Fly with chameleon

How to Fly with Your Chameleons?

Hello! In the previous post, (How to Travel with Your Chameleon? ) we exhaustively described how you can travel with your chameleon during short and long road trips. However, in this post, we are going to discuss and explain everything you need to know and what it takes to travel with your chameleon on a commercial aircraft. Hope you enjoy!

Millions of animals travel safely aboard aircraft every year. Traveling with a chameleon by air is not impossible, but it may take some extra effort to pull through. Despite the various challenges you may face, it is still worthwhile and rewarding to know that you can have your chameleon with you in your new location.

So, how to fly with your chameleon? You will need to verify if there are any travel restrictions for chameleons in the state or country you wish to visit and also get a CITES permit. In addition, you will have to contact the Airline directly once you book the flight and get an appropriate carrier for your chameleon.

In all, it is important to note that you will not be able to fly with your chameleon right inside the passengers’ area on the plane so there are many other factors to consider.


Why you need this knowledge

There are many reasons to travel by air. While making these various moves, one might want to take their favorite pet along—in this case, your chameleon, so that they don’t feel lonely.

As you may have known, it can become really tricky to plan a move once you have pets, and it is especially true on a long distance trip. Sometimes in all the hustle and bustle, and in the middle of all of the planning, you may forget to consider some important factors for the safety of your pet. If you have decided to take a flight because the distance you have to travel is simply too far to drive or otherwise, you will have to make adequate plans ahead to ensure that your pet will be properly handled and accommodated.

It is relatively easy to fly with pets like dogs and cats from one location to another and this is, in fact, a common sight. However, because not everybody has a pet that is as exotic as yours, the subject on air travel with chameleons has not been well covered. To make up for this, we bring to you some proven basic guidelines which are very essential to get you started and prepared for a flight with your chameleon when the need arises. Let’s jump all in if you’re ready!


Airline travel with your chameleon

Before we delve in, it is important to note that the requirements for commercial air travel are very different from that of road travel. In fact, commercial air travel with your pet may be so demanding that some prefer to seek other options like shipping. (See more: I’ll meet you there, Shipping your chameleon)

This is because of the lesser liberty and luxury you have with your chameleon while on a flight. In fact, it always feels like some level of control has been taken from you and this could give you some kind of worry during the journey.

Also, unforeseen circumstances are not well handled or even prepared for on a flight. Although airline travel may not always be the best option to travel with your chameleon, there are some ways to go about it. If in your particular situation or opinion air travel seems to be the best option, we present you with the things you must do before, during and after the flight.


Make sure you have a CITES permit

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES for short is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals. It is also known as the Washington Convention. The CITES permit is important for proper licensing of all import, export, re-export, and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention. (See more: Most chameleons are on the CITES II list.)

The first thing to do especially if you want to travel across international borders with your chameleon is to apply for a certificate of ownership to travel with exotic pets. This CITES permit must be gotten before you take off as it will not be issued to you retroactively.


Find out if there are travel restrictions

After you get your CITES permit, there is more to do to make you double sure of a hitch-free flight. In fact, it is still worthwhile to find out if there are restrictions for owning chameleons in countries where you may have layovers and at your destination. This is important because you can save yourself a lot of avoidable stress by just doing some research and making confirmations before the journey. Such confirmations will be the verification of any restrictions and requirements in respect to the transportation of chameleons into the area.

It is important not to make assumptions because not all states or countries permit exotic animals, and in fact, this restriction could include animals who are only passing through on a layover. Therefore, before you make any final travel arrangements, ensure that all points along the way allow for the possession of chameleons.


Get an Appropriate Carrier

If you have seen the post on vehicle travel, you will already be an expert on the right type of carriers to use for transporting chameleons. However, there is more to it when you plan to travel by air. First, your chameleon must be transported in an approved carrier which is in accordance with the rules of IATA. The material must be made of a rigid material, be ventilated on all four sides, securely assembled, without wheels and have a secure spring-lock door that cannot be opened by your pet. This carrier is one that is designed to withstand impact and physical stress during the journey.

In addition, the airline will also dictate what health information you should include with the carrier. Usually, this information on the pet’s health is no greater than 10 days prior to travel. The carrier must also be marked as containing a live animal and the temperature it should be at so that it gets kept in the right place. You will also be required to write your name and contact information on the carrier so that it is easily retrieved on arrival.

As you would have seen in the post on road travel, there are some conditions you must maintain to ease the stress off your chameleon. For example, it is ideal for you to make the space inside the carrier as dark as possible in order to encourage your chameleon to sleep through most of the trip. However, the airline may restrict any drape or cover that limits their access to examining the interior of the carrier. In addition, remember to put some kind of traction as this might be the only source of support you get to provide your chameleon with. Remember, it will also need to “fasten its seat beat” too.

The traction should be adequate because you may not be able to put any branch or dowel through the carrier as it may physically alter the carrier and make it unfit for airline approval. However, if the carrier still remains intact after you fix some support, you’re good to go. This you can do by getting a strong branch or dowel that is about 0.5 cm shorter than the length of the carrier and gently press it in so that it fits perfectly without disfiguring the carrier. You can get an approved carrier here.


Once you book the flight, directly contact the Airline

Different airlines have unique pet regulations so it is important to look at the rules and regulations before you book your flight. Although there are some common airline regulations for transporting pets, you still have to contact the airline to obtain some other information.

For example, most airlines require you to reserve space for your chameleon in advance and not when you arrive at the airport. This is because your chameleon needs to be transported in specialized compartments where the pressure and temperature are controlled during the flight. Not all baggage is transported under such monitored conditions and the space is often filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Also, find out what fees you may need to pay to enjoy this service.

You should never attempt to sneak your chameleon onboard an aircraft at any time, regardless of the reason. If you attempt to sneak your pet past a security checkpoint in order to bring them onboard, your pet may be confiscated when you are caught or you may be temporarily detained for smuggling.


Your chameleon will most likely be checked baggage

Most airlines do not permit reptiles as carry-ons while in the aircraft. This is irrespective of the size of the reptile or the size of the carrier where the reptile is placed. Armed with this information, it is, therefore, important to keep in mind that your chameleon will be put in the same area as all other animals—speaking of stress!

You may not be able to reduce the stress your chameleon will experience directly, but you may plan your trip in such a way that there are fewer layovers during the journey. For example, you may choose to join a direct flight or a flight with just one layover instead of two or three. Multiple layovers not only prolong the stress of your chameleon by making the trip longer, but it also increases its stress due to multiple and frequent handling especially when there is a change of planes. A direct flight may, however, make your overall journey more expensive.

Perched by Florence Ivy, on Flickr
Perched” (CC BY-ND 2.0)  


Be prepared for some extra expenses

As already stated previously, you may have to spend some extra money on the special care your chameleon will receive. The overall cost for transporting just your pet may be as high as $100. Also,  an airline may consider it a risk to fly some pets such as in extremes of weather temperatures and you may have to “bear with them”.

Because of all these reasons, transporting a chameleon on an airline is not really cost effective or convenient.


Leave home at the “right time”

As described in the road trip, it is best to pack your pet last and this should be done only when you are ready to leave for the airport. Furthermore, you should plan your arrival to the airport such that you have plenty of time once you get to the airport, but not too long.



Cheers to a stress-free journey with your chameleon. Hurray to a stress-free chameleon. Hope you find this post helpful and interesting. If you find anything wrong or outdated, please leave your comment below. I’ll update it as soon as possible.


Thanks for reading.