Selecting | Where to Purchase |Good Starter Chams  |Care Sheets | Suggested Resources

Selecting a Healthy Cham

A few things to look for when selecting a chameleon include:

EYES - not sunken in, and alert looking, always scanning their environment for food or predators

MOUTH - clean, free from sores, and well lubricated 

TEETH - uniform in color, if not this could be a sign of old age or illness

TAIL - no visible vertebrae this is a sign of possible dehydration , tail should be well shaped and without skin deep grooves

GRASP - should be strong

LIMBS - not swollen and should be moving freely without discomfort

SKIN - any elongated lumps beneath the skin (possible filarial worms); any visible cuts bruises, or broken skin; the skin should look well hydrated, not dry or withered large black or gray areas can be fungal infections

FEET - free from injury, all claws clean and free of damage

BREATHING - should not be fast or deep. the mouth should not be open all the time, heavy breathing and constant gaping are signs of possible respiratory infections

FECES - should be somewhat oval shaped and dry 

Where do I find a chameleon?

There are several places to find chameleons. Local pet stores that carry reptiles are probably the most convenient, but that convenience comes with a price. If you have read "My Story" you know what I went through with a pet store. Most pet stores know very little about proper care for these unusual animals. In what I always thought of as a good pet store, I recently saw 2 juvenile veileds housed in a medium sized all screen enclosure with two smaller lizards. I watched them crowd the small area provided for basking and shortly after, I witnessed one veiled take a tongue shot at one of these smaller lizards. Chameleons from pet stores are like a box of chocolates... You never know what you're going to get. Is it wild caught or captive born? How old is it? What has it been through to get where it is?

If you choose to get one from this source, make sure you check it thoroughly for signs of poor health, and ask the people in charge of the reptiles how to care for it. If they don't tell you to give it plenty of moving water via misting systems or by manually spraying, they probably are not taking good care of it. I've also seen six to eight week old babies expected to eat full grown crickets.

Local breeders are a good source... if you can find one. They will generally have good knowledge of the animal and can give advice on care. Check the papers in your area. There may also be some listings online for your area.

Another similar source is at reptile/breeder shows. Depending on where you live there are usually a few a year that are worth checking out. You can make some good contacts and learn a lot about the animal you select as well as others. Many breeders have websites which is another great source. If you go this route, you should try to find one as close to you as possible to minimize shipping time. Be prepared to receive delivery also. You don't want to leave an animal in a shipping box any longer than absolutely necessary. You should try to find out about the breeder's reputation. There are many well known and respected breeders with websites.

If you have never seen a healthy chameleon, then you may find it difficult to identify a sick one. They do move very slowly and sometimes they will back step or stutter walk, but they should NEVER sleep during daytime and they should LOOK ALERT. Try to look at many specimens from different sources to get an idea what is NORMAL for one. Select CAPTIVE BORN from a reputable breeder whenever possible. They have fewer problems with parasites, have less trouble acclimating, and you know their exact age.

Good Starter Chams


For a printable caresheet click on the Click here for a care sheeticon by your species choice.

For more specific husbandry information click on the AdCham Species Profile - Link opens in a new window.

These are the most popular and readily available species that make good FIRST chameleons:




 Diana Rasmusson

Furcifer pardalis or Panther

Panther Furcipher pardalis

Click here for a care sheetThese are very popular because of their brilliant color patterns. There are many variations of this species,  which are distinguishable by color patterns and subtle differences in head shapes of the males.








 Adcham Species Profile - Link opens in a new window


photo by Susan James


photo by Mary Lovein


Chamaeleo trioceros jacksonii   Jackson's

Jackson's Chameleo trioceros jacksonii

Click here for a care sheetThere are three subspecies of this three horned chameleon:merumontanus, jacksonii and xantholophus. All are very similar to each other but have enough distinct differences to consider them subspecies.



Adcham Species Profile - Link opens in a new window jacksonii  

Adcham Species Profile - Link opens in a new window merumontanus 

Adcham Species Profile - Link opens in a new window xantholophus  

adult veiled

photo by Scott Axel

adult veiled

photo by Susan James

Chamaeleo calyptratus Veiled  or Yemen

Veiled Chameleo calyptratus

Click here for a care sheetVeileds are probably the hardiest and most common species found in pet stores. Males go through a "mean" puberty and can give a nasty bite. Despite this, they are still a great first cham choice.



Adcham Species Profile - Link opens in a new window

These are not the ONLY species that are good starter chams, only a few of the more popular. 

Panthers and Jackson's are more "tame" than veileds and fairly hardy. The veiled is probably the hardiest and most forgiving of beginner mistakes, but has a temperament change at puberty that makes them much more "HANDS OFF" than the others. That could be a good thing since they are all hands off any way. Veileds just let you know quicker that it bothers them. With a reasonable amount (by cham standards) of time and effort, veilds are easy when compared to other chameleons.

Care Sheets

Click here for a Panther care sheetPanther  Click here for a Jackson's care sheetJackson's  Click here for a Veiled care sheetVeiled


Care sheets are in not intended to be the sole source of information.

Please read as much as you can find on your chameleon choice before selecting one of these animals.

They require a knowledgeable owner if they are gong to survive. Below are some suggested books.


Suggested Resources

Chameleon Handbook, The (Barron's Pet Handbooks)Link will open in a new window.

The Guide to Owning a ChameleonLink will open in a new window.

Jackson's and Veiled Chameleons: Facts & Advice on Care and Breeding (Reptile and Amphibian Keeper's Guide)Link will open in a new window.

Chameleons: Care and Breeding of Jackson's, Panther, Veiled, and Parson's (Advanced Vivarium Systems)Link will open in a new window. 

The Panther Chameleon: Color Variation, Natural History, Conservation, and Captive ManagementLink will open in a new window. 

Chameleons (Complete Pet Owner's Manual)Link will open in a new window. 

The New Chameleon Handbook: Everything About Selection, Care, Diet, Disease, Reproduction, and Behavior (Barron's Pet Owner's Manuals)Link will open in a new window. 

Essential Care of Chameleons (Advanced Vivarium Systems)Link will open in a new window. 

Chameleons: Their Care and BreedingLink will open in a new window. 

Chameleons (The World of Reptiles)Link will open in a new window.

Chameleons of Southern AfricaLink will open in a new window.

Chameleons Vol.1: SpeciesLink will open in a new window.

Stump-tailed Chameleons: Miniature Dragons of the RainforestLink will open in a new window. 



literature cited (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)Link will open in a new window.

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