Thoughts on the Value of Veiled/Yemen Chameleons

Saturday, July 27, 2013

This will be a mostly opinion blog post, but a recent conversation inspired me to write a little on this. And by this, I mean the value that veiled/yemen chameleons have in the hobby. 

Anyone who has looked into purchasing a chameleon has probably noticed that while panther chameleons are in the range of $200-300, and other species are in the range of $100-200, poor veileds start as low as $20. Essentially, supply and demand has made the price of veiled chameleons drop dramatically (it was at a more reasonable amount, about $150, a decade or two ago) while they still cost about as much as other species to raise. 

Charlotte, my 7 month old veiled chameleon female. 
I'm not really going to talk about what they should cost to purchase, but what I want to do is to get people thinking about the value of veiled chameleons in a different regard. Their worth.

We know that veileds and panthers are the most commonly recommended species for beginners, but the low price of veileds usually means that people choose this species over the other. When people come to the chameleon forum or Facebook groups looking for advice most members will recommend a veiled, because they're cheaper so it'll be a better animal to get experience with.

The implication being, that if you kill it you're only losing about $40 or so. I get that not everyone can shrug off $300 if your new, baby panther tragically dies while you are still getting the ropes of chameleon care, but veileds shouldn't be the disposable first-try chameleon that they are. The death of one shouldn't be a tragedy while the death of the other is an "oh well, at least you're only out $40. Just buy another one!"

Veileds are great chameleons; they get large as far as chameleons go, they are not bland or color-less, and they have a tremendous amount of character. I hate seeing them thought of as the throw-away "tester" chameleons they are. Or as the chameleon you get to gain experience, although what you really want is a panther (and then end up re-homing the veiled when you finally get that panther.)

So what I would like people to do is to try to change about how they think about veileds. If you don't really love them, don't get one. Go for the species you really want, you'll be much more proud of yourself when you do the research and raise the species you want. If someone's looking for advice, don't tell them to get a veiled because it's not the end of the world if it dies.

Whether or not they're your favorite species they deserve a little bit of respect, because, after all, a great part of this hobby was built on what people discovered while keeping and breeding this hardy species. 


  1. I wholeheartly agree Olimpia. Thank you for posting this. I am still a relative newbie when it comes to chameleons (I've only been keeping them for a year). I have a 1 year old and 6 year old male veiled and recently lost a female to egg binding. These are beautiful creatures with their own distinct personalities. Are they cheaper than the other species? Yes, but they are no less enjoyable. To quote a slogan a company was using years ago to promote their animal testing-free products (The Body Shop) "It's not whether they think, it's whether they feel". And they do. They feel fear, pain, discomfort, hunger, etc. These are living, breathing, sentient creatures that deserve the same level of care and respect and any other living creature - chameleon or otherwise.

  2. I ABSOLUTELY agree with you! I don't even have my Veiled yet (5 days away) and all I have been doing is reading and reading. I am flabbergasted that some people do think this is just a $20 tester! I personally had no idea until about a month ago I even wanted a chameleon. My coworker got one and I ABSOLUTELY fell in love! So I have been no stop reading....everywhere! Now I have read that I should test my veiled fecal matter after 2 weeks of having him to make sure no parasites. So I went to work and talked with my coworker to see out of the Rep Vets in the area who he goes to and his opinion with them. He told me I am not spending lots of money on something I paid like $60 for. I literally almost fell over!

    Now something about me. I am an extreme animal lover.....actually prefer them over humans a lot of them time! I became a vegetarian after seeing how much food was wasted in the restaurant I worked at...I know extreme but I knew there was still beer, salad and pizza and I would be fine. I try and rescue everything we have 3 cats, recently lost my bestfriend Roxy a lab mix, and soon to be a veiled. If my boyfriend would let me I and we could afford it I would be on a huge piece of property saving and helping all I could. The only thing that will take me a little time to adjust with the Veiled is feeding it a living thing. I know most people are fine and dandy but I am not there yet. I feel bad but I know this what my little guy is going to need so I will be fine.

    Okay back to my after my coworker said this to me I was SO annoyed. I told him if his veiled gets sick let me know and I would take him to the vet. So that afternoon I come home get on the computer and did some research and posted some questions. I was disgusted! I had 3 other people tell me the same thing. I could not believe reason why I love your blog. So informative and positive!! Thank you for that!!!!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words about the blog! I still see that kind of opinion all over the internet and unfortunately even people on chameleon forums (who in theory should be chameleon fans and lovers) still say the same thing to new keepers. And hearing something like "start off with a veiled, because if you make mistakes and kill it at least you only lost $40" still drives me nuts. I don't keep veileds personally but they deserve more respect than that, especially when they can make such great pets. And they are no more or less alive than a $300 panther or Meller's, so they deserve and need medical care just like anything else. Not taking them to the vet when they need it is just unethical.

      My rescued Meller's, Guinevere, was given to me totally free, but I've spent (and keep spending) hundreds of dollars to make sure that she recovers from her 3 years of neglect and stays healthy. It's just what you do when you take on the responsibility of pet ownership, whether it's a dog or a gecko!

      And you'll love your veiled, they like fruits and greens much more than other chameleons, so you can offer him things like strawberry or grapes as treats. And they LOVE hibiscus, and will happily eat the leaves and flowers.

    2. I have one more question for you....well for the day. Tomorrow...I just might have more. :) I know they love hibiscus but being a plant person I know how aphids LOVE hibiscus as well. So is there any issue with him eating aphids if the plant has them. I typically keep an eye out but incase I don't see it is it ok? Thanks for letting me pick your brain!

    3. That's fine! You know, I haven't had a problem with aphids so I actually don't know. If they aren't a poisonous insect I don't think it would harm them. The bad things are the poisonous/venomous ones or stinging ones, like wasps or black widows.


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