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Chameleon Costs: Setup & Annual Prices Revealed

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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.

Chameleon cost

SpeciesCost
Veiled Chameleon$30 for a baby – $75 for an adult
Panther Chameleon$275 for a baby – $750 for an adult
Jackson Chameleon$75 for a baby – $90 for an adult

Veiled Chameleon

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.

Panther Chameleon

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.

Jackson Chameleon

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.

Setup costs

ItemPrice
Enclosure$60 – $300
Lighting$100 – $200
Watering Equipment$8 – $300
Plants & Vines$120
Food & Supplements$25
Digital Thermometer$8 – $30
Timer Power Strip$25
Total$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.

Cage

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.

Lighting

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.

Watering equipment

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.

Monitoring equipment

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.

Supplements

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.

Food

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

ItemCost
Food & Supplements$200 – $350
Lighting$80
Plants$10 – $80
Vet$120 – $350
Electricity$100 – $25
Total$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.

Plants

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.

Vet bills

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.

Electricity

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.

About the author

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3 responses to “Chameleon Costs: Setup & Annual Prices Revealed”

  1. Tessa M avatar
    Tessa M

    I promised my children a Chameleon as a new addition to the family (with the understanding it is an observation pet and not a handling pet) with their help and dedication of schooling through Covid-19 quarantine and moving. This being said, I have held true to this promise and wanted to do everything right for this new family member. Let me break this down a little bit for you… We put together a live plant vivarium before getting the Chameleon, this entailed:
    Terrarium enclosure 18x24x36 – $266
    Live plants, organic soil, reptile soil, reptile bark, and bamboo climbing perch – $200
    Lighting and heating elements for 55 gallon enclosure – $150
    Misting and Humidifying equipment – $220
    Jackson Chameleon – $160
    Altogether I am well over $1000 into this family member. Chameleons are not gold fish and require more than you may expect. I recommend these animals if you are educated, dedicated and have the income to spare for a fine creature as such. He (Clyde) is one of, if not the most, intriguing and mesmerizing pets I’ve had the pleasure of hosting. Please keep all of this in mind when promising your children a Chameleon.

  2. back water reptiles avatar

    Thanks for such great content, i have been on this blog several times and i always get some type of information to add to my research

    1. Dave avatar
      Dave

      Thanks for your support and kind words 🙂