Are you a new chameleon owner and want to better understand how to tame your pet?
Is your chameleon acting aggressively?
Having a more tame chameleon will better allow you to form a positive relationship with your pet, and it will also help keep them from being stressed when they are around you.
To get to a stage where your chameleon is used to regular handling, you must know how to tame your chameleon.
Keep reading this article for more information about how to tame your pet chameleon.
Table of Contents
Steps For Taming Your Chameleon
1. Give Them Time
This might seem odd, given this article is about how to tame your chameleon, but when you first bring your chameleon home, they are going to be stressed and afraid.
You are bringing them into a whole new environment, and you are a stranger to them.
It is best to give them some time to acclimate to their new surroundings and make their enclosure their home.
Chameleons are not like other reptiles and are seen as being much more easily stressed and more fragile than some of their cousins.
Whether you had the chameleon shipped to your home, or you found your new pet at a local store, bringing it into your home is a big change for them.
They probably won’t eat for the first few days in their new home.
Give them time to become familiar with their enclosure and to explore their home.
Patience is key to this, and even though it might be difficult, try to avoid handling your new pet for at least a week or even two.
Once you notice they are beginning to be more comfortable and are eating, move on to step two.
2. Start With Hand Feeding
Who doesn’t like the person feeding them?
Food is a great way to condition your chameleon to associate you with something positive, like food.
Once your chameleon is acclimated to their new home, try to start feeding them by hand.
This involves you holding an insect out for them to snatch with their long and sticky tongue.
You will need to be patient as they are likely to make you wait for it unless they are very brave.
The best chance of them taking it from your hand to begin this response is with the first insect of the day.
Your chameleon should be the hungriest and, therefore, most likely to actually follow through and take the insect from you directly.
Now, you don’t have to use your hand exclusively.
Use your hand to feed your chameleon, but if you are hesitant to handle some of the insects, use tongs or tweezers to hold them.
Also, don’t put your hand, or the insect too close, especially at first, as this could make them nervous.
Patience is going to be key in this process, and building trust between you and the animal won’t happen overnight.
It could take days or even weeks for your chameleon to trust you and take the insect from your possession.
Keep trying and don’t give up, but also don’t push too hard.
If you try to hold the food in place for a few minutes one day and see your chameleon is not interested, stop for the day.
Also, go for insects they especially find tasty, and the chameleon will be more likely to take it directly from you.
3. Let Them Explore Outside Their Cage On Their Terms
Your chameleon is going to be cautious about everything around them, even once they acclimate to their home.
As they are learning you are someone they can trust, avoid forcing them out of their cage.
Even if you think you are gentle and your intentions are good, your chameleon doesn’t understand, and all they see is a predator coming at them.
Start to get them more used to you by allowing them to be outside of their cage, but on their terms.
Leave the door of their cage open and place a tree or branch near the opening.
Stay in the room with the chameleon, and slowly, they will begin to wander outside their cage and perch on the branch.
The first few times could take hours, but eventually, they will get curious and venture out.
The next time will be easier, and slowly, they will be comfortable being out of the cage.
Once this has happened, begin to put your hand flat out in front of the chameleon and give them another kind of branch or path.
Let your chameleon do his thing, and just leave him be on your hand.
Slowly, you will build a level of trust, and you will find the chameleon will begin to walk over your hands and allow holding.
Slowly increase handling sessions, but make sure you are not pushing your animal too hard.
Take your cues from them and listen to the signals they are sending you.
It might sound like we are a broken record, but patience is going to guarantee success here.
4. Handling Equals Positive Things For Them
Since you have now built the trust and your chameleon allows you to hold them, you need to enforce the behavior, by only making it a positive experience.
Do things like taking them outside to bask in the natural sunlight or letting them roam on a plant by themselves while you work.
Soon enough, your chameleon will understand only good things come when the cage door opens, either they get food, or they get to roam and get sun.
Handling is stressful for chameleons, as they are not social creatures, but with positive reinforcement and some bribes of tasty insects and warm sunlight, they can learn to be tame and tolerate these sessions.
How Often Should I Handle My Chameleon?
You might be wondering how often you should handle your chameleon once it is tame.
Every chameleon is going to be different, just like every person is different, and what one chameleon will tolerate another might not.
Chameleons have not been domesticated as long as other animals, so they are not as open to being around people and being held by them.
They are shy creatures and solitary, so don’t try to overdo it with holding them.
They will send you signals if they are not happy, like hissing, turning color, or simply moving away.
Overall, if you are looking for a reptile to constantly be holding, this is probably not the one for you.
They will learn to tolerate you holding them, but it doesn’t mean they always want the attention.
Important Things To Remember: What Not To Do
Earlier, we talked about making handling sessions or coming out of their cage a positive experience.
There are some things you might do your chameleon accidentally will find stressful and even frightening, making the experience a negative one.
Grabbing Your Chameleon From Above
One major thing you should avoid is picking up your chameleon from above.
In nature, predators come from above, so your hand is only going to remind them of the very engrained situation.
Even if your chameleon was bred and raised in captivity, hundreds of years of evolution could not be erased in the few decades these animals have been kept as pets.
They don’t just lose their instincts because they have never been in the wild.
You could do damage to their feet if they are firmly perched on a branch, and you grab them from above.
Keep Your Chameleon Above Your Head
Another thing to avoid is being above your chameleon.
Again, this is best avoided because they will see you as a predator.
Keep your chameleon’s cage elevated on a table and provide them with branches to help keep them above your head as much as possible.
Move Slowly Around The Enclosure
When you are in the same room as the enclosure, make sure you are not running and moving too quickly.
If you’re moving too quickly, your chameleon will be extremely nervous and might even see you as a threat.
They don’t understand there is a barrier between you and them while they are in the cage, instead only seeing fast movement similar to a predator’s.
Moving slowly will help keep your chameleon at ease and allow them to be more comfortable in their surroundings.
When they are comfortable, they will be in a better mood and more willing to trust you.
Taming your chameleon is not an overnight process, but if you have the patience, it will make your chameleon’s life and yours better.
If you need to take your chameleon to the vet or just want to give them the ability to roam, learning how to tame the animal will be easier and less stressful.
After reading this article, we hope you have a better handle on what it takes to tame your pet chameleon.