Monday, January 21, 2008

Buying Your First Chameleon

Pixel after shed2

General Information:
1. What chameleon to buy?
I always recommend beginners to buy a MALE veiled Chameleon or commonly known as Yemen chameleon (Chamaeleo Calyptratus). Veiled Chameleons are hardy species. Contrary to popular beliefs, they do not live in an arid and extreme desert. Instead, they live in mountainous region in Yemen, South West Saudi Arabia where lush greeneries are accessible, and the environment can get quite humid. Another species that also fit for beginners is a MALE Panther chameleon (Furcifer Pardalis). This species inhabits the humid and warm regions of Madagascar. There are many different colorations based on their locale (e.g.: Ambanja, Ambilobe, Nosy Be, Nosy Boraha, Sambava, Tamatave, etc). But, scientifically speaking, all locales are basically the same species. Panthers can benefit from having a slightly colder and more humid enclosure than veiled chameleons.

Sexing veiled chameleon is quite easy. The sure way is by looking for tarsal spurs. The male veiled has the spurs on the heel of their back legs. These spurs are present at the moment of birth. When he is still a baby, the spur looked like a tiny pimple. An absence of spurs indicates the chameleon is a female. The male casque is generally taller than the female.

. Where can I buy the chameleon?
There are 3 methods that you can choose when you are ready to buy a chameleon:
  • A. Reptile Expo: In my opinion, this is by far the best way to do it. You can meet the actual chameleons and the breeders face to face, ask a lot of questions, and, best of all, the breeders often time has some special discount.
  • B. Breeder's website: 2nd best way to purchase a chameleon. It is highly possible to get a top quality chameleon via online. Before you purchase one via this method, research extensively about the breeder's reputations. This forum has listed amazing breeders some of which I have experienced in dealing with them. With that said, my advice is ONLY buy the chameleon from someone that have a live guarantee assurance. Be very aware of their terms and guarantees.
  • C. Local Pet Store or Big Pet Chain Store: This is my least favorite way. Pet Store often charge people with ridiculous price for a chameleon. They often sell neonates (babies younger than 2 months old). And, worst of all, they often give out misleading care sheet. Many of the 'reptile staffs' there are not versed enough in the subject of chameleon's care. With the training to look like experts even though not backed by real knowledge, the staffs in the end will convince clueless customers to buy unnecessary stuffs that often lead to the chameleon's demise. But, to be fair, i have seen some reptile stores that wonderfully care for their chameleons. But, for every one that do, I always have to go through hundreds of one that do not. Therefore, it is highly imperative for you, the future owner, to do your homework by researching about chameleon instead of relying on the 'reptile staff' to do it for you. Of all my experience in helping others who have sick chameleons, many of them are victims of this so called 'Expert' advice. Also realized that in Youtube, there are many exceedingly bad advice and misinformation given by people who claimed themselves as reptile experts.
3. When should I buy my chameleon?
This is where many people often make mistakes. AVOID IMPULSE BUYING AT ALL COST!!! I cannot stress the importance of preparing the complete enclosure FIRST before buying the chameleon. Trust me! It will save you from a lot of heartaches by doing so. Avoid rationalizing your impulse by saying that your chameleon won't mind coming home to an unfinished cage. As I say before, Chameleon demands a perfect environment more so than other reptiles. Heavy stress from unsuitable husbandry will prove to be very fatal to your chameleon in no time.

4. Why should I buy a chameleon?
If you are still thinking of buying one after all the warnings that I raise about how difficult it is to care for one. I think you probably already know why you want one. It is very easy to get attached to this animal. They are surprisingly clean reptiles. In fact, if your chameleon cage emits foul odors, it means you have a problem that needed to be addressed. Also be very aware of one fact before purchasing a chameleon. They are extremely addicting. Many people always start with one chameleon and buying another one within couple of months. My friend always says that you cannot just have one chameleon.

5. How do I select my chameleon?
A. Ask whether the chameleon in question is CB (Captive Bred) or WC (Wild Caught).
Beginners should almost always opt for the CB. WC chameleons often carry parasites and needed to be treated immediately. Some WC chameleons do not adapt to captivity as well as the CB one.

B. Avoid buying chameleons that display these symptoms:

  1. Sunken eyes, closing one eye or both eyes for long period of time, sleeping during the day.
  2. Swollen joints, bumps or swelling on body, mouth, and limb.
  3. Any wounds or sores in the mouth or on the mouth area.
  4. Lethargic and lack of movement during handling.
  5. Weak grip.
  6. Snoring, wheezing, or breathing through mouth.
C. Avoid buying Chameleons that are too young
Don't buy a chameleon that is younger than 2.5 months old, unless you are an experienced chameleon keeper.

D. Use your common sense.

After reading and researching, you will be equipped with enough knowledge to buy chameleons. Whether you go to a pet store, Reptile expo, or choose to buy from online, always ask a lot of questions. If you notice the store or the breeders house their chameleon in a wrong enclosure, give you a wrong advice or uneducated facts, chances are the chameleons they sell are probably not in a good condition. Avoid playing a 'hero' thinking that purchasing from these people will at least save the chameleon's life. Buying from them will encourage them to restock with another chameleons. In the end, more chameleons will suffer. The best way to prevent this from happening is by not supporting their negligence and irresponsibility with your money.


Anonymous said...

thank you, this post was amazingly helpful!

Anonymous said...

very helpful! thank you very much, can't wait to buy one!

Anonymous said...

how much money is in needed to start

Frans Kusuma said...

depends on what kind of chameleon you are going to buy. It's hard to say since the price of chameleon fluctuates. But, roughly, I would say around $500 or more.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, though I've been wanting one for a long time ill probably pass, I have above average experience almost with all animals as well as exotic pets but its probably best I stick with what I have (5 ferrets) & keep the number rising lol...

Have had almost every animal you can have from spiders, scorpions, bats, snakes, lizards, high-end fish etc*....after it all my top 3 are Ferrets, Sugar Gliders. Couldn't take the noise anymore, same with birds too...not much else left (well depending where you live)