Chameleons – do they make good pets?
Chameleons do have a reputation for being difficult to keep, which is not always true. Certainly, we wouldn’t recommend them as a first time reptile pet, but once you’ve got your head around the concept of controlling heat, light and humidity in an appropriately sized space you’re most of the way there. The big difference with chameleon care is that they can be rather delicate if their care isn’t quite up to scratch; if a chameleon starts to look a bit off colour they need to see a vet immediately. They can deteriorate at such a fast rate that you don’t have time to ‘give it a couple of days and see if it improves’.
However, this scenario can be completely avoided with a little forward planning. Most chameleons are forest species of lizard that require fairly high levels of humidity, although here in the UK our background levels are fine as long as they are supplemented by a good spray of water at least once a day. If you work long or irregular hours, there are several misting and fogging systems on the market that will do the job for you, and can be pre-programmed to operate several times a day. Chameleons are very reliant on the right kind of lighting, and with the advent of the modern high output T5 fluorescent systems it is finally possible to offer these amazing animals high enough levels of UVB to keep them in good health for their whole lives.
We only stock UK captive bred chameleons – which we usually buy direct from the breeder, to minimise the stress the youngsters go through before they reach their final homes – and we’re careful to only stock species that make good pets.