainly not pets that an inexperienced reptile owner should start off with.
Moreover, you should also know that they are not the cuddling type of pet, so if you are looking for a pet that can be held and actually likes it, then it’s better to take a look at other options.
Chameleons are not your typical social animals. They are solitary animals, and unwanted or forced handling might cause them to hiss and bite. It’s true that such a bite is not toxic or harmful to humans, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. You can only imagine why a chameleon is not for anyone, especially for a child.
These reptiles also don’t tolerate high levels of stress and handling them more than necessary can cause them to reach chronic stress levels and, as a result, poor health. They also shouldn’t be kept with other pets.
The worst idea is having two male chameleons at the same place since there’s a high chance they will end up fighting and injuring each other. The cage or dedicated space they are kept in should include a lot of foliage that they can climb on and that can provide privacy at any point.
They require a lot of time and care
Taking care of a chameleon is actually a huge responsibility, and many pet owners that are not experienced in this domain tend to underestimate this aspect before getting one. Ensuring the perfect conditions for a chameleon can be a hassle, especially if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands.
The right temperature needs to be constantly ensured within the habitat, while the enclosure must be cleaned weekly. Since these are reptiles, they need to get the optimal amount of light and heat, so you will need to turn lights on and off at precise times throughout the day.
This might not seem too much now, but you can forget about nightly adventures or impulse trips. You will need to constantly plan ahead and always pencil in the chameleon and his or her need into your schedule.
Some might argue that things are not that complicated, but if you want your pet to be healthy and thrive, you will definitely need to pay attention to details and be meticulous.
Those telling you that a chameleon is not that expensive to keep are either not very experienced, or they are not doing the best for their pet. Do keep in mind that chameleons don’t come cheap, and if you decide to get one, you should make sure that you have the necessary budget to offer him or her great conditions from the first day.
The enclosure a chameleon lives in should have a height of around 48 inches, a width of 32 inches, and a length of approximately 24 inches. It’s true that baby chameleons need less space, but these are reptiles that grow quickly, so the size of the habitat might be an issue if you live a smaller apartment.
Since we’ve mentioned costs, you should be aware that wild reptiles tend to be easily infected by various parasites, so you might need to spend an extra buck on either preventing or treating your pet if needed.
However, do keep in mind that it’s best to avoid big chain stores for purchasing a chameleon, since the risk of getting an ill one are significantly higher. Instead, look for a reputable breeder and make sure that the little guy looks healthy, active, and that the coloration is bright to determine the general health.