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Whether a pet is furry or scaly, all pet owners will need to transport their pet by car, truck, or van at some point. Whether it is a quick trip to see the veterinarian or a cross country move, taking the time to handle the process properly will help to lower your stress and the stress experienced by your chameleon as well.
Here, we provide some basic advice regarding how to manage traveling with your chameleon for shorter trips, generally taking less than a day. While some of this information is universal, longer trips may require additional work. Regardless of the length of travel, always make sure to bring a supply of food and water in case unexpected delays occur.
Choosing a Box
For the purpose of traveling, a box with solid sides and a top you can secure is ideal. It can be made of cardboard or another opaque material as long as air flow is maintained. The primary goal is to create a small, secure space that can be kept fairly dark.
Why is keeping the interior dark so important? If you put a chameleon in a dark place, it will automatically try to sleep. Regardless of the time of day, their instincts tell them that, if it is dark, it must be night. This will help lower the overall stress experienced by encouraging them to sleep through as much of it as possible.
Setting Up the Box
In order to make your chameleon as comfortable as possible, you want to give them a perch. The easiest way to provide a somewhat stable perch is to run a dowel or natural branch through the space. This is often easiest to achieve by creating holes in the sides of the box just big enough to allow the perch to slide through.
Ideally, the perch will be suspended slightly above the bottom of the box. Underneath the perch, you are going to want to provide some cushioning that will also assist with traction. Not only will this help if your chameleon falls from their perch, it will also make it easier for them to move across what is likely a very slippery surface.
Let Your Chameleon Settle
Before transporting your chameleon, set them in the box you have setup, close the lid to block the light, and wait about half an hour before proceeding on your trip. This allows them to explore the space a bit, possibly spending some time scratching at the sides, before settling onto the perch and falling asleep.
After a reasonable waiting period, carefully carry the box to your vehicle. For safety purposes, especially when traveling alone, your chameleon should be the last thing you bring into your vehicle. Not only is it unwise to leave the unattended in a vehicle, the internal temperature of the vehicle may vary dramatically in a shockingly short period of time, which can potentially do significant harm to your chameleon’s system.
As You Travel
Just as you want to avoid packing your chameleon’s box in a vehicle too early, you never want to leave the box in the vehicle if someone is not in it and the temperature cannot be managed. Further, it is important to make sure the box is in a stable position. While some bumps along the road are unavoidable, there should be no risk that the box with your chameleon will tumble or have another box fall on it.
Travel with Care
There is no guarantee that the trip will be entirely stress free for your chameleon, but by taking certain precautions you can increase the likelihood. Before traveling across state lines, or to other countries, make sure to check local laws regarding whether chameleons are legal to have, even if you are just driving through. Not all areas allow private ownership of chameleons in their jurisdiction, which can present a very challenging situation for all parties involved.