Pet Keen recommends adopting before shopping. We understand there are many reasons to seek out breeders, so we encourage it to be done the right way. We haven’t personally investigated all of the breeders below, instead, we’ve gathered their details so you can get in touch and ask all the right questions before you decide.
Chameleons are great pets. They are attractive, low maintenance, and always full of surprises.
Getting your hands on one, on the other hand, can be quite a challenge. While you can always stop by your local pet store and buy one there, you don’t know what quality pet you will get. Pet store chameleons are notoriously prone to disease, and that doesn’t even take into account the possible moral problems that accompany such practices.
If you want a quality pet from a source you can trust, you have to go through a breeder. If you live in the US, the breeders on this list are your best bet for finding a chameleon that will last a long time.
Chameleon Breeders in the US
It’s important to find a reputable breeder if you want the best chameleon you can get your hands on. Many people rely on other avenues, such as through a pet store, Facebook, or friends, and then those same people wonder why it’s so hard to find healthy chameleons that live close to their desired age.
Unfortunately, trustworthy chameleon breeders are not as easy to find as, say, trustworthy Golden Retriever breeders. That said, there are quite a few in the United States that enjoy sterling’s well-deserved reputation.
You may have to travel a bit to interact with a good breeder, although there are a few on this list who can ship your new pet to you. Regardless, we feel like the odds that you’ll get your money’s worth of chameleons from the options on this list are far greater than anywhere else in the country.
Chameleon Breeders Near Me
- West Coast Chameleon Brothers – Located in the Bay Area of California, West Coast Chameleon Brothers doesn’t just sell reptiles. They also advise customers on proper care and feeding of their animals, provide lifelong customer support, and can even ride your chameleon if you go out of town.
- Kammerflage Kreations – Specializing in panther chameleons, Kammerflage Kreations have over 38 years of experience raising and caring for these lizards, and they are more than willing to share that expertise with you. Apart from selling reptiles, they also offer a variety of useful supplies, including health supplements.
- Chameleon Paradise – Chameleon Paradise is more of a cooperative than traditional breeder, as they source their stock from a variety of leading breeders in their area. This allows them to offer an extraordinary choice and to back up those offerings with impressive health coverage.
Chameleon Breeders are Ships
- CB Reptile – This family owned reptile breeder ships via FedEx and UPS overnight all year round, so you can get a healthy chameleon whenever you want. They are also known for hiring a biologist, ensuring that your new reptile is as healthy as possible before it gets to you.
- FL Chams – These breeders have been in the business for over 12 years, and they have a wide variety of farmed, hatched and captured reptiles in the wild to choose from. You can get overnight shipping via UPS for an additional $50, and the animals they ship are backed by a 7-day health guarantee.
- Backwater Reptiles – Shipping is not an option with Backwater Reptiles – it’s the only way they will sell you a chameleon. For $44.99, you’ll get your lizards overnight, and the cost stays the same no matter how many animals you buy from them.
- The Forgotten Friend’s Reptile Sanctuary – The Forgotten Friend’s Reptile Sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates all kinds of reptiles, not only chameleons — but they also help many chameleons. Their outreach includes educating people about the proper care of these animals and ensuring they are placed in proper homes.
- Colorado Reptile Humane Society – In addition to providing adoption services, the Colorado Reptile Humane Society also allows interested parties to foster and sponsor reptiles in need. This allows potential owners to see firsthand what owning a chameleon is like — before they make a lengthy commitment.
How Much Does a Chameleon Cost?
The cost of chameleons will vary depending on several factors, including their specific breed, size, and coloration. Larger lizards tend to be more expensive, as do lizards that have rare or simply stunning patterns.
If you buy from a reputable breeder, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $600 for a chameleon (not including shipping). This includes the cost of breeding the reptile and providing the necessary medical care in the first few weeks of life. Many breeders also offer some sort of health coverage on their reptiles, which further raises prices.
You may be able to find cheaper chameleons at chain pet stores, but the animals are less likely to come from premium stock or have access to medical care, and you’re unlikely to be given any guarantees for the reptile’s health.
Things to Ask Chameleon Breeders
There are a few questions you should ask the breeder before buying from them, to make sure that they really know their stuff. In particular, we recommend asking the following questions.
How Old Was Your Chameleon When It Was For Sale?
Breeders will sell chameleons when they are 3 weeks old, but it is best to wait until they are at least 5 weeks old. This allows the animal to grow a little and gives the breeder more time to evaluate its overall health.
Some pet stores and breeders will also sell reptiles that are quite old (that is, 6 years or older). Unless they are clear about the age of the animal and willing to give you a discount, this should be a red flag. Of course, if you save the chameleons, they can be of any age.
Most importantly, though, refuse to do business with breeders who can’t tell you the chameleon’s age.
Are Chameleons Bred in Captivity?
Captive chameleons are much more docile and easier to raise, whereas chameleons caught in the wild are more likely to suffer from parasites that can affect their quality of life, shorten their lifespan, and force you to skip medical treatment. Unless you are an experienced reptile owner, stick with captive animals.
Can You Check Animals Before Buying?
There are certain signs that a chameleon is unwell, such as a weak grip or breathing through its mouth. A reputable breeder should allow you to thoroughly inspect the chameleon before purchasing to make sure you are getting a healthy reptile. If the breeder refuses to let you see the lizard, that’s a big red flag.
Just as important as what you ask the breeder is what the breeder asks you. They should determine that you know the level of care your chameleon needs and that you can provide the time and space it needs to thrive. If they don’t ask you questions like that, it’s a sign that they don’t care about their animals.
3 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Chameleon
1. They Need A Lot Of Equipment
You can’t just throw a chameleon into a regular aquarium and expect it to thrive. These animals need special housing — preferably, a giant terrarium that’s taller than they are long — and lots of accessories.
They need branches, plants, and other decorations that they can climb on and mingle with, and they prefer to be placed high so they can keep an eye on their surroundings. They also need heat, lighting, a humidity meter, and a mister.
This increases the cost of owning one of these animals, and also makes them more difficult to care for than many people think.
2. They Won’t Fall In Love With You
Chameleons are not warm and cuddly animals. They may trust you enough to climb over you and check on you, but if you want an animal that will snuggle up at night, get a dog instead.
For the most part, chameleons prefer to be alone, and they don’t care to be handled. These are pets you sit and watch, not pets you can play with.
3. Caring for a Cage Can Be Crazy
Chameleons need live food, so you have to feed them worms, crickets, or something similar. However, they don’t always eat all the food you serve them, and you should get rid of any dead or uneaten prey before it starts to smell bad or threaten your reptile.
They also don’t actually drink from the water bowl, preferring to sip condensation from leaves and other plants. That means you’ll have to mist the cage every day, and that means mold and mildew can be a problem.
You should clean the dirt and other debris every day, and every week, you should clean everything from the terrarium to clean it thoroughly.
While chameleons can make interesting and satisfying pets, they are not for everyone. Tracking down a healthy reptile can be expensive and time-consuming, and caring for one of these lizards once you bring it home isn’t easy either.
That said, having a chameleon is very valuable. They provide endless amounts of entertainment, and they are a lot of fun to look at.
Featured Image Credit: Harald Matern, Pixabay