Wondering if chameleons can make good pets? This guide is for you!
Chameleon hobbyists are increasing by the day. As more of these cute lizards find their way into our home and office terrariums, one may wonder whether they make good pets.
Chameleons make good pets for those willing to attend to their delicate needs. These lizards are low-energy creatures that have very specific care requirements. You have to learn your chameleon well to handle him properly. Also, you need to acknowledge that this is not the type of pet that enjoys physical interactions.
If you like handling and hugging your pets, the chameleon may not be the best pet for you. Your expectations of this animal determine the kind of experience you have with it.
The chameleon is an excellent pet if you are content to be more of an observer than a handler.
Common Characteristics of Chameleons
To have a fulfilling relationship with this animal, you need to understand him. This will guide your expectations of this lizard.
They Are Slow-Moving
Unlike most of the popular pets in our houses, chameleons are low-energy animals. Fast-moving animals require constant stimulation to be happy.
However, the chameleon will thrive with a good terrarium, good food, and adequate plants and branches.
He doesn’t need a lot of your attention. If you’re looking for a pet that’s not too demanding, the chameleon is the right animal companion for you.
Constantly Change Color
Some chameleons have the ability to change color to match their surroundings. In the wild, chameleons do this to stay hidden from their enemies.
It is a defense mechanism that allows them to escape danger. However, a captive chameleon does not have predators to speak of.
As such, color-changing for captive chameleons is more for display than anything else. Many chameleon keepers own these lizards because of their color-changing abilities.
Their glorious colors add life to any room.
Are Reserved and Withdrawn
Chameleons are not as flamboyant and outgoing as some of the more popular pets we are used to. Chameleons don’t want to be handled or hugged like dogs and cats.
If it were up to them, these lizards would be left alone.
However, with a little training, tons of patience, and a positive attitude, you can get your chameleon to love being held – even for brief moments.
Some chameleons are so well trained that you can see them comfortably perch in their owner’s shoulders.
Do Chameleons Make Good Pets?
Whether this pet is a good pet or not depends on your expectations. You may not have the most satisfying experience if you’re looking for a pet to frequently cuddle.
However, if you want a pet to add color and life to your home, this is it!
You should acquaint yourself with the specific chameleon care needs to have the best of this lizard. Ensure you have the whole picture of this creature before purchasing one.
Let’s help you with that:
Pros of owning a chameleon:
- They are calm, quiet, and peaceful
- Have awesome color-changing ability.
- Won’t take up all your time.
- They are clean: they don’t smell or make a mess.
- Tons of Variety
- They are fascinating to watch
- They are good conversation starters.
The Cons of Owning a Chameleon
- They are delicate.
- Can be expensive to acquire and maintain.
- Eat live insects.
- Easily get sick.
- Females have special needs whenever they lay eggs.
- Don’t like being handled.
Let’s discuss these points in detail.
Pros of Owning a Chameleon
#1 – They Are Calm, Quiet, and Peaceful
Chameleons don’t make noise. They are not like pet birds that will wake you up in unholy hours with their ruckus.
Chameleons are quiet animals that silently move through the lives of the plants you have provided for them.
Once in a while, you may hear your chameleon hiss as it expresses displeasure at something. But, for most of the time, this animal remains peaceful and well-contained.
#2 – Every Color Tells a Story
You will be fascinated by your chameleon’s ability to change color. Besides, you can tell how this lizard is feeling by observing its color change.
Chameleons communicate their emotions in a number of ways. One of the most amazing ways is by color change.
#3 – They Are Not Too Demanding
A chameleon will not drain your energy by demanding too much of your attention. These lizards prefer to be left alone. They enjoy going about their daily routine without interference.
However, you still have to take care of this animal’s needs. Everything will be okay if the enclosure conditions are good and your chameleon is well-fed.
It doesn’t want you to fuss over it beyond providing it with its material needs.
#4 – They Are Clean
Some of the popular pets in our homes can create quite a mess. They are smelly, their poop smells, and they leave their feces all over the place.
The story is different with your chameleon pet. This lizard does not smell, and neither does its poop. If you get a whiff of smell from this animal, it means the enclosure is poorly maintained.
This is one of those pets we can confidently say is very clean.
#5 – Tons of Variety
Chameleons come in varieties you can choose from. For example, you’ll be spoilt for choice if you want an egg-laying variety.
If you’re looking for a livebearer, you have Jackson’s Chameleon, among others, to satiate your needs.
While some chameleons change color to match their environment, others don’t. Some of these lizards have smooth faces, while others are horned.
#6 – They Are Fascinating to Watch
Most chameleon owners find the movement of this lizard soothing and calming. Observing a chameleon makes you forget your troubles, calm down, and de-clutter emotionally.
You’ll be fascinated to watch your chameleons are it slowly navigates the foliage in its terrarium. Their eyes, long tongues as they capture food, and delicate moves will keep you mesmerized.
It is the perfect distraction you need to escape some of the harsh realities we’re forced to live with.
#7 – They Are Great Conversation Starters
Although your primary reason for owning a chameleon is not to start conversations, this is one of the bonuses you get from this animal.
This lizard will fascinate your visitors. If you’re hosting guests in your home, don’t be surprised when they keep talking about this weird-looking but fascinating creature.
A well-maintained chameleon enclosure is also likely to mesmerize your guests. It does a lot of justice to whichever room you place it.
Cons of Owning a Chameleon
#1 – Not All Can Be Pets
You have to be very careful when making your purchase, because not all chameleons can be used as house pets.
Only a handful of the hundreds of chameleon species around the world can become pets. At the same time, do not buy wild chameleons because they are likely to be laden with parasites.
#2 – Have a Relatively Short Lifespan
Most c pet chameleons live for 3 – 5 years. This is a very short lifespan, even in the reptilian world. Chameleons are as delicate as they are fragile.
If you are not an advanced keeper, chances are that you’ll make a mistake that will cost this animal’s life.
Also, you may not know when your pet has a health issue and needs your help. That’s why chameleon keeping is not recommended for the beginner.
#3 – Are Relatively Expensive
Compared to some reptile pets, chameleons are more expensive to acquire and maintain. This lizard requires a large enclosure, which has to be set up to certain specifications.
Setting up this enclosure requires money. You need equipment to monitor and control temperature and humidity.
Once the setup is done, you have to closely monitor this animal to ensure everything goes right. Because of their delicate nature, chameleons are prone to all kinds of challenges.
You need to set aside a tidy sum for vet visits. Also, have a constant supply of live insects for this pet. All these cost money.
Some owners find chameleons expensive, particularly because you don’t get much affection back even after investing so much in this lizard.
#4 – They Don’t Like Being Held
If your chameleon had a say in how you treat him, he’d want you to leave him alone. By nature, chameleons are solitary and highly territorial creatures.
They don’ form groups in the wild, and neither are they inclined to share resources. Also, a chameleon looks at anything or anyone bigger than him as a threat.
Evolution has taught them that no one and nothing is a friend, save for the trees that give them shelter. As such, one of the biggest disappointments of owning a chameleon is that it doesn’t want to be held.
Some chameleons may seem like they are happy being held or perching on the shoulders of their owners. However, they are just being tolerant.
If you hold your chameleon for long, it will start to protest by hissing and puffing. This is because the mere act of being close to them stresses these creatures.
#5 – Unsuitable for Newbies
Owning a chameleon may not be for you if you are just getting into the reptile-keeping hobby.
Because of the expense and maintenance levels involved, it may be hard for you to take good care of this pet.
At the same time, first-time hobbyists keep pets expecting a lot. You may be desirous of getting the same level of affection you give your pet.
Well, this is not going to happen with your pet chameleon. These lizards don’t like to cuddle with humans.
You can’t play with your chameleon as you would with rabbits or hamsters. You can’t hug it or invite it to rest at your foot.
This can be devastating for someone encountering lizard pets for the first time. That’s why Chameleon keeping is for the advanced hands, the experienced keepers.
#6 – Easily Get Sick
Chameleons get easily sick from diseases like metabolic bone disease and mouth rot. They are also highly susceptible to impaction.
This arises from the delicate nature of this lizard. You’ll realize that if the enclosure is well kept and the lizard well fed, incidences of sickness and disease will sharply decline.
This is why it is so important to set up the habitat right from the beginning. Also, closely monitor your pet as he is easily affected by even the slightest of changes.
#7 – Eat Live Insects
For your chameleons to live a happy, long life, you need to give them a proper diet. Their favorite meals are bugs.
This means you need a constant supply of bugs, which may be a problem if you’re not so keen on handling bugs.
You’ll have to keep and care for live insects on your premises for practical purposes.
You must ensure these bugs eat nothing but the very highest-quality vegetables because this will be indirectly transferred to your chameleon.
At the same time, you need to make available the mineral and calcium supplements your pet needs. If you’re not up to all these tasks, you may find it hard to keep a pet chameleon.
#8 – They Lay Eggs
Female chameleons start laying eggs once they attain sexual maturity. This aspect of their reproductive cycle comes with special needs.
For example, a sexually mature female chameleon should be put on a nutrient-rich diet. In particular, this lizard should be given adequate calcium, which is a necessary ingredient in egg formation.
A gravid chameleon needs special care during and after egg-laying. This may take up much of your time and effort if you’re not prepared for it.
When you consider that you have to set up the proper conditions for egg laying and the incubation that follows, you may think twice about adopting a female chameleon.
Chameleon’s Life Expectancy and Health Concerns
What level of commitment are you willing to make for your pet chameleon? This question should be at the forefront as you make the decision to purchase a chameleon.
To answer it correctly, you must gather pertinent information about this animal. You should acquaint yourself with its housing and accommodation requirements.
Equally importantly, you need to know how long you should expect to live with this animal, and the health challenges it will encounter along the way.
Most chameleons live for between 3 and 5 years. Some male species can live for as long as 10 years with the proper husbandry practices.
Females have a lower life expectancy because they go through a lot in their reproductive cycle. Egg-laying takes a toll on this gender and often exposes it to many health challenges.
Acquaint yourself with common chameleon health challenges if you intend to keep this pet.
Get to understand the causes and remedies for metabolic bone disease, mouth rot, stomatitis, and vitamin A deficiencies.
Find out where the nearest vet is and their contacts.
Before bringing a chameleon home, make sure you carry out adequate research. This way, you’ll not disappoint yourself or your pet.
Regarding pets, different people have different choices. Your choice will be informed by what you want to get from your pet.
Chameleons are fascinating creatures that will improve your life through the colors they bring into your home.
A close observation of this lizard’s behavior fills your life with peace and tranquility. If these are some of the things you’ve been looking for in life, a pet chameleon is ideal for you.
However, if you’re looking for love and affection, this reptile may be hard-pressed to provide them.