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Best Chameleon For Handling (And Do They Like To Be Held?)

Chameleons make great pets. They are quite colorful and have unique personalities, but it’s important to note that they are not usually fond of being handled. However, there are some chameleons that tolerate handling relatively well, making them great pets for beginners. Still, if you’re looking for a chameleon for beginners, you may want to opt for one of the best chameleons for handling.

The best chameleons for handling need to respond well or at least neutrally to being touched. Even if a chameleon doesn’t fight you, it still may get highly stressed when being handled. Though most don’t like being handled, these 3 tolerate it reasonably well:

In this article, we’ll show you the best chameleons for handling that are friendly, easy to care for, and can be handled without too much stress for them. We’ll also share some surprising details about the best chameleon for beginners. So, keep reading to learn more!

best chameleon for handling

Is It OK To Handle Chameleons?

Yes and no. Chams don’t like being handled.

Even the ones who tolerate it well don’t seem to enjoy it. But if you think about it, this makes sense.

In the wild, there is no comparison for these reptiles.

They don’t cuddle or even often interact with other chameleons of the same species.

Is it OK to handle them? Yes, to a certain degree.

Some chams react neutrally to handling, such as the Rudis, Oustalet’s, and Jackson’s chameleons.

But others have very poor reactions.

The Panther and Veiled chameleons, both considered among the most popular and easy-to-care-for chams, react negatively to excessive handling.

Both of these chameleons will either attempt to bite at you or go under a state of extreme stress.

As a result, their colors turn brown, and when too stressed, they may stop eating.

Handling rarely and for brief periods is fine, but don’t plan on playing with them.

Chameleons are more of a watch and observe kind of pet.

Your other big concern is if the chameleon escapes.

Even large chameleons may climb up and into small spaces.

Then, it may change to a stressful color and blend in, making it difficult to find.

When you’re working with your chameleon take the time to train and tame them so they become accustomed to you.

This will help your pet manage the stress that often comes from handling.

Check out our article on taming chameleons to learn how to do this.

Which Chameleon Is Best For Handling

The 3 I mentioned above do make for the best chameleons for handling.

Each of the 3 (Rudis, Oustalet’s, and Jackson’s) will handle more than sporadic handling well and without stress.

rudis chameleon

For pure handling, the Rudis chameleon is considered to be the best cham for handling.

This is because it never fights back and never seems to get stressed by it.

However, too much handling may cause damage to their skin.

Oils and sweat on your hand aren’t meant to be in contact with the chameleon for too long.

They’ll end up with small sores with too much handling. This is largely due to the drying out our hands can cause.

Warning! Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling a chameleon.

Best Chameleon For Beginners

With this information, you’d expect to hear one of these three chams as the best chameleon for beginners.

But a good beginner chameleon is more than just how it takes to handle.

Even though the Panther chameleon may like it the least, we suggest this as the best cham for beginners.

panther chameleon

The panther chameleon is large enough and tough enough; it doesn’t seem to get ill as often as the other species.

It also handles small changes in the environment better than the other species.

Jackson’s chameleon is a close second.

Though it’s more prone to illness than the panther, Jackson’s chameleon is better at being handled than the panther.

The Rudis and Oustalet chameleons are great for being handled and reasonably tough, but their sensitivity for being handled puts them on the beginner but not the easiest list.

veiled chameleon

You may have noticed a lack of veiled chameleons in this section.

While the veiled chameleon may be the most common chameleon pet species, it’s actually of moderate difficulty.

Veiled chameleons (which have a moderate life span) are also one of the most often to be killed accidentally by owners.

The veiled chameleon has a few things going against it in this department.

First, while they do well in captivity, they’re pretty sensitive.

First, handling them causes them high stress. Second, veiled chameleons are prone to developing illness when the cage isn’t quite right.

Additionally, veiled chameleons need specific temperature, humidity, and UVB requirements. 

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Do Chameleons Bite Humans?

Only when they feel threatened will a chameleon try to bite a human. Outside this, chams aren’t typically biters.

Usually, you have a lot of warnings before the cham bites at you.

They’ll begin by shying away from you, changing color to darker and more brown, and hissing. 

When you see these signs, your chameleon is stressed and, depending on the species, may bite at you to defend itself.

A chameleon may also bite at you if it’s surprised by grabbing it from behind.

Fortunately, chameleons bites aren’t poisonous or toxic by any means. They do hurt!

Chams don’t have teeth in the sense we think of teeth. So though it may hurt, it won’t draw blood.

If bitten, you shouldn’t have to do anything more than wash with soap and water to remove potential salmonella (which comes whenever you handle any reptile) and possibly apply a cold compress for pain.

The Rudis chameleon won’t bite in almost any circumstance.

The Oustalet’s and Jackson’s chameleon will only bite if extremely stressed or surprised.

Panther chameleons are more likely to bite if stressed or surprised. Veiled chameleons won’t usually bite, but they will get so stressed they’ll make themselves sick.


Now you know which chameleon is the best chameleon for handling.

The Rudis chameleon takes it the best, but the Oustalet’s and Jackson’s chameleons come in a close second place.

Any of these three would make a good chameleon for beginners, though the Panther chameleon is still the best overall.

Veiled chameleons are also considered suitable for beginners by popular belief.

However, their tendency towards illness, extreme dislike of being handled, and sensitivity to environmental changes make them moderate difficulty species.

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