Should Your Child Have A Chameleon For A Pet?

If you think a cute little Chameleon with the uncanny ability to change skin color is the perfect pet, you may want to think again.

It is true, Chameleons can make wonderful pets, but only if the owner takes time to learn how to care for them properly. These little creatures have special requirements which, all too often, are not met, resulting in sickness or even premature death. If, after studying those requirements, you feel that your child is mature enough to care for a Chameleon, by all means secure one and start to enjoy the pleasures these interesting little animals can provide.

Choosing Your Chameleon:

Chameleons come in all sizes. Some are just a few inches long while others may grow to over 2 feet in length. Some even have horns and look like miniature dinosaurs. Chameleons are very delicate so try to pick the healthiest one you can find; bright eyed, able to change colors, active and alert. Females take more calcium supplementation so a male will probably be easier to care for. Choose a dealer who is knowledgeable and who has a good reputation in your area to purchase from so you can rely on him for help as you become accustomed to your new pet.

Housing Your Chameleon:

Most people are astounded to learn than a 4-inch long Chameleon needs a minimum living space at least 2 feet wide, 2 feet long, and 3 feet tall. Even larger would be better, especially if you plan to have two or more in the same cage. (When you do choose more than one, be sure there are not two males, as males tend to fight with each other.)

Chameleons, like some people, react poorly to stress. When their cage is too small for the number of Chameleons living there and when there is not enough plant life to provide hiding places, Chameleons may get stressed out and become weak. Suspect this if you notice that one or more of your pets is spending a lot of time on the bottom of the cage. The solution is a larger cage or one with more plants to give them the feeling of having plenty of privacy and spaces to hide. You can also add driftwood or large rocks for this purpose, but avoid small bits of moss, gravel or sand the Chameleon may eat by mistake.

Making Your Chameleon's Cage Comfortable:

Plants: Live plants in your Chameleon cage are very important. The plants should be sturdy enough for the Chameleon to climb and have enough foliage to provide hiding places. Ask your pet shop dealer to recommend safe plants for your pet.

Water: Most Chameleons refuse to drink water from a bowl. You should have plants in the cage and mist them several times a day with a spray bottle. The Chameleons will feed on the droplets that form on the plants. If you are away for long periods of time, you may want to arrange a bottle above the plants with holes that allow water to drain slowly on them, but check frequently to make sure water does not form puddles. Also check to see that your Chameleon actually drinks the water you provide. If they are not getting enough water, their eyes will take on a sunken look.

Food: Insects are the best food for Chameleons and can be purchased at most pet stores. The wider the variety, the better; wax worms, moths, meal worms, and crickets are just a few of the more common kinds. Ask your dealer to recommend vitamin supplements, and have some leafy green vegetables and fruits in small amounts available.

Temperature and Lighting:

Chameleon cages should be kept between 60 and 78 degrees, with no more than a 10 degree drop at night. Try to avoid prolonged temperatures over 80 degrees. Temperature variation, within the above limits, is good, so strive toward having a cool area in one part of the cage and warmer areas for basking in another.

Chameleons do best in natural sunlight and, even when you rely on fluorescent lights most of the time, you should try to provide at least an hour a week of natural sunlight for your pet. There are many types of bulbs available and your dealer can recommend the best one for your Chameleon cage.

If you decide that, in spite of the extra time and care an average Chameleon demands, you and your child are willing to provide it, you can look forward to years of enjoyment observing these unusual little creatures.

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