What Type of Chameleon Is Right For You?

Chameleons make fascinating and exotic pets, but their specific needs must be met in order for them to stay healthy and happy. If you’ve never owned a chameleon before, be sure to research them thoroughly before bringing one into your home.

To help you choose the best chameleon, here’s an overview of some of the most common types of chameleons kept as pets.

Panther chameleon: At more than a foot in length, this type of chameleon is known for stunning colors. They also tend to be friendlier than many other types of chameleons, making them a popular choice for first-time chameleon owners. The panther requires daytime temperatures around 80 degrees F and 70 percent humidity.

An adult male panther chameleon.
Image source: Chameleon Forums

Veiled chameleon: Like panther chameleons, veiled chameleons are good around people and adapt well to captive conditions. Veiled chameleons only live about 6-8 years in captivity, and males are the larger of the two sexes, growing to be about a foot long. They need daytime cage temperatures around 80 degrees F and a relative humidity of 70 percent.

Carpet chameleon: This is a smaller species of chameleon that also makes a good choice for a pet. They have a short lifespan, usually only 2-3 years. Daytime temperatures should be around 75 degrees F, with 65 percent humidity.

Jackson’s chameleon: Popular for their three small horns, these chameleons can live 8-10 years in captivity. Handling and human interaction can be more stressful for this type of chameleon than for the first three on this list. Younger Jackson’s chameleons are less colorful than some other types of chameleons, but their colors brighten as they mature. A daytime temperature of 75 to 80 degrees F and a humidity level around 65 percent is required.

Proper Care Starts With a Good Habitat

When you’ve decided what kind of chameleon to get, make sure you know how to properly create and maintain your pet’s environment. Since they’re solitary creatures, even smaller chameleons require a large amount of personal space. Be prepared to set up a habitat that includes lighting, plants, temperature and humidity control, and plenty of room to climb and explore.

Having done your homework about how to create the perfect habitat, it’s equally important for you to be able to recognize the warning signs of a sick or stressed animal. This will ensure you’ve chosen a healthy chameleon to bring home.

Choosing a Healthy Chameleon

First, make sure you’re purchasing a captive-bred pet chameleon. The capture and shipping process puts an enormous amount of stress on wild-caught chameleons, making them much more susceptible to illness. Ask plenty of questions about the care of the chameleon, and only buy from a reputable source.

As with any type of pet, many factors come into play when evaluating a chameleon’s overall health. Some things to look for when examining a potential chameleon include:

  • Straight limbs (bent legs can be a symptom of malnutrition or metabolic bone disease)
  • Healthy-looking skin (no wounds, scratches or bruising)
  • Ability to strongly grip branches
  • Alert, with bright eyes (chameleons who spend a lot of time with their eyes closed are probably sick)
  • Clear, bright coloration (a brownish color is normal for some chameleons, but dark skin can indicate illness)
  • No signs of swelling, scabs or discharge in or around the mouth

Getting a pet represents a lifestyle change and a commitment to another creature’s health and well-being. With proper care, a chameleon can be an amazing pet who can bring you years of enjoyment.

Naming Your Chameleon, Part II: Language & Literature

Once you take the plunge into pet ownership, the next big, important decision you have to make is choosing a name. Just because your chameleon will never come running when he hears you calling his name doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your time to pick out a moniker that’s a good fit for your little buddy.

Way back in February, we looked at some sci-fi-inspired names for chameleons. Now, we’re back to bring you more inspiration if you’re having trouble deciding on the perfect name for your pet.

Words or Names in Other Languages

Every pet has defining aspects of their personality, or the perfect adjective to describe something distinctive about their appearance. For example, many chameleons are naturally inclined to be a little on the shy side. If you’ve noticed your little guy or gal lives up to that reputation, use Google Translate to look up the word for “shy” in other languages. You might find a cool-sounding word you really like. By the same token, you might also discover something you love by looking through lists of names that are popular in other countries.

Names of Gods and Goddesses From Mythology

The Egyptian deity Sobek, in his traditional crocodile-headed depiction.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Ancient mythology is the source of so much inspiration. The stories and archetypes have been used and reused in countless ways — why not in picking the perfect name for your pet? Of course, we’re all familiar with Zeus and Thor, but how about branching out to some of the lesser-known gods and goddesses as inspiration? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Loki (Norse trickster god)
  • Selene/Luna (Greek and Roman goddesses of the moon)
  • Sobek (Egyptian god of the Nile, represented with the head of a crocodile)
  • Bia (Greek and Roman goddess of force and energy)
  • Anubis (Egyptian god of embalming, represented with the head of a jackal)
  • Iris (Greek and Roman goddess of rainbows)
  • Kvasir (Norse god of inspiration)
  • Lakshmi (Hindu goddess of good fortune, wealth and well-being)
  • Kokopelli (Native American god of farming and fertility, also associated with music)
  • Sedna (Inuit sea goddess)

Shakespearean Names

Titania, queen of the fairies, as depicted by Edwin Landseer in his painting Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Does your pet deserve to take center stage? Shakespeare’s plays are a treasure trove of memorable characters with wonderful names. Here again, we’re not judging you if you go with a tried-and-true favorite such as Hamlet or Macbeth, but with 38 plays, there’s plenty of room to branch out. In fact, Shakespeare is a pretty cool name all by itself — but let’s look at some other ideas for Shakespearean-inspired names for your little actor or actress.

  • Desdemona (Othello)
  • Rosencrantz or Guildenstern (Hamlet)
  • Viola (Twelfth Night)
  • Orsino (Twelfth Night)
  • Titania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  • Shylock (The Merchant of Venice)
  • Cleopatra (Julius Caesar)
  • Caliban (The Tempest)

We hope you’ve found some inspiration in these suggestions. What did you name your chameleon, and where did you get the idea? Let us know in the comments. Who knows; your idea might spark a future blog post!

The Benefits of Finding a Good Chameleon Breeder

So, you’ve decided to adopt a chameleon – what now? Where should you get your new pet? While your first thought might be to go to the pet store, there’s no guarantee of finding one there. And even if your local pet shop happens to sell chameleons, that doesn’t mean it’s the best place to buy one. With exotic pets, your best bet is often to get them directly from a breeder.

Image source: Pinterest

Why Breeders May Be More Knowledgeable

Pet store employees aren’t required to be experts on every pet they stock, so the staff might not know the age or gender of their chameleons. They also might not provide you with important information on care, dietary requirements and cage setup – all of which are essential details for first-time chameleon buyers to know, since chameleons can be relatively high-maintenance pets with specific husbandry needs.

Meanwhile, a chameleon breeder should be able to give you all the information about the pet you’re buying, including species, age, gender and expected lifespan. They’ll also be able to give detailed instructions and advice about what you need to do to keep a chameleon healthy and happy, including nutritional recommendations, what supplies to buy and how to properly furnish your pet’s habitat.

After all, chameleon breeders have the specialized knowledge and equipment to keep multiple chameleons in good physical condition, not to mention the intense dedication required to breed them. They’re truly the experts.

Breeders Can Offer Healthier Animals

If you buy from a good chameleon breeder, you will also have confidence you’re getting a chameleon who has been bred in captivity. Captive-bred chameleons tend to be much healthier than those who have been caught in the wild, because they will be less stressed out and less susceptible to parasitic infections.

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.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

How to Find a Chameleon Breeder

So, now that we’ve given you the reasons to seek out a breeder, where should you start looking?

A veterinarian who specializes in reptile care could provide recommendations on reputable chameleon breeders. Reptile magazines can be another good source of information on chameleon breeders, and of course, you can also look online.

If you do find a chameleon breeder near you, it’s worth making the trip to meet them, see their animals and their facility and ask any questions in person. However, if you don’t have a breeder within a few hours’ drive, contact them to ask about shipping options. Many breeders offer express shipping anywhere in the U.S.

Other than causing him a little extra stress, shipping doesn’t harm the chameleon. However, ask your breeder if they provide a live arrival guarantee in the event of the worst-case scenario.

Adopting a pet – especially an exotic pet – is a major life decision. You owe it to yourself and your new pet to thoroughly research breeders before you commit to one.

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.

Thinking about buying a chameleon?

Canvas Chameleons - Ambanja - Panther - Wild Caught

Thinking about buying a chameleon?

Chameleons are beautiful reptiles that can be wonderful pets, but owning a chameleon is not the same as owning a cuddly dog or bunny. If you’re thinking about buying a chameleons, here are some things you should consider before making your decision.

  1. Chameleons do not like company. Most chameleons like to be left alone (by their owners and by other chameleons), although there are some species that are a bit more social than others. This means if you purchase more than one chameleon, each chameleon should have its own cage. For those species that are more social and will tolerate living in the same cage as another chameleon, you must make sure the cage is large enough to provide each with enough personal space; you should also provide large plants to block their view of each other. Ask when purchasing multiple chameleons if they prefer to be caged alone.
  2. Chameleons need large, well-ventilated spaces. While chameleons are mostly sedentary, they need large spaces because small spaces cause them stress. They also need ample climbing space and proper ventilation to be comfortable and to regulate their body temperature.
  3. Chameleons can appear content but actually be stressed out. Chameleons instinctively freeze or drop to the ground when scared or threatened, giving them the appearance of being calm. This makes them easy to pick up and carry around, and handlers often think the chameleons are content because they are not trying to get away; however, that is their freeze instinct kicking in. Be careful when handling chameleons because you may be causing them undue stress which will have negative impacts on their health. You should also avoid placing their cages in high traffic, noisy areas because this also causes them stress.
  4. Chameleon cages require lots of maintenance. You must make sure their cages are properly cleaned on a regular basis. Temperatures must be regulated to keep your chameleon comfortable, and the plants you have in the cages must provide chameleons with the ability to climb around (and don’t forget to make sure the plants are not toxic!). Reptiles also require UV rays to regulate their body temperature, so you should consider having a special light available for this. You don’t want to keep the cage in constant, direct sunlight, though, because your chameleon needs dark spots in the cage to conceal itself (the plants help with this, too) and cool down its body temperature.
  5. Chameleon nutrition is important. Chameleons eat insects, so if you don’t like bugs then a chameleon may not be your best option for a pet. Also, you do not place a water dish in a chameleon cage. Chameleons can only see moving water, and having a dish with standing water can be a safety hazard. You should spray your chameleon with fresh water regularly; if this is not possible, provide a suspended bottle of water that regulates the flow of water drips. Make sure the water is not too hot and not too cold, but is just right.

If you still want a chameleon after reading this, that’s great! Your next step is learning about the different types of chameleons you can buy and more details about caring for them. Contact Canvas Chameleons to learn more.

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