Pets can “trend “just like any other part of our lives. Movies, commercials, viral youtube videos all can influence popular desire for certain types of pets. Sometimes, its a good thing, like celebrities influencing people to adopt shelter animals. Other times is isn’t, influencing people to make decisions about pets that they cannot properly take care of, or do not provide the experience they thought they'd get.
I regularly get calls asking about anything from foxes (and What Do they Say), raccoons, skunks, monkeys, and now, thanks to cute youtube videos, sloths are a current favourite. Most of these animals are either restricted by local exotic pet bylaws, or by CITES, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. Even if local bylaws allowed for their keeping, unless you are an accredited zoological park, you can't legally buy them.
Sometimes, I can tell people "Yes, you Can get that animal". Most of the time, its the reptile pets that are available, and they can be very rewarding and interesting. More than any other pet, though, proper research needs to be done in selecting an appropriate species.
We get people in the store all the time asking about the lizards in the phone or insurance commercials. Or the chameleons in the paint commercials. And we have to explain that, no, they don't turn bright pink when they touch something pink. Or Blue. Or Red.
Not that they can't be wonderful pets, just don't expect them to do what you see on TV or animated movies.
Chameleons are a prime example of animals that end up in the wrong hands due to pop culture references. Many go home to inappropriate habitats, sold by people who didn't ask about the new owners preparations. They are very picky about their habitat, requiring very specific temperature and humidity range, as well as specific foods and they only drink running water, so a waterfall, mister or dripper system is needed for them.
Set up properly, a chameleon can be a very interesting and rewarding pet. But without the proper equipment, it is doomed to a slow wasting death. So, please, as when purchasing any new animal, do the research first, and buy from a trusted source.
Many times you will find exotic pets on online classifieds or in the paper at a too good to believe price. Sometimes its just a great deal, but too often it is an animal that has not been cared for properly, being offered in a habitat that isn't appropriate, by an owner that has grown tired of it and just wants to get rid of it before it dies. Sometimes these animals can be saved, and become good pets when that proper equipment is purchased for them. But sometimes, they are too far gone, and even the best efforts cannot save them.
I seem to be always saying the same thing about doing research before you purchase, but that is probably the best piece of advice anyone can get. Get the facts first, for you and your pet's sake.