If you consider owning a chameleon, you will confront a question at the very beginning: Which sex of chameleon is best for a pet owner? This is a debate that has been going on among vets, chameleon breeders, and pet owners for a while.
Actually, there is no “RIGHT” answer. The truth is that it is all about the attitude of the pet owner and how much time and resources that the pet owner is willing to devote to caring for his/her pet.
In this post, I’ll show you some pros and cons of owning a male or female chameleon.
How to Tell the Gender of a Chameleon?
Like most other reptiles, it is difficult to tell chameleon genders apart until they have reached the breeding stage, which is about eight months old.
This is when some differences will start to emerge and you will be able to tell your chameleons apart. If your chameleons are veiled chameleons, here are a few ways to tell your chameleons apart.
Male chameleons are bigger than female chameleons in almost all the species. In the case of the veiled chameleon, an adult male veiled chameleon can reach 2 feet in length, making it one of the biggest chameleon species in the world.
On the other hand, an adult female veiled chameleon only grows to about 18 inches long. The difference in size will usually emerge after six months, so you can tell if your chameleon is male or female by then.
The most distinctive feature in which you can differentiate between a male veiled chameleon and a female is that around 8 months old, a male veiled chameleon develops a horned ridge of about three inches on its head. That spur is called a Casque.
On the other hand, female veiled chameleons don’t have casques. It is the easiest way to differentiate between your male and your female veiled chameleon.
Image Credit: WikiHow
Why Should You Go For A Male Chameleon?
Some pet owners and chameleon care specialists, when recommending chameleons to new pet owners usually recommend a male chameleon over a female chameleon. Reasons include:
Color and Beauty
If you ask any random chameleon owner to list the reasons why they have a pet chameleon, one of the reasons they will list is because chameleons can change colors. Even people who do not have chameleon as pets are still fascinated by the chameleon’s ability to change into different vibrant and rich colors.
Surprisingly Chameleons only become able to change colors as adults.
Hatchlings are often drab until they get to about six months old or in some cases even longer. The other thing that you may also see as a chameleon owner is that your chameleon is changing colors, but it is not as bright as the coloration of other chameleons. In that case, it could be that your chameleon is female. In most species of chameleons, particularly among veiled chameleons, females are less colorful than males.
A lot of owners who do not know this become disappointed when they discover that their chameleon is not as beautiful as they feel it should be.
However, this is not to say that female chameleon is incapable of changing color.
They can also change into beautiful vibrant colors, especially during the mating season when they are receptive to males or when they are carrying a clutch of eggs.
Therefore, if you are looking for a chameleon that you and your friends and visitors can admire all day long because of its color and beauty, the best gender of chameleons for you is a male chameleon.
Image Credit: Taiwan Chameleon
Care and Health Issues
As with all female reptiles, female veiled chameleons lay eggs from where their hatchlings chameleons come from. However, unlike most reptiles, female chameleons lay eggs even when they do not have a male to mate with.
Of course, if the eggs are not fertilized, they won’t hatch, however, the chameleons will still lay them regardless.
Female chameleons start laying eggs from when they are around six months old, and they continue to do so every few months for the rest of their lives.
Normally female chameleons lay eggs without complications, however, the process of laying eggs has been known to cause stress to female chameleons and it often ends up shortening their life spans.
However, if you provide your female veiled chameleon with a suitable place to lay her eggs within her enclosure, the process will not be quite as stressful.
If your female chameleon does not have the optimal conditions, she might become egg bound. Egg binding is a condition where a female chameleon is carrying eggs but is unable or unwilling to lay them.
An egg bound chameleon can become seriously ill as the eggs she has retained inside her absorbs all the nutrients that she is supposed to use for her own growth.
In some cases, egg binding has been known to be a cause of death in female chameleons. The eggs press down on her lungs and she becomes unable to breathe properly. (See more: HOW TO IDENTIFY AN EGG BOUND CHAMELEON.)
This means that to ensure that your female chameleon does not become egg bound or suffer any ill health as a result of laying eggs, you must provide her a container of sand within her cage for her to lay her eggs in.
You must also keep her at a slightly cooler temperature than a male as well as monitor her diet much more strictly so that she either won’t lay eggs at all or would lay fewer eggs in each clutch, thereby reducing the stress on her body and allowing her to live longer.
Male chameleons don’t lay eggs obviously and that means less stress/ trips to the vet in that regard.
Therefore female veiled chameleons are much more difficult to care for than male veiled chameleons and are more likely to succumb to illness or stress.
If you are looking for the gender that will be less likely to require constant medical attention, then you should go for the male chameleon
As we have already noted, female chameleons lay eggs and it has an effect on their health. With the stress of laying eggs and the greater tendency to succumb to diseases and stress, female chameleons do not live for as long as males do.
Where male veiled chameleons can live for as long as 8 to 10 years, female veiled chameleons only live for about 5 years.
So if you are someone who prefers to have their pets for a long time so that you can bond with them, and you dislike having to change pets frequently, then it would be better for you to get a male chameleon.
An adult male veiled chameleon can reach 2 feet in length, making it one of the biggest chameleon species in the world. An adult female veiled chameleon only grows to about 18 inches long. What a smaller size means is a weaker immune system and a more frail body structure which means you have to handle a female veiled chameleon with more care than you would a male chameleon.
Because of their size, female chameleons are more prone to broken bones and injuries.
Also because of their lesser body mass, the conditions that are suitable for a male veiled chameleon might be injurious to the health of a female chameleon.
Therefore, if you are someone who does not have the patience to handle small creatures, then you should go for a male chameleon pet instead.
Why Should You Go For A Female Chameleon?
Having examined the Pros of Choosing a male veiled chameleon over a female chameleon, we should know that rearing a female veiled chameleon also has its own advantages over having a male veiled chameleon as a pet. Here are some of them:
Aggression and Territorialism
Chameleons are extremely territorial creatures in their natural habitats and they can be quite aggressive to intruders into their habitats.
As it is with other reptiles, male veiled chameleons tend to be more aggressive and territorial than female veiled chameleons.
That means male chameleons are more likely to hiss at, or bite their owners (or anything they see as an intruder) or just respond aggressively than female chameleons. (See more: Don’t Worry about Chameleons’ Bite!)
What makes the male veiled chameleon’s aggression downright unpredictable and inconvenient to the pet owner is that the chameleon might not be aggressive because there are intruders in its cage.
It can react aggressively because of something as routine as shedding. That unpredictable behavior contributes to why male chameleons are not easy to rear. (See more: Why is my chameleon shedding? (Caring Guide))
Female chameleons, however, tend to be more placid and friendly than males.
In fact, female veiled chameleons are placid enough that they are able to tolerate other chameleons in their cages to some extent.
As a result, if you are a chameleon lover or one who loves having multiple chameleons in close proximity, the gender of chameleon that is less likely to try and kill its partner is the female chameleon.
Unfortunately, it is a well-known fact that the more a chameleon shows aggression, the more likely it will be stressed and the more likely the chameleon is to suffer for stress-related illnesses. (See more: Can You Put Two Chameleons Together?)
This means that while the female veiled chameleon is more prone to injury, the male chameleon is far likely to fall ill from aggression induced stress.
Thus if you want a pet that will be more likely to warm up to you and your friends as well as be willing to show more affection to you or a pet that will not suddenly bite you with little or no provocation, it is not advisable to have a male pet chameleon.
You are better off choosing a female chameleon as a pet.
This has already been listed as a negative above, but surprisingly it can also be a positive. Because the female veiled chameleon is smaller, it patrols a smaller territory than a male chameleon.
As a result, it does not require a large cage and a lot of space. Where an adult male veiled chameleon requires a space of at least 2 feet wide and 2 feet long, and 4 feet tall. An adult female on the other hand only requires a space of at least 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide by 3 feet tall. It is not just the cage size either. (See more: Best Terrarium size for a Veiled Chameleon)
Since a female veiled chameleon is only two-thirds of the male’s mass, it only requires about two-thirds of the male’s food and water needs. It also requires a cooler temperature than he does.
The female chameleon also does not need as much sunlight, drinking space or basking space like the male chameleon does. With the female chameleon, you don’t have to feed so much or mist so much as you would for the male.
Therefore if you live in an apartment where you don’t have much space to spare and you want a pet chameleon that won’t mind being reared indoors, then the female chameleon is the pet you should go for.
Of course, this is an obvious difference, since it is only the female that lay eggs from which the hatchling comes. If you want to breed chameleons for sale or you just want to have chameleons to give to your friends, then the female chameleon is your best bet. (See more: 7 Things You Need to Know About Baby Chameleons)
Thus from the financial perspective, a female chameleon is more profitable than the male. It costs less to take care of, yet it has the potential to bring in more financial reward to the breeder.
Image Credit: Taiwan Chameleon
From the above, you can see that chameleons are extremely beautiful and interesting creatures to own, even though they are notoriously difficult to care for. Both male and females can make wonderful and fascinating pets with the optimal conditions for their survival are met.
Therefore whatever sex of chameleon you want to buy you must be ready to devote the required time and resources to properly take care of it.
Hope you find this post helpful. If you find anything wrong or outdated, please leave your comment below. I’ll update it as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading.