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There will come a day when you will need to head out of town. Whether it is for business, pleasure or a medical emergency, the option to bring your chameleon with you is likely not there. So, what is a responsible chameleon caretaker to do?
It’s simple! You will need to find a pet sitter. Whether you are looking to have a friend or family member take over as temporary caretakers, or you are looking to hire a professional, setting your sitter up for success is important. Not only will it make things easier on the sitter and your chameleon, you will have the additional peace of mind that proper preparations have been completed.
Choosing your Chameleon’s Caretaker
There are a few key factors when choosing a pet sitter. Whether they are a friend doing you a favor or a professional, the most important thing is that they are comfortable with reptiles. Ideally, they may have experience of their own, but, if not, making sure they aren’t afraid to do what needs to be done is critical. Additionally, the caretaker will need to be comfortable handling your chameleon’s cuisine (in this case, live crickets) if they will need to handle any feeding responsibilities.
Your next focus should be on finding someone responsible who can follow specific instructions. Even if the sitter has previous experience in the handling and care of reptiles, not all reptiles have the same requirements. Even more so, not every chameleon will have the same needs. If there are specific rituals or requirements for your chameleon’s care, make sure you feel confident the person can follow them to the letter.
If you have no idea where to begin your hunt for your ideal caretaker, speak to your veterinarian of choice. They may have connections to help you locate someone who can handle the job well. Alternatively, there are numerous websites listing pet sitters and the services they offer. Some even come with built in reference checking, background checks, and user reviews. This can help you get moving in the right direction.
Preparing for your Chameleon’s Needs
Prior to your departure, take the time to make sure your pet sitter will have access to all of the materials they need. Make sure there is enough food available, or sufficient funds and instructions on how to obtain some. Take the time to make sure your chameleon’s habitat is cleaned prior to your trip, and provide specific instructions on any cleaning duties that may be required.
It may be worth setting up any lights of lamps used for your chameleon’s comfort set on timers, as this fairly easy to setup (you can find timers at most supercenters or home improvement stores) will alleviate one duty for the pet sitter.
Preparing your Pet Sitter
Anywhere from one week to a few days before your departure, have your chosen caretaker come by to go over the information. If this is the first time they will be meeting your chameleon, this gives them a chance to see them in their normal state and may make for an easier introduction. Show them where any pertinent written instructions are kept, as well as any emergency numbers and your contact information. Provide them with a written letter (and send a copy to your veterinarian) giving them the authority to bring your chameleon in should they become ill or injured in your absence. Give the sitter the opportunity to ask any questions they may have, and be sure you answer them to their satisfaction.
Now that you have taken the time to locate an ideal pet sitter, and made every attempt to make sure they are confident they will be successful, it is time to head out on your trip. Before you go, don’t be afraid to ask the pet sitter to go through your instructions with you one more time, ensuring they have an additional opportunity to ask any last minute questions, confirm contact information, and then be on your way. You’ll sleep sounder knowing you have done the best you can for your chameleon, helping to ensure he or she is a healthy and happy critter in your absence.