What should I do?

SJ6860

New Member
Hello!

So I need some help in making a decision. I just started working at Petco in the beginning of May and on my first week of working there, our female Jackson's chameleon gave birth to 19 babies. After a week passed, our animal care manager asked me and another girl who works there to each take four of the babies home to give them a fighting chance since they were dropping like flies at the store. I've never ever had a reptile before, so I was a little bit hesitant, but I did end up taking them and so far all four are still alive (they are currently the only survivors, the other 15 all died).

I've set up for them to go to a nature center nearby this Sunday. The dilemma I'm having right now is that I absolutely love these chameleons and I would love to keep one, but the center said they'd take all four. Right now, I've told them that I would like to keep one but that they can have the other three. I know I'm probably making some mistakes and I know the nature center would probably make a lot fewer, if any, mistakes with them, so I'm just conflicted about whether or not it is moral of me to keep one. I'm super attached to these guys and even just thinking about three of them leaving me on Sunday is tough, and I've sunk quite a bit of cash into their setup. I've bought them a screen cage, a monsoon solo misting system, three live plants, climbing branches, and the lighting stuff they need.

I'm just wondering if it's selfish of me, as a novice to all things reptile-related, to keep one when there is an educational center who would take all of them and give them a good home. I know it's up to me to make the final decision and I'm not expecting anyone here to make my choice for me. I'm just not entirely sure of what to do and I would love some outside input!

(Below is a picture of one of the babies during their outside time and a picture of my cage setup (don't worry, I've lowered the vine near the top so it's not so close to the lights!)).
 

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Graves923

Chameleon Enthusiast
https://www.chameleonforums.com/care/caresheets/jacksons/

Start here ^

If you decide to keep them, remember you will need to set up an enclosure for each chameleon since they cannot be housed together after a certain age. You will be able to cut costs by investing in a mist king mister which can easily mist 3-4 enclosures on one pump if you get the upgraded kit. Enclosures, light fixtures, food, supplements, plants are all going to be required for each enclosure. Not to mention possible vet bills.

Personally, I would suggest on keeping one for now since you have no prior reptile experience. Jacksons can be sensitive to temp, humidity and require a specific supplement schedule due to being a montane species rather than tropical.

All clutches will have a some amount of babies die off but this particular incident has an extremely high death rate.
 

SJ6860

New Member
Thanks for replying! Three of them are definitely going to the nature center. I don't have the room for four big chameleon enclosures! And I know, Petco did literally everything wrong based on what I read. They kept groups of three or four of them in those little betta fish cups with a wet fish filter pad at the bottom with a thin cloth taped over the tops of them and they didn't feed them nearly enough. My four are little eating machines! They eat so many fruit flies every day!
 

JacksJill

Moderator
Staff member
Do you want me to talk you out of it, into it or thru it?
I agree you should only keep one. Unless you have a huge heavily planted outdoor cage they don't do well together.
If you are ok with the fact that you may spend bunch of money and due to circumstances beyond your control due to the condition the mother was in when she conceived and gave birth he might not make it then I will help you as much as I can from here.
 

JoshD49

Chameleon Enthusiast
Get ready for the investment. I would be ready to take in as much knowledge as you are about to get dropped on you. There is no cutting corners with chameleons but made even more so with the conditions yours have started with. Good luck and I will be keeping tabs on this one. You are in amazing hands with @JacksJill so listen up.
 

SJ6860

New Member
Do you want me to talk you out of it, into it or thru it?
I agree you should only keep one. Unless you have a huge heavily planted outdoor cage they don't do well together.
If you are ok with the fact that you may spend bunch of money and due to circumstances beyond your control due to the condition the mother was in when she conceived and gave birth he might not make it then I will help you as much as I can from here.

Ok, I guess talk me through it first so I really know what I'm getting into? I know the cage I have them in now (a Zilla Fresh Air Screen Habitat, 18x12x20 dimensions) will not cut it for an adult chameleon. I started looking into some cages for when the chameleon gets bigger (assuming he survives...) and see that the good sized cages are around $300, which I'm alright with spending. I'm still living with my parents (I'm in college right now) so I don't have to worry about rent or food quite yet. I'm fine with spending a paycheck on a good cage, and if I couldn't afford a high vet bill for him with my savings, I know my family would help me pay for it. Basically, finances aren't my biggest concern with keeping one. I'm just worried that I'll make a husbandry mistake that the chameleon will pay for. Lighting and dusting their food is what has me being a basket case!

Also, what problems could the little guys have based on the condition of the mama chameleon? I know she doesn't have the greatest care at the store and she's been there for a LONG time. Poor girl.
 

Daesie11

Chameleon Enthusiast
Ok, first thing on your to-do list is to punch your manager in the face for asking you to take 4 baby chameleons under your care when you had no idea what you're doing! I'm so sorry they put you in that situation! With that being said though you should be proud of yourself for taking on that stress and so far successfully caring for 4 babies.
You're in good hands for husbandry questions now, I just couldn't not say something about your sorry excuse for a manager doing that to you!
 

Highway61

Avid Member
I wouldn't say OP has no idea what he's doing, I mean he/she's here now asking the right questions so on the right track for sure.

Also to the OP, I wouldn't assume the nature center has the most optimal environment for chams and after spending some time researching here, I wouldn't be surprised if your cham thrives better than the other three! Bless you for caring and finding these babes homes where they'll at least have a chance at survival.

And once you go through the trials & errors of cham keeping 101, you'll be a valued assest in steering first time keepers if you continue to work at Petbarn!
 

JacksJill

Moderator
Staff member
Sometimes the females that are in poor condition have babies that don't flourish. I just don't want you to beat yourself up if this doesn't go well and if you need a guarantee that it will I can't give it to you. One baby in continuous care has as good a chance as the ones rehomed.

You've done somethings right already. I like that you wrapped three sides of the cage these guys don't like drafts when they are little but need ventilation. That cage is fine for now for a little sprout like that. Eventually he will need an 18X18X36 but would love a 24x24x48
Here is the shopping list for starters.
Get the weasels at the store that put you in this position to discount you somethings.
1) a thermometer/hygrometer combo preferably digital - we need to know the basking and ambient temps and humidity. Basking should stay under 78˚F ambient <72. Daytime humidity 50% night time closer to 100%.
2) if that isn't a linear UVB light I see then you will need one. Zoomed 5.0 is fine raised up an inch or so they don't need much yet.
3) Not to far from now you will want bean beetles and/or pinhead crickets. Flies aren't going to hold him/her forever.
4) Repashy Calcium Plus LoD use it very lightly on half the daily feeders twice weekly just let the feeders run through it no need to coat them yet.
5) Phosphorus Free Calcium when they start eating crickets more often start once weekly then later when he is 6 mos. move to twice weekly and only one Repashy per week.

From the big DIY store
1) More plants, the more densely planted the better, 2 more the size you have in the picture or one of the next size up.
2) a 40 watt incandescent bulb to replace the red one. Look for the ones for bathroom vanities. You may need to raise it off the top of the screen they don't need much heat at this age but like it too much and dehydrate or burn. Little ones like to hang upside down on the screen.

I know there is more but that is the basics.
 

JacksJill

Moderator
Staff member
Note: on the 40 watt bulb make sure it has the larger screw base that a standard bulb fits. Don't accidentally get the ones with the tiny base.
 

SJ6860

New Member
Sometimes the females that are in poor condition have babies that don't flourish. I just don't want you to beat yourself up if this doesn't go well and if you need a guarantee that it will I can't give it to you. One baby in continuous care has as good a chance as the ones rehomed.

You've done somethings right already. I like that you wrapped three sides of the cage these guys don't like drafts when they are little but need ventilation. That cage is fine for now for a little sprout like that. Eventually he will need an 18X18X36 but would love a 24x24x48
Here is the shopping list for starters.
Get the weasels at the store that put you in this position to discount you somethings.
1) a thermometer/hygrometer combo preferably digital - we need to know the basking and ambient temps and humidity. Basking should stay under 78˚F ambient <72. Daytime humidity 50% night time closer to 100%.
2) if that isn't a linear UVB light I see then you will need one. Zoomed 5.0 is fine raised up an inch or so they don't need much yet.
3) Not to far from now you will want bean beetles and/or pinhead crickets. Flies aren't going to hold him/her forever.
4) Repashy Calcium Plus LoD use it very lightly on half the daily feeders twice weekly just let the feeders run through it no need to coat them yet.
5) Phosphorus Free Calcium when they start eating crickets more often start once weekly then later when he is 6 mos. move to twice weekly and only one Repashy per week.

From the big DIY store
1) More plants, the more densely planted the better, 2 more the size you have in the picture or one of the next size up.
2) a 40 watt incandescent bulb to replace the red one. Look for the ones for bathroom vanities. You may need to raise it off the top of the screen they don't need much heat at this age but like it too much and dehydrate or burn. Little ones like to hang upside down on the screen.

I know there is more but that is the basics.


Ok, I know I've let my self know from the beginning that they might all die so I'm prepared for that. Thanks for being truthful about it, I don't want to get my hopes too high. There's one baby I have that I've been fretting over since day one that might die. He's half the size of his three siblings, he doesn't eat as much as they do, he's always a little limp-looking and curled up as close to the heat lamp as possible, and his eyes are closed most of the time. So I'm not too sure of what to do with him or if I'm comfortable with him making the 30 minute drive the the nature center yet to a completely new environment.

Don't worry! Since I'm an employee, I get a 20% discount on all my purchases there. Thanks, I wrapped the cage on the three sides for humidity actually, but I'm glad to know it's keeping the drafts away too!
1) Can do, I'll get on that today. Is there a certain one you recommend?
2) It is a linear UVB light, sorry looking back at it that picture isn't the greatest to see the lighting
3) Ok. I know I can order the pinheads off of the store's website, so that's doable. I have no idea where I'd find those bean beetles though.
4) I've been lightly dusting the flies with Rep-Cal phosphorus-free calcium with vit.D3 powder twice a week (but yeah it never looks like it gets on more than their legs). I'll go look for the calcium plus LoD today.
5) Ok, will switch the stuff I've been using with the one from number 4.

As for more plants, I've noticed everyone seems to like the pothos and money tree I've got in there, but sometimes it looks like the leaves are a little broad and slippery for them, especially after a misting. Are there any thinner-leafed plants you would recommend? And I can really just use a regular lightbulb on them? Oh and I was wondering about that red bulb. There's a lot of conflicting stuff out there about those, are they bad for the chameleons?

And I have one more question: should the babies get the heat lamp on at night? I've read some places that say absolutely yes and others that say absolutely not, so just to be safe I've been letting them have a blue night bulb. I know a temperature drop at night is good for the adults, I just wasn't sure about the neonates.

Thanks again, this really means a lot!
 

SJ6860

New Member
I wouldn't say OP has no idea what he's doing, I mean he/she's here now asking the right questions so on the right track for sure.

Also to the OP, I wouldn't assume the nature center has the most optimal environment for chams and after spending some time researching here, I wouldn't be surprised if your cham thrives better than the other three! Bless you for caring and finding these babes homes where they'll at least have a chance at survival.

And once you go through the trials & errors of cham keeping 101, you'll be a valued assest in steering first time keepers if you continue to work at Petbarn!

Thank you! I'm so glad I found this site, everyone has been super helpful and nice so far. Thanks for saying that about the nature center, it's made me think and I'm going to ask them more about their future living situation before I hand them over. I would like to make sure they're equipped for chameleons this young and that they'll be checked on several times a day.

I'm not sure if I'm going to last more than a year at the pet store, I'm kind of disappointed with them so far...
 

SJ6860

New Member
Ok, first thing on your to-do list is to punch your manager in the face for asking you to take 4 baby chameleons under your care when you had no idea what you're doing! I'm so sorry they put you in that situation! With that being said though you should be proud of yourself for taking on that stress and so far successfully caring for 4 babies.
You're in good hands for husbandry questions now, I just couldn't not say something about your sorry excuse for a manager doing that to you!

Oh it's ok... sort of. I know the manager meant well, but I just wish it hadn't happened on my first week there. I even remember telling my manager two separate times before the chameleons happened that the only animals I wasn't really at all confident with were the reptiles. Now with having the baby chams at home and all the other reptiles at the store to take care of every time I'm working, I'm a lot better with them. Thank you though!
 

Daesie11

Chameleon Enthusiast
Oh it's ok... sort of. I know the manager meant well, but I just wish it hadn't happened on my first week there. I even remember telling my manager two separate times before the chameleons happened that the only animals I wasn't really at all confident with were the reptiles. Now with having the baby chams at home and all the other reptiles at the store to take care of every time I'm working, I'm a lot better with them. Thank you though!
As a store manager, if one of my managers did that to one of my associates, especially a new one, I would tear them a new one lol. You're awesome for having such a good look out on it though :) no better way to overcome your fears than to face them head on!
 

SJ6860

New Member
Ok, I got this light bulb to replace the red one. Does it look ok to you guys?
 

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JacksJill

Moderator
Staff member
There's one baby I have that I've been fretting over since day one that might die. He's half the size of his three siblings, he doesn't eat as much as they do, he's always a little limp-looking and curled up as close to the heat lamp as possible, and his eyes are closed most of the time. So I'm not too sure of what to do with him or if I'm comfortable with him making the 30 minute drive the the nature center yet to a completely new environment. I'm sorry to say he probably doesn't have much of a chance of survival either way. Never having seen his derpy little face I can cooly tell you to let him go to the nature center and concentrate your efforts on saving the largest one with the best appetite. I understand your feelings completely but you probably can't change his fate and only delay it.

Don't worry! Since I'm an employee, I get a 20% discount on all my purchases there. Thanks, I wrapped the cage on the three sides for humidity actually, but I'm glad to know it's keeping the drafts away too! We are really talking about the same thing drafts steal humidity and make temperatures fluctuate.
1) Can do, I'll get on that today. Is there a certain one you recommend? I prefer the ones that have the sensor on a wire and the display outside the cage. Digital is usually more accurate than analog.
2) It is a linear UVB light, sorry looking back at it that picture isn't the greatest to see the lighting Good
3) Ok. I know I can order the pinheads off of the store's website, so that's doable. I have no idea where I'd find those bean beetles though. You can probably buy a colony on craigs list or from one of the site sponsors here. Just keep moving them on to fresh dried back eyed peas keep them warm and they will continue to multiply. Don't add any water.
4) I've been lightly dusting the flies with Rep-Cal phosphorus-free calcium with vit.D3 powder twice a week (but yeah it never looks like it gets on more than their legs). I'll go look for the calcium plus LoD today. Don't give them any more of the Rep-Cal with D3 it is to strong for them.
5) Ok, will switch the stuff I've been using with the one from number 4. Phosphorus free calcium NO D3

As for more plants, I've noticed everyone seems to like the pothos and money tree I've got in there, but sometimes it looks like the leaves are a little broad and slippery for them, especially after a misting. Are there any thinner-leafed plants you would recommend? And I can really just use a regular lightbulb on them? Oh and I was wondering about that red bulb. There's a lot of conflicting stuff out there about those, are they bad for the chameleons? It won't be long before they are too big for the leaves and will just use the branches to get around. Then they will need vines or real branches. Pothos will work but if you want

And I have one more question: should the babies get the heat lamp on at night? I've read some places that say absolutely yes and others that say absolutely not, so just to be safe I've been letting them have a blue night bulb. I know a temperature drop at night is good for the adults, I just wasn't sure about the neonates. No they need to cool down to sleep and the heat will dehydrate them or make them prone to infections in the higher night time humidity.

Thanks again, this really means a lot!
 

SJ6860

New Member
Ok, I'm having a bit of an emergency if anyone can help! My smallest baby isn't doing well right now, his grip is just gone and he keeps falling all over the place. When I came back from getting the light bulb I found him on the floor of the cage. What should I do with him?
 

JacksJill

Moderator
Staff member
That bulb looks fine just raise the fixture up of the screen 3-4 inches. You don't want much heat at all. I know they love it but they don't know their limits. You don't want their basking area to go over 78˚F and you want the rest of the cage to stay in the 72˚F range. You only want a tiny area to be warmer and it doesn't need to be on 12 hours. You can use a timer to have it go on and off every half hour and only be on 10 hours or less.
 

JacksJill

Moderator
Staff member
Ok, I'm having a bit of an emergency if anyone can help! My smallest baby isn't doing well right now, his grip is just gone and he keeps falling all over the place. When I came back from getting the light bulb I found him on the floor of the cage. What should I do with him?
I'm so sorry as small as he is there is little you can do.
 
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