Frequently Asked Questions

Q I know chameleons must have special needs, but what are they?

To review a detailed checklist, please click on the following link:
Checklist: Everything You Need For Your Chameleon .

Q How much should my chameleon drink?
A Water is essential for your chameleon's health. Fresh water should be constantly available. Some chameleons are rarely seen drinking and others drink constantly. There are several methods of offering your pet water (see "hydration").
Q How much should my chameleon eat?
A Babies and juveniles have veracious appetites and eat anywhere from 20 to 30 bugs a day. They should have a continuous supply during the day. Chameleons are "opportunists" eaters, and will not over eat if they know there is a constant supply of food. They can over-eat, but it is not common. They tend to like to nibble all day. Keep a large amount in a bowl to make it easier for them to find/hunt. I put a wide, deep bowl full of dusted bugs at the bottom of the enclosure and use my glue gun to affix a few small twigs across and leading to the bowl for easy access! It is crucial to use a calcium supplement right from the start. As your baby chameleon matures, he/she needs to fortify his/her bones to accommodate the growth. To much weighs or quick spurts of developmental growth can lead to a weak infrastructure that will not sustain your chameleon.
Q Can I keep more then one chameleon in the same enclosure?
A Absolutely NOT! Chameleons are very territorial, solitary creatures. They will get extremely stressed and upset if housed together. They have also been known to eat one another so be particularly careful if you have an adult around a hatchling! My chameleons react differently to one another. One puffs up in a territorial display if I walk into the room holding another one. One of my others doesn't seem to care too much, as long as they don't get to close.
Q Do chameleons require annual "shots" or need to be spayed or neutered?

Chameleons do not require annual shots, and since they cannot be housed together, you do not need to neuter your males.

You should however, consider spaying your female chameleon, so she will not develop eggs. Your female will lay eggs (infertile) regardless of whether she has mated or not. If conditions are not "perfect", she will retain the eggs and can become "egg-bound" and die. Therefore, it is always a good idea to consider the procedure.

Signs of a female ready to lay eggs are as follows: stops eating, scratches at bottom of cage, generally wants out!. At this point, place her in a deep, wide bucket/tupperware container. You should have about 1.5 feet of moist "sandbox sand" in it. Ensure it is moist, as they like to dig deep burrows and it the substrate is to dry it will collapse. Do not disturb her and do not feed her while in the bucket! Move her back into her enclosure at night and back in the bucket until she deposits her eggs.

Q Are chameleons affectionate? Do they like being stroked?
A Yes! They enjoy being stroked under the chin especially, with the grain of the ventral crest (move finger from nose to tail under the chin). My chameleons enjoy being swaddled in a blanket and gently stroked in circular motions.
Q Can my chameleon recognize me?
A Yes!
Q Do they eat vegetation?
A Most will not. If yours does not, it's a good indicator that it is not getting enough water and is seeking it out via vegetation. This is fine, just ensure the plants you offer your chameleon are not toxic and implement another watering system.
Q How can I tell if my chameleon gets sick?

Many chameleons will continue to eat and drink even if they are seriously ill. Blood tests can be done to ensure the calcium/phosphorous levels are balanced, but are stressful for the animal, and are no a preventative measure. I suggest photographing your chameleon monthly so you can detect a change more readily in physical appearance.

Your chameleon's shedding cycle can indicate of health and internal functions, but more than often reflect environmental variables such as humidity & heat. Chameleons often go on hunger strikes, triggered by seasonal change or if they are bored with their food. This is not necessarily a sign that something is seriously wrong. Try offering your chameleon some new varieties of insects, and keep the blinds closed during the winter so your chameleon will not detect the shortened daylight cycle. Keep the room lights on during the winter months when its dull & dark. *Tip, put all the lights on timers! That way your chameleon is on a normal diurnal cycle! And they won't care if you sleep in and forget to turn their light on!

Chameleons often walk on the bottom of their environments scratching at the walls if they see a tree or if the temperature is not right (usually too hot) in their enclosures. Make sure these elements are O.K (i.e, temperature, humidity), before you investigate further into a possible illness.

Don't try "quick fixes" or so called remedies you can purchase at your local store. Take your chameleon to a veterinarian and have him/her properly diagnosed and treated. Remember, treating symptoms is not the same as treating the cause of the problem!

Note: A sure sign that your chameleon is ill is if it sits with its eyes closed during the day, or starts to breath through its mouth.

Q How do I know if my chameleon is a male or female?
A It all depends on what kind of chameleon you have, for example, male veiled chameleon have tarsal spurs (little bumps) on their heels of their hind legs, females do not. Males are also larger and tend to be brighter in color and sport more patterns, although this later distinction can only been seen when they are more mature. Tarsal spurs can be readily seen at birth. It is very important to know if your pet is a male or female, as females will need special supplements and conditions when they are ready to lay infertile eggs.

Many other types of chameleons are difficult to sex at young ages, as the esthetic variances between male and female are not visible until they are mature. Male panther chameleons for example have more defined rostra crests, and have their tails are thicker at the base.

Q My Chameleon is hissing and puffing up while in it's enclosure, is something wrong?

This type of body language could mean several things; for example….

  • There is something in his environment that is not right like the temperature,
  • Your chameleon is able to see its reflection and thinks there is another chameleon in its enclosure. (this is common with glass enclosures),
  • Other house hold pets are bothering your chameleon, it does not have enough privacy,

It is very important to attempt to isolate the variable that is causing your chameleon distress, as stress significantly shortens a chameleon's lifespan.
I suggest isolating one variable at a time and then observing your chameleon to see how it reacts, so you are aware of the element that was troubling it, as opposed to randomly changing everything.

Q My chameleon is scratching at the walls of its enclosure, why?
A If your chameleon is a female, It is very likely she wants out to lay her eggs (see chapter on females). Other possibilities are, the temperature is too hot and your chameleon is in distress. If your chameleon is situated near a plant, indoor tree or window, and can see it, it may be trying to get to it, so block the view! This can be achieved by simply taping paper to the outside wall, or using colorful, decorative laminated wallpapers used in aquariums) found in the fish section of your local pet store.
Q My chameleon is an odd color and has its mouth open, why?
A This could be symptomatic of either an upset chameleon, or, an over-heated chameleon. A chameleon who is too hot appears blanched (light) and maybe at the bottom of its enclosure. Its mouth maybe open or closed. Always observe the temperature in your chameleon's enclosure. You should have both a thermometer & humidity gauge. Adjust wattage of heat bulb when necessary i.e., lower wattage in the summer when the ambient temperature is higher than the winter.
Q My chameleon has a white powdery substance around its nostrils, that he sometimes snorts out...what is this?
A This is the result over-supplementing your chameleon. Try reducing the amount of calcium powder you dust your feeder items in. The insects should be lightly dusted, not coated in powder. The white powder that forms around their nostrils is their bodies way of trying to eliminate the excess minerals. Remember, over supplementing is just as harmful as under supplementing.


Please note, the "answers" offered in this section are mere suggestions. Every case must be treated on an individual basis, where all variables considered. As ALWAYS, the Chameleon Enthusiast encourages all pet owners to seek professional Veterinary care, and consider the opinions of other chameleon professionals.

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