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How To Pet A Chameleon

Are you nervous about how to properly pet your new chameleon?

Does your chameleon seem not to like it when you pet him?

If you are feeling nervous or unsure, you might ask:

How do I pet a chameleon?

The short answer they don’t enjoy being petted. Chameleons are known to be anti-social creatures, but there are some exceptions, and some might enjoy gentle stroking underneath their chins. They will let you know if they do not like the attention by walking away, gaping their mouth, and even turning colors.

Keep reading for more information on petting your chameleon.

how to pet a chameleon

Petting Your Chameleon

Chameleons are extremely interesting, and owning one is quite the experience, but if you are looking for a pet to pet and snuggle, chameleons are just not it.

They are known for being solitary animals, and most of the time, do not enjoy having anyone pet them.

There are exceptions to this, and some pet chameleons have developed a tolerance for being petted.

If you do decide to try to pet your chameleon, it is best to start with gentle strokes underneath their chin.

This should only be attempted after your chameleon has settled into their new home and have grown accustomed to you.

Start slowly and gently with your finger, if your pet is not afraid of your hands, or using a stick.

Some chameleons will become tolerant and even enjoy the gentle petting, and you may be able to attempt to do so on up and down their backs.

Each chameleon will have their own personality and their limits.

As their owner, it is important to understand this and not push too hard too fast.

If they give you any warning signs showing they do not want the attention

How To Tell If Your Chameleon Is Uncomfortable

If your pet chameleon is not happy or uncomfortable with being held or having you pet it, they will let you know, without hesitation.

There are both passive and more aggressive ways; they will let you know how they are feeling.

If your chameleon wants to be left alone, they might puff themselves up in an attempt to look larger than they normally are.

Your chameleon could go as far as hissing at you or even lunging at you if you get too close.

Finally, as a lost resort, if you continue to push or bother them, they can even go so far as to bite you.

There are also passive indications of showing you they are uncomfortable.

They might change their color, turning black, indicating a dark mood.

Your chameleon might also choose to hide or walk away from you if they are feeling upset.

Be sure to have plenty of plant cover and hiding areas for them in their enclosure, to give them the ability to hide if they are feeling threatened.

Which Chameleon Species Will Tolerate Holding And Petting

There are only a few species of chameleons which should be kept as pets, and of those few, some will tolerate physical contact better than others.

Most chameleons do not enjoy being held or having their owner pet them, but Jackson’s chameleon is going to be the most docile of the popular pet chameleon species.

These chameleons, who often have three horns protruding from their head and look like miniature dinosaurs, were originally found in Africa, and have been bred in captivity since the early 1980s.

Jackson’s chameleons are readily available, and males live as long as eight to 10 years in captivity.

Females have shorter lifespans of four to five years because their main goal in life is to reproduce and give birth to the next generation.

Producing multiple broods per year wears the female out, causing a shorter lifespan.

Again, every chameleon is going to have a different personality, so you might find your panther chameleon or veiled chameleon enjoys physical contact.

How To Help Your Chameleon Be More Comfortable

It is important to remember your chameleon’s limits and not to push them too far, as this can cause stress.

Stress is a leading cause of illness and death in chameleons held in captivity.

If they do not want to be held on a certain day or at all, try not to get frustrated and don’t push.

There are some things to do as their owner to help them become more comfortable around you, which can lead to them being comfortable with physical touch.

It is important to move slowly when you are around their enclosure.

These animals are easily stressed and are very shy.

Having people around them goes against their very deeply ingrained nature, but moving slowly will help them feel more at ease.

As you begin to work with your chameleon more and more, remember to never pick them up from above.

In the wild, birds prey on chameleons from above, and a hand coming at them from above will cause stress and scare them.

Even if your chameleon has never been in the wild, those generations of survival instincts are ingrained in their DNA, and they will associate your hand coming from above with a predator coming to attack them.

One great way to get your chameleon used to you is to get them to associate you with food.

To them, food is a good thing, and if you hand feed your chameleon, they will associate you with good things, aka food.

If you hand feed them enough, they will learn when it is feeding time and might even come down from their perch to greet you.

For this to happen, make hand-feeding a regular habit and a good experience for them.


Chameleons are, by nature, shy and cautious creatures used to being solitary.

Petting your chameleon is not going to be something they regularly enjoy or even want.

It is important first to get your chameleon accustomed to you and its new home before you make slow, gentle attempts to pet them, first under the chin.

Remember not to push your chameleon too hard because every animal will have their own personality and limits.

Some will enjoy the attention where others will not.

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