Chameleons are fascinating and pretty lizards. However, they are very fragile, and have some very specific care needs. While they can make wonderful pets, they’re really not the top choice for a first-time reptile owner. If you do adopt one, you’ll need to do plenty of research, not just about keeping your reptilian friend healthy, but also keeping him happy. As your Marion, IA area vet, I offer some advice on chameleon ‘karma’ below.
Keep The Habitat Perfect
Chameleons have very specific environmental needs when it comes to things like temperature and temperature gradients, substrate, lighting, and humidity. (I’ll save the exact parameters for another blog.) You’ll need to monitor those conditions carefully. Even having one of these factors out of whack can make your arboreal buddy very sick very fast. Your lizard friend will also need safe plants to climb and explore. Some good ones are golden pothos, hibiscus plants, and ficus trees. Ask your veterinarian for specific advice.
Don’t Overhandle Him
Some reptiles don’t mind being handled. A few, such as bearded dragons, can actually be pretty affectionate. However, most chameleons prefer to be admired from a distance. Once your cute lizard is comfortable with you, he may not mind perching on your finger. However, you’ll need to be careful not to over-handle him.
Get To Know Your Little Buddy
There’s a learning curve to reading chameleon moods. The good news is that it’s a pretty fun one. The better you know your adorable lizard, the easier it will be to spot warning signs that something is off. If your reptilian friend is happy, he’ll be wearing his ‘relaxed’ colors. He’ll be alert and curious, and will probably enjoy watching you and exploring his habitat. He may hold his tail out with a relaxed curl, or just enjoy basking under his lamp.
Keep a close eye out for signs of illness. These include lack of appetite, shrunken eyes, changes in waste, withdrawal, weight loss, drooling, dirty vents, leftover stuck skin from sheds, lumps, swelling, stiff or strange posture, discharge, or respiratory distress. You may also notice your cute pet changing color: chameleons’ skin often gets darker or turns spotty when they feel sick or scared. Contact your vet right away if you notice anything amiss.
Do you want to learn more about chameleon care? Contact me, your local Marion, IA area veterinarian, anytime!