Well, you have decided to get yourself a chameleon! The first thing that I will say to you, is to make sure that this is the right pet for you. Chameleons are not good pets for beginners and a lot of care and attention to detail is needed. The wrong food, home or handling will result in costly vet bills and therefore this is a decision that needs a lot of thought!
There are over 135 different species of Chameleon, but in general, there are three main ones which are considered to be safe as pets. There is the Jackson’s Chameleon, the Veiled Chameleon and the Panther Chameleon, and each has their pro’s and con’s as with any animal, but there may be one of these three that you will be better suited to.
First of all, when considering a Chameleon as a pet, you must always buy a captive bred Chameleon. Wild chameleons can prove much more difficult to tame and due to the travelling, can be home to some pretty nasty parasites and other bugs as well as being stressed. This can result, again, is expensive Vet bills and an unpleasant pet-owner relationship.
Most Chameleons do not enjoy excessive handling. As a general rule, you should consider this animal as one to be observed, rather than one to be played with, therefore, if you are looking for an animal to get out and play around with, do not choose a Chameleon. Although this is the case for most Chameleons, the Veiled Chameleon is considered as the more docile of the three species considered as good for pets, therefore this may be a good choice if you prefer to interract with your pet.
The Veiled Chameleon is a good choice of pet, not only because it can deal with more handling, but also because it enjoys vegetarian foods as well as grasshoppers, crickets, locusts and flies. This means that there is a wider variety of foods that you can feed it, making it easier to accommodate as a pet. As well as the meaty types of food that Chameleons enjoy, you could try feeding a Veiled Chameleon thin slices of apples or pears. The Panther Chameleon and Jackson’s Chameleon are definate meat eaters, and will not eat vegetables or fruits, so although this means that the Veiled Chameleon is more high maintenance, it can also make life easier for the owner as you are more likely to have things liek apples and pears in your home on a regular basis, rather then crickets or locusts. You must remember, however, that a varied diet is essential, so you cannot just feed your Veiled Chameleon fruit!
As a general rule, all Chameleons are long term commitments. The Jackson’s Chameleon will live between five to ten years in captivity and can grow up to 13 inches in length, including the tail, making it the smallest of the three species, and therefore easier to home, but harder to find should it do a runner! The Panther Chameleon will grow up to 21 inches, with the males being larger than the females, and they can live up to 5 years, making it a slightly shorter term commitment that the other two. The Veiled Chameleon can grow to 24 inches in length for males and 13 inches in length for females and again, lives for five years.
To sum this up, if you are looking for a smaller Chameleon, a female Veiled Chameleon is a good idea, as it is smaller in length, only lasts for about five years and can be handled more often, and fed a wider variety of foods. Therefore, a Veiled Chameleon would be the Chameleon of choice, should you consider to get one as a pet.
When it comes to the home for the Chameleon, however, the humidity level for a Veiled Chameleon needs to be very precise – 50% The Panther Chameleon has a wider range – 60-85% therefore allows more margin for error. It is important that you get these details correct, otherwise you will end up with a poorly Chameleon, and therefore ensure that you arm yourself with as much information as you can befor you decide to purchase any Chameleon as a pet.
Every species of Chameleon will have it’s own advantages and disadvantages, and the purchase of one will include a great deal of thought. However, if you look after your Chameleon properly, and have the time and effort needed to make it as comfortable and happy as possible, you and your pet will have many happy years together!