Chameleon Eyesight Checked (Night vision)

Chameleons are exciting reptiles known for their unique ability to change their colors. Amazingly, its eyes are located on the opposite sides of the head and protrude outside. Also, it can control both eyes independently; however, the bigger question is how well those eyes can see.

So, can chameleons see in the dark? Chameleons cannot see in the dark because they lack rods in their eyes, the cells responsible for giving animals the ability to absorb light through their eyes. Chameleons are diurnal creatures, and they are always active during the day, hunting insects and sleeping during the night. Chameleons have great eyesight during the day, but, at night, their vision is even worse than that of human beings.

Another reason why a chameleon cannot see in the dark is evolution. Since chameleons do not need to move or hunt at night, their eyes did not develop to see well in the dark.

The ability to see well at night is perfect for nocturnal animals that are active during the night. Chameleons are always asleep during the night, so they do not need the ability to see in the dark. Read on to discover more shocking info about a chameleon’s eyesight and how light affects their sleep.

When you look at your chameleon, you will notice its eyes are quite different from other lizards. The bulging eyes that move in different directions make you wonder how well those eyes serve your chameleon.

Chameleons can see well during the day because they have extra cones in their eyes. There are two types of cells inside the eyes that give an animal the ability to see objects. These cells are known as cones and rods. Cones are cells that can distinguish colors, while rods are cell responsive to light.

Chameleons have many cones in their eyes, giving them the ability to see ultraviolet colors. During the day, your chameleon can see more colors than you because humans have few cones in their eyes.

Chameleons can see objects in very sharp detail up to half a mile away, an impressive ability because most animals rely on an object near them to distinguish it. The reason why chameleons can see objects that are far is their eyelids. The eyes of a chameleon are held in place by one eyelid that covers the whole eyeball leaving space for the pupil. The small opening for the pupil is like a camera lens that can focus on an item with great accuracy.

Chameleons have monocular and binocular vision. Monocular vision is a vision where both eyes are used separately, while binocular vision is the ability to maintain visual focus on an object with both eyes. Your chameleon uses monocular vision to scan its environment and look for insects.

Therefore, while one eye spots the insect, the other eye focuses on the insect transitioning to binocular vision. This type of vision is very effective for hunting and escaping prey. In case one eye spots a predator, the chameleon will use the other eye to scan the environment for an escape route.

Do Chameleons Have Good Eyesight?

As a chameleon owner, you have seen how unique your pet’s eye structure is. When the chameleon is resting on the tree’s branch, you can see the eyes moving in different directions. Therefore, you might be curious to know how good your chameleon’s eyesight is considering it can move them in different directions at once.

Chameleons do have good eyesight but only during the day and it is much better than humans. Chameleons have a negative lens, while most vertebrates have positive lenses. A negative lens is also known as a concave lens, which means that the chameleon can focus on an object because of high image magnification.

Chameleons also have a positive cornea, which means its convex, enabling it to improve the magnification of the image and sight resolution. All these incredible features mean that your chameleon sees all objects in high definition.

A chameleon’s eyesight is only good during the day or when there is another source of light near it at night. Chameleons lack rods, cells responsible for absorbing light; hence, when the sun goes down, a chameleon becomes blind.

Chameleons are experts at hiding, so the lack of good vision at night is not a huge problem. At night, chameleons usually turn pale, blending into the background, making it difficult for nocturnal predators to see them.

Chameleons only have an 18 degrees blind spot behind their head, which means they can see a large part of their body without turning their heads. Thanks to its unique anatomy, a chameleon can rotate its eyes 342 degrees; therefore, it can see its environment well without the need to turn its heads or body.

Chameleons are slow creatures, and they cannot outrun predators when attacked. A chameleon uses its eyes to judge how far the predator is while remaining still and inconspicuous.

Do Chameleons Need Darkness?

A good night’s sleep with no disturbance is very important. Some animals can go to sleep when it is bright outside, while others require darkness to sleep. When buying useful equipment to install in your chameleon’s tank, you might be wondering if you need to install a night light.

Chameleons do require darkness to sleep. As diurnal animals, chameleons will sleep during the night when the sun goes down. Therefore, you can dim the lights in the room you keep the chameleon or cover the tank with a piece of cloth.

You have to make the room completely dark; your chameleon can remain awake during the night even when your television is on. If you are using the room, take the chameleon’s tank to another room with no lights.

One of the pieces of equipment placed in a chameleon’s tank is the heat lamp. Like all reptiles, chameleons require heat to digest their food properly. Some people use heat lamps that simulate the rays produced by the sun.

Since the chameleons are active during the day, you only need to keep the heat lamp on during the day. However, you cannot keep the heat lamp on during cold nights because the light will affect your chameleon’s sleep. If you have to increase the temperature inside the tank at night, you can use a heating pad.

New chameleon owners usually go home with a red UVB lamp to keep the chameleon warm at night. However, a UVB lamp would be a nuisance because chameleons have better eyesight and can see more colors than humans. Chameleons can see infrared and UV colors.

A drop in temperature at night helps chameleons to sleep. Chameleons can withstand low temperatures at night; veiled chameleons can handle temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while the Jackson chameleon can handle temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do Chameleons Need A Light at Night?

Light is very important in keeping a chameleon healthy and active. Chameleons also depend highly on light to see. Without light, your chameleon is virtually blind. You might be wondering if you need to leave the light on during the night when your chameleon goes to sleep.

Chameleons do not need light during the night, and the darker the tank, the better. Chameleons are diurnal animals; they are active during the day and sleep at night. Chameleons can sleep for 12 hours; therefore, they do not need light during the night.

You can create a day and night cycle for your chameleon to ensure it gets enough sleep. A day and night cycle helps keep your chameleon on a tight schedule, knowing when to wake up and go to sleep.

In the wild, chameleons wake up when the sun rises and will go to sleep when the sun goes down. In captivity, you can create a 12-hour cycle to mimic the sun rising and setting. Usually, most owners start the 12-hour cycle at 6, or 7 am and end at 6 or 7 pm. It is easier to use a timer switch to turn the lights on and off in the chameleon’s tank.

You should also adjust the daylight cycle according to your chameleon. Chameleons native to rainforests sleep for a long hours compared to those native to arid and semi areas. If you live in a well-lit city or neighborhood, keep your chameleon’s tank in a place where it cannot be disturbed by bright street lights.


Chameleons have a really good vision system that helps them survive in the wild. The rotating eyes can help your chameleon observe its surroundings well and plan its movements. During the day, a chameleon’s eyesight is impeccable, and they can see insects and predators in high definition. However, during the night, chameleons are virtually blind.

The eyes of most vertebrates usually contain rods and cones, cells responsible for absorbing light and colors. Chameleons have many cones giving them the ability to see ultraviolet colors. If you install a UVB light and keep it on at night, your chameleon will be uncomfortable and might not sleep well. Therefore, there is no need to install a night light and if you have to keep your chameleon warm during the night, find other ways to do so, such as using a heating pad.

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