On average, a chameleon costs anywhere between $30 and $750 to buy. The exact price is determined by the age of the chameleon at time of purchase, the species, sex and whether the seller is a private breeder or pet store.
You also have to consider the initial set up costs of housing the chameleon, lighting, plants to furnish their habitat, misting equipment to provide water, and monitoring equipment to measure the temperature and humidity of the enclosure.
Once you have all that set up there’s the ongoing maintenance costs of feeding, replacing lighting equipment and veterinary bills but don’t worry I will outline all these costs in this post. Let’s dive in.
|$30 for a baby – $75 for an adult
|$275 for a baby – $750 for an adult
|$75 for a baby – $90 for an adult
My first chameleon was a veiled chameleon. They are the most commonly available to buy and are therefore the cheapest. Veileds are the easiest chameleon to care for, making them perfect for beginners.
A baby veiled chameleon will set you back around $37 from llreptile for a female and $47 for a male. Adults will sell for a little more, but I recommend getting a baby and raising them. Just make sure the baby is at least 3 months old before purchase.
Slightly more difficult to care for, the panther chameleon is more colorful than the veiled, and its price reflects that.
A baby panther chameleon starts at around $275 going all the way up to $465 from Chromatic Chameleons depending on its locale. Juveniles and adults range from $450 to $750, again depending on locale.
Probably in between the other two in terms of difficulty to care for, with prices not too dissimilar from veileds.
Babies sell for around $75 while juveniles and adults go for around $90 from Backwater Reptiles. Like the panther chameleon the prices depend on locale and coloration.
|$60 – $300
|$100 – $200
|$8 – $300
|Plants & Vines
|Food & Supplements
|$8 – $30
|Timer Power Strip
|$346 – $1000
If you’re a keen bargain hunter and manage to get all these items at the cheapest end of the market, you’re looking at around $346 before you’ve even purchased your chameleon. This, however, would involve buying second hand items and basic watering and lighting equipment.
This is one of the biggest upfront costs of equipment. Chameleons need a large cage size of 24x24x48.
A screen cage brand new will cost around $120 for a basic one. Hybrid cages that have glass and mesh will cost $200 and up.
You will need a lamp and basking bulb. These are widely available in pet stores and on Amazon for around $25 for both
For the UVB light you will need to get a hood as well as the bulb. All in one packages come with a fixture, reflector, 5.0 bulb and a daylight bulb that helps plants thrive and to display your chameleon more clearly.
Providing water for drinking and humidity will require two different items.
The first is a mister. This can either take the form of a cheap and simple plastic spray bottle, the type used to water garden plants. These cost around $8 from any decent hardware store.
A much better option for misting is using an automatic one. These are better bought online from specialist suppliers or Amazon and range from around $35 for a basic one, right up to $300 for a more advanced and efficient model.
If you want to have backup options for providing drinking water, you can get a dripper system that costs $15.
As for providing humidity, particularly at night, you will need a fogger. These range from $30 to $70.
Plants and furniture
You will need at least one hanging basket, two or three large plants sturdy enough to climb on and a few small ones. Buying these will probably be around $80 to $100 from a nursery or hardware store. Do not recommend buying plastic plants, as some chameleons eat leaves from time to time.
You can get branches for free by simply gathering them from the woods. You will have to treat them first by boiling them to kill off any potential bacteria and parasites. Make sure you sand them down too to remove the risk of any sharp areas or splinters.
Bendy vines are a great option in addition to, or instead of, wooden branches. They come in two sizes and are around $15 for both.
This consists of a thermometer gun to measure temperature and a hygrometer to measure humidity
Reptile monitoring equipment often have a temperature and hygrometer’s combined. You will also need a temperature gun to measure more specific areas of the enclosure. The total of these should not be more than $20.
Power strip & timers
A power strip specially designed for reptile setups is what you need for this. These also contain timers built in and cost around $25.
Your chameleon needs supplement powders sprinkled on its food as they provide back up vitamins and minerals in case your feeder insects don’t provide enough.
These supplements need to be a calcium powder without d3, a calcium powder with d3 and a multivitamin and will cost around $20 for all three.
You’ll need to get live food at least two or three days before you get your chameleon. This will ensure it’s as fresh as possible and lasts as long as possible while you get used to feeding schedules and learning when to get more food.
A cost-effective way is to buy a tub of small crickets for about $3. A tub will contain around 250 crickets and should keep your baby chameleon going for around ten to twelve days before you need to restock.
Ongoing annual costs
|Food & Supplements
|$200 – $350
|$10 – $80
|$120 – $350
|$100 – $25
|$610 – $1110
These costs will of vary depending on brands bought, suppliers used, how good you are at keeping plants alive and so on.
Annual food & supplement costs
As your chameleon ages, they eat less so your food bill will get cheaper over time but I would say around $180-$350 a year for live food purchases, again it depends on what insects you buy, whether you breed them or not and so on. Supplements will cost around $30 a year.
Then there’s the cost of gut loading insects with nutritious food before feeding to your pet. It all depends on what you use, whether you make your own or buy a ready-made gut load, but $120 a year seems like a good average to expect.
Annual lighting costs
A decent basking bulb will last between two and three months so replacing these will cost $20 and $30.
UVB bulbs will last for a long time, but they stop giving out sufficient UVB after about six to nine months. This will add up to around an extra $50 a year.
This one is entirely dependent on your ability to keep a plant alive and how ravenous your chameleon is for plant matter.
Expect to spend around $60 a year on new plants.
I recommend taking out an insurance premium on your chameleon for around $10 a month, as this will cover any big treatments that hopefully won’t be required.
On top of that, keep around $200 aside for any routine visits like fecal tests for parasites or any other general checkups that might be necessary, so around $350 a year for health care costs would be adequate.
Assuming you run two lights for twelve hours a day at around $0.30 per kilowatt-hour, the average annual cost for around two kilowatt-hours a day will be around $220 for the year. Add to this the cost of running any automatic misters as well, this will add around $20 extra.