How much money is enough?

DanSB

Avid Member
I often hear people say if you can't afford X you shouldn't have a chameleon. This happens most with vet visits but applies to other husbandry issues as well.

I can have a nice, complete chameleon set up for under 100 dollars US (all currency will be in USD). I can find a lovely captive bred Cham for under 100 bucks. For under 30 a month I can feed a properly supplemented well rounded diet.

How much does a "responsible" keeper set aside in their finances for emergencies, feeding, new bulbs, vet visits etc.

My thought is a bulb every 6 months, food, 100 bucks or so for equipment / food emergencies, 200 a year for vet check ups, and maybe 3 to 5 hundred for emergency vet visits. So adding in food a responsible keeper could be expected to have up to 1,000 a year to spend on their chameleon.

This is not realistic if there is a single expensive vet visit.

What is generally accepted to be a responsible annual amount available?

Should one only get a chameleon if they have thousands available for vet bills?
 

Simon1986

New Member
That's an interesting question. I didn't realise the difference in price between reptiles and other animals like cats and dogs. Its a considerable gap. I had to get an emergency history tony for my female yemen which would have cost £400. Fortunately the other vet had quoted £270 o. A check up a few months before. But considering to spay a dog it's just over 100 there's a big difference, I know they're smaller and it's more delicate etc etc but still money is money to some people. Anyway I paid it with no regrets or hesitations.

More than whether people should be allowed them is one thing but more info on their potential (unpredictable) costs and making people aware would be a better place to start. I had no idea I'd get that bill and if it was 400 it would be a different story. Purely due to the amount, not the will to do it. But that's a different story
 

DanSB

Avid Member
That's an interesting question. I didn't realise the difference in price between reptiles and other animals like cats and dogs. Its a considerable gap. I had to get an emergency history tony for my female yemen which would have cost £400. Fortunately the other vet had quoted £270 o. A check up a few months before. But considering to spay a dog it's just over 100 there's a big difference, I know they're smaller and it's more delicate etc etc but still money is money to some people. Anyway I paid it with no regrets or hesitations.

More than whether people should be allowed them is one thing but more info on their potential (unpredictable) costs and making people aware would be a better place to start. I had no idea I'd get that bill and if it was 400 it would be a different story. Purely due to the amount, not the will to do it. But that's a different story

For us in the US 400 Pounds is about 600 USD, a lot of money!

For me it isn't so much the will to pay but being able to pay and meet other obligations. A person making a median income in the US living an average life simply could not afford more than a few unexpected vet visits.

This is one of the reasons I ask what reaonsible / responsible is. Could we proclaim anyone not in a higher income bracket is not a responsible keeper? Should Cham keeping be only for those with money?
 

VigilantSpearIII

New Member
You know what? I hate when people say that. "If you cant afford blah blah, then you shouldn't have blah blah!" Insert kids, car, house, girlfriend, chameleon for blah blah. Really? Aside from sounding like an arrogant elitist, its really not as simple as making an "all-inclusive" budget from day one.

**Obviously if you are a student surviving on Ramen and living in a dorm, then a chameleon is probably not for you at this particular time.

Where there is a will, there is a way! Cant afford a cage? Try free range with just a tree and a pot. Cant afford a mister system? 1 buck squirt bottle from the Dollar Store. Crickets got you down? Breed em in a bucket.

Vets are the tricky part here. I think that the greatest way to prepare, is not by setting aside a magical number of cash, but to stay on top of the game by prepping with knowledge. Still, if a vet is unavoidable, well then sometimes we just need to bite the bullet. I know it is hard and tough decisions need to be made at some point, but to avoid the chameleon hobby just because you don't have $300-500 a year set aside in vet funds? I will say this, when I started with chameleons, I did not have much money. I did not have any saving, I did not have the niftiest gear. Most chameleons don't see vets for serious issues, it is the rare cases where an inexperienced and "unprepared" owner makes mistakes or a chameleon is purchased already sick, when a vet gets involved. I think that if you have enough cash to offer the basic minimum care to start, then go for it. We need more people keeping chameleons as pets, we need more people learning about their requirements. Chances are that if someone is on this forum, reading about chameleons, they are already miles ahead of those unprepared chameleon owners. The people learning about chameleons on this forums don't need the negative attitude that arises from: "If you can't afford X than you shouldn't have a chameleon!"

Apologies OP, I'm not sure if you agree or disagree, but this is my point of view. Its just my opinion, not a law...yet.
 

Simon1986

New Member
Agreeing with most of the above. I had no clue when I bought my first. Was in a pet shop and the guy said how easy they are... and they're no trouble... So you put your faith in them and buy one. Not saying I regret it because I don't but I didn't know this site existed till my vet said as she has parsons chameleons.

But as for the question should only rich people have them then I'd say no not at all. Should only people dedicated to looking after them then that's a more suitable answer.

Although this happens with all animals some dogs get bought at Christmas then abandoned because people don't know what it means to be a responsible owner.

Again I think it's more important to educate people on chameleons, looking after them and their potential hazards which I must admit I learnt 80% on here. Then people can have their own choice
 

DanSB

Avid Member
I agree with both responses above.

I am in between chameleons. Spending time researching and improving my knowledge of husbandry. I really want to get a group of Senegals and start a breeding group. But the first vet visit for more than a fecal float would be more than I am really able to spend at the moment. So if one has a major issue and instead of treating I euthanize am I irresponsible?

I do think there is a line at which one is not being responsible, but that line to me is the expense of providing good husbandry. That can be insanely inexpensive but requires lots of work.

Perhaps I can do a more detailed post later regarding my views on the ethics of vet care, but mainly now I do want to hear about what a person is "expected" to shell out to be a responsible keeper. It does seem vet bills are the biggest wildcard here.
 

Psychobunny

Avid Member
One cham, no big deal, anyone can afford, 6 chams is a massive money pit
which needs to be fed constantly :eek:

Much of the cost can be cut by breeding your our feeders.

Roaches are the easy ones, cricks and silkies can be tricky.

It's the outragous shipping charges that really kill ya, and has forced a lot
of people out of the hobby of reptile keeping.

You should also have an 'invisable, emergency" savings account that you put a little money in every payday and just forget you have it.
This is for the unexpected vet bills :(
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
I think $30.00 a month is on the low side for feeders even for one Cham. One pod of hornworms or silkworms a month is over $20.00 shipped. To feed a variety of feeders would cost more than $30.00 unless maybe you raised the feeders and that's allot of work and way too much food for one or two chameleons. Vet visits and meds can be expensive too and in my opinion you shouldn't have a pet of any kind that you are not going to take full responsibility for and that inculudes going to the vet and regular fecals.
 

absolutbill

Chameleon Enthusiast
To me I hate the term, "set aside" in regards to the money spent. Now, I'll start off by saying that my husband and I are childless by choice, and as such we are able to save our money but also spend it on things that interest us - such as chams and diving. That being said when my cham had to go to the vet he went. There was no question, he went. He was part of the family and part and parcel of the responsibility I undertook when I bought him.

Do people have an emergency fund "set aside" when they drop their cell phone in a toilet? I work in a hotel, it happens far more frequently than you'd think. No, they just go out and buy a new one or get that one fixed because it's essential to their lives. To me, a cham's vet visit should be the same way.

I will admit that I do not do regular check-ups for my chams. Instead, I monitor them closely, as well as their poop, to give me a good idea of how they are feeling. If something is amiss then I go to the vet with them. Don't mean to stir up any bad feelings, that's just how I live and so far I've had great success with my chams. :eek:
 

Olimpia

Biologist & Ecologist
This is an expensive hobby, absolutely. I've found lots of ways to get the same supplies I need for much less and try to breed a wide variety of roaches and worms, but it's still a costly hobby. Especially when you have more than one chameleon.

A person should always consider a vet visit a real posibility, as even the best keepers can't avoid all health issues. Most of my vet visits are due to new animals that come with issues, but for example, my panther broke his tail and needed to have it amputated. It happened under my watch but it was an accident out of my control, and to the vet we went to take care of it.

I also don't have money put aside, but I do make money myself now and have parents with the means to contribute. I certainly take care of my guys' issues and give them a comfortable life with everything they need.

As anyone who knows me will know, I've spent months and months nursing a chameleon back to health. And when my dog needed several thousand dollar surgery (twice, in 1 month), I paid it. But to be honest, if one of my chameleons needed $1,000 for something serious, I would opt to euthanize. I'm happy to pay it for my dogs, who are my friends and family (Michelle, I'm also childfree by choice) and who will hopefully be with me another 10-15 years, but never for a chameleon. I love them, and go to great lengths for them, but I have a very hard time justifying that for a reptile that doesn't know me from Adam. Personally.
 

javsto

New Member
Vet costs aside, I try to keep costs down to a minimum with my three chams. I always try to buy in bulk when it comes to non perishable supplies either from discount websites like Ebay/Amazon or straight from vendors via the bi-annual reptile show in my area which I do end up saving on both sales tax and shipping. I have a couple of good local pet shops that sell a thousand piece box of crickets (any size)for $20. Hornworm pods of minimum 15 worms for $10 and $5-$10 for vitamins and water cubes/dry cricket food. So with a little experience and shopping around I can save a butt load of cash by shopping around instead of going to large chain stores or buying from an internet website and put those savings towards more vet visits or an emergency/just in case savings fund.

When I purchased my first vieled male cham, I took a copy of the complete cage setup from FLCHAMS, the 18x18x36 kit, and took it to the store and had them set me up with the same kit and it cost me all together with the baby cham just over $250 and I had visited about 6 different stores in my area before I found this one store that ended up saving me half of what the other stores where quoting me at that time.
 

DanSB

Avid Member
I think $30.00 a month is on the low side for feeders even for one Cham. One pod of hornworms or silkworms a month is over $20.00 shipped. To feed a variety of feeders would cost more than $30.00 unless maybe you raised the feeders and that's allot of work and way too much food for one or two chameleons. Vet visits and meds can be expensive too and in my opinion you shouldn't have a pet of any kind that you are not going to take full responsibility for and that inculudes going to the vet and regular fecals.

Your right, 30 a month for feeders is not really enough for the average Panther / Veiled and not even close for a Parsons. My frogs get a good varied diet for less than 10 including fruit flies, crickets, and dubia nymphs. I have a dubia colony and everything to breed crickets though I don't at the moment because I only use a few hundred a month. A DIY type with their own cricket and roach colonies can easily for under 30 a month. I should have been more specific. I also have a good local feeder source so shipping isn't an issue.

I agree regular fecals and watching is important. But where does it it move from bein responsible to irresponsible?

I see a lot of posts here where people are advised they need to go back to the bet again and again when they say they don't have the money. And when it is obvious their chameleon is not likely to make it long term without expensive issues.

I personally am torn. Part of me agrees humane euthanization is a good option when vet bills get too high like Olimpia said. Another part thinks we should be obligated to do everything possible since we took the responsibility of a life. I would wager over 90% of keepers have an amount where humane euthanization is their option.

This leads to my original question- how much is enough?

Well rounded healthy diet,uvb bulbs, regular fecals and minor treatments? Or do we add expensive vet treatments as a luxury, or a necessity for normal keepers? If we do that many good keepers will be priced out and this becomes a hobby for dinks and people in higher income brackets only.
 

Saldarya

Established Member
on the topic of vet bills, regardless of whether we like it or not, 98% of keepers are going to base their level of vet care on the original cost of the animal. If they spent $125 on a Cham (average price across the three commonly kept species) they are not going to spend much more than that on vet bells, especially precautionary or wellness checks.

This is going to increase for those keepers who are either minors or dependent on others financially where as much as they may want to, they are not making the choice on the large costs of vet bills.

Point is, a quick office visit with possibly some Baytril prescribed for $75, will likely happen, once...

$300+ for office visit, x rays, meds, etc......cheaper to buy a new animal.

Please understand, This is not my personal perspective, Hell, I take mine in if I have even an inkling that something my be wrong. But I have a vet who charges me a discount rate due to my business (reptiles, birds, dogs, etc..) and financially speaking, it does not impact me.

This is however not the normal perspective on keeping exotic pets, again, especially when replacement costs is cheaper.

Understand that most people who are on this forum, or posting in this thread, are the top 1-5% in the care of these animals. Ours is not a true representation of the hobby.

Now, to comment on your original question.

If there was one piece of advice I would give to new owners, is to have a lil vet fund set aside. $100 to start, this will cover an office visit and a regiment of meds for the most common ailments. If you have this fund, you will be much more apt to go when the problem first presents, and not wait around because you 'don't have the money' making it worse and costing more.

Should it be some kind of pre requisite, even morally, of course not. Again, different people keep these animals for different reasons. the majority of us attach a moral and ethical piece to it, but again, that doesn't mean we are more justified in keeping them than those that see them as a novelty, just more conscientious.

regards

Bobby
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
I love my animals, they are all part of our family and we treat them equally as far as vet care. Most of my pets have been free or a very minimal shelter/shipping charge but that doesn't mean they are not going to receive the medical care that they need be it hundreds or thousands of dollars. No other animal could ever replace one of my pets. My chameleons have always had regular check ups just like my dogs and cats did. They have had more fecals than any other pet I've ever had. When they get up in age they have allot of the same health issues that we do. I've even had a couple young ones with major health issues and if any amount of money could have saved them it would have been done. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do everything possible for these little guys and not that it matters but my chameleons do know me.
 
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DanSB

Avid Member
I appreciate all these honest and thoughtful responses.

But I am still left to wonder at what level of disposable income can one responsibly keep a chameleon?

Should I take Jann's approach I will not financially be able to own one for many years. Olimpia's approach to me is realistic. I think if there was an at any cost general moral obligation the entire hobby would elevate in care but become very small.

In my estimation Jann is correct ethnically and morally. But, and there is always a but, as falls the lot of most ideals they remain the property of few and the example of many.

I think we all need to ask ourselves what are our chameleons to us? Livestock, pets, companions, curiosities for display, friends, or family? To know how much is enough we must first answer that question for ourselves. But I do think no matter the answer there is a minimum level that must be maintained to support general parasite free health which I think is about 100 a month usd.
 

Olimpia

Biologist & Ecologist
Don't get me wrong, I'm not swayed by the purchase amount of the chameleon/animal. The Meller's I've been trying to nurse back to health was free, and my favorite panther is neither expensive nor desirable in many circles. So I'm absolutely not saying don't spend $300 if the chameleon was only $150 because you could replace it twice, not by any means.

On one hand, a chameleon that needs $1,000 in medical bills in one sitting is probably a chameleon that is not going to survive, regardless. I've never approached anything near that even with surgery and post-op pain meds and antibiotics, so I'm comfortable that in the vast majority of emergencies the price is not something that I'll have to struggle with.

But while my chameleons are pets that I care for very well, with a lot of money, effort, creativity, and time put into their set-ups and their needs, they're not family. I'm not going to put them down over a simple infection, but when we're talking about spending as much in one sitting on a single chameleon as I do in rent for a 2 bedroom apartment, I have a very hard time justifying it. And in that circumstance, a quick, humane euthanasia is still a kind end. They're not suffering, sick, or wasting away, in my honest opinion.

So to get back to your question, Dan, it's hard to say what your minimum disposable income should be. From what I've spent so far, it should probably be thousands, not hundreds.
 
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