Calculator and notebook to help budget for a chameleon

How Much Are Chameleons?

When you’re exploring the possibility of becoming a pet chameleon keeper, one of the first questions you’re likely to ask is “How much are chameleons?”

Understandably, you want to know what you’re going to pay to own a pet chameleon.

Before jumping into becoming a chameleon keeper, you should be aware that there are many upfront costs associated with owning a pet chameleon in addition to the cost of the chameleon itself.

And once you’ve paid the upfront costs of owning a pet chameleon, there are many ongoing costs as well.

How Much Are Chameleons Themselves?

So, how much are chameleons? You should plan on upfront costs of between $700 and $800, depending on a number of factors.

The price of individual chameleons relies chiefly on four factors:

  1. Source
  2. Species
  3. Age
  4. Gender

Let’s put a hold on looking at the species for a moment, and take a quick look at source, age, and gender.

Sourcing Your Chameleon

When looking for a pet chameleon, the most important decision you’ll make is where to buy it. Many pet stores seem to offer great deals on pet chameleons, until you consider how they source their chameleons. 

The majority of chameleons sold in pet stores are “imported” chameleons – meaning they’re wild-caught then shipped overseas. Many imported chameleons die in transit, and those that survive are often dehydrated, malnourished, and potentially carry parasites or disease.

However, these chameleons tend to be less pricey than chameleon’s you’d purchase from a breeder.

Pro Tip: There are chameleon importers who practice sustainable catching, and who take great care of the chameleons while in transit. Be sure to do your research before purchasing an imported chameleon.

When buying from a chameleon breeder, on the other hand, you can generally be assured that your pet chameleon is well-nourished, properly hydrated, and parasite and disease free. (Do your research on breeders too, of course, to make sure you find one you can trust.) However, purchasing directly from a chameleon breeder can often cost a bit more than purchasing from a pet store.

Baby Chameleon or Adult Chameleon?

Generally speaking, baby chameleons are less expensive to purchase than adult chameleons. This is understandable since the breeder or owner of an adult chameleon has invested a lot of time and money into keeping their pet alive and healthy.

Purchasing a baby chameleon gives you the benefit of raising your pet chameleon from a young age into adulthood. This allows you to get to know your chameleon’s moods and personality better than if you purchase a full-grown adult. However, it can be a challenge for a new chameleon keeper to keep a chameleon alive into adulthood.

Male Chameleon or Female Chameleon

Female chameleons are almost always cheaper than male chameleons. Most chameleon keepers, especially first-time chameleon keepers, want to observe the vibrant colors and color-changing abilities of chameleons. Most females, however, have very dull colors and only limited color-changing abilities. 

Females also don’t live as long as the males, in large part because of the stress that egg-production puts on their bodies.

How Much Are Chameleons by Species?

Even more than source, age, and gender, which species of chameleon you purchase plays a major role in how much you can expect to pay.

As a general rule of thumb, the larger-sized and longer-living chameleons tend to be more expensive than the smaller chameleon species.

For example, a Pygmy Chameleon averages around 3”-4” in length, and will typically live between one and two years. They can cost between $25-$150. A Panther Chameleon, on the other hand, can grow up to 21” and live upwards of six years with proper care. On average, you can expect to pay between $130-$380 for a Panther Chameleon.

Chameleon Lifespan & Price Chart

Chameleon Species

Lifespan

Average Price

Jackson’s Chameleon

3-5+ years

$65–$150

Veiled Chameleon

6-8+ years

$30–$190

Panther Chameleon

3-6+ years

$130–$380

Carpet Chameleon

2-3+ years

$125-$160

Four-Horned Chameleon

3-5 years

$100-$250

Parson’s Chameleon

10-20 years

$200-$700

Pygmy Chameleon

1-2 years

$25-$150

Senegal Chameleon

3-5 years

$15-$50

 

Additional Costs of Owning a Pet Chameleon

As you’ve probably guessed, there are additional costs to owning a pet chameleon than simply purchasing the chameleon itself. These additional costs can be divided into two categories: upfront on-time costs, and ongoing costs.

Upfront Costs of Owning a Pet Chameleon

The upfront costs of owning a pet chameleon really depend on whether you want to provide your chameleon with a basic enclosure, or a more developed chameleon habitat.

A basic chameleon habitat should at least include:

  • 2’ wide by 2’ deep 4’ tall chameleon enclosure
  • UVB light fixture
  • Heat Lamp fixture
  • Plants and branches
  • Mister – experienced chameleon keeper recommend the MistKing
  • Dripper 
  • Thermometer
  • Hygrometer
  • Three-sided background

Basic Enclosure Costs

Item

Cost

Chameleon Enclosure

$120-$500+

Table & Drainage

$100

UVB Light Fixture & Bulbs

$50+

Heat Fixture & Bulbs

$20+

Plants (+Pots and Dirt) & Branches

$20-$200

Automatic Mister (MistKing)

$180

Dripper (use a milk jug)

$1-$5

Three-Sided Background

$140

Digital Thermometer

$25

Hygrometer

$10

Ongoing Costs of Owning a Pet Chameleon

In addition to the upfront costs, there are also the ongoing costs of owning a pet chameleon that you should be aware of while making your decision. These ongoing costs include:

  • Feeder insects – you’ll need a variety
  • Supplements – you need calcium without D3, calcium with D3, and a multivitamin
  • Reptile Veterinarian Costs – it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when”
  • Replacement bulbs – for both your UVB and your heat lamp

With an ongoing cost like feeder insects and supplements, you can expect to purchase them once a month or so. Veterinary bills won’t be as frequent, but they will come and they will be hefty. Here’s what you can reasonably expect:


Item

Cost

Feeder Insects

$20-$30 per month

Supplements

$20-$30 per month

Replacement Bulbs

$25 every six months

Reptile Veterinarian

min. $200+ per visit

 

How Much Are Chameleons? Total Expected Costs

So, what’s the bottom line? How much are chameleons? Again, that depends in large part on you. But if you plan on starting with a basic chameleon habitat and a less expensive species of chameleon, you can expect your upfront costs to be a minimum of $700-$800 and up, with ongoing costs of around $40 per month.

Takeaway: The decision to become a chameleon keeper goes well beyond answering the question, “How much are chameleons.” Be sure to research thoroughly and budget accordingly. 

If you have questions or would like to give feedback, please email us at team@dragonsdiet.com

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