Chameleon: Characteristics, Care & Diet

Chameleons are a family of lizards that can change their body color depending on light, temperature, stress, and mood. There are about 90 types. Most of which live in trees. The rest live in burrows and forest floor. The body length of most Chameleon species is 25-35 cm, small individuals 3-5 cm, and large ones reach 50-60 cm. They live depending on their size: small species for two or three years, large ones for up to ten years. The body is strongly compressed from the sides, a short neck, a very long, prehensile tail, capable of repeatedly curling like a belt, and five-toed paws. The entire body of a Chameleon is rough. The eyes are round, mobile (rotate 360 ​​degrees independently of each other), surrounded by the same skin with variegated colored scales as on the rest of the body. The small central opening for the pupil is never covered by the skin. The tongue has a recess at the end, thanks to which it is a suction cup. Throwing out its tongue sharply towards the prey (at a distance of 19-31cm), it sticks to it.

Chameleons usually do not move much – they sit in one place, clasping a branch with their legs and tail. But if necessary, they can run and jump quite quickly on the branches. Chameleons are easy to train. Most often in terrariums, Yemen Chameleons or Panther Chameleons are kept and bred as having the best health and less stress.

Conditions of Maintenance and Care

Vertical terrariums are suitable. The place for it is chosen the warmest and protected from drafts. It should be borne in mind that Chameleons are trying to go through the glass and this can injure their face and nose.

Chameleons are active during the day. They like bright sunlight. Daylight hours should last about twelve hours. The terrarium must be illuminated with UV fluorescent lamps. In addition to the UV lamp, it is convenient to use a 40-60 W heating lamp for heating the terrarium. Comfortable temperature 27 ° -29 ° during the day and 21 ° -24 ° at night. The daily difference is required.

The air humidity in the terrarium is different for different species. For the Yemeni Chameleon, 30% -50% is suitable, and for the Panther Chameleon from 60% to 90%. At the same time, it is impossible for there to be excessive moisture – mold may form (dangerous for the stomach of the lizard). Sour soil produces disease-causing fumes and must be replaced with fresh soil to avoid respiratory diseases in animals and plants. To avoid this, you need to organize good ventilation. To do this, one wall of the terrarium is made of mesh.

Soil: the first layer is done by drainage – fine gravel or pebbles two to three centimeters thick, the second to absorb odors – pieces of charcoal half a centimeter thick, the third layer consists of clay or sandy soil (2.5 cm). Small plants with short roots can be planted directly into the soil. But for reasons of ease of cleaning inside the terrarium, it is better to use plants in plastic pots that can be easily removed or moved. The pots should be placed on a layer of gravel or coal.

Landscaping of the terrarium for Chameleons is a must. You can use both artificial and live plants (preferably). You cannot use poisonous plants. Chameleons do not cause much damage to living plantations: plant food for most of them is just some kind of necessary help. Greens are not only decorative but also biological. The chameleon needs a corner where he could hide at any moment. And no blockages of stones or snags will suit him.

Each Chameleon has its own character, its own manners, individuality. Re-education can be discussed only with a sufficient degree of convention. Some habits are impossible to overcome.


The main diet of Chameleons consists of various insects: crickets, cockroaches, flies, locusts, zoophobes, mealworms, grasshoppers, May beetles, dragonflies. Zoofobus and mealworms (fatty foods) should rarely be fed. It is important that the food is varied. For some species, some plants serve as additional food, for each species – its own. The Yemeni Chameleon can sometimes be given a newborn mouse. Do not leave live food in the terrarium overnight, as it can injure your pets.

Drinking water is very important for Chameleons. Its lack leads to the rapid death of animals. Chameleons won’t drink water from a bowl; they lick it off the leaves. Therefore, it is necessary to systematically spray the plants inside the terrarium or put up a fountain/waterfall. The Chameleon can get used to the new drinking device from one day to a month. If you want to be sure that your pet is drinking, you can drink it from a pipette.

The mineral dressing is also important in the life of Chameleons. It is easier to use dry powder, as liquid vitamins can be an overdose. Insects are doused in vitamin powder, and then given to the animal. It is especially important to give enough calcium to young and newborn chameleons (otherwise rickets are at risk). It is difficult to overdose with calcium during this period, so do not spare vitamins for a growing body.

Chameleon Family Species

Yemen Chameleon

The Yemeni Chameleon is one of the larger species. In length, males reach 60 cm, females are inferior to them in size. Their coloring is very diverse, and the males are more variegated: against a green background, three yellow spots, framed by orange and brown transverse stripes, stand out brightly on the sides. The head is decorated with a high, developed ridge reaching 7-8 cm (in females it is only indicated). The short tail is covered with alternating green and yellow-brown stripes to the very tip. Males can also be distinguished by their heel spurs, small triangular projections on the back of the leg, just above the foot.

Panther Chameleon

Panther Chameleons are very brightly colored, especially males. There is a wide variety of coloration, depending on their habitat. Juveniles are colored gray, but reaching maturity by nine months, they gain a brighter color. Oval spots of various shapes are lined on the sides. The length of the Panther Chameleon reaches 52 cm, females up to 35 cm. They live for more than 4 years in captivity.

Breeding Chameleons

The female is placed in the terrarium with the male. If the female is ready for mating, then she behaves calmly and as the male approaches, she is fixed on the branch. The female may remain ready for mating for 3 days. After that, she becomes extremely nervous and gluttonous, acquires chocolate or even black color with pink patterns on the sides, which indicates that she is pregnant.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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