My Pet Shop Experience Today

Prism Chameleons

Established Member
Hi everyone,

I wanted to share an experience I had today at a pet shop. I needed to go in for some supplies for my chameleons, and this place offers some competitive prices in lighting hoods, etc., and so periodically I will go in to get what I need.

After I put what I needed in my shopping cart, I decided to visit their reptile section to see what they had. I have to tell you, that everytime I see these reptiles at a pet shop my heart skips a beat with the tiny cages they have, etc. But in any case, there was one small aquarium cage that had baby veiled chameleons, priced at $74.99 a piece. There were two inside the aquarium. One of them was evidently very sick. Barely holding on to a vine, dehydrated, and sleeping (which no chameleon should be sleeping during the day). One look and I knew he was ill. I stopped a passing worker and said to him, "Hey, do you know you have a vieled in this cage sick?" The young guy (not the boss) said, "yeah I know... I keep telling the reptile manager he needs help."

So off I went in search of the reptile manager. I stopped him and told him about the sick vieled. He goes, "yeah, I know about it and I'm trying to treat him.... but you never know where these reptiles come from and what they might bring with them." I told him that the least he could do was separate him from the one who seemed healthy that was in the same cage. His response was, "well, you gotta do what you gotta do."

Anyway, I wanted to share this story to anyone who is considering buying a chameleon from a pet store. Granted, not ALL pet stores are like this, however, what the manager said was correct about how they receive their stock. They never know what they are actually getting, where it came from, nor what condition they may be in. Also, this lack of caring on his part wasn't probably so much that he was heartless, but rather that he had so many different reptiles and jobs do to with running his department that proper care was difficult to provide.

Might chew on that for a while everyone, before deciding where to purchase your next pet.:(
Same thing happened to me today

I went into a Petsmart today looking for supplies, as I am beginning to try and accumulate a habitat for my upcoming chameleon(probably a couple months from now) and I looked at the sub-adult veiled (99.99$)they had in a small cage, glass of course, with the dimensions being about 14" L 8" W and maybe 12" tall. There was a little piece of vine(the kind that seems like it would go in the bottom of a fish tank) taped to the back of the aquarium. There was also a plastic curved stick with about a one inch diameter that went across the cage. I saw the poor little fellow stuck in between the bulky plastic stick and the glass of the aqaurium, I watched in horror for a couple of minutes, trying to flag down anyone who could open it and help it. Finally the reptile department guy came over, I asked him if he knew his chameleon was supposed to be getting some airflow, if he knew why the humidity gauge read below 30%(Dessert) and I also asked if they misted him ever because the only source of water he had was a small reptile bowl, dirty. Also, the wood chip substrate was wet and stagnant, with white mold growing on some parts of it, no crickets to be found. I told the guy(kid rather) as much as I could and he said he would talk to his manager, but I will follow up with it tomorrow just to make sure. DOES THIS SEEM LIKE THE NORM IN BIG NON-SPECIFIC PETSTORES??? Also, he was a dark brown, and the guy said he stayed that color, I know this might be a dumb question, but, is that normal? Do chams stay brown for extended periods? Just asking cause like I have said, I have never had one. Thanks for the concern Jenna!!!
Where i live there is a pet store around the block it is a reptile store and i entered it to see if they had some supplies for my veiled cham. They seemed to have everything with their chameleons under control. They were kept in seperate cages and had a misting system in an open air reptarium.

I complimented the manager on how his store is pretty much the only one i would consider buying another cham.
Its to bad only a couple pet stores know how to take care of such beautiful animals.
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Can you contact Animal Control in your city to investigate this store? I'd call and file a complaint report so someone comes down and checks out the place to make sure every reptile is housed appropriately. Maybe if they get enough citations they'll make sure to keep things in proper order for the reptiles they're trying to sell.
I'm not sure I have ever seen a pet store that cared for their chameleons properly. There is a pet store in my area that always has a 20 gallon aquarium full of baby veileds scratching at the glass sides. The last time I visited they had a sub-adult panther in one of those 8-10 gallon octagon aquariums - very disturbing. I don't plan to visit them anymore, and most of my local friends feel the same way. There are pet stores out there that do well at caring for their animals, but I think they are the exception.

I strongly agree that people should look at purchasing chams directly from respectable breeders instead of pet stores (unless the store is one of those few exceptions). By purchasing from a pet store that practices poor husbandry skills, you are just adding incentive for the store to buy more chams. Successful breeders can also lessen the demand for wild animals, providing healthy captive bred animals instead.
I went into my local Petsmart today for a new Digital Thermometer (which rocks :D) and whatever else catches my eye and I looked at their reptiles. They had a sub-adult Jackson (for $99.99) in a small glass class enclosure, which had few things for him to climb on, as well as a plastic container with an airstone in it (For humidity I guess :confused: ) and the Cham itself looked pretty healthy although I couldn't see him very well. I also went in to Petco before, which didn't have nothing I needed, and there reptiles didn't look too healthy.
Uninformed Buyers

It is too bad there are uninformed buyers out there, that is the only reason the big pet stores are able to move their chams because no one that reads these stories, or know how chams are supposed to be kept, would buy one from them. Also, I am going to follow up with the Petsmart I went to to see if there was any change, if not, I will look into reporting them. I mean, if an animal is not kept as they are supposed to be, that is considered cruelty in the eyes of law enforcement right? Or does the animal actually have to be dying or emaciated.
pet shops like any other persons have choices as to where they buy their chams to ensure their healthy and they also have choices to learn about their care so keep up the complaints people and like one of you said dont hesitate to call animal welfare people to ensure these pet shops take good care of their animals!!!
petsmart is horrible.. ,, im always bitching at the idiots that work at both petsmart/petco(i shop there for my dogs/not my chams)..but really its the management to blame..bottom line is they DONT CARE...

we have a few pet shops here in az that do house correctly though..
Ugh. Don't get me started on PetSmart. I once saw a fully grown male veiled housed in the following conditions:

- A glass terrarium about 2 feet long and maybe a foot and a half tall. Suitable for a small bearded dragon, maybe.

- Sand!

- A water dish.

- A piece of driftwood with a fake vine wrapped around it.

- One of those "2-in-1" UV heat lights.

I had to search for someone who "dealt with the reptiles" for about 15 minutes, and upon calling her attention to it, she insisted that he liked drinking out of the water dish, that the light was more than sufficient, and that sand is a perfectly suitable substrate for a chameleon. Oh, and that as long as he had a piece of wood to sit on, it would satisfy his desire to cling to something. I was disgusted. I told her that everything was pretty much the complete opposite of what it was supposed to be, and her reply was that every chameleon is different and he seems to be happy the way he is right now.
I used to go to petsmart for crix but i found a better deal at Pet Supermarket, so now i only go there.And pet supermarket is obviously a cheap store but what i noticed is they take better care of the reptiles than petsmart which kind of suprised me since most of us would think a well-off business like petsmart would take better care of their animals.Luckily there was a reptile expo here and i bought my veiled from FL Chams.
I agree pet stores are clueless or careless about most animal care. I do wonder though how most of us had our first experience with reptiles. I had an anole as a child (they called them Chameleons back then) and then about 20 years ago i saw the coolest little green (baby iguanas) creatures and bought two. They brought me great joy (14 years)but as always the care they needed was a discovery by me not from the store owner. It has only gotten worse with the mom and pop stores being replaced by the big box monsters but i think would i even own a reptile if i had not seen them in these poorly run stores. I hope the future holds better acess for all to well cared for pets. That is why i attend reptile shows and only purchase there but how else can the we expose other curious minds to the pets we love?????

Its very depressing, and it makes you wanna punch the shizzle out of the owners:mad: Its just ridiculous,and i know the other lizards are treated like crap too,i just cant tell because I dont know much about them. But im glad I bought from jenna tho:)
I'm pretty sure the individual pet stores don't even have much say in what animals they carry. A more likely scenario is the bigwigs at corporate say "You have x amount of cages and x animals to house. Make it happen, or you'll lose your precious $8.50/hour! Got it, chump?" So I don't think it's entirely fair to call the employees idiots and other names when they're most likely just doing what they're told. The decision-makers of companies like Petsmart, etc. are the ones we should take aim at. As far as contacting the authorities... well, what makes you think they'd know any better than the pet store employees? If you don't know anything about chameleons, you'd think a small glass terrarium would be perfect for these relatively little, slow-moving lizards. "Stick? Check. Water dish? Check. So sorry to have wasted your time, Petsmart. Clearly you take excellent care of your animals!"

I'm no saying not to try though, just that it may take many more voices than you have just to get anything done.
We bought our chameleon from a pet store, not knowing any better. We know she is a tough girl becuase she some how survived 6 months in that store before we bought her. Canadain pet stores are unbelievably over priced i have found out. We paid 180$ for our Veiled, too bad i didn't know that they usually are sold for less that 100.
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