Lady deciding between a chameleon egg and a juvenile chameleon

Should I Buy a Panther Chameleon Egg or Juvenile?

Should I get a chameleon egg? If you have yet to purchase an egg I will lay out the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.

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Striations on a healthy Panther Chameleon egg

Should I get a Chameleon egg?

The selling of eggs is controversial. I cannot ignore the reasons why it is controversial and, at the same time, I get immense joy from hatching chameleons and would like to help you experience that wonder as well. So, this is how it will work.  I am going to lay both the pros and the cons of purchasing a panther chameleon egg all out for you so you can make an informed decision. And I will not sugar coat anything. You need to know everything. If you already have an egg then my intention is not to make you feel bad! If you already have an egg, or decide to buy one after this, then my job, and pleasure, is to spend the rest of this tutorial series sharing my joy and methods for your success! But, even if you do have an egg already, it is valuable for you to understand the swirling of opinions, feelings, and frustrations you might encounter when stepping into social media.

You may or may not have noticed that the selling of eggs is a subject that can get spirited in the community and if you go on social media talking  about the egg you are waiting to hatch you may get a spirited response. The frustration is not directed at you, but you might feel it none the less.

It will help if you had a context of what is going on in the larger community.

the star shaped pattern cut by a hatchling chameleon to exit the egg

The Pros and Cons of buying a Panther Chameleon Egg

Let’s go over some considerations in purchasing an egg.

The first thing to consider is that incubating an egg puts you in the position where you are learning about how to take care of chameleons at their absolute most sensitive point in life. Considering how many people have problems with juveniles and even adults, hatchlings deserve a second thought. Though, the reason that most people who are having trouble with chameleons are having their trouble is because they didn’t get the right information and so the fact that you are here listening to this podcast means you will bypass that hurdle. But you need to be aware of what taking on a hatchling will mean for you.

This is a good time to explore how we in the community got to the point where we collectively decided when a baby chameleon was ready to go to a new home. Through trial and error we came up with the age of three months old. This got the hatchling up to the point where it was stable and passed the most difficult time in their development. There were skills developed that allowed breeders to get their hatch rate and survivability up to close to 100%, but this came with experience.

Though I need to note that age is actually a weak measurement of suitability to go to a new home because there is a wide range of sizes that the chameleon can grow to in that time depending on the husbandry. A  guideline of at least 12 grams is a reasonable weight for going to a new home, though, through individual raising, Jonathan Hill of iPardalis reports up to 23 grams can be obtained in three months. The thing is that when breeders cut corners and sell babies that are too young, or small, they are viewed as unethical because they are bypassing the protective measures that give our breeding community a good reputation. So it is a strange thing to see an egg sale, where the buyer will most definitely get a hatchling, being seen as a feature. Yes, in the case of an egg purchase, the buyer knows they are getting a hatchling so there is no outright deception, but the new-to-chameleons buyer usually does not have the background to know the significance of what they are giving up. And they don’t realize that buying an egg means the transaction has been stripped of all the protections the breeder community has put in place to make the experience as successful as possible for the new chameleon keeper! So, when you tap into the community, this is why there is such a controversy over egg sales. Protections are being removed for the exact people the protections were put in place for! There is difficulty accepting that for reasons such as it is cheaper to get started by buying an egg. The argument that buying an egg gives you time to prepare is only a consolation prize for people who bought an egg on impulse and didn’t know what they were getting into. If you are debating whether you should buy an egg or not then you are in full power of your timeline! You can easily research and prepare and then get a juvenile of the sex you want.

So, let’s get into an objective pros and cons discussion to help you make a decision.

Panther chameleon hatchling emerging from its egg

Are There Good Reasons to Buy a Panther Chameleon Egg?

The one pro to buying an egg, that I feel is a legitimate reason, is that you specifically want the egg hatching and hatchling raising experience. If you want to experience the entire lifecycle of a chameleon then this is a good way to start. Breeding your own chameleon and having 30 babies to deal with is not a great first experience with babies! So the question is whether this is the reason you want to purchase an egg.

The deceptive pro is that it is cheaper to buy an egg. While, on the surface it is correct, the upfront cost is lower in monetary terms, you have to ask what you gave up to get that savings in money. Remember all those protections that the breeder took on to be able to provide you with a well started juvenile? That is all lost in the couple hundred dollars you saved. The question is whether that truly is a good trade. In addition, considering how expensive the equipment to properly care for a chameleon is, starting off by valuing dollar savings, instead of all the safety measured built into working with a breeder, raises a red flag. And I see this first hand year after year. People who are looking for deals tend to take that attitude with them. When I vend at shows you can always count on the last hour of the show being filled with people who bought their baby veiled chameleon for a blow out price because the breeder didn’t want to go home with them. And these bargain buyers are grabbing the cheapest cages and only the minimum equipment because, and I quote, “I am not going to pay more for the cage than I did the chameleon”. I fear this is the attitude that is behind egg sales when they are marketed as a cheap way to get into panther chameleons. So, yes, reduced upfront cost is a pro on the surface, but it is a pro that comes with a lot of baggage that the chameleon then has to shoulder and suffer for. Although, let’s be fair and consider when the reduced price is a real pro – when you want a certain bloodline and egg is a cheaper way to get high end genetics into your project. Though this still carries the con of not being able to select the sex of the chameleon and implies you are already a sophisticated buyer with an understanding of what is going on. So your decision is being based on other factors! This is not a consideration at the level of the first time buyer.

I mentioned the pro that buying an egg gives the buyer time to research and put together a proper set-up. This is a false pro because that is only a benefit for me as an educator. Saying that an impulse purchase of an egg is better than an impulse purchase of a juvenile is not a compelling argument. How about not doing an impulse purchase at all? You can fully research, get set-up, and then purchase a juvenile. So, the argument that buying an egg gives the buyer time to research is an after-the-fact pro. As a long time educator in the community I would much prefer the impulse buy of an egg rather than a chameleon, but that is comparing two undesirables. Being the second to worst choice is not a bragging right. If you are in the decision making stage then the delayed hatching time not a relevant consideration.

And that is it for the pros! You would think there would be more, but there really isn’t! You are talking about something that makes it harder to succeed in exchange for money savings! That should be done only by someone who specifically wants the experience of raising up a hatchling.

Panther chameleon hatchling resting after breaking out of its egg

What are the drawbacks of buying a panther chameleon egg?

The cons list is all those things the breeder is suppose to protect you from

The egg may not hatch

Risk of the egg not hatching is a con, though, panther chameleon egg really isn’t that hard. Many panther chameleon breeders incubate eggs in their closet anyways that you have a good chance of succeeding without specialized equipment. Find a closet that trends in the 70s F and doesn’t spike into the 80s F and there is a more than decent chance of success. Your egg will probably come with specific instructions on how to incubate the egg. Make sure you follow those exactly. There is often a warranty if the egg doesn’t hatch. But you have to follow the instructions exactly.

The hatchling may be weak

Hatchling health upon hatching is usually pretty good and, much of the time, hatching goes off without a hitch. But there are some eggs which just are not 100%. This could be from when they were being formed to issues in incubation. You won’t be able to tell what the issue was. The hatchling may cut the egg open, but never emerge. Or it could crawl out, but not thrive and die in a couple days or few weeks. The reasons for this are many and only a few of them are under your control. Even experienced breeders have this happen.

You do not get to pick the gender.

Perhaps the biggest issue with hatching an egg is not knowing what sex you will get. With Panther Chameleons you made your selection based on the brightly colored male shown as the father, right? Well, how would you feel if you got a female? For those new to chameleons, the female panther chameleon is a spectacular animal in her own right with pinks and oranges, blacks and grays. But females are not usually appreciated as much as they deserve because of the distraction of the male that shows an amazing array of bright, almost unnatural colors. And it was the color show that pushed you over the edge to purchase the egg, right? I haven’t seen any panther chameleon egg advertising that sells off of the female coloration.

So you have to be honest with yourself because chameleons are, if we do it right, a 5 to 7 year commitment. If you have always dreamed of a male panther chameleon and would be disappointed to get a female then get a well started baby so you can see the colors coming in and you know you will be happy. Don’t get an egg to save money and be hoping for a male. That is not fair to the female that may come out.

Now, may I say that the female panther chameleon is one of the most underrated chameleon pets? I love them deeply. I actually have more non-breeding female panther chameleons as pets right now than I do males. The orange and pinks with blue undertones or red overtones are gorgeous. Their smaller size makes the standard 2x2x4 cages a much bigger cage experience which makes it more enjoyable for us, in my opinion. So, when I have panther chameleon eggs hatch I am equally happy whether it is a male or female. Honestly, I don’t even bother sexing them until months later when I am getting ready to sell them. The panther chameleon species is just an incredible chameleon all around. But you need to dig deep and be honest about your feelings. Make sure you are of the mindset that you will enjoy the chameleon experience either way. And for the people who are buying three eggs just to make sure they get a male…I suggest just getting the well started juvenile male. I know having one chameleon hatch is exciting so three should be three times exciting, but that just means you need three cages. And that is important. Make sure you have as many full set-ups running and ready to be lived in as you have eggs. A rule in chameleon keeping that is black and white is that chameleons should not be kept together. I acknowledge this is a corner that many breeders cut, but that, in itself, is a warning that your breeder will cut corners. We can leave making judgements about breeders for much later. As for you, keep your hatchling chameleons in separate cages.

You have to learn chameleon keeping on the most sensitive life stage.

Finally, if this is your first chameleon then you will be learning chameleon husbandry on a chameleon at the most sensitive point in a chameleon’s life. The problem is that there are no second chances with a hatchling. With a juvenile you get a warning sign that something is up. Maybe they are lethargic and they start closing their eyes. If you are observant you may be able to catch it in time to change something and bring them back out of it. With a hatchling, by time you notice something is off, it often is too late to turn it around. I am sure it surprises no one that babies are not as resilient as adults and forgiving of missteps.

Now, I am going to do my best in this series to get you setup in a way that you won’t run into problems, but this is the world and the world sometimes throws curves our way!

So, to summarize, the best reason to get a chameleon egg to hatch out is if you want the experience of hatching an egg and are willing to research it as if it was a specialized experience. I have a problem when getting an egg is seen as cheaper or easy. Those are the wrong motivations to come to chameleon keeping with. You have a high likelihood of being disappointed and your chameleon may suffer for it.

Panther Chameleon hatchling perching on a jasmine vine

My Personal Feelings on Panther Chameleon Egg Sales

In closing, it is only fair that I share my personal feelings about egg sales and why I am doing this outreach. You ought to know where I am coming from! I love hatching chameleons and raising them up. It is one of my greatest joys. And I would love for others to be able to experience that. I am not concerned about the shipping of eggs as I know they ship and hatch just fine. And I would rather an egg be shipped than a live chameleon. Yes, they fall asleep in the dark of the box, but that is still quite the bumpy night. And if anything unexpected happens I would rather that happen to an egg than a juvenile chameleon. My huge concern is that eggs are being sold as a cheaper alternative to well-started juvenile chameleons and that encourages the money saving part of us. And the deferred worry part of us. Hey, I’ll buy three eggs and worry about the set-ups later. Do you really want three chameleons? Would you buy three chameleons if they were juveniles? And if you are buying an egg to save money, are you willing to spend all the money for two set-ups – a hatchling grow-out and adult cage? My concern is with the motivation for getting an egg and if that is good for the chameleon that will hatch.

So, should you get an egg? Review your motivations and be honest with yourself as to what your hopes and expectations are. This is a life we are talking about. Treat it with the utmost of respect and wonder. If you do decide to go forward with getting an egg then the next module to check out is the Introduction to Baby Chameleon Care.

Here is where I have comfort in producing a series like this about incubating an egg and raising a hatchling. My biggest worry about the sales of eggs is people hatching a chameleon egg and not being ready to take care of the the hatchling. Hatchlings are actually quite hardy. They survive in the jungles of Madagascar! The only thing stopping you from being wildly successful and having a great experience is knowing the care and being ready for when the egg hatches. And the reason I feel good about creating this series, which can easily be seen as encouraging the sale of eggs, is that if you are the type of person who sought out this information and cared enough about your egg that you listened through this entire episode to get to the point where I am talking to you right now, then you are the type of person that will be successful and this will be a lifelong memory for you. And to those who have made it to this point, the truth is that it isn’t hard if you do it right. Thinking that raising a hatchling is easy will hurt you only if you take that as an excuse to be lazy, skimp on the research, and just expect it to happen. Purchasing an egg because it is the cheaper way to get into chameleons will hurt you only if you take that philosophy into the equipment and cut corners. Once again, the best reason to purchase an egg is if you truly desire the experience of raising up a chameleon from day 1 and you are dedicated to research how to do that properly and will get the set-up necessary for different life stages. If, after listening to all of this, you feel the juvenile stage, which bypasses all this complication is more your speed then good! You can continue listening for information, but I encourage you to get that juvenile! If you are still undecided, then continue listening to this podcast. With each episode you will learn more and more what life and care would look like if you purchased an egg. The more you know the better the decision to make. And, if you make it through the entire series then I am not worried about your suitability to purchase an egg. You will have everything you need and so all that is left is for you to make a highly educated decision as for what is best for you.

A Breeder's Perspective on Buying a Panther Chameleon egg

You may or may not have run into the fact that egg sales are a controversial practice in the chameleon community. If you are in the decision making phase then it is worth listening to each side. In the episode embedded below I interview Jonathan Hill who is the founder of iPardalis, which provides high end panther chameleons as well-started juveniles. He could, at any point, start selling eggs. Considering how much easier that is, as far as running a business, it is valuable for us to get his perspective as to why he specifically made the choice to sell juveniles and not sell eggs.

Your next step with Panther Chameleons!

This page is a module in a self-guided, multi-media course on the care of a Panther Chameleon hatchling. I you are finding this course through this module you can go to the home page and learn more about the outreach. This course is designed to be studied chronologically to start at episode 1. You may go to the home page to learn more about the course and find episode 1 or go on to the next module with the links below.

Panther Chameleon Podcast Home Page

The next course module

Baby Panther chameleon

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