What To Look For When
Purchasing A Chameleon
Chapter 1:
Getting Started

Keys to identifying healthy chameleons:

  • Good size (relative to the others hatchlings). When comparing, ensure they are from the same clutch or you could be comparing hatchlings of different ages!

  • Eyes must be open at all times. Chameleons NEVER "nap" during the day. It is normal to see a chameleon resting/lounging on a branch, but it should still appear alert. Closed eyes except during the night time hours is always a bad sign. Chameleons react to light, so if you shut all your light off during the day to make it dark, they may assume it's nighttime and go to sleep.

  • Plump in appearance, signifying hydration and a healthy appetite.

  • Colour is not necessarily a good indicator of health. Color of vibrancy of a chameleon may better reflect their mood. Brilliancy is partly attributed to genetics (different morphs, phases, etc.) however, a drab or dark chameleon may be stressed or cold. These factors can lead to future health concerns.

  • Smooth, even skin. Hatchlings shed often as they are growing very quickly, so it is normal to see a chameleon with dull or wrinkly skin (old skin forming on top) or with dead skin sloughing off. Just ensure there are no signs of an "incomplete shed cycle." This may be symptomatic of their environment (humidity level), but it could also be linked to the metabolic cycle.

  • Casque (point on head) should be straight. This is more of an esthetic concern then anything else. The casque for a veiled chameleon is an ornament used to attract members of the opposite sex and may not have any other significant purpose, although there is always speculation.

  • Bones in arms/legs should be straight. NO lumps or bumps!

  • Should be agile and have good balance (good grip).

  • You may not have the opportunity to see your chameleon eat that moment, but hatchlings do eat every day and are usually very interested in food all the time.

  • Feet should have well formed toes and nails.

  • Chameleon should be well hydrated (puffy "cheeks", round raised eyes and taunt skin).

Keys to identifying chameleons that are not healthy:
  • Wrinkly skin or lateral folds along the sides of the body, signifying dehydration.

  • Cuts or abrasions.

  • Black dots (mites/tics).

  • Sunken or closed eyes.

  • Any bumps.

  • A chameleon that appears to be breathing with its mouth open. This is a sign of an upper respiratory infection! Do not however, mistake it for other possible behavior such as "mouth gaping" which is exhibited when a chameleon loosens its jaw and opens its mouth in order to cool down. This is a form of ventilation that occurs when the environment is too hot. The chameleon may also be in a defensive posture and about to hiss!

  • Bones which look misaligned.

  • Toes that are not divided properly or that are missing nails (sign of inbreeding).

  • Thickening of the ankles or bumps along the spine (symptom of MBD).

  • A chameleon that appears to be sleeping during the day (stationary, closed eyes).

  • Lack of coordination (falling occasionally however can be anticipated).

  • Inability to grip branches properly (weak grip).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Never purchase a chameleon that is lying down with its eyes closed during the day or appears to be breathing through its mouth!!!


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Where To Purchase Your Chameleon