Q: What temperatures do chameleons need?A:
Most chameleons prefer room temperature, so right around 68F-76F. I’ve had excellent success keeping, rearing, and breeding chameleons within this temperature range year-round. Letting the temperatures cool a bit lower at night is absolutely fine. While many hobbyists and breeders don’t offer basking spots, I keep mine with a surface temperature around 90F.
Q: Should you buy a baby or adult chameleon?A:
This is a double-edged sword. While the thought of starting with a baby chameleon may sound appealing, and it can be, keep in mind baby chameleons are one of the most challenging reptiles to raise in captivity. They require tiny food items such as fruit flies and pinhead crickets, constant humidity, and enough space not to feel stressed. I usually recommend starting with a juvenile (3-4 inches long) to adult. Babies are for experienced hobbyists.
I don’t want to scare you away from baby chameleons—it’s a very rewarding experience raising them. Just be aware that it takes more time and effort. I wrote an article on baby chameleons
that you’ll find helpful.Q: What’s the difference between males and females?A:
In my experience, there’s not a real noticeable difference in personality—males might be a bit more bold, females a bit more reclusive.
One difference worth mentioning has to do with coloration. Now, this isn’t an exact science, but generally speaking
males are more colorful than females. This is common in the animal world, so should come as no real surprise.
This is certainly most
noticeable in Panther chameleons, and much less noticeable in many popular species including the Veiled, Jackson’s, Meller’s, Oustalet’s, Rudis, Senegal, Graceful, and Fischer’s species.
Another difference is that males tend to live a little longer because they don’t have to go through the taxing process of reproduction. Developing and laying eggs, especially if it’s done at an immature age (before reaching adult size), is very demanding on the female’s body. It can noticeably shorten their lifespan.
Females can even develop and lay eggs without a male around, although the eggs would of course be infertile.
A final difference worth noting is that with the horned species, males usually have the horns, and females don’t. This is exemplified by Jackson’s, Two-horned, Three-horned, and Four-horned chameleons.
At the very least, males have more
horns than the females. A prime example of this would be in the Mt. Meru and Werner’s chameleons.Q: Can pet chameleons be handled?A:
Most chameleon species are fine with interacting with their keeper, and many will walk right onto your outstretched hand. Generally they’ll navigate up your arm to the top of your head if you’ll let them, as they like being elevated. In fact, it’s advantageous to keep their enclosures elevated above the ground as it helps give them a more commanding, confident view of the room. I keep my enclosures about five feet off the ground.Q: What size chameleon cage is ideal?A:
There are four main screened chameleon cage sizes: 16” x 16” x 20”, 16” x 16” x 30”, 18” x 18” x 36”, and 24” x 24” x 48”. It really depends upon the size of the chameleon, and we’ll get into more detail in the care section. I highly recommend using screened cages for almost every species of chameleon, with Pygmy chameleons being a notable exception as they are ground-dwellers.
You can also read my chameleon care sheet
for very detailed information on how I keep my own chameleons.Q: Can you keep more than one chameleon per cage?A:
This is a slightly debatable subject, so I’ll speak based upon my own extensive experience. Chameleons, as a rule, don’t crave interaction with other chameleons. However, you can keep them together if you follow these rules:
Q: Where do chameleons live?A:
- Never keep more than one male per enclosure. They will become territorial and it will cause tremendous stress.
- Keeping 1-3 females per enclosure can usually be done without issue.
- Keeping a harem can work, which means one male and 1-3 females.
- Pygmy chameleons (Rhampholean sp.)can be kept communally.
Chameleons are primarily found in Africa and Madagascar, but a few are found in Southern Europe, the Middle East, and India. I’ve got another page dedicated to where chameleons live
.Q: Why do chameleons change color?A:
Many people think chameleons change color to match their surroundings, which is actually a myth. It would make sense, but it’s still a myth. They instead change color based upon their mood and temperature. For example, if they’re stressed, defending their territory from another chameleon, or trying to attract a mate, they can fire-up their colors quickly. If they’re cold, they’ll often turn dark colors in an attempt to absorb more heat from the Sun.Q: Do chameleons lay eggs or give live birth?A:
Both! The vast majority lay eggs, but several species give live birth including Jackson’s, Mt. Meru, Werner’s, and Rudis chameleons, all of which I’ve had give successful live births in my care.Q: Do you recommend any other chameleon websites?A:
Absolutely! Check out the Chameleons E-zine
, Melleri Discovery
, and Chamaeleonidae