To Look For When
Purchasing A Chameleon
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
- 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