Some benefits of having a chameleon as a pet include the fact that they do not need much direct interaction from their owners and have the unique ability to change colors. In fact, some experts recommend never handling a chameleon beyond transporting it for medical attention or to clean its habitat. Chameleons are low-energy pets and can become nervous if over-handled, which can be viewed as either a pro or con, depending on the owner's expectations. These animals do require daily attention, however, because they need to eat live food and require misting.
Unlike a lot of popular pets, chameleons are not fast-moving, energetic animals that require frequent stimulation to stay happy. They are usually happy with a good enclosure with plants and branches to climb on, plus the release of live food to hunt and catch. Under most circumstances, they do not have to be touched or handled at all. Some people may prefer this type of pet because they find high-energy pets too demanding or cannot dedicate enough time to keep such a pet happy.
Some species have a rather unique ability: changing color. These chameleons can change their skin color to match their surroundings. In the wild, it serves as camouflage to protect them from predators, but when the animal is in captivity, the ability is mostly for show. Having a chameleon as a pet means being able to witness this natural wonder on a regular basis.
A chameleon is mostly a display animal and cannot be treated like the average household cat or dog. Most dislike handling by their owner and become stressed out if held too long. Of course, their personalities differ, and it is possible for a chameleon to enjoy climbing on people. For the most part, however, prospective owners should assume that owning a chameleon is much like having a snake, fish, or poorly socialized bird.
Adopting a chameleon as a pet can mean never going on vacation without paying someone to pet sit. Chameleons usually do not recognize water dishes as a source of hydration. They are rain forest creatures that hydrate by drinking fallen rain from tree leaves. In captivity, the chameleon’s owner mists its enclosure two or three times a day to hydrate the animal. An automatic misting system can be made or purchased, but daily feeding can also be a problem for people who occasionally spend nights away from home.