Do Chameleons Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know

Do Chameleons Make Good Pets?

Facts You Should Know

Yes, chameleons make good pets, BUT a word of caution:

Chameleons are difficult to maintain, and new reptile owners should NOT start with this animal.

Do Chameleons Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know
Parson’s Chameleon, male

The word, “Chameleon,” comes from the Greek words, “chamai” and “leon,” meaning “earth lion,” and they originate from the lizard family.  Chameleons come in all shapes and sizes, with considerable variation.  Their lengths can range from a mere one inch (2.5 cm) to 30 inches (76 cm) long.

Chameleons have become popular as exotic pets because of their unique color-changing capability. The purpose of this color change is for communication, and to regulate body temperature.

Some baby chameleons are gray or brown in color. Others, like the most commonly Veiled Chameleon, can be purple at hatching and then quickly turn green.

Chameleons have the ability to change colors the same day they hatch. (They may even be capable of doing so while still in the egg.)  The color spectrum ranges with variations of green, black, turquoise and blue-green.

Amazon Books on Chameleons:

Panther Chameleons, Veiled Chameleons, and Jackson’s Chameleons

Some colors reveal their emotional levels, such as stress, sense of temperature change, excitement and to communicate with other chameleons. Brighter colors exhibit good mood, while darker colors such as black, gray and brown depict stress.

Chameleons have a very long tongue and can stretch their tongue up to one and a half the length of their body.

How do Chameleons Change Color? Their Secrets Revealed

They have five toes on each foot, with three of them facing forward, and 2 facing away from mid-line, helping them get a firm grip while climbing trees and branches.  In the wild, chameleons spend most of their lives in treetops. Some chameleons have prehensile tails which also help them get a good grip and help with balance.

Chameleons have the ability to rotate their eyes in two different directions, and both eyes are independent of each other. They can rotate their eyes to get a panoramic view.

Chameleons are insectivores. In captivity, they eat crickets, dubias, silkworms, hornworms, flies, and more. A few species also supplement their diet with fruits and leaves, but it is a very small percentage of the diet. In the wild, a large chameleon would even eat small birds and other lizards.

Do Chameleons Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know
IMAGE: Tianna Spicer, Flickr / Chameleon

Do Chameleons Make Good Pets?

It’s easy to see why people find chameleons fascinating and want to keep them as pets.  A word of caution, though.  Chameleons are very difficult to maintain and inexperienced reptile owners should not start with this reptile.  Having said that, they are also not the most difficult exotic pet to take care of.

Chameleons don’t cuddle.  If you’re looking for a cuddly pet or one that likes to be held, then look elsewhere.

10 Things About Chameleons You Never Knew

Wild reptiles are more than likely to be infected with parasites. Buy a chameleon from a respected breeder if you do insist on getting one. Avoid the big chain stores.

While selecting the pet chameleon, it is important to determine the health of the animal.  The chameleon should be active and look healthy, with bright coloration.

Panther Chameleons, Veiled Chameleons, and Jackson’s Chameleons are the most widespread species that kept as pets. Chameleons are solitary animals and they shouldn’t be kept with other pets.  It is a very bad idea to keep two male chameleons together as they will fight and injure each other. They should be put in a cage with a lot of foliage to climb and to provide privacy.

In a nutshell, chameleons make good pets, but please don’t be in a rush to get one before you thoroughly research their care requirements.  They come with a price, meaning their initial equipment is pricey, and their ongoing care can be as well. They need housing, lighting, heating, specific water needs, food, vet visits.  Talk to experienced reptile owners before you decide.

Already have a chameleon?  Want to tell us about it, or any other pet you might have?  Let me know, and I’ll publish it here.  Go to my Contact Me page and get in touch.

Do Chameleons Make Good Pets?

Do Chameleons Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know
IMAGE: Naddel, Flickr / Newborn Chameleon, possibly a few minutes old.


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32 thoughts on “Do Chameleons Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know”

  1. Thanks so much for the article. Do you have any suggested links to further my research? Or have you considered writing an article about their specific needs? Thanks again!

  2. I sort of “fell in love” with a little green chameleon at the local PetSmart. He/she came up to the glass and seemed to be interested in me, too. Yes, I know, this is no reason to “adopt” one for myself.

    I’m concerned, however, that these poor creatures at the “chain pet stores” will end up being bought by someone who has not taken the time to investigate what owning a reptile entails and even worse, as a gift for a child, who might neglect the little creature. That’s one reason why I question the advice not to buy one from a chain. Those little guys need a good home, too.

    Thank you for providing all this information for perspective chameleon owners.

    • Oh, I do understand your concerns. I believe all those pets in the stores should be taken to a good home and loved for the rest of their lives. And I, too, fall in love with every one I see. They all deserve to be bought. The reason why I advice “adopt, don’t buy” is this:

      Some of the animals you see in pet stores are bought from reputable breeders. However, a great many of them come from questionable animal “farms” and are kept in deplorable conditions – thus selling you animals that are possibly diseased from the beginning. The more people buy from animals from chain stores, the more business we give to the disreputable breeders. The trend around the country now is to outlaw chain stores from selling animals at all. Several states already have this in place.

      But the most important reason is that of the number of abused, neglected, and abandoned animals that are brought to animal shelters so desperately need loving homes. A lot of these animals are ones that were bought at stores. Do you see the dilemma?

      Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to visit Animal Bliss and to respond to my post. Take care.

  3. Good article. Some other thoughts…
    While the Chameleons would make a very interesting pet, I do no think that they would be a good choice for someone to get as their first pet. They need to have a perfect habitat with the exact temp and humidity otherwise they can get ill very quickly. If you are looking to become a first time reptile owner, I would go with either the Leopard Gecko or the Bearded Dragon. Whichever you decide on though, I would recommend that you do your research on them like you have done with the chameleon so that you are fully prepared to care for it.

  4. What exactly makes it difficult for new reptile owners to have a chameleon as pet, compared to other reptiles?

    Can they be held safely hold on the hand?

    Do they enjoy to be petted?

    Can they tell apart the owner from strangers?

    Do they bite?

  5. Hi everyone,first thing first great info and great site…
    Ive owned every animal imaginable from pet stores or my fathers friends whom had animals not aloud. I am 36 and love animals,I raise Salomon pink tarantulas and along side Ghost mantis and Chinese mantis,i have a 75 gallon saltwater tank and 55 gallon fresh, and my new veiled chameleon….i will be getting back into raising chameleons,but good site. I also make all my own tanks,cages for all my animals…if anyone has any questions with animals or insects feel free to email me. I would love to share my knowledge and wisdom along aide write here to help all…
    Thank u for tha love u all give teaching and time to help tha next person to help thier animal of insect.
    Blessed be…
    Sincerely Tj

  6. I have a veiled I noticed the last time I was in his cage he was squirting clear liquid out of his eyes. I can’t find any about this. Have you seen this behavior before?

    • Dan, I don’t know why your veiled chameleon would be squirting clear liquid out of his eyes. Have you spoken to a vet? You might also want to search for a chameleon group on Facebook. They’re very helpful and have lots of people willing to offer help and advice. Good luck. Let us know what you find out! Take care.

  7. Hey there 🙂
    I’m an inexperienced person, actually I’ve never kept a reptile in my house! I’d like to get one, where do I learn to maintain it?

    • There are many books about how to take care of a reptile, Kareem. Start with your local bookstore or library. Make sure you do all the research first, before committing to getting a reptile though. Good luck.

  8. Thanks for the info about chameleons. I thought they principally change their coloration to become invisible to prey insects or predator snakes and birds? In spite of their amazing coloration, I find chameleons repulsive. How do I get to like them?

  9. I’m really obsessed with making my own custom enclosures and cages for my pet chameleons. I love the idea of making their habitat and designing where they are going to live haha. Great article by the way.

  10. Wow!! How interesting– I had no idea about this little creature– My son has been asking for one for a while– but my answer has always been NO.. After reading this it will be a firm NO I dont believe we are the right type of people for this little animal. They are an awesome animal,but I am afraid we would have one stressed out more than not. Thanks for this review and now I am going to let Dustin read this

    • Dianna, thank you so much for taking my advice seriously. Reptiles and amphibians can be difficult to care for properly. I always tell people to do their own research before getting ‘any’ pet, because there are far to many that are not being given the environment they need and they don’t thrive as a result. I appreciate that you took the time to read my article. Thanks again! “)

    • Hey, thanks for stopping by, Kelly. I’m glad you came by. I’m going to have to swing over to your site now and read what you have to say about how to care for Giant African Land Snails. Wow, how intriguing. I’ve never heard of those, and I’m always, always looking to learn more about our fellow animals. I’ll see you over there! 🙂 Thanks!

    • Thank you, Minette. I appreciate your comment. I understand your preference for furry, snuggly critters. I have a cat and 2 dogs. But I also have a Bearded Dragon lizard, and, although not furry, she is snuggly. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog!

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