Chameleon Dead, Sleeping Or Hibernating? (Must Know)

Chameleons are diurnal animals and will not fall asleep during the day, especially in front of their owner. Therefore, finding your chameleon’s eyes shut during odd times can make you wonder whether they are asleep or dead.

So, is my chameleon dead or sleeping? If your chameleon is dead, its color will change to black or dark brown, exhibit rigor mortis after some time, then start smelling. On the other hand, a sleeping chameleon will have one or both eyes closed, with the center part looking like a little slit. It will also display its beautiful colors, and if you try waking it up, it will display a color change out of annoyance.

Finding out whether your chameleon is dead or sleeping is important as a sleeping chameleon will most likely become annoyed if any attempt is made to wake them from their slumber. A dead chameleon on the other hand will need to be disposed of carefully and if the chameleon is in the final stages of dieingthey will need some form of comfort for the last few hours of their lives.

Chameleons are solitary pets and do not mind living alone, both in the wild and captivity. To survive in the wild, they have natural adaptations, such as color change, to threaten other chameleons or express dominance.

Generally, chameleons are shy, and, if threatened, they will play dead. This behavior is very common if you disturb them when they are sleeping. Your chameleon will fall from its branch, curl into a fetal position, and darken its color. A chameleon can stay in this position for some minutes and will not move or show any signs of life until they feel that their threat has moved away.

For this reason, you should house them independently as they are also aggressive towards each other and the last thing you want to do is cause the prematire death of a chameleon by housing two together who will fight to the death.

Why Is My Chameleon Laying on the Bottom of Cage?

In the wild, chameleons will survive in different environments depending on their species. If you want your chameleon to live healthily in captivity, you should mimic these conditions, failure to which will compromise its health and cause death.

A chameleon will lay on the bottom of the cage if the conditions in its cage are uncomfortable. Thus, before concluding sickness or death, you should check and adjust the cage temperature. Too cool temperatures will affect your chameleon functions, such as digestion, and your pet will not eat, resulting in low energy levels.

In addition to the temperature, you should check the humidity and lighting. The humidity should be high, about 80%, to prevent dehydration, which may cause kidney failure. Misting the cage will bring the humidity to these levels.

You should also provide enough water to your chameleon through drippers. Finally, ensure your chameleon gets enough UVB lighting to prevent metabolic bone disease, MBD, a common reptile disease that causes muscle weakness.

Chameleon Laying on Its Side?

A healthy chameleon will embrace a normal upright posture when sleeping or moving around its enclosure. Therefore, a change in posture is a concern, especially if there are observable symptoms of ill health.

A chameleon will lay on its side when basking to increase the surface area of its body in direct contact with the light or sun. This is normal and will occur at any time of the day. As your chameleon basks, it will turn its side of the skin directly exposed to the sun black to absorb as much heat as possible. It will also turn other parts of its body into a bright color to prevent heat loss.

How To Save a Chameleon

Poor husbandry will result in dehydration and illness, which are major causes of death in chameleons. A dying chameleon will lay at the bottom of its cage with minimal movement apart from its head.

To save your chameleon, you can bathe it in a shower to hydrate it, hoping that it drinks some water from the shower, which mimics rain. You should also supply enough calcium to boost bone and muscle strength. Improving the cage conditions can also help improve your pet’s health, especially if stress is the main contribution.

If the above techniques do not cause improvement, you should take your chameleon to the vet for further treatment.

How To Revive a Chameleon

A dying chameleon will have sagging skin, weight loss, sunken eyes, and an unusually dark color. Understanding the cause of death is the first step towards reviving and preventing death.

To revive your chameleon, you should identify whether your pet is dehydrated, stressed, has a parasitic infestation, or is suffering from metabolic bone disease. If your chameleon is dying due to dehydration, you can adjust the humidity levels, mist your pet or provide it water through drippers.

You can also shower it if it is 5months or older for about 30 minutes but adjust the showerhead so that it does not directly hit your pet.

If your chameleon is dying due to stress, it will experience loss of appetite, unusually dark or bright pigmentation, aggression, closed eyes, changes in body temperature, and watery feces. Chronic stress will result in eventual death, but you can try eliminating the stressors to revive your pet.

A parasitic infestation will cause a loss in appetite, swollen belly, constipation, emaciation, weakness, and watery feces. If you observe these symptoms, you should take your chameleon to the vet or stop feeding it wild-caught insects, which are the main ways through which chameleons get parasites. You should also disinfect your pet’s enclosure to reduce infestation. Finally, if your pet is dying due to MBD, you should try boosting its calcium levels by providing supplements and exposure to UVB light.

While the above measures can help revive your pet, you should talk to your vet upon noticing the symptoms of ill health. If you try the above remedies, but your chameleon does not come back to life, you should not beat yourself up, as in most cases, it is hard to notice illness in chameleons. However, constantly observing your pet’s mood and behavior can help in early detection and prevent untimely deaths.

How To Comfort a Dying Chameleon

Chameleons are prey creatures and will not display any signs of weakness, including ill health, as this may result in prey attacks. Therefore, it may be too late before you can notice signs of ill health in chameleons. If you have tried reviving it, but all your efforts were in vain, you can comfort your dying pet instead.

To comfort a dying chameleon, lay it on a paper towel or something soft if it is laying on its side. You should also shower it with lukewarm water daily for about ten minutes. While doing this, you should check to ensure its nose does not get below the water.

You can also use a syringe to enable it to drink some bottled water. Finally, while you may not save your dying chameleon, you should take it to the vet for treatment.

Chameleon Dying of Old Age

An old chameleon is physically weak, making it more prone to illnesses. It is best to accept that your pet will eventually die at this stage, and there is little you can do to save it.

On average, a chameleon will die after living for five to eight years. In captivity, chameleons, especially males, live longer due to the conducive environment than in the wild. A chameleon dying due to old age will experience pain from its weakness and ill health. If you notice this, contact your vet and make plans to euthanize it.

How To Dispose of a Dead Chameleon

Before disposing of your chameleon, you should confirm it is dead. This is because chameleons are cold-blooded and can play dead at times. If you think they are playing dead, you can keep your pet warm, and if it does not show any movement after an hour, consider it dead and get set to dispose of it.

You can bury your chameleon in the backyard at a depth of three feet. This depth ensures that animals such as raccoons or your household pets do not dig it up, especially if your pet died due to disease, preventing it from spreading further. When burying your dead pet, do not handle it with bare hands but wrap it using a plastic bag.

You should also bury it away from water bodies to prevent contamination. If you are not willing to bury your chameleon, you can put it in a sealed plastic bag then in a box and indicate that it is a dead chameleon before putting it in a trash bag.

Is my chameleon dead or hibernating?

Chameleons are exothermic creatures; therefore, they tend to be less active to preserve energy for their normal body processes such as digestion. These creatures also hibernate, during which they enter into a state of inactivity to preserve their energy. Therefore, whether your chameleon is dead or hibernating, we understand it is a concern that requires attention.

A dead chameleon will be completely inactive and change its color to a darker shade, while a hibernating chameleon will be less active and eat less. In both cases, your chameleon will feel cold to the touch since they are cold-blooded.

Unlike most creatures, death in chameleons is a process that you can easily confuse with hibernation due to similarities in color and energy. For this reason, you should leave your seemingly dead chameleon in a box for some time if you suspect it is dead to be sure it is dead.

A dead chameleon will become dark and look awful after its death. It will also develop rigor mortis or muscle stiffening after death, but the duration this happens is dependent on your pet’s muscle mass.

If you want to know if your chameleon is dead or hibernating, this is the ultimate guide for you. We will help you find out why your chameleon is throwing up, why it is laying on its side, how to comfort a dying chameleon, the color of a dead chameleon, why chameleons turn black when they die, and why your chameleon is always black. Read through the rest of the sections for more shocking info about your chameleon.

Throwing up is a common sign of ill health in both human beings and most animals. Therefore, if your chameleon is throwing up, identifying the cause is important before assuming treatment.

A chameleon will throw up if it has a respiratory infection, digestive tract blockage, or if it eats the substrate in its cage. A chameleon may also throw up if it overeats. This happens if your chameleon tries to eat more than one insect at a go, causing it to fail to chew properly.

Also, your chameleon’s digestive tract may block due to dehydration, or if you feed it outside its normal routine. To establish whether the vomiting is due to dehydration or overeating, you should check whether the food it has vomited is digested or not before rushing to the vet.

If dehydration is the cause of vomiting, you can use a needless syringe with water and Gatorade for electrolytes. Mix these in half proportions and drip into your chameleon’s mouth while avoiding the nostrils. You should do this in small portions, taking breaks in between to prevent the mixture from passing to the lungs.

After rehydrating your pet, you should check the tank conditions and adjust accordingly to prevent reoccurrence. To do this, check the type of plants in the tank and replace them with those that can hold water.

Why Is My Chameleon Laying on His Side?

Chameleons are prey animals and will hide their weaknesses to prevent predator attacks in the wild. This is why there is a higher chance for you to realize your pet is sick when it is too late. Therefore, understanding your chameleon’s behavior will enable you to prevent unforeseen deaths.

Your chameleon is laying on its side to expose more of its body to the lamp for heat access. Therefore, you should ensure appropriate temperatures in the basking and cool areas of the tank.

On the other hand, if your chameleon is leaning on its side while moving in its enclosure or experiencing difficulty standing or moving its muscles, it is a sign of a metabolic bone disease. You should call your vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

Naturally, a chameleon will bask laterally by positioning its body towards its heat source. This way, it will expose a bigger surface area for maximum heat absorption. Their hinged limbs enable them to flatten their bodies, further increasing the surface area exposed to the heat source.

As your chameleon basks, it will darken its portion of the body directly exposed to the heat source to absorb maximum heat. It will also lighten the unexposed part to retain its heat. Therefore, you should ensure your pet gets access to maximum heat and UV-spectrum light for good health. Lack of exposure to this light will result in health problems such as metabolic bone disease, which could be fatal.

How Do You Comfort a Dying Chameleon?

You will notice signs of ill health when your chameleon is so close to its death. At this point, it is difficult to restore it to life. Even then, you should not leave your pet unattended but care for it to see whether it will show any improvements.

To comfort a dying chameleon, provide some paper towels for it to lean against for comfort. You should also keep it hydrated by using a dropper to keep its mouth moist. You can also shower your pet daily with lukewarm water for about ten minutes. Also, maintain the tank conditions at an optimum.

Finally, you can also get supplements from the vet to boost your pet’s health. If you find the above difficult for you, you can take your pet to the vet for treatment and care as it slowly dies.

What Color Is a Dead Chameleon?

Chameleon deaths result from dehydration, parasitic infestations, stress, and metabolic bone disease. A dying chameleon will exhibit sunken eyes, sagging skin, weight loss, and unusual color change.

After death, your chameleon will change its color to black or brown. This happens because, after death, it loses control over its chromatophores. However, if your chameleon turns to these colors, you should not dispose of it immediately but give it time under observation. You can try misting it and see whether it drinks the water. If you do not observe any movements, then it is safe to consider it dead.

Why Do Chameleons Turn Black When They Die?

Chameleons change their color to show off and communicate with each other. The males mostly use it to intimidate each other, while the females will display different pigments to attract the male. This color change is possible due to the transmission of neural signals.

When a chameleon dies, it will turn black, as it can no longer transmit the neural signals. The skin of a chameleon has different layers, and, depending on its mood, the neural signals will cause its cells to expand or contract, revealing different color combinations. Once dead, it will stop being sensitive to its environment or internal stimuli; hence, no possibility of a color change.

Why Is My Chameleon Turning Black? Always Black?

Chameleons change color due to neural impulses. These impulses are triggered by factors in the environment and internal stimuli.

Your chameleon will turn black if it is feeling cold, scared, or stressed. When basking, a chameleon will turn black on the side directly facing the heat source to absorb as much heat as possible. In this case, this color change is normal, and there is no need for concern.

The dark pigment, melanin, in chameleons is also associated with submission. A chameleon will turn black to show other chameleons that it is not a threat. To do this, it will disperse its melanin into its upper skin.

A chameleon will also turn color if stressed. This may happen during a visit to the vet, if it lacks a hiding space, if its enclosure is too small, or if you leave stubborn insects such as crickets and locusts in its enclosure. Strangers in the room or other pets in your home may also scare your chameleon, making it turn black due to these threats.

A relaxed chameleon should be green or blue. Therefore, when it turns black, you should give it space to calm down or make necessary changes in its tank. Once comfortable, your pet will revert to its natural color. Thus, you should be sensitive to the stressing agents, and, where possible, eliminate them from your pet’s space.


Chameleons can play dead if threatened and adopt their dead appearance and color. Thus, before disposal, you should try keeping it warm and see whether it will open its eyes or move. Naturally, a chameleon will die due to ill health, parasites, stress, or dehydration.

To prevent death from these causes, you should keenly observe your pet’s mood and behavior before it is too late, as chameleons will hide their weaknesses in most cases. Your chameleon can also die due to old age; you can opt to euthanize it than let it go through pain from body weakness and ill health.

Regardless of the cause of death, you should not leave your chameleon to suffer. Instead, try comforting or saving it through rehydration or giving supplements. If your pet dies after putting in efforts to revive it, dispose of it by burying it or wrap it well and place it in the trash bag for garbage collection.

Chameleons are prey animals and will not display weaknesses such as illness to their predators. For this reason, it may take longer for you to notice your chameleon is dying. In most cases, you may confuse this process with hibernation. However, if you observe symptoms such as sunken eyes or sagging skin, you can try saving your pet by taking it to the vet.

If you notice the illness when it is too late, you can comfort your dying chameleon by misting it with electrolytes to rehydrate it. You should also provide a soft paper towel for your chameleon to lean on. A dying chameleon will change its color to black since, after death, no neural transmissions are occurring in response to the environment or internal stimuli.

Besides death, your chameleon will also turn black when the temperatures are too low or when stressed. When basking, your pet will turn the side of its body in direct contact with the heat into black to absorb as much heat as possible. Also, the presence of strangers and other pets in your pet’s enclosure will cause distress and make them turn their color to black.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is an owner of several pets including reptiles, cats and dogs. An avid writer, who loves to share her insights into caring for pets.

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