Average Cost of Owning a Chameleon

Most these figures are based on online prices for these items. In nearly every instance buying from an online source will be cheaper than buying from a pet store chain, sometimes even after shipping. I recommend buying everything you need reptile-related online or at reptile shows and looking at home improvement/hardware/dollar stores for things like light fixtures or heat bulbs.


1. The Chameleon:
Veiled: ~ $20-100 (depending on age)
Panther: ~ $140-600+ (depending on locale and age)
Jackson’s: ~$50-100 (depending on CB/WC and age)​
2. The Enclosure:
Baby screen cage: $30-60 (depending on size)
*Baby glass terrarium: $40-80 (depending on size)
Adult screen cage: $80-110 (for a 2’x2’x4’ cage)
*Adult glass terrarium: $200-300 (depending on size)
*Many will not recommend glass enclosures for chameleons but they can often times be the best choice for people in extremely dry or very cold locations as they can keep humidity and temperatures stable more easily. Terrariums, but not aquariums, still provide ample air circulation but will require more cleaning.
OR Build DIY Cage: Building your own cage can save a lot of money, and can be a great alternative for people who are handy. I build a 5' x 4' x 2.5' wooden cage for less than $50.​
3. Lighting:
UVB bulb: ~$20 for a Reptisun 5.0 linear fluorescent
Heat bulb: $2-6 for a regular household bulb (about 40-60w will usually suffice)
Light fixtures: Linear fluorescent fixture ~$10 (from home improvement store) and ~$5 spotlight fixture for heat bulb (also at home improvement stores)
An Automatic timer (strongly recommended but not required): ~$10-20​
4. Supplements:
Phosphorous-free calcium without Vit D3: $6-12
Phosphorous-free calcium with Vit D3: $6-12
Multivitamin: $6-12
*Rapashy Calcium Plus (all in one): $7-12
*The all in one is becoming more popular but does not have long term testing yet. This is what I have been testing recently but it still might be better to buy all other 3 supplements instead. The choice is yours after doing some independent research.
5. Watering:
Spray bottle: $1-20 (I recommend a pump sprayer from a hardware store)
Dripper: $1-15 (DIY ones will be much cheaper than store bought ones)
OR automatic misting system: ~$100​
6. Cage Décor:
Branches, vines, and plants: $30-100+ (depends on size of cage and how much you get, but the cage should be well filled with pathways and plant cover for your chameleon. Live plants are strongly recommended.​
7. Gauges
Temperature (I have two): ~$5 (at home improvement stores)
Humidity: ~$5 (also at home improvement stores. I buy ones for $4 that have both temperature and humidity)​
8. Laying bin for female chameleons
Females may lay unfertilized eggs several times throughout the year*. They will need a container to lay them in that is at least 12" deep and preferably 12" wide and long as well. Cost: ~$5-15 (depending what you use. I personally use a black kitchen trashcan)
Sand or organic soil to fill it with: $3-12
*There are techniques to get females to not lay eggs as often, which can help extend her life. However, a laying bin should always be available just in case.


1. Food:
Live insects (Crickets, hornworms, butter worms, super worms, silk worms, roaches, etc.): $20-60+ depending heavily on what you get and how much. However, it is often MUCH cheaper to buy online in bulk and then house your insects at home, even breeding them.
Containers to house insects in: $5-12 (depending on how many and what size)​
2. Lights:
The UVB bulb must be replaced every 6-8 months so $20 bi-yearly.
The heat bulb will also burn out and need replacing​
3. Supplements:
Will run out, so they will also need replacing.​
4. Gut loading food
Food for the feeders. A variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, and a high-quality dry gut load. Price will vary significantly with how well you gut load and what ingredients you use. Dry gut loads can be purchased on line that offer excellent nutrition or can be made at home from appropriate and healthy ingredients ground together.​
5. Vet bills
Like all animals, chameleons can get sick. It is prudent to have at least $100-200 saved away in case of an emergency. Chameleons will often times not show signs of sickness until the issue is very advanced, and by then it probably is an emergency.
Fecal tests should be done a minimum of twice a year to check for parasites. Most vets will do this for $15-20 (in my experience, at least)​

Owning a chameleon is certainly a few hundred dollars, although after the initial investment I do not find it to be too expensive unless a medical emergency comes up or I decide to redo their cages. Between insects, gut loading food, and a couple other things I might spend under $50 on 2 chameleons a month. And with breeding insects at home and doing other little things I continue to bring this figure down.

With some online savvy many of these things might be found for even cheaper on places like Amazon.com.

Let me know if I missed anything!


Excellent list. some additions for your consideraton: :)
The heat bulb has to be replaced periodically too
The insect gutload is another ongoing cost.
Temperature and humidity guage up front cost
Lighting timer (not required but certainly recommended)
Depending how you clean your enclosure, there can be some costs there (my steam cleaner was quite an expensive one-time cost, and I periodically have to replace my bottle of cheap white vinegar).
Vet bills should probably be listed. Even healthy chameleons have the cost of annual or at least occassional fecal floats
If you have a female, you likely have to buy a laying bin and sand/soil (periodically replacing the sand/soil).
If you consider your time a resource, there's a cost in that too! Time spent watching/admiring chameleon, time spent looking after bugs, time spent cleaning cages, etc.
Thank you for the comments, I knew I'd forgotten somethings. It's tricky listing everything you've purchased! I've spend so much on things like plant stands to raise plants up in cages and lots of things like that.

I'll update the list with the recommended additions.
Maybe a couple of total aproximate prices .Other than that its a great resource for new keepers researching!!
I thought about adding up totals, but there are so many variables and alternative options that I felt that it would be easier for any one interested in tallying up the specific options they would be using.
if i had seen this before i purchased my cham, i would have gotten scared. however it was well worth it! and im looking for a panther to add to my collection
It does sound scary, doesn't it? But it's true, at the end of the day to do this thoroughly you need a lot of things. At least in my situation and for how I do things.
Thank you!
Ah if only we got paid for the amount of hours we spend on them! But it varies so much from one person to another that it would be impossible to quantify an average. But I could make a blog about what a possible schedule looks like on an average day.
This is a very good blog! I will use it to refer a new potential buyer when my babies are born. :) a lot of people don't realize how quickly the cost of a chameleon adds up!
if i had seen this before i purchased my cham, i would have gotten scared. however it was well worth it! and im looking for a panther to add to my collection
They have them at Largo, Florida 8wks. old at the reptile place.
Great job. I would highly suggest this forum to anyone interested in owning a chameleon. Although, this is probably at almost the minimum- I'd say I've spent up to $1200 on enclosures (baby and adult combined) plus the plants and mistking.
I believe I calculated around $500 per habitat. I'm glad I rounded up in my calculations because if I'm going to be getting a chameleon I'll want those extra funds for whenever necessary.

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