The key to successfully raising a healthy chameleon is proper planning. This includes seeking out a veterinarian before your chameleon is in need of veterinary attention. While all veterinarians have a comprehensive knowledge of the most commonly kept animals, it is in your chameleon's best interest to find a veterinarian who has experience in working with chameleons.
1. Ask the breeders and hobbyists in your area who they use and recommend.
2. Ask a local veterinarian where they refer their reptile clients.
3. Ask any prospective veterinarian what their level of experience is with chameleons.
4. If there are no veterinarians with reptile experience in your area you need to find a veterinarian who is willing to work with your chameleon and is willing to burn the midnight oil to learn.
Price shopping is not a recommended method for finding a vet. It is wrong to take a sick chameleon to a veterinarian who has seen one or two chameleons in his/her lifetime simply because he/she is a few dollars cheaper than the veterinarian across the street who sees hundreds every year.
Remember, it is best to locate a veterinarian prior to purchasing the animal rather than searching frantically through the Yellow Pages while your chameleon is sick or injured.
Your veterinarian will ask you many questions concerning your chameleon. What does he eat? How long have you had him? What type of cage do you have him in? How old is he? What other pets do you have? When did he start looking sick?
These are just a few of the questions the vet needs answered in order to help you with your chameleon. Be prepared to answer fully and truthfully. The vet needs to know if your 2-year-old child sat on your cham. Be sure to bring in a fresh fecal sample for analysis (the chameleon's, not your 2-year-old's).
Your veterinarian will then give the chameleon a physical examination from stem to stern. This usually includes opening the chameleon's mouth to look inside. This is without a doubt a stressful procedure for both you and your pet but it is necessary to fully evaluate the patient.
Your vet may recommend a chemistry panel and/or a complete blood count (CBC). These tests are very important for evaluating the overall health of the patient. Other common diagnostics include radiographs, culture and sensitivity of a lesion, fine needle aspirates, etc. The bill for these procedures quickly adds up and usually exceeds the original purchase price of your chameleon. These are the costs pet owners incur when they accept responsibility for the life of a delicate animal and should be figured into your annual budget for raising the chameleon.