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Are Chameleons Hard To Take Care Of? What You Need To Know!

meller's chameleon

Reptile enthusiasts are often wowed by the tranquil beauty of chameleons. As a result, these intriguing animals are widely sold as pets, but sadly, many see their lives cut short due to the lack of knowledge and care from well-meaning owners. Indeed, according to some experts, the chameleon is arguably one of the least suitable reptiles for most pet owners.

Many first-time buyers do not know how to recognize the signs of stress or illness in their pet, and many people do not take into account that these reptiles are particularly sensitive. In addition, the chameleon often costs less than the veterinary costs itself.

Let’s dig into just how difficult it is to care for one of these unique creatures and that’s required from you as a pet owner.

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Why Are Chameleons More Difficult To Keep in Captivity?

Chameleons are fragile and sensitive reptiles. Poor captive conditions and improper nutrition are the main cause of serious health problems in these cold-blooded animals:

The Chameleon Needs a Specific Living Space

The vivarium is essential for the well-being of your reptile. A typical setup should be at least 3’ x 3’ x 4’. Ideally, the vivarium should be placed on a table rather than on the floor; this will help your chameleon to have a privileged and higher point of view, which will be closer to its natural living environment.

In addition, it will be necessary to accessorize the vivarium by following the advice of experts. For example, it must be equipped with a UV lamp, a mister, and a reptile mat or paper on the ground. You can also add a large piece of bark and reproduce as much as possible the natural habitat of your chameleon with, for example, hiding places or relief elements to allow him to climb.

These additional supplies add to the already high cost of the vivarium, which is another essential factor to consider if you are looking to adopt a chameleon.

chameleon in an enclosure with heat lamp
Image Credit: Vaillery, Shutterstock

The Chameleon Has Special Nutritional Needs

The chameleon is carnivorous. It needs to hunt its prey and moves a lot, which makes it unfit for life in a tight space. In addition, it is very easily subjected to stress and needs branches and flying, hopping, or crawling insects to hunt them. This means that you will need to have a supply of crickets, mealworms, or wax worms on hand. Plus, you’ll need to sprinkle the bugs with supplements to make sure your chameleon is getting all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

Other difficulties: it must, as in the wild, drink drops of water which trickle from the leaves. So, you can’t just put a bowl of water at the bottom of its vivarium, hoping that your reptile will go and quench its thirst. Instead, you will need to mist its environment regularly or to buy an automatic water mister.

Rudis chameleon eating a bug
Image credit: aixclusiv, Pixabay

The Chameleon Does Not Like To Be Handled

Chameleons are solitary, silent creatures that require very little attention from their human parent. So, unlike most other pets, these eye-catching pet reptiles are best kept for viewing, not handling. In addition, it causes a lot of stress in the chameleon, and stress is one of the major causes of its health problems.

In addition, it is not always easy to detect signs of distress or anxiety in this reptile. Nonetheless, the change in the color of his skin is often a reflection of his emotions, which will indicate that the animal is in pain, fear, or anger.

chameleon camouflage on a tree branch
Image Credit: ekamelev, Pixabay

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Bottom Line

The needs and care of a chameleon are more specific than many other pets, including other reptiles. Besides, despite all your good care, a chameleon has a relatively short life expectancy and rarely exceeds five to eight years. Finally, the conditions in which they are sold are often appalling, which further affects their quality of life. Therefore, the decision to bring one into your home should be carefully considered.


Featured Image Credit: Alex Tihonovs, Shutterstock

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