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.


No Place Like Home | Creating Your Chameleon Habitat Part 4

This is part four of a multipart series about creating an ideal habitat for your chameleon. The previous parts covered choosing an enclosure, selecting a room for the habitat to reside, and the addition of plants.

In this section, we will provide an overview of lighting needs (for more complete information, see the Let There Be Light post) as well as watering and misting systems. Additionally, appropriate climate control monitoring equipment is explored to make sure the environment is comfortable for your chameleon.


To ensure the health of your chameleon, certain lighting must be included in the enclosure. Aside from having enough light in the space to simulate the changes between night and day, your chameleon’s enclosure will likely need a UVB light and a basking bulb.

Chameleons, like people, need vitamin D. The easiest way to meet this need is through contact with UVB light. While UVB light naturally occurs in sunlight, having an enclosure indoors may limit the amount that the chameleon actually receives. By including a UVB light that is focused on the enclosure, you can make up for what is not present in the space.

Your chameleon needs approximately 10 to 12 hours of exposure to UVB on a daily basis. Often, the easiest way to meet the time requirement is to have the light on during the day and simply turn it off at night. If you want to make the process easier, you can event set the light on a timer, so that it automatically turns on and off at the correct intervals even when you are not home.

Basking bulbs provide an additional heat source in the enclosure. While you should ensure your room is kept at an appropriate temperature at all times, the basking bulb gives your chameleon an extra warm spot to help regulate their overall body temperature. In contrast to the UVB light, which should cover the vast majority of the space, a basking bulb only needs to heat a specific area.

As with the UVB bulb, basking bulbs should also be turned off at night. This allows your chameleon to feel the extra warmth traditionally experienced during the day time, while also simulating the cooler nights they would have in the wild.

Watering and Misting

If your enclosure includes live plants, then you will need to make sure and meet their watering needs. Each type of plant may have different requirements, but care instructions are often included when the plant is purchased. You can choose to hand-water plant soil as needed, or check into automated watering systems.

Misting systems benefit your chameleon directly. Unlike many animals that drink from water bottles or dishes, chameleons get their water off of the environment. In the case of enclosures, this often refers to droplets collected on plants and surfaces as the result of misting the space. Not only is this required for needed humidity, but it also provides a necessary source of fluids for your chameleon.

You can mist an enclosure by hand using a suitable spray bottle, but investing in an automated misting system may be wise. This ensures that all of the misting needs are met whether you are home to manage the task or not. You can set the misting system to spray at specific intervals, creating a routine upon which the chameleon can rely.

Climate Controls

It is critical to check the temperature and humidity levels on a regular basis to ensure all of these needs are being met. This means you will need to invest in a thermometer to watch the temperature, and a hygrometer to monitor humidity.

thermometer-428339While most home heating and air conditioning systems have thermostats, you still need to check the conditions within the enclosure itself. This helps you compensate for variances based on the enclosures exact locations within the home. For example, a habitat near a window with direct sunlight might actually get warmer than the temperature set on a thermostat. Investing in a high-quality thermometer specifically for the enclosure ensures your chameleon’s precise needs are being met at all times.

Once your lighting, watering and misting, and climate control systems are in place, you have all of the components required for a suitable chameleon enclosure. Research the specific needs of your chameleon’s breed to ensure the environment is kept in a way that meets those standards. Monitor the status of the habitat on a regular basis, especially when there is a significant or seasonal change in your home area. Then, you can simply enjoy your chameleon knowing that everything is set how it should be.

No Place Like Home | Creating Your Chameleon Habitat Part 3

This is part three of a multipart series about creating an ideal habitat for your chameleon. The previous parts covered choosing an enclosure and selecting a room for the habitat to reside. This section is going to review how to “decorate” the space with branches, vines, and plants based on your chameleon’s needs.

Can You Take Me Higher

animals-1098679The majority of chameleons are arboreal; they feel safest when they are up high amongst the tree branches. That is why chameleon enclosures focus on height over width, and why you need to give them branches upon which to climb.

When it comes to climbing surfaces, you generally have two choices. You can go with real branches or vines and live plants, or their manufactured counterparts. Which method is best for you can depend on a number of factors which we will explore below.

The Genuine Article

If you want to help your chameleon feel at home in their enclosure, then having real branches and plants is a great way to go. Often, you can find suitable branch sections from a nearby tree, or at a suitably equipped pet store. Make sure the branches have a suitable amount of width, as tiny twigs won’t provide the support or gripping surface needed for your chameleon to climb, especially once they are full grown.


Before placing a new branch (that you find yourself) into the enclosure, thoroughly clean and sanitize the surface. You want to remove and dirt and debris, as well as loose bark on the surface. Additionally, you want only to include branches from trees or shrubs that are known to be NON-TOXIC. That means you may need to do some research before grabbing just any stick off the ground.

Once cleaned, you can cut the branch to a suitable size. In some cases, you can simply wedge them in place. At others, you may want to secure them to the enclosure with appropriate hardware. If you use hardware (like screws), make sure that they are not accessible to the chameleon. You wouldn’t like stepping on a nail sticking out of the floor, and your chameleon likely feels the same way.

If you choose to purchase branches from a reputable supplier, they will often be sanitized and scrubbed before you receive them. Some places will even cut the branches to length for you, saving you the trouble (especially if you don’t own suitable tools).


Vines provide additional climbing surfaces but are more flexible. This means you have more options in how they are placed. Finding suitable vines in your local environment may prove challenging, but long, flexible branches can also do the trick. As with the branches, cleaning and sanitizing are important, as well as confirming the vine material is non-toxic. For example, grape ivy may be a suitable choice, as well as flexible branches from a willow tree.


chameleon-384964When possible, using live plants is the way to go. Not only do they provide your chameleon with the shade and camouflage they may crave, but they can help hold humidity in the enclosure. They are also great for the air, especially when dealing with small spaces.

There are many suitable plants for use in chameleon enclosures. Some of the most popular choices include Ficus Benjamina, Umbrella Tree, and Pothos Plants. These may even be available at your local hardware or home improvement store, depending on your location and the current season.

When choosing plants, you want to make sure they are free of pesticides and fertilizers. You may have to repot the plants in a new planter with organic soil, and the exposed surfaces will need to be properly cleaned and sanitized. Often, this can be done with a clean bucket full of water that has a squirt of anti-bacterial soap mixed in.

Place the plant into the water “head down” without putting the roots in the solution. Swish the plant to make sure the solution reaches all of the surfaces, and leave it to sit for around five minutes. Then, thoroughly rinse the plant with clean water. Repeat the processes AT LEAST two more times before repotting the plant.

A Suitable Facsimile

Sometimes, managing live plants is overly complicated. For those occasions, fake plants can work as a suitable substitute. When choosing fake plants, make sure you pay attention to the quality. Often, it is unwise to simply grab some from your local craft store, as these were not designed for the rigors of having your chameleon walking all over them.

If you do want to work with fake plants, consider options designed specifically for reptile enclosures, and purchase only from reputable dealers.

Coming Soon!

This is part 3 in a multipart series focused on creating an ideal environment for your chameleon. Come back for additional advice to help you build your chameleon’s perfect home.


No Place Like Home | Creating Your Chameleon Habitat Part 2

chameleon-63148This is part two of a multipart series about creating an ideal habitat for your chameleon. Part one focused on selecting the proper type of enclosure based on your local climate and chameleon’s need. This section is going to review where to place your enclosure once you have it purchased.

Choose a Room

Your first decision regarding the placement of your enclosure is the room in which it will be setup. While many people would initially think a common living area is the best option, it is not always the case.

First, you need to understand that chameleons can become agitated by their environment. Rooms on the main floor that are either high traffic or that allow outside noise to carry into the space can cause your chameleon to feel nervous or threatened. Repeated disturbances make it difficult for your chameleon to settle, and the constant stress can have a negative impact on his or her health.

If you have a multistory home, then selecting a low traffic room on the upper floor is ideal. Not only does the increased height help your chameleon feel more secure (this is based on the location of a window, which we will explore later in this piece), it likely has these auditory or visual disturbances. This means your chameleon is less likely to experience unnecessary anxiety based solely on the environment.

Second, you need to make sure the temperature in the space is well controlled. Chameleons are highly sensitive to temperature, and you need to make sure the room can provide the temperature range your chameleon needs to thrive.

Keep it Up

The base of your chameleon enclosure should not be on the floor. If you purchase a glass or screen habitat that does not come with a set of legs to raise it off the floor, then you will need to put the cage on a table to lift it off the ground. Make sure the table is broad enough to support the weight of the enclosure and provide reasonable stability based on the fact that the chameleon will move throughout the space and may cause the weight within the enclosure to shift slightly while doing so.

Find a Window

lobby-797961Just as you wouldn’t like to stare at the same four walls all day, every day, for the rest of your life, your chameleon wouldn’t like it either. To help create a more engaging environment, it is best to pick a room with a window. This also gives your chameleon the opportunity to experience sunlight on a regular basis.

East-facing windows receive the morning sun which can provide a gentler warmth, while west-facing windows will brighten up in the afternoon but often get warmer. Depending on which option you choose, you need to make sure the temperature needs of your chameleon are met throughout the day. Getting too hot or too cold is not a great way to live, so take care to monitor temperature changes so you can provide him or her with the extra warmth or shade your chameleon may require.

If you live in North America, south-facing windows actually get the most sunlight throughout the day. However, on hot summer days, it may make the temperature in the space uncomfortably high. You will need to take extra care to ensure your chameleon can escape from the heat of the sun when required to make a south-facing window work.

Coming Soon!

This is part 2 in a multipart series focused on creating an ideal environment for your chameleon. Come back for additional advice to help you build your chameleon’s perfect home.



No Place Like Home | Creating Your Chameleon Habitat Part 1

chameleon-855125Before you bring your chameleon home, you must create a habitat suitable to its needs. While it may be tempting just to buy the first option you see, examining your options more carefully can produce better results. In this installment, we will cover information about the main types of enclosures that are available, and which may match your situation best.

Key Features for All Habitats

Certain features are ideal for any chameleon habitat. First, chameleons are arboreal and enjoy being able to get up higher. That means your enclosure will often be taller than it is wide. Additionally, you want to make sure the base of the enclosure is not actually on the ground. Your enclosure either needs to come with suitable legs or have the ability to be placed on a table or counter.

Drainage is also a concern as well as easy of cleaning. You want excess moisture to be able to quickly exit the living space, as well as any waste created by your chameleon. Even if you keep live plants in the habitat, drainage is always a concern.

Screened Cages

Screened cages are one of the standard options on the market. These enclosures have a frame, typically made of wood, metal, or plastic, and the frame supports the screens that prevent your chameleon from making a break for it.

The screens feature a relatively tight weave for multiple reasons. First, it prevents your chameleon from being able to reach through the screen. Even though many people would assume the design would only need to stop the chameleon from squeezing through, it is better to make sure that they can’t even stick a toe through the material. Aside from the risk of injury (should the chameleon get a toe stuck), it is also less likely to be damaged from your chameleon using it as a climbing surface.

mesh-443975Finer mesh also limits the ability of live food, such as crickets, from being able to escape the enclosure. Not only will this help keep the food in reach of your chameleon, but it also keeps in out of your home!

If you live in a hot, humid environment, screened cages make an excellent choice. First, they provide superior ventilation. This helps keep the enclosure from getting stuffy or musty as air can flow freely through the space. It also prevents the enclosure from becoming too hot based on heat retention from the material itself.

Terrariums and Vivariums

There are glass and acrylic terrarium or vivarium options that are suitable for chameleons as well. Often, these have solid sides made of glass or acrylic, a solid base, and a mesh or screened top. These options are also commonly available, though take care not to accidentally end up with a unit meant to be used as an aquarium as they may not come properly equipped and may not feature ideal dimensions.

These forms of enclosures can be ideal if your home is in a cold or dry environment. Glass and acrylic enclosures hold heat and humidity more effectively than screened cages. This allows you to create a more tropical environment without affecting your overall home environment as dramatically.

However, since temperatures and humidity can get quite high, and ventilation is more difficult with these enclosures (as it is commonly limited to the top only) you will need to pay particular attention to environmental readings.

Hybrid Enclosures

There are combination enclosures that feature a mix of glass or acrylic panels and screened sections. For example, the front of the habitat may be made of glass or acrylic, and the side may be half glass or acrylic and half screen. Some may even feature glass or acrylic panels that can be slide up or down to expose screened sections.

Hybrid solutions may be ideal if your weather varies drastically throughout the year. You can control ambient temperature and humidity more efficiently by adjusting the amount of ventilation based on current conditions.

Coming Soon!

This is part 1 in a multipart series focused on creating an ideal environment for your chameleon. Come back for additional advice to help you build your chameleon’s perfect home.


Winter is Coming | Chameleon Emergency Planning

Winter weather brings a variety of challenges. At times, severe weather can make it impossible to leave home, or get back. It can also result in power outages, loss of temperature control mechanism, and limited availability of water. While many of us have heard how to prepare for disasters ourselves, the discussion doesn’t always include the care of our pets. Before winter weather causes a problem, you need to develop a Chameleon Emergency Plan. Here’s how to start.

Emergency Contact

A critical part of any disaster plan is identifying an emergency contact. In this case, you need to find someone who can get to your home and check on your chameleon if you are unable to get there yourself. Ideally, you need to find someone who lives or works in your local area, and close to your home.

Once you have found a suitable contact, you will review all other planning information with them as well. Refer to your emergency care plan and make sure they understand the information. Take time to show them the location of important items, like food and heat pads, and give them a chance to ask questions if they have any.

Temperature Control

While a chameleon may have an acceptable range in regards to ambient temperature, a winter storm can result in a power outage. And, without power, certain heaters will not operate. With this in mind, it is important to have alternative heat sources available if a lack of heat could put the health of your chameleon at risk.

To provide heat during an emergency, you should collect heating options that activate without power. A variety of heating pads, such as those traditional bought for camping, may be suitable in an emergency. Additionally, an indoor-safe propane heat can also help. If you have a generator, consider dedicating some of its energy to keeping your chameleon warm. You can make the process more efficient by keeping your chameleon in a smaller area, as it will take less energy to heat the space.

Since heat of this nature is harder to control, take extra care and keep your chameleon under observation at all times. If the temperature shifts unfavorably, you may need to reach quickly to ensure your chameleon’s health and safety.

Food and Water

Food and water are some of the building blocks of life. Give the same care when planning for your chameleon’s needs as you would your own. Make sure you have a sealed bottle of drinking water available at all times. That way, if you lose the ability to access safe water, you have a supply just for your chameleon.

Keep a close eye on your cricket supply during times of the year when severe weather may make accessing your normal supplier more difficult. Don’t let your supply dwindle down too far in case you won’t be able to access more for a few days. Luckily, chameleons don’t require many crickets per day to stay healthy. Try to have at least a week’s supply during rougher months.

Any Other Care Needs? Handle Accordingly

If your chameleon has any special needs, make sure you plan to meet those as well. Keep contact information for your vet readily available, as well as a backup vet in case your preferred veterinarian’s office is affected by the weather too.

With thorough planning, you can make sure that both you and your chameleon are ready to weather any winter storms. Take the time to plan today for a more secure tomorrow.

I’ll Meet You There | Shipping Your Chameleon

At times, it will be more efficient to ship your chameleon to your destination than to travel with it. Luckily, there are a variety of services available to help you do just that. There are also a lot of rules regarding how it must be managed. Before you put your chameleon in a box, and hope for the best, review the following guidelines to help make your shipping experience a success.

Don’t Use Just Any Box

To ship a live animal, you must meet packaging requirements as set forth by the shipping company. Requirements include the use of specific materials and restrictions on how the package is constructed. These requirements are in place to ensure the safety of both your chameleon and the personnel involved in the shipping process.

Proper ventilation must be present while maintaining the integrity of the package’s construction. The destination and return addresses must be clearly marked, and a description of the contents is required.

Don’t Just Toss Your Chameleon in the Mail

usps-796059You can’t simply drop the box in a mailbox and expect everything to work out. When shipping live animals, you must make sure the shipping company is aware of the contents. Only certain shipment methods are permitted. For example, many shippers require that live animals be sent overnight. Additionally, they may not accept a live animal shipment on Friday or the day before holidays, as that automatically increases the amount of travel time before the package will reach its destination.

The Weather Matters

The temperature needs of your chameleon must be a factor in determining if and when you ship. For example, it is not recommended to ship when the outside temperature is below or above certain points. Most shipping methods do not have the packages in temperature controlled environments. This means that the outside temperature is likely what your chameleon will be dealing with.

In cases where the temperature is only somewhat below ideal, such as 50°F, a heat pack can help raise the internal temperature to a more comfortable level. However, if the outside temperature is 32°F, even a heat pack cannot bring up the temperature enough to make sure your chameleon will be safe during transit.

Temperature considerations must be based on the location from which the package is shipped as well as the destination. In some cases, if the destination’s temperature is too high, you can elect to have your package sent to a shipment center managed by the shipping company. This keeps your chameleon in a temperature controlled environment until you can pick him or her up.

Some Animals Cannot be Shipped, Period

While the vast majority of chameleons can be shipped, some other reptiles are not eligible. Anything venomous or poisonous cannot be shipped. An endangered species is often considered nonmailable. Mammalian household pets, such as cats and dogs, are rarely shippable.

Other shipping restrictions can be in place, and may vary depending on the shipping company in use.

Certain Destinations are Off Limits

Just as we discussed in articles about traveling with your chameleon by car or airplane, not all species are permitted in all destinations. Before you arrange for a shipment, make sure you are legally allowed to receive your chameleon at its destination.

Consider a Professional Shipping Service

Professional reptile shipping services are aware of the idiosyncrasies involved in the shipment of reptiles, including chameleons. These services can provide all of the materials necessary to ship your chameleon. Most offered detailed packing instructions along with insulated shipping boxes, heat packs, and other packing materials. They are also knowledgeable about any restrictions regarding the shipment of reptiles, and may be able to offer guidance when needed.

We always recommend and ship via Ship Your Reptiles at

Ship Your Reptiles

Our Shipping Procedures

Here at Canvas Chameleon we ship all our chameleons FedEx Express Priority Overnight. They are packaged up later in the day and dropped off at our local FedEx hub around 5-6 PM at night in order to reduce the amount of time they are in their shipping boxes. In most areas, they will be delivered by 10:30 AM the following morning. Shipping can be stressful on the chameleon but in most cases it is more stressful for us awaiting their delivery as once in their dark boxes they fall sleep for the majority of the trip. Here is a quick break down of our packaging process here at Canvas Chameleons












On the Road Again II: Trips with Overnight Stays

Sometimes, your travel plans may prevent you from getting to your destination in a day. Maybe you are moving across the country to attend college, start a new job, or just for a change of scenery. Regardless of the reason, you are faced with the challenge of figuring out how to move your chameleon over multiple days, and you only option is in a vehicle.

While the situation is certainly not ideal, that does not mean it is impossible to manage. If you are in a position where you are traveling with your chameleon, and you must stay overnight somewhere, here are some tips to help you navigate the landscape as easily and safely as possible.

Check the Rules

Before you worry about where to stop with your chameleon, you need to make sure that you can bring him (or her) along your desired path. Not all animals are allowed to be brought across certain interstate or international lines, and it would be a shame to get to a particular border to only then realize you have a problem.

Prior to making any other travel arrangements, consult the United State Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Pet Travel page. While the site focuses on information for your destination, take the time to review the rules for every state or country you will pass through since you will be traveling by vehicle.

Keep in mind that there may be restrictions on bringing insects (live or dead) between certain locations as well. So, just because your chameleon is cleared, that doesn’t mean your box of crickets is too. Make sure to check any rules about their ability to cross state lines or international borders as well.

Get a Veterinarian to Sign Off

It is not uncommon for health certificates to be required in order to travel between certain locations. This helps ensure that your chameleon is fit for travel and is not bringing any concerning health condition into new areas. Even if you do not see the requirement specified, it is wise to have your veterinarian examine your chameleon before any stressful event.

If your move is permanent, you may want to see what is necessary to have copies of your chameleon’s veterinarian records made, or what process is required to have a new veterinarian request the information, especially if there have been notable health events previously.

Plan Your Route to Plan Your Stops

While some road trips can be setup on the fly, a trip that involves a pet should always be planned. Not only are you going to need to clear the ability to bring your chameleon in with you for the overnight stops on your trip, you are going to want to make sure that you have access to everything you may need along the way.

If you are planning on spending the night in a hotel or motel, you might think it is easier to either sneak your chameleon into the room, or leave him in the vehicle. In both of these cases, your answer is NO, and here’s why:

  1. If you fail to get permission to bring your chameleon (and any live crickets) into the hotel, you can be unceremoniously thrown out if you are discovered.
  2. Your vehicles is an unstable environment. You should never (and I mean NEVER) leave your chameleon in your car alone EVER (get your food from the drive-thru and continue on). No reason is good enough, no excuses.

With that settled, you may find that certain hotels or motels are willing to accommodate your request, though you may need to call around. Start with hotel chains that are known to be generally pet friendly, and work your way along from there. If you cannot find willing accommodations in the stopping city of choice, you may need to adjust where you plant to stop for the night based on finding suitable accommodations.

Travel in a Box, Spend Overnight in a Cage

As we discussed in our previous On the Road Again post, your chameleon may travel more comfortably in a smaller box that you can use to block out excess light. This can help encourage your chameleon to sleep through as much of the trip as possible. For longer trips, you should plan on regular checks to see if you need to mist inside the box to prevent dehydration.

Male #2 Calumma Parsoni Cristifer - Canvas Chameleons (6)Once you reach your stop for the night, you need to setup your chameleon in something more comfortable where he can be fed and hydrated in a fairly normal fashion. Ideally, he will also be able to spend some time in the light before you head to bed yourself.  This does not mean you need to bring out a full-sized cage if it is difficult to transport. Make sure your chameleon has some space to move around freely, but it is fine if this setup is smaller than his permanent enclosure.

Give him the opportunity to eat (he may not if he is feeling stressed), and provide a good misting. You will also need to make sure the temperature in the space is suitable, whether by cranking up the heat in the room or through the use of heat lamps and other standard options.

Once you have gotten your rest for the night, you will set your chameleon up in the box again, and plan for round two of the trip. Repeat as necessary until you reach your destination.

Ideally, you should try to get the trip over with as quickly as possible (while following any laws regarding speeding, and taking into consideration your need for sleep and overall safety). Once you arrive at your new location, be sure to setup your chameleons enclosure as one of your first steps, as putting him back in his usual space should help the adaptation period begin and will allow him to get comfortable in the new space.


Learn to Fly | Air Travel with Your Chameleon

Airplane in the sky at sunset

In a previous post, we reviewed how to travel with your chameleon during relatively short road trips, most applicable to those taking less than a day to complete.  Today, we are going to review what it takes to help your chameleon fly on a commercial aircraft.  Travel is part of the American paradigm.  Whether it is a cross-country move to pursue a new opportunity, or a quick visit during a summer vacation, the idea of traveling is ingrained within many societies.  With the desire to travel, often comes the occasional airline flight.

While many people are aware that cats and dogs can be flown from one location to another with relative ease, traveling with more exotic pets is not as well covered.  In order to provide some general guidance on what you may be able to expect when traveling with your chameleon, we offer the following basic guidelines to help you get started.

Airline Travel is Not Recommended

First, it is important to understand that commercial air travel is not an ideal situation in which to transport your chameleon.  Traveling by car, while stressful, provides an additional level of control as well as the ability to directly observe your chameleon for the duration of the trip.

It may also be worthwhile to check into specialty shipping services, as they may be able to provide a less stressful experience for your chameleon, and may be better equipped to manage any unforeseen situations that can arise.

Travel Restrictions

You will need to research if your destination, as well as any layover cities, have any requirements or restrictions regarding the transportation of animals into the area.  Not all states or countries permit exotic animals, and this restriction can include animals who are only passing through on a layover.  Before finalizing any travel arrangements, make sure that all points along the way are chameleon friendly.

Get an Appropriate Carrier

First, all animals must be transported in an approved carrier.  The carrier is designed to withstand the physical demands that may be placed upon it during transport and provides a level of physical protection to your chameleon.  You will need to include any required health information with the carrier, as dictated by the airline, and should make sure the carrier is clearly marked with your name and contact information, as well as marked as containing a live animal.

As with vehicle travel, it is ideal if you can make the space as dark as possible, as this may encourage your chameleon to sleep through much of the trip, though the airline may restrict anything that prevents them from having a way to examine the interior of the carrier.  Additionally, make sure your chameleon will have adequate traction, as you may not be able to secure a branch for them to climb on depending on the carrier involved.  Generally, if the carrier must be physically altered to add a branch, it may no longer be considered airline approved.

Contact the Airline Directly Once You Book the Flight

It is important to note that the information here is designed to provide an overview of common expectations or requirements.  Before attempting to travel with your chameleon, or any pet for that matter, it is critical to contact the airline directly to get more complete information regarding their standards.

Most airlines will require you to reserve space for your chameleon in advance, as airplanes may have limited capacity in regards to the transportation of animals.  This is due to the need for a pressurized and temperature controlled area, as not all baggage is transported in that way, and space is often filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Additional fees may apply.

A Chameleon will likely be Checked Baggage

The vast majority of airlines will not permit reptiles as carry-ons regardless of the size or the reptile or the carrier in which it is placed.  With that in mind, you will need to proceed under the assumption that it will likely be kept in an area with other animals, and that the journey will be considered a highly stressful event overall.

With that in mind, it is wise to avoid any unnecessary layovers, especially when a change of plane is involved.  Not only will this increase the total duration of the experience, but it also ups the stress level as the animal carrier will be handled more frequently.  When possible, try to get direct flights.

You should never attempt to sneak your chameleon (or any animal) onboard an aircraft at any time, regardless of the reason.  If you attempt to sneak your pet past a security checkpoint in order to bring them onboard, you pet may be confiscated when you are caught.

Convenience and Cost

Most people would not consider traveling with a chameleon on an airline particularly convenient, and the cost is often high.  Shipping a pet as checked baggage can easily cost upwards of $100 one-way.  Additionally, extreme heat or cold weather may make your pet ineligible to fly as the airline considers the situation to high risk.

If you really have no other options, flying with a chameleon can be done, but other options are likely to be both more cost effective and less stressful.  We will cover information on other transportation options in future posts, including long distance travel by car, as well as an introduction to pet shipping company practices.