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 www.shipyourreptiles.com

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.










On the Road Again: Short Trips with your Chameleon


Whether a pet is furry or scaly, all pet owners will need to transport their pet by car, truck, or van at some point.  Whether it is a quick trip to see the veterinarian or a cross country move, taking the time to handle the process properly will help to lower your stress and the stress experienced by your chameleon as well.

Here, we provide some basic advice regarding how to manage traveling with your chameleon for shorter trips, generally taking less than a day.  While some of this information is universal, longer trips may require additional work.  Regardless of the length of travel, always make sure to bring a supply of food and water in case unexpected delays occur.

Choosing a Box

For the purpose of traveling, a box with solid sides and a top you can secure is ideal.  It can be made of cardboard or another opaque material as long as air flow is maintained.  The primary goal is to create a small, secure space that can be kept fairly dark.

Why is keeping the interior dark so important?  If you put a chameleon in a dark place, it will automatically try to sleep.  Regardless of the time of day, their instincts tell them that, if it is dark, it must be night.  This will help lower the overall stress experienced by encouraging them to sleep through as much of it as possible.

chameleon-350665Setting Up the Box

In order to make your chameleon as comfortable as possible, you want to give them a perch.  The easiest way to provide a somewhat stable perch is to run a dowel or natural branch through the space.  This is often easiest to achieve by creating holes in the sides of the box just big enough to allow the perch to slide through.

Ideally, the perch will be suspended slightly above the bottom of the box.  Underneath the perch, you are going to want to provide some cushioning that will also assist with traction.  Not only will this help if your chameleon falls from their perch, it will also make it easier for them to move across what is likely a very slippery surface.

Let Your Chameleon Settle

Before transporting your chameleon, set them in the box you have setup, close the lid to block the light, and wait about half an hour before proceeding on your trip.  This allows them to explore the space a bit, possibly spending some time scratching at the sides, before settling onto the perch and falling asleep.

After a reasonable waiting period, carefully carry the box to your vehicle.  For safety purposes, especially when traveling alone, your chameleon should be the last thing you bring into your vehicle.  Not only is it unwise to leave the unattended in a vehicle, the internal temperature of the vehicle may vary dramatically in a shockingly short period of time, which can potentially do significant harm to your chameleon’s system.

As You Travel

Just as you want to avoid packing your chameleon’s box in a vehicle too early, you never want to leave the box in the vehicle if someone is not in it and the temperature cannot be managed.  Further, it is important to make sure the box is in a stable position.  While some bumps along the road are unavoidable, there should be no risk that the box with your chameleon will tumble or have another box fall on it.

Travel with Care

There is no guarantee that the trip will be entirely stress free for your chameleon, but by taking certain precautions you can increase the likelihood.  Before traveling across state lines, or to other countries, make sure to check local laws regarding whether chameleons are legal to have, even if you are just driving through.  Not all areas allow private ownership of chameleons in their jurisdiction, which can present a very challenging situation for all parties involved.