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My Story

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO SUCCESSFULLY RAISE AND/OR BREED AN "OLD WORLD" CHAMELEON?

If you want CUTE get a kitten, for companionship adopt a DOG, if you just want to be different ... consider a sugar glider or prairie dog. Bearded Dragons are great "Lizard" pets. If you are ready to be a part time HERPETOLOGIST, CLIMATOLOGIST, ANIMAL PSYCHOLOGIST, ENTOMOLOGIST, BOTANIST; the "lIST" goes on and on... then you MIGHT be ready to own a chameleon.

The level of commitment is much higher than a typical pet AND they are a "hands off" animal, meaning they do not like contact. It creates stress and can shorten their life. Why then, you might ask, would any one choose this troublesome and demanding animal? If you have ever WATCHED one for any length of time, you can answer that question. Their grace and beauty is unmatched. Their skills as a hunter are admirable, their agility and flexibility would make even the greatest contortionist's head spin. There are over 120 known species with, each with adapted coloration and ornamentation for their environment.

I have learned, now,  just how typical my story is...

My first experience with chameleons was at Christmas 1998. My wife saw a Jackson’s in ******** and dragged me in to look at it. She wanted to get it for my son. I thought that’s a cool looking creature. It sorta looks like a Triceratops. I said ok lets get it . . . BIG MISTAKE. I asked for information on this unique animal and was told by the sales girl . . .It’s the same thing they use in the Budweiser commercial, only they use the females because they don't have horns (She knew that much anyway)”.  I went to their magazine rack, and found an edition of REPTILES magazine with an article about them. I bought the magazine and the chameleon.
I also purchased a 10 gallon screen lid aquarium, a hood with a day and night heat lamp, a water dish, a plastic palm tree, a bag of Reptibark, and 10 - inch crickets, all at the advice of the sales girl. When I asked the person bagging the crickets if they were a different species or just an immature version of the larger crickets… he could not answer. By the way they had THREE Jackson’s in ONE setup similar to the one they sold me. Now I could tell that this was no ordinary pet. . . but I really did not know what I had stepped into. I did what I should have done before the purchase, (the sales girl told me they just came in and did not last long so we bought one) I pulled them up on the Internet, asked other pet stores, and bought every book I could find on them. What was supposed to be my son’s Christmas present became MY project. After learning the inadequacy of the 10 gallon tank, I purchased a real 6 foot ficus tree, and the materials to build what I thought was The Ideal” enclosure for a chameleon. Measuring 24” deep by 32” across by 40” tall’ screened on two sides and the top, furnished with lots of various size branches, fake vines, and trees; and lit with two 2 foot Reptisun 5.0’s and a 60 watt floodlight. . . I thought this is a chameleons dream castle (See pictures on LIZARD LOUNGES ). I rigged a humidifier to mist it two hours a day, and all of the lights were on a timer. The whole project took about three weeks to plan and build. The poor guy lasted about one week after completion.

I learned a lot from the experience and I also got the fever. I don’t think I will ever NOT own a chameleon or two. I now have three veileds 1.2 and a clutch of 39 eggs in the closet. I would love to get a couple of panthers, but I have to build a cage for the newest female veiled first.


DAVID W. PICKERING

As I said, that is an all too typical story. If it does not match yours, then keep researching before you purchase. Even if you have extensive herp experience, these little wonders have very different  husbandry requirements than any other herp. There are many species available, each has very different humidity and temperature requirements. Decide what is best for you based on your ability to maintain their environment...NOT because they are the "cutest, most colorful, most unique, etc..."

HAPPY HERPIN'

My Story | Selecting a Good Animal | Diet | Enclosures | Hydration | Lighting | FAQs

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