Observations from a noob


New Member
I thought I would start this topic just so I could point out a few observations I have made as a newcomer to Chameleon ownership in the hope it will aid future new owners or even put off some who are incapable of their care.

These are just my observations of owning a veiled chameleon so far and as a newby, should not be taken as a guide. I understand that different species require different care and different countries may have differing rules and techniques so please take this into account.

1. Expense.
When I started to look into getting a Cham I was aware that I would be shelling out a substantial amount of money to get me started. However I didnt really make a budget and add everything up which i really should have done. If I were to start over again I would deffo write a projected cost sheet which covers:

Immediate costs - Starter cage (depending on age but I am writing this from my experience of getting a 3 month old), Lighting - UVB & basking bulbs and fixtures. Monitors - temperature and humidity. Watering - Dripper and mister. Planting and habitat- real or fake plants, vines, branches. re-potting of plants using safe materials and large riverbed stones to cover soil. Cleaning - disinfectant and cleaning products, paper towels. Starter foods - pinheads, small crickets, small worms. Suppliments - calcium w/o D3, calcium with D3 and a multi-vitamin. Chameleon itself.

Upcoming costs (next 6 months) - Next cage - final adult cage or and intermediate one, Lighting - New bulbs, old ones will need replacing around this time, may need to increase power which means increased cost. Feeders - that single box of crickets which used to last 2 weeks will now only last 1 and you will want to b adding more variety to its diet . Plants and habitat - has your plant grown as much as your cham and will it fill the new cage properly, larger cage needs more branches and vines. Watering - will your hand mister be enough, what used to be a few seconds spraying will now be a few mins.

Future costs Adult cage - if not already purchased. Lighting - bulbs will always need replacing around every 6 months to be sure of effectiveness. Feeders - a constant expense so maybe its time to invest in your own colony of staple feeders. Automatons - maybe you want to invest in a misting system and lighting setup with timers and thermostats. Vets - its always a good idea to have a contingency fund for things you dont expect and vets bills can be very pricey.

2. Growth
wow, these things grow fast. I got my little guy at around 2 and a half months old and he was the size of my finger tip. within a week he was too big for the small glass tank i had him in. I wasnt planning on keeping him in it for very long but wasnt expecting him to need rehousing within a week. He has been in his larger wood and screen cage for a month now and he is already looking like he's ready for a larger one.

PS. anything without a front door is rubbish. Its a complete pain to have to move lights and things everytime you feed or clean so id say stay away from things like this as it only upsets your cham.

3. Food Unless you are producing your own then feeders are gonna cost a fair bit. I pay £2.50 for a tub of crix which I thought wasnt so bad but that works out at over £130 for a year just for the staple diet and not taking into account ordering things like worms, flies etc. Then there is also the food to feed your feeders.

4. Water Watering didnt start out too bad. I was using a small tank and it only took a few seconds spraying to keep the humidity right. Since moving to a larger cage it takes longer to mist, requires more regular mistings and cleaning up the water is a total pain as i dont have any drainage system sorted yet and just use paper towels to mop up the excess. you dont realise how much water there is until you spend 5 mins everynight just soaking up water with paper towels and its not fun either. A good drain is one of the top priorities for my new cage.

5. Time As you can guess all of the above takes time and lots of it. have you got the time to mist 3 times during the day? Have you got time to clean poop and feeders regularly with a full deep clean every few weeks? Plants need trimming and taken care of, checking for mites and other undesirables, checking fixtures and habitat accessories for security and signs of wear, all takes time and more than you imagine.

6. Research
research is vital to owning a chameleon for the first time. there are so many things you would not even consider that are so important and even experienced owners of other reptiles need to look into the creature they are getting. Its not just about getting the cage, lighting and temps right. It is also about their general behavior, attitudes and stress. Stuff like not eating, changing colours and shedding skin are all good to know and the more you know about things that are common to chameleon behavior will greatly ease your mind when the inevitable worrying begins. Never be afraid to ask questions but please spend a minute or two checking before you do as you will probably find the answer you are looking for is already at hand.

and finally, sorry this got so long winded....

7. worrying and stressFrom what I have gathered stress can be a major part to an unhealthy chameleon but it can also be the same for you. If you are stressed and constantly worrying over every aspect of your chams behavior then you will probably end up bothering it instead of just letting it get on with its life as it wishes. There are lots of horror stories and unpleasant tales but if you do your research and follow the advice of experienced owners then you should greatly reduce both your and its stress and have a much happier time together.

Well thats about all i can think of at the moment, i will continue to add to this if i can think of anything else. i hope this is useful to others and hopefully i havent made any obvious mistakes but please feel free to point them out if i have. Once again I want to say that these are just my observations and opinions and are in no way to be considered a guide.

Great thread!

It's really important for people to understand how much work owning Chameleons can be. Hopefully this thread will inspire people to really prepare themselves before taking the plunge and purchasing their first Cham.

Thanks for posting this.
Brilliant info there Stuey! Before I got my first chameleon and was doing my research, it all seemed very daunting to me, so much so that I almost didn't get her. I am so glad that I went ahead - she was so friendly and such a lovely chameleon and I loved her dearly. My wonderfully sweet Lily taught me so much and she even helped me to overcome my fear of crickets and locusts! Before I got her I wasn't even able to hold a tub of the 'nasty' food that chams eat.
Good info! You should turn this into a blog. It would be excellent to give new members that are thinking about getting a cham.
Thanks for all the feedback, i hope to keep adding to this as i continue my journey of chameleon ownership.

One thing I wanted peoples opinions on is misting, well the first misting session of the day really. I usually give Doc his first misting on a morning before i turn his lights on hoping to mimic dew forming on the leaves. I try not to spray him during this time in case he is still asleep but I am slightly concerned that this may be the wrong way to go about it. Should I turn his lights on first and give him chance to wake up properly before misting or do you think I am ok to carry on as I am.

He normally gets another 2 mistings during the day during which he usually gets a decent soaking.

Hey Miss Lily, how are your chams doing with this shocking sub-arctic weather we have had recently? Have you had any problems with getting feeders?
Hey that's a great summary!

Lots there for newbies to think about.

One thing you forgot though- there are positives about the experience. It isn't all negative or we wouldn't all be doing it.
haha you're right, i just read that back and it totally sounds negative. I am totally loving my experience with my chameleon and have never spent so much time staring at a plant, he blends in too well.
Great post, I agree there are a lot of hidden cost most don't think about. My suggestion for any one thinking of getting a chameleon is FULLY set your cage up weeks (or more) before buying. Then do every thing (minus feeding) as if he wa in the cage ie. Monitor temps, keep humidity up, cycle lights. This way you can make adjustments before hand, know if you need more equipment (light timers, auto misters, different wattage bulbs etc.)

I sorta did this but wish I had to a greater degree, it makes things a lot smoother (less stress for you and the animal) and also gives you a better ideal of the cost both of money and time involved
i think stress is a big factor and the less money you have to put into the pet the more stress you and the pet will have.
now that i have some stuff automated my concerns have dropped drastically, and im sure he's alot happier im not i his cage poking around all the time.
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