Creating an Outdoor Chameleon Habitat

In last week’s post, we discussed the many benefits of taking your chameleon outside on warm, sunny days. Chameleon keepers who are lucky enough to live in warmer climates – and don’t mind getting a little bit crafty – may want to consider building an outdoor cage for their little friend. Here are some ideas for how to accomplish that.

Constructing a Portable Outdoor Cage

If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, building an outdoor cage may sound pretty intimidating, but you can easily get all the materials at your local home improvement store. Recommended items for your shopping list are a wooden planter box, potting soil, plants that grow well in your local climate and an outdoor misting system or kit. To ensure maximum portability, attach wheels to the cage to make it easier to move to shadier areas when the heat of the day reaches its peak.

Image via Chameleon News

If you do choose to build your own enclosure, keep your size in mind. The enclosure should be large enough to allow the chameleon plenty of room for exercise. If you’re short on space, remember that height is always more important than width for these little climbers. Putting a cage on a table or hanging it can also make a chameleon more comfortable. Any and all rough, exposed edges must be covered with wood, silicone or plastic tubing to prevent injury.

Design your cage to account for predators such as birds, raccoons, snakes and larger types of lizards. Using metal hardware cloth or screen will keep your precious pet safe from being carried off and eaten.

Natural Greenery Is Both Beautiful and Practical

One benefit of creating an outdoor habitat is being able to use outdoor plants. Of course, using potted plants is always an option for those who lack a green thumb, but you can craft an even better experience by growing a natural plantscape for your chameleon to climb in and hide among. The thick plant growth also creates natural shade, and the dirt floor of the cage holds moisture for additional humidity, which is important to keep your chameleon hydrated.

The easiest way to create a habitat with natural greenery is to buy or build a wood planter box, fill it with dirt, then place a standard screen cage over it. Use screws to secure the cage to the planter box to keep it from blowing over.

Be sure to use plants that do well in your local weather conditions, and always do your research to make sure all the plants you’re using are nontoxic for your chameleon. If you’re not sure what to plant, ask at your garden center or home improvement store.

Planting in layers can not only lead to a more attractive habitat, but can also give your chameleon more variety when it comes to hiding places and things to climb. A good rule of thumb is to use smaller ornamental flowering plants at the top, large, leafy plants in the middle, and lush, shade-loving plants on the bottom.

If you choose to take on the challenge of building your own outdoor chameleon habitat, the results can be rewarding for both you and your chameleon friend.

Is It Safe to Take Chameleons Outside During the Summer?

Every living thing benefits from exposure to natural sunlight, and of course, chameleons are no exception. The longer days and warmer weather of the summer months provide the perfect opportunity to take your chameleon outside. This can be as simple as moving your indoor cage out to the patio for a couple of hours, or as in-depth as building a permanent outdoor cage.

One of the biggest challenges for chameleon owners is making sure your pet gets all the nutrition he needs to stay healthy and strong. Your chameleon habitat setup should include a UVB bulb, but the light and energy it will provide is limited compared to the benefits of the sun’s rays. There’s a free, natural source of energy just waiting in your backyard – take advantage of it!

Fun in the Sun for Chameleons

The easiest way to give your chameleon some summer lovin’ is to simply move your indoor cage outside. While indoors, we’re lucky if the light makes it all the way down to the floor. Outside, the sun’s rays are powerful enough to bounce off the floor and heat your chameleon from the bottom. Sounds nice and toasty, but keep in mind that too much of a good thing is a real possibility – it’s easy for a chameleon to get overheated in direct sunlight. Set a timer to remind yourself to walk by the cage at regular intervals and check on how your little buddy is doing.

Partly Sunny Conditions Are Ideal

Image via

There are several ways you can combat heat stress in an outdoor situation. The first is to position your cage so it’s partially in the sun and partially in the shade. This will enable your chameleon to bask in the sun for a while, then move into a shady area when he needs to cool off. Remember that as the sun moves, a beautifully shady spot can easily become a sunny one within just a few minutes. This is another reason it’s essential to regularly double-check your chameleon’s status. If you have a covered porch or patio, that’s great. If not, you can create your own shade by placing a cloth over part of the cage.

Another way to beat the heat is by putting potted plants in the bottom of your chameleon’s cage to provide extra humidity and interrupt the reflection of the sun’s rays. Regular misting is also important in an outdoor environment. If you plan to make outdoor excursions a regular occurrence during the summer, you might want to consider installing an outdoor misting system.

Watch For Signs of Heat Stress

Chameleons are naturally well-adapted to warm and humid conditions, but that doesn’t mean you can just walk away and leave your chameleon exposed to the elements for hours at a time. If you decide to bring your chameleon outside, be vigilant and check on him frequently. If you notice any signs of heat stress in your chameleon, such as a lighter color or a gaping mouth, it’s time to move inside as soon as possible.

With the right precautions, summer can become the best time of year for both you and your chameleon friend. Just be sure to keep an eye on the balance between sun and shade, and don’t forget to check in on his status regularly to avoid overexposure and heat stress.

How To Prepare For Buying a Chameleon

Chameleons are truly fascinating creatures. Their intriguing characteristics, such as their long tongues, their unique eyes and their ability to change colors, make them fun to watch and have in your home. However, keeping a pet chameleon may not be a good fit for everyone, due to their specific needs. If you’re considering bringing a chameleon into your life, make sure you know what you’re getting into before making the leap.

A chameleon habitat requires careful monitoring of temperature, moisture and humidity.

1. Determine if you’re ready to buy a chameleon.

Chameleons can be relatively high-maintenance animals. Keeping them healthy requires careful upkeep of their habitat, with regulated temperature and humidity conditions. Food, supplies and veterinary care are additional costs to consider. Before you buy a chameleon, research what it costs to own one and make sure your budget can accommodate it. Consider talking with a chameleon expert or someone who has experience with keeping a chameleon to get a better idea of what’s involved in their daily care and feeding.

2. Select a reputable breeder.

Buying your chameleon from a trustworthy breeder will help ensure he is healthy. A veterinarian who specializes in exotic veterinary medicine could provide you with recommendations on respectable chameleon breeders. Reptile magazines can also provide information on chameleon breeders.

3. Purchase a young chameleon.

Chameleons vary in their longevity, but most live between a few years and 10 years of age. Buying a young chameleon will increase the amount of time you’ll be able to enjoy keeping him as a pet. Another good reason to buy from a reputable source is that they’ll most likely be able to tell you exactly how old your chameleon is.

A juvenile veiled chameleon.

4. Purchase a captive-bred chameleon.

Compared with wild-caught chameleons, captive-bred chameleons are healthier and less stressed, with a longer life expectancy.

5. Check the chameleon you buy for signs of illness.

A reputable breeder should be able to give you a full medical history of the chameleon you intend to purchase, including sending photos and offering guarantees on his health before you buy. However, if you haven’t had the opportunity to meet your future chameleon before completing the purchase, look for warning signs of illness. Check his eyes – are they bright and open, or sunken or closed? Sunken eyes are a symptom of dehydration, while closed eyes during daylight hours usually indicate the chameleon isn’t feeling well. A dark or drab coloration is a warning sign that a chameleon is feeling stressed, sick or cold. Also, a chameleon who shows no resistance to being held or handled is probably ill.

Tips to Keep Your Female Chameleon Healthy

Females can make the best pet chameleons, but they do have specific health needs that differentiate them from males. They typically require a more complex diet, and have particular concerns around egg laying. This blog post provides some tips to keep your little lady happy and healthy.

You may be surprised to learn that female chameleons can and will lay eggs even without the presence of a male. Like chickens and many other birds, female chameleons of egg-laying species will start producing clutches of infertile eggs regularly throughout their lives, even without having a mate. Female chameleons become sexually mature around six months old.

In some cases, a female chameleon might be unable to lay the eggs by herself, retaining them inside her body. This is known as egg binding, and it’s a serious medical condition requiring veterinary intervention. That’s why it’s so important to know what to look for so you’ll be able to tell when your baby girl is ready to lay eggs.

Signs a Chameleon Might Be Ready to Lay Eggs

A gravid female veiled chameleon.
Source: Chameleon Forums

When getting ready to lay a clutch of eggs, a female will gain weight, even if you haven’t changed her food intake. She will also start to look rounded, and she’ll usually begin to get restless as she looks for a place to lay her eggs.

In addition, female chameleons change their colors to show they are receptive to mating, and will also display a different coloration when carrying a clutch of eggs.

Visual stimulation may be all it takes to begin the ovulation process in a female chameleon. If you have both a male and a female chameleon and you don’t intend to breed them, make sure you keep them separated and set up visual barriers so they can’t see each other.

A Healthy Female Has Fewer Risks When Laying Eggs

An unhealthy or malnourished female will have much more difficulty laying eggs because she’ll lack the ability to contract her uterus appropriately. Providing your female chameleon with a balanced diet that includes plenty of calcium and other vitamins and minerals is the key to helping her produce eggs safely and with less risk to her own health. It’s also important to include a UVB bulb in her habitat to help her absorb the calcium.

Provide your chameleon with adequate opportunities to exercise, as well. One way to do this is by forcing her to hunt for her food. A fit female with strong bones and well-developed muscles will be better equipped to lay eggs without problems.

Creating a Nesting Environment

When a female is ready to lay eggs and there is nothing to lay them in, she might retain them. As mentioned above, this is a serious and potentially life-threatening medical condition. The best practice is to provide your little girl with a nest at all times.

A top-down view of a sand-filled nesting box.
Source: Chameleon Forums

To create a laying bin, fill an opaque container at least 12″ deep with moistened sand or soil. In the wild, female chameleons dig tunnels to lay their eggs, so make sure the sand or soil is moist enough to retain the shape of a tunnel without collapsing, but not soaking wet. Some females will not feel comfortable with a laying bin containing only soil. Use a small (6” to 8”) potted pothos so your chameleon can lay her eggs around and under the roots of the plant.

How to Begin Handling Your Chameleon

Each chameleon has its own unique personality, and regardless of what you do, your chameleon may never be fully tame. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up hope on ever being able to handle your pet chameleon.

Getting a chameleon comfortable with regular handling is important beyond just wanting to interact closely with your pet. If your chameleon is used to being handled, it can make all the difference if he ever gets sick. Taking a terrified, struggling animal to a vet’s visit compounds the stress for everyone involved. And needless to say, if the time comes when you need to give your chameleon medicine, it can be potentially life-saving if he’s already used to being handled.

Image source: Flickr

Here are some tips to make it easier for you to begin handling your chameleon.

1. Give him time to get acclimated to his environment.
Chameleons are highly sensitive to changes in their surroundings, so being in a strange new home will be a major source of stress for the first several days. When you first bring home a new chameleon (regardless of age), give him at least 2-3 weeks to become familiar with his new cage, home and routine.

2. Be patient and work on steadily building trust.
Even if you’re being gentle, your chameleon will initially see you as a stressor and threat to be afraid of. Initially, you can try spending a lot of time in the same room as your chameleon’s habitat, so that he gets used to being around you. Eventually, you can open the cage door and begin by offering your chameleon a stick to climb on. Once he finally does come out, you can offer your hand as another surface to explore. This eliminates the “scare factor” of reaching directly into the cage, in addition to helping your chameleon begin to bond with you. Handle your chameleon in brief intervals to let him get used to the experience. Over time, you can build trust with your chameleon and help him become accustomed to being handled.

3. Hand feeding is your best tool.
If your chameleon sees you as the bringer of tasty treats, he’ll begin to expect positive things from you, rather than defaulting to a fear response. Again, as with any stage of this process, patience is the key. Don’t expect your chameleon to immediately take the treat. It’s a good idea to try hand feeding as your chameleon’s first meal of the day; if he’s hungrier, he’ll be more willing to take the food from you. Hold the food for a few minutes, and stop for the day if he doesn’t seem interested. It may take weeks or even months before he goes for the food, but don’t get discouraged – just keep trying daily and you’ll see your efforts rewarded.

4. Associate handling with positivity.
Over time, your chameleon will learn that whenever you open the cage, you either bring a snack or are planning to take him out for some independent exploration. It’s worth restating that each chameleon will respond to handling differently, depending on personality. Though not all chameleons become friendlier with handling, that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of building a trusting, accepting relationship with you. Patience and positive reinforcement are essential to developing a good bond with your pet chameleon.

A Rare Hatching! Canvas Welcomes Baby Jeweled Chameleons

While every successful birth is a wonder to behold, Canvas Chameleons had the opportunity to welcome a fairly rare event at the beginning of the month: the hatching of a few Jeweled Chameleons (Furcifer Campani). This is only our fourth line of unrelated captive births of these wondrous creatures. So, in celebration, we thought it was appropriate to bring additional information to our readers about this unique event.

Getting to Know Furcifer Campani

Furcifer Campani, also known as the Jeweled Chameleon, is a native to the country of Madagascar, living within an approximately 5,600 square mile section from Ankaratra to the Andringitra National Park. Traditionally, these chameleons are fairly small. At birth, they are often a bit less than an inch long and only reach around 5.5 inches in length once full grown. They also feature distinct coloring and markings that make it fairly unique within the chameleon family.

Most Jeweled Chameleons vary in color from a pale green to a dark brown, with three well-defined lighter bands running along the length of the body. Along with the bands, these chameleons feature numerous light-colored spots across the body and, in some cases, a section of red spots on the head.

The successful hatching of Jeweled Chameleons is a rare event in captivity. Part of the reason for the rarity is the fact that the export of these chameleons from Madagascar is no longer permitted, so not many breeders have the opportunity of enjoying the company of a Jeweled Chameleon, let alone the chance to witness a successful birth. Additionally, the incubation period can reach around nine months, which is a long period of time for maintaining the ideal conditions required for the young to be born.

Status of Jeweled Chameleons in the Wild

At this time, the Jeweled Chameleon is considered vulnerable as a species based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This is partially due to the fragmented nature of the population as well as the decline in the quality of their habitat. Much of the area where these chameleons are found naturally is subject to slash-and-burn agriculture, causing some habitat to be lost to the associated damage while the rest is lost to development.

Additionally, the population is still considered to be decreasing. This means it risk level could change in the future should the number of Jeweled Chameleons in the wild continue to decline.

With that in mind, we are honored to be able to bring information about this magnificent species to our visitors and hope you get a chance to appreciate one of the newest additions as shown in the video here.


Naming Your Chameleon: Sci-Fi Edition

Every pet deserves a great name, and your chameleon is no exclusion. But what exactly makes a great chameleon name? Sure, you can choose a variety of standby options, but isn’t it better to have a little fun?

With that in mind, we present the first part in a chameleon naming series geared to those with specific interests. And, in this case, we are referring to science fiction.

While there are certain classic options included in this list, we have also added some that might not be as well known as others. If these specific names don’t meet your needs, we hope they inspire you to consider all of the options available to you when it comes to naming your chameleon. So, without any further ado, let’s get started.

Admiral Ackbar – Star Wars

Admiral Ackbar is a classic Star Wars character, most famously known for identifying the trap at the Battle of Endor (and the classic line of dialogue “It’s a trap!” that has made itself known across a wide range of popular media).

Aside from being a well-recognized character in the franchise, the character also has a look that shares some similarities to chameleons. His eyes provide a wide range of vision, and the character has no obvious external ears. He also has an appearance that resembles that of a reptile or amphibian species.

But the best reason to choose this as a name is really the fact that it’s fun to say Admiral Ackbar in serious tones.

Keenser – Star Trek

Now, it wouldn’t be appropriate to have Star Wars represented without also finding a suitable name from another great sci-fi franchise, Star Trek. And that is where Keenser comes in.

Keenser is the small alien best known for his connection to Montgomery Scott in the newest iterations of the Star Trek movies. His skin texture has a reptile-like appearance, and his eyes lack discernable irises. Additionally, his character lacks dialogue, meaning all of his emotions require reading his body language, not unlike dealing with a pet chameleon.

Ocheeva and Teinaava – Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

For those who are fans of the Elder Scrolls video game franchise, you may appreciate naming your chameleon after a well-known Argonian from the games. In this case, we settled on Ocheeva, a leader of the Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion, as well as her twin brother, Teinaava. These characters play notable roles for anyone who followed the Dark Brotherhood storyline within the game and, since the Argonian race is reptilian in nature, their names make excellent choices.

Greedo – Star Wars

Another Star Wars character that has reptilian characteristics is Greedo, the Rodian bounty hunter most known for his part in the infamous showdown with Han Solo that continues to prompt the debate of who shot first.

While Greedo’s eye placement, and the presence of discernable ears, don’t necessarily mirror a chameleons, the fact that the eyes don’t display traditional irises around pupils can be seen as a similarity. And, if your chameleon is one that happens to have a voracious appetite or is particular defensive regarding his or her personal space, the fact that “greed” is part of the name may make it even more ideal.

Honorable Mentions

Some other characters within the larger sci-fi universe worth mentioning include:

  • Dachande – Predator in Alien vs. Predator mythology that is best known for being the first Predator to face a xenomorph in unarmed combat and survive.
  • Jeriba and Zammis Shigan – aliens in the film Enemy Mine
  • Dr. Lazarus – fictional name of the sci-fi character played in Galaxy Quest by actor Alan Rickman

There are likely many more potential names from sci-fi to choose from, but hopefully, these options gave you some inspiration. Look for future installments in the “Naming Your Chameleon” series for inspiration taken from other areas of literature, television, film, and more.

Pets and Improved Mental Health: It’s Not Just for Cats and Dogs

It is fairly well-known that having a pet can provide significant mental health benefits. But, when we read the studies or see the news clips, the coverage mostly relates to owning cats or dogs, and not often more exotic pets like chameleons. However, owning any pet can be beneficial to your mental health. And that includes our unique chameleon friends.

So, how can owning a chameleon help your mental health? Let me count the ways!

1. Pets Soothe and Relax

Most studies show that pet owners have lower blood pressure and heart rates when dealing with challenging mental stresses. This could pertain to everyday situations like paying bills, helping children with their homework, or watching your favorite sports team getting knocked out of the playoffs. Just their presence can relax and soothe their owners, regardless of whether they are of the furry variety or not.

In fact, one piece of research demonstrated a connection between lower stress and simply watching a fish tank, even when the fish didn’t belong to the individual being observed. And, if you want to talk about a pet that can’t provide physical affection, then a fish is likely the epitome of that. Yet, their presence is enough to cause a positive reaction.

2. Pets Don’t Judge

Another benefit that applies to any pet, including chameleons, is that they don’t judge their owners. There is no negative feedback about the decisions you made, the clothes you wear, or the quality of your resume. And that means we can say anything in their presence without fear of ridicule or reprisal. In some cases, that is more than we can say of our closest friends, so it’s no wonder so many people cite feeling as close to their pets as some of their friends and family members.

3. Pets Give Us Purpose

Research on depression has shown that the responsibility of owning a pet is beneficial to mental health. We develop skills in caring for our animal brethren, and we know that we are being relied on for their care. By managing the tasks successfully, our self-esteem can improve. It also ensures that we maintain a particular schedule, as not getting out of bed and skipping a feeding, misting, or cleaning isn’t necessarily an option.

4. Chameleons Help Fill a Gap

Therapy animals have been on the mental health scene for some time. But that doesn’t mean everyone wants to own a traditional fuzzy creature like a cat or dog. In fact, someone suffering from serious allergies to cats or dogs may actually find their mental state worse with this form of animal companion and not better. And that’s where some of the more exotic choices come in.

Chameleons, snacks, toads, and other reptiles and amphibians give options to those who aren’t as enthusiastic about owning a furry friend. And that means those individuals can get the companionship they need to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression in the same way that many others do.

And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing.

How to Introduce a Child to Your Chameleon

Whether you have your own children or have friends or family members with kids, introducing a child to your chameleon for the first time can be a stressful experience for everyone involved (including your chameleon!).

It’s only natural that children would be curious about your chameleon, as they are truly fascinating creatures. But young kids don’t always understand that how they treat their dog or cat and how you handle a chameleon is different.

To help you make the introductions a pleasant experience for all parties, here are some tips to manage their first hello.

Step One: Make No Promises

You know that chameleons are not always the most fond of being handled, and are generally not considered to be physically affectionate at all. However, kids who aren’t familiar with reptiles might not realize this fact.

If a child asks if they can touch (hold or carry or hug) you chameleon, your first step is to make no promises. Whether any physical contact will be possible depends on how your chameleon reacts as the introduction moves forward. Obviously, if you chameleon exhibits signs of stress while within the safety of their habitat, it isn’t wise to push your luck. Chameleons may bite when scared or threatened, so it isn’t a good idea to rush contact if your chameleon doesn’t seem game.

Step Two: A Sight-Only Introduction

The first step to introducing a child to your chameleon needs to involve the eyes only. Allow them to observe each other while your chameleon stays in his or her enclosure. Make sure that the kid keeps their hands away from the habitat, avoids quick movements, and that they maintain a reasonable volume.

This step helps you gauge your chameleon’s response to a new person in your space. It also lets you see how the child will react as they get closer.

Some kids will have issues containing their excitement, which may cause them to move unexpected or exclaim their enthusiasm. Since children can be as unpredictable as your chameleon when exposed to something new, it is better to take the slow and steady approach.

Step Three: A Chance to Touch

If your chameleon is keeping a fairly calm demeanor, then it might be possible for the child to touch the chameleon, but only if you can safely remove your chameleon from the enclosure. Use whatever handling technique traditionally works best, and make sure the child stays back a bit while you see if your chameleon is up for some handling.

Once (or if) your chameleon is safely removed, continue keeping things slow. It will help kids keep themselves calm if you keep your level of energy down. Monitor your chameleon’s reaction as you bring them closer, and make sure to reverse course if signs of stress appear.

If everything continues favorably, then you can invite the child to gently touch your chameleon. Make sure they keep the pressure light, and that their hand is clearly within the chameleon’s view as they move forward. Additionally, have the kid keep their motions slow to avoid starting your chameleon along the way.

Once a short contact has been made, you can determine whether any additional handling is an option. Stay with them both to make sure everything remains calm and peaceful. After a few minutes, even if things still seem to be going well, feel free to bring your chameleon back to the enclosure.

With any luck, by taking things slow and steady, you’ll have a successful introduction. Just remember, you have a duty to your chameleon as well as the child during this meet and greet. Ultimately, the most important part is to keep everyone involved safe and secure and, if that means cutting an introduction short, then that’s for the best.

Oh, You Shouldn’t Have: Reasons to Think Twice Before Giving a Pet as a Gift

With the holiday season in full swing, you may be running out of steam when it comes to gift ideas. Then, you remember that friend or family member that expressed so much interested in your chameleon and you wonder, “Should I give them a chameleon as a gift?”

While the idea of giving someone a chameleon (or any pet) as a gift initially seems like an awesome idea, it is better to think twice before going forward. To help you determine if giving a pet as a gift is a good idea, consider these points first.

Do They Want a Pet?

The first step before giving a pet as a gift is determining if the recipient even wants one in the first place. Just because a person admires and enjoys your pet doesn’t mean they want one in their own home. Some people aren’t in the best place for bringing an animal into their lives, while others may have no interest in actually owning a pet at all. You don’t want to give a pet to a person that doesn’t actually want one, as that can be unfair to both the recipient and the animal for which they will soon have to care.

Are They Allowed to Have a Pet?

Rules about pets in rental properties can be very strict. Some types of pets will be banned outright, while others must meet certain restrictions. Sometimes, the information is covered clearly in a person’s lease, especially when it comes to common pets like cats and dogs. However, more exotic pets, including chameleons, may not be covered as explicitly. That means a call to the landlord may be in order. Since it would be inappropriate for you to take this on yourself, it is better not to surprise any renter with an unexpected pet.

Can They Afford the Costs?

A pet costs more than its purchase price. You may need to get a suitable habitat, and you will definitely need to pay for food and other basic necessities. While relieving someone of the cost associated with buying a pet can be helpful, the gift essentially saddles the person with a long-term financial obligation. If you don’t know for a fact that this is a burden they will happily take on, then bypass this gift idea, at least for the time being.

Do They Have the Time?

Even if they want a pet and are allowed to have one, that doesn’t mean the timing is right. If someone travels a lot for work, having a pet at home may not be practical. Even though some pets, like chameleons, don’t require a lot of interaction, that doesn’t mean it should be left unattended long-term. This is particularly the case if the local climate doesn’t resemble the chameleon’s natural climate, as greater care is required to ensure the environment meets their needs.

Similarly, if the recipient may be moving soon, giving them a pet may make that process more complicated. This is especially true for anyone who may move to a state or country where exotic pets aren’t allowed or people who may find themselves in a college dorm soon.

Did You Check with Them (or Their Parents) First?

Before giving a pet as a gift, it is better to get permission than to hope it will work out. For adult recipients, consider asking them directly. While you may think it spoils the surprise, they will be elated if the gift is the right choice for them and their life now, and may be relieved that you didn’t surprise them with a pet if it isn’t a good time.

When it comes to giving pets as gifts to children, always check with the parents before going forward. While a child may promise to manage all of the associated care, unless they have their own source of money, at least some of the support will be coming from another member of the household. You want to make sure that they are onboard with the idea before even suggesting it to the child.

The Decision

If everything reviewed above checks out, then giving a pet as a gift might be the right choice. However, if there is any hesitation, it is better to go with plan B. A pet is a huge responsibility, and it shouldn’t be given to another person lightly. When in doubt, consider giving a book about the care of their ideal pet, or a gift certificate that can be used to help them prepare for bringing a pet into their lives. This is an area where it is better to be safe than sorry.