What would you do?

Brad Ramsey

Retired Moderator
Okay I have a self-imposed dilema.
Today I was at Petsmart buying cat food (which takes about an hour because I look at everything anytime I am in any pet store) and they had two Jackson's chams there.
I do not think buying a cham from Petsmart is a very good idea and I am appalled at how they are kept there.
I have also read about people who "rescue" chameleons from retailers like this only to end up broken hearted when the animal passes away or has to go through some intense medical therapy...MBD, dehydration, parasites, extreme stress etc.
As bad as I feel for these animals I try to be sensible and level headed, looking past the moment and try to realize what I would be in for.
However, despite the fact they were in a very small aquarium with only a dish for water, substrate on the floor and housed together....they seemed quite healthy and (here's the tough part) the female was very gravid.
She is so stressed out by being in this tiny space with that big male marching about. She was bobbing and weaving and trying to defend her position on a tiny manzanita branch. She never took her eyes off him the whole time I observed them.
I addressed the problem with the young man working in that department and his response was: "yeah....she's pregnant."
I can't stop thinking about her. And you know what that can lead to.
So, I would love your opinions, advice and perhaps some specifics concerning gravid Jackson's.
Usually my head tells me no and I listen, but this time even my head is saying: "well....."
I have been in the same situation.. and I bought him. He is healthy now.. small for his age.. but healthy.. and i don't regret it. On another note though.. be ready for a heart break... and lots of hard work.. I had to force feed my chameleon twice a day for 3 months.. he couldn't shed.. he was weak.. it was rough.. but rewarding.. but it could have turned out for the worse

First, read Saving a Chameleon - The Pitfalls of Impulse Purchases By Allison Walker if you haven't, though I'm betting you have based on your comment?

But really, why save a chameleon by buying it, when you can save a chameleon by educating the keepers. And so...

Take photos. Don't make a big production about it. Dumbass working the department wont give you any hassle about it.

Secondly, ask to speak with the Store Manager. If he is not there, return until you catch him. Ask the staff when he is supposed to be coming in, as the issues you need to discuss with him are very important. WHEN you confront them, do it out in the store, right in front of the chameleons- this puts him out of his comfort zone and you in control. If hes out, go grab some prints of the photos you snapped. If any of the chameleons die, they will serve as proof.

Take with you printouts from multiple websites of the care of any animals that you are disputing their care on. Give these to him, point out all the errors- AND explain what makes it so obvious.

Also, Petsmart should have a book section. Ask him to follow you to it. Grab one of the chameleon books that shows Jacksons. He is selling his own care sheet in essence but ignoring its guidance.

If they are not turning a new leaf and opening up to what you are saying, then cut the discussion with saying something along the lines of: "I'll contact you again with a Carbon copy to your head office and Management of PS Reptile dept. Division."
I have read Ms. Walker's article.
You offer very good advice for all of us who encounter this situation and want to do something about it (and I'm betting we all do).
I have such passion for all animals and how they are cared for that I will not hesitate to do any of the things you suggest.
I am returning to the store tomorrow and will do just that.
But, I am also considering rescuing this girl.
I have terrible pictures in my mind of her giving birth in that store enclosure and the babies being consumed, or worse, her being sold to someone who doesn't know the first thing about taking care of her let alone the babies.
I know, I know, I know all the problems with the "compassion" I am feeling.
This is why I never visit the Humane Society!

By buying you are only giving reason for the store to sell more chameleons since they can getr away with it. You can, if you are on good rapport with the manager, to take in the female till she gives birth and then return her. The Manager, if he takes your feelings seriously and is prepared to do something, must understand that with proper care of the babies, and the ~3 months that they need to be kept and grown up before SAFE sale, that they would have eaten all their worth in food and store supplies that they write off to care for them.
Last edited:
Very good point.
I will present that to the manager as well as proposing better husbandry for the chameleons they choose to keep there.
I wish they would not offer them at all.

Happens to me all the time...

but I resist the urge to buy since I know this will only encourage the store to sell more of them. I recently watched a Mellers waste away in a local reptile shop. Mellers have no place in a store since thier watering needs can not be met in your average store and the customer traffic stresses them out. I have since then stopped going to that store because the last time I went there were TEN dead baby iguanas laying on the floor of a reptarium that also housed veileds and carpets. I was appauled. I have to purchase all my feeders online now, since the only other reptile store is 45 minutes away.
I have to purchase all my feeders online now, since the only other reptile store is 45 minutes away.

Hah! I buy all of mine online too because I refuse to purchase anything from the two nasty petstores in my town. Plus, who really wants to pay a dollar for 10 crickets? I am so excited that PetCo is coming to town.. a new place that I am not (yet) disgusted with!

Petsmart has 15 days money back deal, what you do is buy that female, have her pay egs, and then take her back :) YOu keep the egs :)
How about that???
If we are talking about Jacksons then you won't even have to worry about eggs, she will give live birth.
Well, I went back today and pretty much got the brush off. I was told that the female had just been to the vet (found out it is the vet in the store) and "she is fine":mad:
Was also told that the vet said it was fine for them to be together and: "we've never heard or been told they can't be housed together." Then they asked me if I wanted to buy her, and gave me the impression that if I was not there to purchase they had other, more important, things to do.
I came home angry (without the cham by the way) and got online to their website.
First I checked out the care sheet that they publish for Jackson's. Amazingly (except for a couple of points) it's pretty good, and (by the way) clearly states they should NOT be housed together.
This made me angrier.
I have e-mailed the company with my concerns re: this particular store and including how "interesting" I find it that they were ignoring all their own advice about the keeping of these animals.
That's all for now, but I am far from finished with this!

Last edited:
Same deal with me..a month ago i seen a medium veiled in a 16x16 glass cage and we asked some questions and she said she had one but it recently died and it is fine to have them in a glass cage and they are not active so it doesnt need to be big and the price was $100. thats all she said and than she left when we said we didnt want to buy...
Keep fighting the good fight! (for proper reptile care).

Hope to hear more. Remember, the higher up you go in their chain of command the better. This Vet may know about health, but apparently not husbandry.
wow, where i work(at an ace hardware) we have a pet dept and a couple weeks ago i talked the manager into ordering a veiled. it was a baby in about an 18x18. we both knew it wasnt good but i made a deal that if it didnt sell within a month i would build a better cage. luckily he sold. im glad that my store knows enough to know whats best for the animal.especially if one of yo guys lived near me.
Today had a positive result!

I went into Petsmart today and spoke with the manager of the fish and reptiles. She is awesome and very receptive to learning.
She told me the company doesn't really give that great of training on reptiles and she admitted that chameleons are an animal she needs to learn a lot more about.
I spent about an hour with her as we set up a new screen enclosure for this female in the back.
The gravid girl now has a 5.0 uvb light (which by the way she did have before), a low wattage basking light, a dripper and tons of plants and vines. Most of all she has privacy and is no longer housed with the male.
It seems everyone in the store had witnessed copulation between the two at some point or another so it's pretty likely that her pregnancy is real.
The manager took my phone number in case she has any further questions and encouraged me to check up on their chameleons whenever I am in the store.
She also offered to give me the babies if I did not end up buying the female.
I think I will go back in a couple of days and see how things are and perhaps try to convince her to just give me the female now.
The manager is overall very concerned about the well being of the animals in her department and may very possibly do this since the cham is no longer available for sale to anyone but me.
Baby steps....one cham at a time....one store manager at a time...we can make a difference!

Bravo Brad...

I feel like going to the petsmart in my area and making sure thier jacksons are being cared for properly. Keep us posted on the gravid girl's health.
Brad, glad to hear the update and happy to be of any help.

Don't forget that you're going to have to prep the staff on baby care! If I remember correctly, their gestation is around 6 months? so I think you might have a bit of a wait. You should inform the store of this, because they might be wary of having to keep an animal for that long and not be able to sell it.

Also you'll need to tell them about how babies need to be of a certain, age, size and health before sale, and so you can add another few months onto the gestation period too. These chain pet stores can change dept managers and supervisors a couple times in a year, so the cham may not get hte same treatment from someone new coming into command.
Top Bottom