How Much Does a Chameleon Cost?
Chameleons are not only colorful and unique in appearance but also fun to have as your pets. Even though they don’t make it to the list of the best pets for some keepers, chameleons are among the favorite pet reptiles for beginner, intermediate and advanced hobbyists.
If you are one of the hobbyists you should probably know the cost of acquiring and maintaining these vibrant pets.
What is the Average Price of a Chameleon?
On average, chameleons can cost between $30-$300, depending on their type, size, sex, and age, but there are other costs such as enclosure, live food, veterinary services, which you should take into consideration when getting a pet chameleon.
Most Expensive Chameleon
Inasmuch as chameleons come in different species, sizes, and physical attributes, they also have varying price tags. This means some chameleons are more costly than others during the initial purchase.
That said, the Panther Chameleon, also known as Furcifer pardalis (Scientific name), can cost between $300 and $500 or even more. This is because Panther Chameleons are extremely rare and more colorful than most pet chameleons.
Regardless of being native to Madagascar, Panther Chameleons can transform themselves into a wide range of beautiful colors. Besides, they are docile, meaning that you won’t need to chase them or look for them around their enclosure.
Cost of Owning a Chameleon
As a pet owner, you should look beyond the initial cost of purchasing pet chameleons and focus on the overall cost of maintaining them. While some chameleons can be cheaper to buy, they may become a little costly to shelter, feed, and even keep healthy. Here are factors that can influence the cost of owning a pet chameleon:
Enclosure & Setup
A chameleon needs a proper enclosure or cage to feel comfortable, safe, and secure. The enclosure setup should mimic your pet chameleon’s natural habitat to make it acclimatize to its new environment quickly.
Below is a list of the average costs of essential requirements for your chameleon setup:
- Enclosure: $60-$300
- Source of light: $115
- Watering: $8-$130
- Plants and vines: $120
- Balanced diet: $3-$25
- Digital thermometer: $8-$30
- Digital clock timers: $20
- Live food enclosure: $10-$20
The prices mentioned above are subject to change from one location to another. But on average, you should expect to spend at least $350 to have a proper chameleon setup at home. These requirements must be in place before you set out to buy your pet chameleon.
Price of Chameleon Cage
You’re likely to come across different sizes and designs of chameleon cages on the market. However, there are two major types of cages to choose from; a wooden enclosure with a glass door and a screen cage with an aluminum frame.
Most pet reptile hobbyists think that the screen cage type is the most ideal for the well-being of your chameleon. But your choice will depend solely on your budget, chameleon, and personal preference.
Some keepers suggest that you should as well go for a small baby chameleon cage. They argue that a small cage will enable your growing chameleon to get accustomed to its new environment. This option can work best for you if you are a breeder. Also, a small cage can come in handy if you are planning to travel with your pet chameleon.
In this case, a small cage can measure 16x16x30 inches for the aluminum screen cage. This type of cage will cost you around $60 or $100 for a slightly bigger glass one. On the other hand, you may opt for a full-sized cage, 24x24x8 inches which will cost from $130 to $160. A hybrid glass with a screen or a wooden one with a glass door can range from $160 to $200 on average.
Food & Supplements
You will have to purchase enough food at least two days before you bring your newly acquired chameleon home. This is to make sure that the food is fresh and enough for your pet chameleon in a few days to come. Additionally, buying food in advance will enable you to get used to your chameleon’s feeding behavior and schedules.
The amount of initial food you need to purchase for your pet reptile depends on its age. If it is juvenile you will have to buy more since young chameleons eat a lot of food in one day. So you will have to spend about $3 on a tub containing up to 250 small crickets to last 12 days. Alternatively, you may spend around $10 to buy a colony of roaches that will last you a year.
In general, you may need to spend between $180 and $350 per year on chameleon’s live food. Supplements will cost around $120 in one year and they include gut loading insects.
Vet & Medication
In addition to shelter and food, your chameleon will need veterinary services and medication and all these come at a cost. Although vet and medication costs are unpredictable from one year to another, you are likely to spend an average of $30 to $75 on checkups, $20 to $150 on treatment for parasites, $200 to $300 on emergencies, and $100 to $150 on health insurance.
Why are Female Chameleons Cheaper?
Compared to females, male chameleons have more bright and beautiful colors. Females are likely to lay eggs while in captivity and that means extra cost on maintenance. Finally, males tend to be larger in size and live longer than females. Therefore, most keepers prefer males to females, making the latter less costly than the former.
Where to Buy a Chameleon?
You can buy pet chameleons from pet reptile stores online or from local breeders.
How Much Time Does it Take to Care for a Chameleon?
Once you bring your pet chameleon home, you will spare 20 minutes a day to look after it. Your task will include feeding, misting, and preparing live feeds for your chameleon’s next meal. You may as well install an auto mister system to save your time and energy for other activities that will make your pet comfortable. On top of that, you will have to change the water, and keep the cage clean throughout.
There you have it! The overall cost of owning and maintaining a chameleon is approximately $750 to $1500 per year. Most of these expenses cover food, shelter, water, medication and vet services, insurance, and lighting among others.