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.
INITIAL PURHASE INVESTMENT
1. The Chameleon:
Veiled: ~ $20-100 (depending on age)2. The Enclosure:
Panther: ~ $140-600+ (depending on locale and age)
Jackson’s: ~$50-100 (depending on CB/WC and age)
Baby screen cage: $30-60 (depending on size)3. Lighting:
*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.
UVB bulb: ~$20 for a Reptisun 5.0 linear fluorescent4. Supplements:
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
Phosphorous-free calcium without Vit D3: $6-125. Watering:
Phosphorous-free calcium with Vit D3: $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.
Spray bottle: $1-20 (I recommend a pump sprayer from a hardware store)6. Cage Décor:
Dripper: $1-15 (DIY ones will be much cheaper than store bought ones)
OR automatic misting system: ~$100
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)8. Laying bin for female chameleons
Humidity: ~$5 (also at home improvement stores. I buy ones for $4 that have both temperature and humidity)
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.
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.2. Lights:
Containers to house insects in: $5-12 (depending on how many and what size)
The UVB bulb must be replaced every 6-8 months so $20 bi-yearly.3. Supplements:
The heat bulb will also burn out and need replacing
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!