Chameleon Care

Species Overview

Scientific Name: Chamaeleonidae

Chameleons or chamaeleons (family Chamaeleonidae) are a distinctive and highly specialized clade of Old World lizards with 200 species described as of June 2015. The members of this family are best known for their distinct range of colors, being capable of color-shifting camouflage. The large number of species in the family exhibit considerable variability in their capacity to change color. For some, it is more of a shift of brightness (shades of brown); for others, a plethora of color combinations (reds, yellows, greens, blues) can be seen (Wikipedia).

Chameleons, the quirky-eyed and fascinating reptiles, are spread around the rainforests and deserts of Asia, Africa, Southern Europe, Hawaii, and Madagascar. Their unique appearance, color-shifting skills, and gentle nature make them popular among reptile lovers.

Learn more about these stunning creatures in our chameleon care guide. From dietary tips to creating the perfect habitat, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about caring for chameleons.

chameleon care

Colors & Appearance

Chameleons are truly mesmerizing. They sport slender bodies, bulging eyes, and prehensile tails, which are useful for grasping branches. Also, some chameleons have unique helmet-shaped heads. The most striking feature of chameleons is their color-changing abilities. However, they don’t only do this for camouflage; it also indicates their mood or health status.

Average Size & Weight

Chameleons vary in size depending on the species. For instance, Brookesia nana chameleons grow only up to 0.5 inches long, whereas Parson’s chameleon can stretch up to 2 feet! Jackson’s and panther chameleons are somewhere in between. When it comes to gender, males are usually heavier, weighing around 180 grams on average, while females max out at 130 grams.


Chameleons live short lives, with an average lifespan of 5-8 years. Reproduction and egg-laying can cause complications leading to death. It’s a major reason why males outlive the females. A chameleon’s lifespan varies according to its type. Jackson’s chameleons have an average lifespan of 8-10 years, Panther chameleons live for 5-7 years max, whereas Veiled chameleons average at about 6-8 years.

More About Chameleons

Chameleons are one of the most fascinating pets. They are low-maintenance and don’t require much attention. But they are pretty particular about their housing and dietary needs. Therefore, you must know all about their habitat, types, lifespan, and diet.

We have the information you’re looking for.


pet chameleon


Chameleons are native to the tropical climates of Madagascar, Hawaii, Asia, Africa, and Southern Europe. Some also live in scrub savannas, semi-deserts, and mountains. In their natural habitat, chameleons live on trees. It makes them arboreal animals.

If you’re getting a pet chameleon, you’ll need a large enclosure with sufficient foliage to match your chammy’s natural habitat. The size of the enclosure depends on the species you choose, but generally, bigger is better.

Different Types

There are more than 150 different types of chameleons. However, some of the most popular ones that you’ll come across at your nearest pet store include:

Panther Chameleon

Panther chameleons, scientifically known as Furcifer pardalis, are found in the Northern and Eastern parts of Madagascar. The females are smaller than the males and aren’t as dramatically colored. Twenty-one inches is the maximum length a Panther chameleon can stretch up to.

This chameleon species is strictly territorial. Males, especially, should not be housed together. If you care for your Panther chammy, they’ll stick around for 5-7 years.

Veiled Chameleon

Veiled chameleons, or Chamaeleo calyptratus, are native to Saudia Arabia and Yemen. These chameleons are exceptionally striking, flaunting hues of greens, yellows, and browns. The males grow up to 24 inches in length. Females, on the other hand, remain adorably short at 13 inches.

Veiled chameleons are docile toward humans. But housing them together can result in fights. Their lifespan, in captivity, ranges between 6 and 8 years.

Jackson’s Chameleon

Jackson’s chameleons, scientifically called Chamaeleo jacksonii, are originally from East Africa. However, now, they are also spotted in California, Hawaii, and Florida. Males are the stunners with bright green shades, yellow markings, and three distinct horns. Females never grow horns and are also shorter.

Jackson’s chameleons can live for about 8-10 years in captivity.

An Interesting Fact About Chameleons

A chameleon’s eyes can look in two different directions (like a kaleidoscope) at the same time. They rotate independently, enabling chameleons to have a 360-degree vision. 

chameleon 360 degree eye rotation

Life Stages

Chameleons have three stages of life, including:

  • Eggs: A female chameleon lays anywhere between 5 and 100 eggs. Once the eggs hatch, baby chameleons are ready to hunt. They grow an inch per week at this stage.

  • Young Chameleons: These little guys are ready to climb bushes, stick out their tongues to catch prey, and take on the world. They remain young adults till they reach sexual maturity.

  • Adult Chameleons: A chammy is full-grown at 18 months. Their size and color are now permanent. They can mate, reproduce, and lay eggs.


Chameleons become prey to birds and snakes. Some species of ants and lizards also take the tiny chameleon eggs.

Sadly, chameleons don’t have the speed to dodge predators. They rely on their natural camouflage to hide from sight.

Chameleons don’t have any threats in captivity, but they can fall sick if they don’t get the right nutrition and care.

bird preying on a chameleon

What Makes Chameleons Great Pets

  • Unique Appearance: Chameleons are some of the rarest-looking pets you’ll ever come across. Their striking colors, unique patterns, and intriguing helmets make them a fun addition to any household.

  • Low Maintenance: Chameleons don’t require daily walks or grooming sessions like dogs or cats. They only need occasional misting, their favorite food, and bushes and branches in the enclosures to climb on.

  • Quiet Companions: Unlike other pets, chameleons are quiet creatures. They don’t bark, meow, or make noises except for the rare hiss.

  • Fascinating Behavior: Chameleons are interesting to watch. They’ll blend into their surroundings, sway with the branches, and catch prey in a split second – a great visual treat.

  • Day Pets: Chameleons are diurnal animals. They’re active during the day and snooze at night. This means you can enjoy their company when you’re awake.

chameleons make great pets

Chameleon Care Guide

Chameleons make great pets, but they aren’t for everyone. Being a responsible chammy parent means mastering their lighting, heating, humidity, and diet needs like a pro. If you’re up for the challenge and do right by them, your pet reptile will stick around longer and be happier. Go through our chameleon care guide to learn more about giving your chammy a good life.

Environment and Housing

One of the most crucial aspects of chameleon parenthood is setting up an enclosure closest to your pet’s natural home. Ideally, it should be at least 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide, lined with reptile carpet and a coconut fiber substrate.

Chameleons enjoy climbing, so add plenty of branches, twigs, and shrubs in their enclosure for them to explore and perch comfortably.

The type of terrarium you select will affect the health of your pet. Glass tanks are not recommended, as they don’t allow enough airflow and can overheat quickly. Go for a screen cage with poly mesh coated wire to ensure your pet stays safe from tow injuries.

chameleon enclosure

Temperature and Humidity

Chameleons come from lush tropical rainforests, so their enclosure needs to reflect that steamy vibe. Make sure there are a few basking spots with temperatures ranging between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

UVB lights and a basking lamp are key to creating the perfect heat gradient in your chameleon’s enclosure. They help mimic the natural sunlight chameleons soak up in the wild.

Humidity is equally important. Too little moisture can cause respiratory issues, whereas too much can cause skin infections and poor shedding. Maintain the humidity at 65-80% for rainforest-like conditions.

Proper Diet​

Chameleons are insectivores, which means they munch on live insects. Give your chameleon crickets, wax worms, super worms, and small roaches, and watch them hunt! Locusts, mantids, and grasshoppers are among their favorites, too.

Chameleons also enjoy snacking on veggies like dandelions and collard greens, but they should only make up 10% of their diet.

Chameleons need calcium in their diet for proper bone growth, so gut-load the prey food before serving it to your beautiful pet.

Young chameleons need food twice a day, while adult chameleons can eat every other day. Keep up with the schedule to avoid health issues.

Since chameleons have super fast and sticky tongues, it’s best to feed them using a tong.

chameleon diet


Chameleons aren’t into sipping from bowls like your average pet. They prefer to drink water droplets off leaves and surfaces. That’s why it’s super important to mist their enclosure at least twice a day with non-chlorinated water.

Set up a drip system or install an automatic misting system for some extra convenience. If you’re not comfortable feeding your chameleon with your hand, you can drop their food in a cup and place it in the enclosure for them to eat at their leisure.


Chameleons are territorial and solitary animals. They aren’t big on space-sharing, so avoid keeping two of them in the same enclosure. Males can become aggressive towards other males during the breeding season and may even harm females.

Chameleons are also pretty shy. So, give them time to adjust to their new surroundings. They’ll eventually warm up and get used to your presence. Always handle them with care and never grab or squeeze them.

chameleons fighting


Chameleons slough their skin as they grow. It’s because their skin doesn’t expand, so they need to shed it for new skin to take its place properly. You’ll notice your chameleon turning pale and then shedding their old skin in patches.

Healthy shedding indicates a healthy chammy. If your pet is struggling with shedding, it’s probably because of poor enclosure conditions. Check the humidity and their diet.

Young chameleons shed more often than adult chameleons.

Courtship And Egg-Laying​​

Copulation lasts for ten to thirty minutes and is followed by a gestation period of 4-6 weeks. During this time, the female chameleon is heavily gravid and will move around less and appear more bloated.

The egg-laying process can take anywhere from one to three hours and requires a suitable substrate of moist soil for the eggs. Keep an eye on your female chameleon during this time, as she may need assistance or medical attention in case of egg-binding.

Interestingly, not all female chameleons lay eggs. Some, like Jackson’s chameleons, give birth to live young.

chameleon laying eggs

Healthcare for Your Chameleon

A healthy chameleon wears its colors with pride, has a relaxed vibe, and is curious about its surroundings. If you notice a change in behavior or appearance, it’s a sign that your pet needs attention.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, metabolic bone disease, gout, and egg retention are common causes of concern in chameleons. These reptiles are also prone to dehydration, respiratory infections, and eye problems.

Poor diet, lack of UV exposure, and parasites are the main culprits behind these diseases. You’ll notice sunken eyes, reduced appetite, and unusual fecal matter in your chameleon if they’re sick.

Interaction and Enrichment

Chameleons prefer keeping it to themselves. They are skittish and get stressed pretty easily. So, it’s best not to rush interactions with them. Be gentle and take things slowly.

When you feel your chammy is ready to be handled, put your hand (slowly) into their cage and let them climb on it. Most chameleons stay frozen when approached, so don’t be surprised if your pet doesn’t move much.

Try not to handle your chameleon for more than 10-15 minutes at a time, and always wash your hands before and after handling to avoid passing any bacteria or viruses onto them.

Mental stimulation is just as important as physical activity for chameleons. Add plants, branches, and other hiding spots to their enclosure to keep them engaged and entertained.

handling a chameleon

Mastering Chameleon Parenthood With Our Chameleon Care Guide

Chameleons are undoubtedly one of the most visually appealing reptiles out there. Although they don’t demand a lot of your time, they are pretty serious about their diet, enclosure vibes, and hygiene. It’s also crucial to learn the best and safest ways of handling them to avoid stress and behavior issues in chameleons.

As a responsible and caring owner, you must also keep up with your pet’s health concerns. Take your chammy for a routine vet visit to ensure they’re in the best of health. With proper care and attention, your chameleon will make a great companion for years to come.

So why wait? Bring home a chammy today and enjoy the unique experience of owning this captivating creature! Keep exploring our site for more information on chameleons and other exotic pets.

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