Large Chain Pet Stores and Chameleons


Avid Member
In my area there are two large chain pet stores, which as far as I can tell are present throughout the US. Both of which have had a glut of Chameleons lately, of which I always have to go and check out when I'm purchasing cat supplies. I seldom if ever purchase herp supplies, and rarely fish supplies as I like to support local specialty stores whenever possible.

As most of us are aware the larger chain stores generally do a poor job of chameleon keeping and care. To the point where most of us don't bother to even say anything any longer and just walk out of the stores under the assumption nobody really cares.

Come to find out at least one of the two DO actually care and are genuinely making efforts to improve care.

I was in a local chain store (Petco; mods feel free to remove name) and saw the most horrid chameleon enclosure with two juvenile / baby veiled chameleons in it. With at least the following issues:

1: No suitable climbing plants. Larger drift wood and small plastic plants.
2: There was a big dripper in the middle of the cage about 2 or 3 inches above a bowl to catch the water leaving no real room to get water.
3: There were some mealworms in the water.
4: The plastic plants were covered in feces, about half of which had yellow urates.
5: The ambient was around 90 / 95 degrees F
6: The RH was below 15%
7: I also noted the enclosure was not of the appropriate size and type (I think was wrong about that though)

Either way I seriously considered "rescuing" at least one of them but I really don't want a veiled and am opposed to rescuing so I did the only thing I felt appropriate and sent sent a note on their website's feedback area.

I explained in detail what I saw and why I felt it was bad. I did not attack, or say anything rude, I was rational, polite, concise and to the point (unlike this post :p).

So here is the part I was pleasantly surprised by. A couple of days after I sent the note the GM from the store I lodged a complaint about called and left a message explaining corrective actions were taken and for me to call him back to discuss further. I wasn't able to get a hold of him, but also the district manager for the entire region called me today who I was able to speak with today.

I spoke with him for about 30 minutes and was impressed by the overall conversation.

Apparently each store is inspected at least twice a month by the region, one person who is in charge of animal care, and him who is in charge of the stores in the district. They check on the animal care among other things. His monthly inspection was just 2 days after my visit and he told me he had noticed some of the problems I indicated and initiated changes at that time. (He didn't indicate exactly which issues.) But he did tell me they changed the following:

- The RH was the first issue which was a problem for all the tropical herps. They now require the enclosures to be checked hourly and misted as needed.
- The big dripper was also inappropriate in it's location and a new set up was initiated outside of the enclosure set up to drip on the plants and provide a better drinking source.
- The dirty cage should never be an issue and must have been a lapse. I personally think it was because the young Veileds were on the lid (as young veileds often are especially when there is no good place to stand) and whoever was supposed to clean the cages in the morning didn't know what to do.

The things he didn't understand to be a big problem (or might not really be)
- The water dish he acknowledged would not be used but is only in the cage as a requirement so people don't think they aren't given water. This water dish is kept shallow and clean so as to not pose a threat. When I saw it dirty I can only assume this is or should be an anomaly.
- The temperature is monitored by a sensor from a computerized system that alerts them when there is an issue. I assume the cheap dial thermometer in the enclosure was inaccurate or just placed beneath the heat bulb.
- He also felt that once the big dripper was removed the enclosure is indeed of appropriate size, and he also let me know there is ventilation in the bottom of their enclosures providing air flow. In my estimation this is likely correct.
- Finally the inappropriate cage furniture, he felt it was fine and didn't really understand my explanation as to why it wasn't. There was obviously a communication issue of some sort. (I was getting urgent work e-mails and had to cut it short)

He also told me to feel free to notify him or the store manager if I see any further issues as they really are committed to animal care. I know that's a line but judging by the responses I kinda believe him.

I also asked him about their care sheets as he told me it was part of what they use for their guidelines and educating those who purchase their animals. I later looked at it and found a few issues I think I'll call later in the week.

I'm not a super keeper by any means but a lot of this stuff isn't rocket science. I think their care sheet isn't half bad but has a few things I didn't agree with. I think red lights at night are not good and not really needed, I think moss is bad from some of the stories of impaction I've read here...

So the main point here is when you see something bad at one of the big chain stores it might just be worth your time and effort to lodge a polite, concise complaint about what you saw and why it is bad. At least some will be receptive, and you never know, some chameleon lives might just be saved and education on keeping these wonderful animals might get better dispersed.
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New Member
Nice statement. I always hope that them little ones are going to be gone and at somebody's house with an appropriate cage setup within a few days :(
This is fantastic. I will say as a former Persmart employee I can tell you what policy is and if the animals in the care of the store aren't properly cared for it is definitely the fault of the store and the employees not of policy. I saw the store I worked for spend $3000 to save a turtle that they then just adopted out for free. You can adopt any animal that was ever sick or had a deformity for free from petsmart (I got my Guinea pigs from there). They do their best with that they can. Most pets stay in the stores less than 3 weeks. Which ultimately isn't very long.
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