Choosing The Right Chameleon For You
What Type Of Chameleon Is Best For A Pet?
Chameleons are adorable little tree-dwellers that have grown in popularity as pets. Each type of chameleon has personality and maintenance requirements. Your lifestyle could determine the type of chameleon you get.
The Different Types Of Pet Chameleons
- Panther Chameleon
- Veiled Chameleon
- Jackson’s Chameleon
- Senegal Chameleon
- Meller’s Chameleon
- Outstalet’s Chameleon
- Flap-Necked Chameleon
- Carpet Chameleon
Before You Start Looking
The thought of bringing home a new chameleon is very exciting. They are very unique reptiles that will intrigue any guests that come to your home. However, you must do a lot of research on which chameleon will best fit your lifestyle. It would not be fair to you or your chameleon if you are incredibly busy and cannot provide the proper care. Some chameleons are less hardy than others and require care multiple times a day daily. We always recommend that you reach out to reputable breeders and ask them more about the chameleon you are interested in.
Several chameleons can be great for beginner owners while others need experienced owners. Chameleons are not cheap to care for either. They need specific enclosures, enclosure accessories, food, and a proper water system. All of these costs add up. If your chameleon gets sick, the vet bill can become expensive too. These are all the things you need to take into consideration before bringing a chameleon home.
The Types Of Chameleons That Are Great For Beginners
- Veiled Chameleons
Veiled chameleons are very common to find at pet stores and reptile expos. This type of chameleon is popular because it has adapted well to captivity. They can live up to 6-7 years in captivity and they grow to be about a foot long. Veiled chameleons need a consistent temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity around 70%. This can be achieved with a ceramic heat bulb and daily misting.
- Carpet Chameleons
Carpet chameleons are one of the smaller species of chameleons. The only downside to this species is that they have a very short lifespan. The longest they can live is around three years. They need temperatures around 75 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels up to 65%. Despite their size, Carpet chameleons love to roam around in their enclosures and they are hardy.
- Jackson’s Chameleons
This species of chameleon is well-known for its horns. They are also popular to find at reptile expos. Jackson’s chameleons can live up to 10 years in captivity and they have beautiful coloring. The only downside is that they do not like to be handled frequently. Too much handling can be stressful for them. Jackson’s chameleons will grow to be around 13 inches in length. They need temperatures that range between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. They also need humidity levels of around 65%.
- Panther Chameleons
Panther chameleons are extremely popular due to their many color variations. They can grow to be around 20 inches long and they live up to seven years. Panther chameleons prefer minimal handling, but they can grow to like their owner. They need high humidity of around 70% and their enclosures need to consistently stay at 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
- Flap-Necked Chameleons
Flap-Necked chameleons are great for beginners because they are very hardy. They are also fairly small. This species only grows to about 13 inches and lives up to three years. The enclosure temperature needs to stay around 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 75% humidity. The temperature and humidity are easy to maintain with heat lamps and a light misting every day.
Chameleons For More Advanced Owners
- Oustalet’s Chameleons
Another name for the Oustalet’s chameleon is the Malagasy Giant chameleon. They are one of the largest species of chameleons and live the longest. They can live up to 12 years. The temperature that they need to stay happy and healthy is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day with 70% humidity. Oustalet’s chameleons need larger enclosures than most other chameleon species. Another reason this species is recommended for more advanced keepers is that Oustalet’s can come with a lot of parasites. Veterinary care is required to help get rid of the parasites. Overall, housing an Oustalet’s chameleons can be very expensive and will need an advanced keeper.
- Senegal Chameleons
Senegal chameleons have a reputation for being difficult to maintain in captivity. The reason for this is because they are extremely fragile and will become easily stressed over environmental changes. The slightest change in humidity or temperature could cause them to become sick. Senegal chameleons need an advanced keeper who knows how to keep a consistent temperature and humidity level. This species is one of the smaller species too. They will grow between 6-8 inches in length.
- Meller’s Chameleons
The Meller’s chameleon is easily one of the most sensitive species of chameleons. They are very sensitive to environmental changes, they need a lot of space to roam, and they have a reputation for being aggressive. There are not very many captive-bred Meller’s and many are caught from the wild. This is incredibly unfortunate and they will come with a lot of health issues. Meller’s have small black spots on their bodies. If the spots are very prominent then that means the chameleon is angry, stressed, or very unhappy. The Meller’s chameleon also needs a large enclosure because they can grow up to two feet long. They need to mist several times a day for at least 20 minutes. A misting and water drip system on a timer should do the trick to keep them hydrated and the humidity levels to 70%. With proper care, the Meller’s chameleon can live up to 12 years. They are extremely difficult to acclimate.
More About Chameleons
Chameleons are very fragile compared to most reptiles. Even the hardy ones are not going to be as hardy as a gecko or bearded dragon. Chameleons need to be with owners who can set up a misting or water drip system, that provides a large enclosure, and can afford any medical expenses that may arise. Some species can come with parasites or other health issues. When going to the pet store or reptile show you need to know the signs of a healthy chameleon.
- They need to have strong grips on their branches.
- Chameleons should be able to straighten their legs when climbing along with their enclosure. Extremely fragile or bent legs are signs of metabolic bone disease.
- Their eyes need to be open most of the day. If they are keeping their eyes shut all the time then they are most likely very ill.
- If their eyes are sunken then they are dehydrated.
- Vibrant coloration is another sign of a happy chameleon. Sometimes they will be darker in color, but they should not be dull all the time. Chameleon skin will darken to try and retain heat if they are too cold. A chameleon that is cold all the time will lead to stress and other illnesses.
- Their mouths should look clean and healthy. Any patches or green puss around the mouth is a sign of mouth rot.
- Their skin is wound free.
Talking to a reputable breeder will make your life so much easier when deciding which chameleon is great for you. They can become stressed or ill very easily if their living conditions are not appropriate or if they are being handled too much. Once you have a great understanding of what your chameleon needs, you will get to enjoy your chameleon companion for several years.