Chameleons: 10 Amazing Things You Should Know

Chameleons are interesting lizards which provide hours of fascinating enjoyment to their owners. Many potential owners considering chameleons as pets will undoubtedly have questions about these intriguing lizards. Understanding a few important facts about chameleons can go long way in appreciating keeping these animals as pets.

As knowing signs to spot for health related issues, to understanding how chameleons behave in the wild, can be great in keeping a chameleon safe when they are kept as a pet.

Let’s look at 10 amazing things you should know about chameleons.

1. Chameleon cannot swim

Chameleons make lovely pets. Therefore, as a chameleon owner, you need to know about their strength and weakness to ensure their safety.

Chameleons cannot swim; however, they can float on water. A chameleon will fill its body with air to help it float on water and move its legs to move forward. Chameleons do not like water, and it can cause them stress if you keep bathing them in large volumes of water.

Even though the air keeps the chameleon afloat, it can drown when it gets tired, and it has not reached dry land or cannot find a way out of the tub. If you have to bathe your chameleon, use a little water and do not leave your pet unsupervised.

Chameleons are a popular pet choice because of their ability to change colors. There are more facts about chameleons that can help you decide whether to choose a chameleon as a pet. Read on to find more interesting facts about chameleons.

2. Chameleons change color when sad

The ability to change colors is one of the defense mechanisms used by chameleons. Aside from getting away from predators, a chameleon’s color is also a good means of communication. As a chameleon owner, you need to know what the color your pet is displaying means.

A darker color usually indicates your chameleon is sad or stressed. If your chameleon appears to be black, it means your pet is either stressed or ill. The brown color means your chameleon is depressed or cold and about to start brumation.

Dark colors can also mean that your chameleon is scared. Chameleons will stay in dark color until they feel better or the thing or issue causing them stress goes away.

If you notice that your chameleon has changed to a darker color for some time, you need to look for strategies to calm your pet. You can start by improving the conditions in the chameleon’s tank.

Unfavorable conditions can cause your chameleon to have stress, such as low temperature or high humidity. Therefore, always adjust the temperature in the tank and correct the humidity levels in the tank. However, at times, the chameleon just wants to be alone.

You can let it stay by itself for a while, and it will change to a bright color. Also, you can check if your chameleon is injured or sick. If you’ve tried the above measures and your pet still retains the dark color, consider taking it to a vet.

3. Chameleons are high maintenance

Different animals have different needs when kept in a home as pets. Most people choose common household pets such as cats and dogs, while other people choose to keep exotic pets such as chameleons.

For some, chameleons are not the greatest choice of pet since they are high maintenance pets. It is recommended that only people with experience taking care of reptiles should keep chameleons as pets since the requirements to keep a chameleon can be demanding for a new reptile owner.

Also, chameleons are exotic pets, and it may take you a while to find a good vet who specializes in treating exotic pets. Chameleons are also not affectionate pets, and if you are looking for a pet to cuddle with, then a chameleon is not good for you.

One good thing about chameleons is they require little to no attention. As long as your chameleon is well fed, and the conditions in its tank are perfect, you can leave it alone for a long time without causing it stress.

Chameleons are also quiet animals, and you will never get noise complaints from your neighbors if you own a chameleon. Chameleons also do not make a mess. If you have guests in your home, your pet chameleon will come in handy as a good conversation starter.

Before you decide to keep a chameleon as a pet, do some research about them. Talk to other chameleon owners and get their honest opinion about owning chameleons. Prepare yourself to take care of the chameleon by setting aside money to buy essential equipment such as a thermometer, UV light, misting system, among others. You should also set aside funds for vet bills in case your pet chameleons get sick.

4. Chameleons can drink purified water

Water is crucial for the survival of a pet chameleon. In the wild, chameleons find water from moist leaves and tree branches. In captivity, it is your responsibility to ensure that your chameleon has enough drinking water.

Chameleons can drink purified water. Purified water has been filtered to remove impurities like chemicals to make it suitable for use. The purification process removes impurities such as bacteria, algae, fungi, parasites, metals, and chemicals, making the water safe for your chameleon.

Most of these impurities will negatively impact your chameleon’s health if not removed, causing conditions such as kidney disease and digestive system complications.

To avoid making your chameleon sick through impure water, you need to install a good water system. Do not use water because some bacteria which is harmful to chameleons thrive in stagnant water.

You can install a misting system that sprays water inside the tank at different times. Your chameleon will then drink the droplets of water on the plant inside the tank. You can also install a dripper inside the tank, and you can set the dripper’s valve to drop water on the plant at certain intervals for your chameleon to drink.

5. Misting chameleons keeps them hydrated

In captivity, every pet owner strives to ensure that they replicate the natural environment as much as possible. Misting is a common practice among most reptile owners, and you might be wondering if you can mist your chameleon.

You can mist your chameleon a few times a day. Misting is one method of ensuring your chameleon stays hydrated. In the wild, chameleons drink water when it rains. The chameleon will lick the water droplets on the leaves, and misting is one way of mimicking their natural environment.

If you have enough money, you can install a misting system that sprays water inside your chameleon’s tank at selected times. If you do not have enough money, you can use a spray bottle to mist your chameleon.

However, you need to be careful where you install the misting system. The water in the misting system can shoot out of the nozzles under high pressure and cause discomfort to your chameleon.

Therefore, you can arrange the chameleon’s tank to ensure the chameleon stays far away from the misting system. If you are using a spray bottle, make sure you keep a tight schedule. If you fail to mist your chameleon for a few days, it could lead to dehydration.

6. Male chameleons dig holes to regulate temperature

One of the good things about owning a chameleon is that they are fascinating to observe. You can sit and watch your chameleon go about its activities in the tank. While observing your chameleon, you might see it digging a hole in the substrate, and there are a few reasons why it might be doing it.

One reason why your male chameleon is digging a hole is to try to regulate its body temperature. Some species of chameleon, such as the Malthe’s green-eared chameleon, usually dig a hole in the ground when it is too hot. If the temperature in the tank is too high, your male chameleon will dig a hole to escape the heat.

Another reason why your male chameleon is digging a hole is that it is trying to escape. If your chameleon is new, it will try to leave the tank by digging a hole in the substrate. Your chameleon might keep digging holes if the tank is inadequate.

Chameleons prefer a large tank where they can move around freely. You have to buy a large tank and have several branches to keep your chameleon busy. Otherwise, your chameleon will be more interested in the environment on the other side of the glass.

Chameleons are solitary animals, but they usually seek each other during mating season. If your male chameleon is digging a hole, it might be mating season, and your pet is trying to leave the tank to find a mate. Your chameleon might also climb the tank’s wall and become aggressive.

Another reason why your male chameleon is digging a hole is the lack of food. When your chameleon is hungry, and there is no food in the tank, it will start digging holes in the substrate, looking for insects to eat.

7. Chameleons can eat their babies

Most reptiles have a bad reputation when it comes to taking care of their young. Some reptiles mistake their young ones for food, and you might be wondering if your female chameleon might eat its babies after the eggs hatch.

It is possible for a chameleon to eat its babies. Chameleons usually eat insects, and baby chameleons are usually the same size as most insects. In the wild, a female chameleon will not stick around to take care of her babies, and if they cross paths again, the female will eat the baby chameleons.

Chameleons will also eat their babies if they cannot find insects. Baby chameleons are slow and cannot defend themselves, making them an easy target for adult chameleons.

If you are looking forward to breeding chameleons, you have to separate the eggs from the female chameleon before they hatch. Female chameleons usually dig holes before laying their eggs.

As soon as your chameleon starts digging holes, keep track of all the holes. Take the eggs to a different tank and wait for them to hatch. If you missed a few eggs and they hatched inside the female chameleon’s hole, take the babies out as soon as possible.

8. Chameleon bites don’t hurt

Chameleons are always calm when you observe them from a distance. Chameleons are also slow, making you feel safe when you put your hand inside the tank either during feeding or cleaning and maintenance. Therefore, you might be curious, wanting to know if a chameleon bite hurts.

Chameleon bites are not painful because of their size. Most chameleons are small and do not have sharp teeth. A chameleon will bite your finger or hand, but the teeth are not strong enough to break the skin. There might be a stinging sensation, but it will go away as soon as the chameleons stop biting you.

Some of the large chameleons, such as the veiled chameleon, will develop sharp teeth when they grow older, capable of breaking the skin.

The good news is that chameleons are not venomous; hence, their bite is not that dangerous. However, some chameleons have bacteria living in their mouth, and if they manage to break your skin when they bite you, wash the wound and disinfect it.

There are several reasons why your chameleon may bite you, including stress, too much handling, hand feeding, and feeling cornered, among others. If you want to avoid getting bitten by your chameleon, you need to observe its body language.

A chameleon will issue a warning before biting you. Chameleons usually hiss and puff up their bodies to warn any animals going near them. If you ignore the warnings, as a last resort, your chameleon will bite you.

9. Chameleons are not aggressive

When choosing an animal to keep as a pet, most people will consider the animal’s aggressiveness. The less aggressive the animal is, the more likely a person will take it as a pet. If you decide to keep a chameleon as a pet, here are a few things you need to know about their aggressiveness.

Chameleons are not aggressive animals. Most chameleons become aggressive when they feel threatened. A chameleon will hiss as a warning to any animal coming near it. If the hiss does not work, the chameleon will puff up its body, making it look big and intimidating.

A chameleon also uses bright colors to show they are angry, especially when another chameleon is entering its territory. If all the warnings are disregarded, the chameleon will lunge and bite.

In the wild, chameleons are solitary animals, preferring to hunt for insects alone. You cannot keep more than one chameleon inside a tank, whether they are of the same sex or the opposite sex.

Male chameleons are very protective of their territory and will fight other chameleons to control the territory. If you want to keep more than one chameleon in your home, keep them in separate tanks away from each other.

The most aggressive species is the veiled chameleon, but it does not mean that it will attack you at will. A veiled chameleon is extremely territorial and becomes instantly aggressive whenever an intruder walks into their territory.

You can live with a veiled chameleon as a pet for a long time, but it will still hiss and puff whenever you approach its tank. The most docile species is the Jackson chameleon. Jackson chameleons are easy to handle because they are not so quick to display aggressiveness.

10. Chameleons can angry over territory

Most owners want their pets to be happy whenever they are close to them. You may notice that your chameleon is always angry whenever you go near its tank. Several reasons might explain why your chameleon is so angry.

Chameleons are territorial animals, and one of the reasons why your chameleon is angry is that you keep encroaching on its territory. The tank is your chameleon’s territory, and each time you go near it or place your hand inside it, your chameleon sees that as an invasion.

To calm your chameleon down, you need to reduce movement towards its tank. Ensure that you only approach the tank when necessary, such as feeding the chameleon, cleaning the tank, or maintaining the equipment in the tank.

Stress can also cause your chameleon to be angry. Several issues can give your chameleon stress, such as unfavorable living conditions in the tank. Chameleons, like other reptiles, control their body temperature using their immediate environment.

If you set the temperature inside the tank too high and there is no cooling area, your chameleon will not have the means to lower its body temperature. Your chameleon will become angry and will hiss a lot until you adjust the temperature to make it comfortable.

Also, your chameleon might be sick or injured, making it angry. A chameleon will hiss when it is in pain or suffering from an illness. In such a case, you have to pick it up and examine its body for injuries.

Other reasons why your chameleon is angry might include fear, urge to mate, pregnancy, or introduction of another chameleon in its cage. If the conditions in the tank are perfect, but the chameleon is still hissing, you should take it to a vet for diagnosis and treatment.


Chameleons make good pets, but they can be difficult to maintain. Therefore, you need a lot of preparation before taking one home. If you are a new reptile owner, you should start with another reptile that requires less attention.

If you decide to keep a chameleon as a pet, you have to make sure its living conditions in the tank are perfect and check for any body language that tells you it is uncomfortable or angry.

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