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How Much Is A Chameleon? Real Owning Costs Revealed

First published:  June 19, 2022
Last updated: June 19, 2022
How Much Is A Chameleon? Real Owning Costs Revealed

Chameleons are amazing animals, costing between $30 and $300 depending on the species, their age, and where you buy them from. However, the true cost is that they can get stressed quite easily and there’s also the price to factor in.

In addition to the tank, lighting, heating, plants, thermometer, timer, and enclosure for your chameleon, you should also consider food costs, supplements, and any vet bills that you might incur.

On average, a chameleon may cost a few hundred dollars to purchase, but over the life of your pet, you should expect to pay around $5,000. So, if you're thinking about buying one, you should take everything into consideration.

Keep reading to know more about how much a pet chameleon will really cost you.

What is a Chameleon?

A chameleon on top of a cut tree truck with moss background

Chameleons are reptiles that can change the color of their bodies according to the environment around them. They are some of the most popular pets in the industry. This pet is also one of the most expensive.  

There are two main factors that determine the price of a chameleon: its size and its condition. Chameleons that are larger and healthier tend to be more expensive. They also vary in price based on their color. Brown and green chameleons are generally more expensive than white or black.

Are you interested in taking care of chameleons or maybe other reptiles as well? Here's our helpful reptile pets guide for beginners.

Chameleons Price Based on Type

The Chameleon is one of the most popular pet animals on the market. On average, the price range for these animals is $30 to $300 (although rarer species can cost much more). It depends on what type of chameleon is purchased and where it is bought, as well as other factors.

When you have to decide on owning a Chameleon, It is important that you first know its cost. After that, you should have knowledge about the types of Chameleons. 

Veiled Chameleons

Veiled Chameleon laying on top of a tree branch with black background
Veiled Chameleon

The cost for a Veiled Chameleon ranges from $60 to $200 (with an average cost of 110), due to their popularity. These lizards are usually captive-bred and should be healthier, friendlier, and less prone to stress when handled.

Panther Chameleon

Panther Chameleon on top of a vine in the jungle
Panther Chameleon

A Panther Chameleon costs from $250 to $550 with a lifespan of around 2-3 years for females and 5-7 years for males and would make a good starter pet for inexperienced lizard enthusiasts.

Jackson Chameleon

Jackson Chameleon on a tree branch on green background
Jackson Chameleon

This is the most common type of chameleon and can be purchased for around $75 to $175. This chameleon requires a large amount of care, including a good diet and lots of fresh water. 

Commongular (Common) Chameleon

Commongular (Common) Chameleon lying on a branch on white background
Commongular (Common) Chameleon

This type of chameleon can also be purchased for around $60-$100, but requires slightly less care than Jackson’s Chameleon. It has a more limited range but is generally easier to keep and has a better temperament.

Flap-Necked Chameleon

Flap-Necked Chameleon on a reflective black surface on black background
Flap-Necked Chameleon

One of the smallest species on this list is a Flap-Necked Chameleon. These chameleons are also not very expensive, ranging from $50 to $60. This species of lizard is not as popular as the others on this list, but it still makes an excellent pet with similar needs to those of the veiled species.

 Dwarf Jackson’s

Dwarf Jackson’s chameleon on a tree branch
dwarf jackson’s chameleon on a tree branch

The dwarf Jackson's Three Horned Chameleon is a unique species of Jackson's family. Compared with other Jackson's Chameleons, their treatment is comparable. This lizard's name comes from “merumontanus”. They can only be found on Mount Meru in Tanzania. In spite of its name, this subspecies doesn't grow as big as other Jackson's. You should expect to pay $75 to $175 for one.

Owning a Chameleon on a Budget

A calculator, pen, and a notepad on top of scattered dollar bills on a table

There are several ways in which you can reduce the cost of owning a chameleon. It is possible to adopt a chameleon, or you can price out a package including a cage and other equipment that you will need in order to keep your reptile. Alternatively, you could find an affordable second-hand cage, but make sure it is in good condition and that repairs would be minimal.

Looking for a chameleon to adopt is not the only way to save money, as you might find a bundle that already includes saving on some of the other necessary items. But make sure it's in good or decent shape and that any repairs would be inexpensive.

Now let's compare a few ways you can get a chameleon at a fraction of cost:

Free

Getting yourself a pet chameleon for free may be a possibility. This could be a great opportunity for you if the former owner is getting rid of it since they don't have the time to take care of it. But if they are rehoming their chameleon because they found out it was ill and will need ongoing care, that could be an expensive decision.

Also, many pet stores offer chameleons for free when you buy other items. This may be another chance for you to get one, free of charge!

Adoption

A man wearing a flannel shirt holding a chameleon with one hand

One of the best things about chameleons is their adoption rate. Typically, they take a very long time to find a home because they are hard to locate in shelters. However, chameleons are very adoptable, and there are many people who want one for their home.

Costs to adopt a chameleon vary but typically range from $30 to $300, with $50 being the most common price. If you are looking for a chameleon, it is best to inquire if they have a cage and anything else you need. In this way, the process will be more affordable and you won't be regretting anything in the future.

Getting a Chameleon from a Breeder

Best Chameleon Cage

Going to a breeder to acquire a chameleon generally costs much more, but you have access to various breeds and a choice between male and female. You also get plenty of information such as the pet’s health history or conditions.

You may also get to meet the operator and the mother and father of your animal to get a better idea of your future reptile's traits when it is an adult. The age of the chameleon is just one of the several factors that could affect its price.

Breed Costs

Another aspect that influences the price of a chameleon is the breed that you select. There are dozens of breeds to choose from., but the three most common breeds, those that are bred in captivity and are considered good pets for beginners and experienced owners, are the Common Chameleon, the Panther Chameleon, and the Veiled Chameleon.

List of Chameleon Care Supplies and Cost

Before purchasing a Chameleon, you will need to make sure you have all the necessities: a habitat, tank, water, heat, vegetation, and food. You'll need a thermometer, digital timer, and supplies of food as well as an enclosure for your reptile to stay in so that it doesn't escape. Starter kits can be relatively affordable; up to $200 or less depending on what kind of products are included.

Let’s go through the main expenses to have a clear idea about how much you should expect to spend on a pet chameleon on a yearly basis.

Enclosure$50-$300
Lighting$100-$150
Watering$30-$130
Plants$100-$150
Food$10-$25
Live Food Enclosure$10-$20
Thermometer$10-$30
Digital Timer$15-$25

It's possible to buy a supply of essentials like food and supplements if you subscribe to a service. The items are often more expensive in one-time purchases, but they may last a lot longer than similar products purchased individually.

We've listed the top chameleon cages to help you build a good environment for your chameleon.

Here's an informative video (9 minutes 28 seconds) about Chameleon Care Basics from Lawrence Zen Vlogs.

Annual Expenses

It’s difficult to predict which years might have higher or lower medical costs, but you will have to spend around $75, up to a maximum of $1,500 a year. This budget allows for the cost of any medication and the cost of each vet trip. You should not have to pay any more than this.

Health Care

Obviously, healthcare and veterinary costs are entirely unpredictable. Some years, you may not have to take your chameleon to the veterinary clinic at all, while other years might require multiple trips in little time. 

Expect to pay anywhere from $75 for a check-up visit to more for specialists because they have knowledge about the specific pet's needs. Find deals and packages if you can, as these services may reduce your costs.

Food

A year’s supply of crickets will cost $100 to $150, depending on how many you buy. However, if you are planning on starting a roach colony that becomes self-sufficient and does not cost you anything, you will be able to purchase the supplements for a maximum of $30 to $50 per year.

Environment Maintenance

Lighting and plants are required to keep a chameleon happy. Your pet requires appropriate illumination, as well as healthy plants and a heat source (like a heat lamp). You'll need to pay for energy to maintain the tank and machinery, and you'll also need to make sure your chameleon has a way to hide when it's stressed. To keep prices down, look for savings on bulb packs as well as plants and vines. You'll still have to pay roughly $300 each year for upkeep.

We recommend you watch this video (23 minutes 6 seconds) from Neptune the Chameleon to get an idea about the type of environment and enclosure setup every chameleon needs.

Total Annual Cost of Owning a Chameleon

You should expect to pay at least $750 a year to own a chameleon. People spend a lot of money on their reptiles, which can vary significantly depending on the care that your reptile needs. They might cost less at first or more as they age.

A major expense for owners is if their pet becomes ill and requires treatment. Costs & other expenses (heating, lighting, etc.) depend on specific circumstances, so it's difficult to accurately predict what you'll have to pay in total.

Lighting and electricity are expensive to run, so it's important not to take them for granted. Despite this, there are a few cost-cutting options that could help you stay within your budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions that chameleon lovers ask themselves. We decided to provide answers for those, as they will be extremely useful and will simplify your whole adoption experience! 

Why Do Chameleons Cost More Than Other Reptiles?

Chameleons are unique. The unique colors and patterns of their skin make them one of the most exciting reptiles to watch and own. 

Some chameleon species are also expensive because they are simply rare. Some chameleon varieties are only found in a small area of Africa, for example, which drives up the price.

What Are Some Reasons to Own a Chameleon?

Chameleons are popular pets for a number of reasons. Some people enjoy the beauty of chameleons in their homes, while others use them as teaching tools for children. Chameleons can also be great additions to a zoo or aquarium.

How Much Time Does it Take to Care for a Chameleon?

Chameleons are currently one of the most popular pet reptiles. They are easy to maintain and do not require much time.
·  To care for a chameleon, you will need to provide it with a clean environment and plenty of fresh food. Some species are omnivorous and will eat vegetables and fruits, while others won’t.
·  You should also give it weekly calcium supplements and water.
·  Chameleons usually eat insects, so you can give them crickets, worms, or other small prey to feed on.
·  A chameleon will typically live between 2 and 7 years. There are, however, larger species that can live up to 25 years.

Conclusion

Lizards can be quite pricey, with the chameleon being one of the most expensive. The initial purchase cost might range from $30 to as much as $300 with other setup and ongoing costs. 

With lots of upfront costs and a small amount of monthly expenses, this should cost about $1500 for the beginning stages. Afterward, you are looking at about $300 each year in supplies. With coverage for emergent medical bills, food and supplement costs, and other expenses, there may be savings by buying in bulk, and through insurance that covers incidentals like those from a veterinarian.

We hope that things are clearer now and that all you need to do is head to your favorite pet store or breeder and choose a chameleon to keep as a companion for years to come. We know that there will be no surprises after reading this article!

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