Thoughts On Handling: How to Tame a Chameleon

Handling chameleons is a topic that comes up quite often. Chameleons aren't like other common reptiles in the pet trade (like ball pythons or leopard geckos) that tolerate handling pretty well; chameleons in general are more easily stressed by the ordeal - to the point where many people believe that you should treat all chameleons like fish in an aquarium; a look-but-don’t-touch pet. I don’t agree with this statement.

That being said, each animal is an individual with his or her respective personality, and this can play a big part in how they react to you and being held. I have had some very docile, “friendly” chameleons, while I've had some very aggressive and terrified ones, so their disposition will have a big effect on how you go about dealing with them. But in my experience any chameleon can turn around and get to the point where it tolerates short handling sessions, regardless of how aggressive or scared they were when they started. I will describe how I have “tamed” some of my chameleons and offer my opinions on handling them in general.

Note: Getting them comfortable with handling goes beyond just wanting to hold your pet - this may save both of you a lot of stress if they ever need to go to the vet. Taking a hissing, biting, horrified animal to the vet to be handled and looked over is not fun for anyone. And being able to administer medicine to an animal that isn't having a breakdown is potentially life-saving.



Daedalus (panther chameleon) at 3 months old when I first got him. I gave him a week to settle in before I started working with him. 

1. Give them time to settle in first.


When you first get a new chameleon (regardless of age), give them time to settle into their new environment before you attempt to handle. Chameleons are sensitive to changes in environment, so being brought to a strange new home (whether they were shipped to you, or you purchased them at a store or reptile show) will stress them at first. It is normal for them not to eat for a few days while they adjust to their new homes. So while they are becoming familiar with their new cage, home, and routine, I recommend that no attempts at handling occur for at least a week or two. The wait is terrible, I know, and it will be tough but it’ll be better in the long run.

2.  Hand-feeding: Your best tool.

Chameleons are like men; the best way to their hearts is through their stomachs. Associating your hands (and by proximity, you) with food is one of the best ways to condition them to expect positive things from you instead of feeling fear. After your chameleon has acclimated for a couple days (say 2-3), but before you attempt to handle them, you can start trying to hand-feed. This consists of holding out a prey item (it needn’t be with your hands specifically, I have an array of different tongs and tweezers that I use with insects I don’t want to touch, like the roaches) and waiting patiently until your chameleon shoots for it out of your hand. And unless you have a particularly brave or hungry chameleon most of them will make you wait a while before they take it. This is why I recommend hand-feeding the first feeder of the day, so they are the most hungry and the most willing to take it from you.

Daedalus, fully-grown, happy to take a tasty treat from my open palm. Especially out in the sun!
I recommend not putting the feeder/your hand too close to them, as it may make them very nervous. I also recommend not staring intently at them, as this can make them uncomfortable. Eventually the food will peak their interest and they may finally shoot at it after they aim several times, thinking about it.

They may not go for it the first time you try, so just try once every day. Hold the food there for a few minutes and if he doesn't seem interested then stop for the day. It may take days or weeks for them to gain the trust to shoot at the food, but just keep trying and you will be successful eventually. The tastier the treat (hornworms and butter worms are a crowd favorite at my house) the more enticed they are to go for it. 

3. Do not force them out of the cage, let them come out on their own on their terms.

When the time comes to handle them, the last think I think you should do is reach in to force them out, regardless of how gentle you think you’re being. To them, they are cornered in this little cage while a huge hand is coming to grab them, and then we wonder why they run away from us and attempt to hiss and bite. The best thing is to get them used to being out of the cage on their terms, with you in the room, so that they become comfortable exploring with you there.

Daedalus, only 2 weeks after I got him, getting used to being out of the cage on his own. Very soon after this I began trying to hold him. 

I used to leave the cage door open and place a fake 6’ ficus tree in front of the cage and sit on my computer. It would take hours sometimes but eventually the chameleon would walk out on his own to explore for the first time. The second time he took a lot less, and the third time he came out immediately. Once he was comfortable being out and about on the ficus I would put my hand flat in front of him, like just another pathway. If I saw that this didn't bother him I would lift him up and let him walk over my hands for a minute before returning him. And so we went, building up trust and familiarity with being held, making the handling sessions longer and longer.

Once they were used to 1. being out of their cage occasionally, and 2. being used to me holding them for short periods of time, it became much easier to handle them. Getting them to climb onto my hand was no longer an ordeal and neither was being taken out of the cage. 

4. Associate handling with good things.

To help cement handling as a positive experience, try to associate coming out of the cage with experiences they enjoy - like being taken outside to bask in natural light. Or let them roam a safe plant by the window while you work. This is the kind of thing that most chameleons enjoy or respond positively to, so they learn that every time you open the cage that you either bring food or are going to take them out for some roaming/sunning time.

Daedalus enjoys coming outside to get some UV rays. He reaches for me to come out. 

A note on how often to handle.

Like I mentioned earlier, each chameleon is different and will react to the experience differently. Not all chameleons will become sociable creatures that claw to come out of their cage to climb your arm, but that doesn't mean that they aren't capable of a great degree of trust. I have had chameleons who I wasn't able to handle for long periods of time even after lots of time and patience, but they would very eagerly hand-feed from me. So they went from aggressive chameleons to tolerant chameleons who were comfortable with me as long as I respected their space. So each individual is different, but you can make great strides with positive reinforcement and conditioning. 

Respect the signs your chameleon send you. The length an animal is out will depend on the chameleon but I recommend keeping it short and sweet. Again, respect the signs the animal is sending you.

Good luck!


64 comments:

  1. Hi Olimpia, Loved your blog and your detailed explanations. We bought a Veiled Chameleon for my daughter but I am the one having the most fun. I can hand feed him often and so far he seems ok with the handling, but I will sure use your idea of the tree outside the cage. I also leave in Florida, Miami, our house is not a very cold one, but I am not sure if I should or not change our glass enclosure to a complete screened one, We will keep in the living room as it is the quiestet in the house. any ideas on the matter?

    By the way Spain is my favorite place ever in the world, best food, best wine, best landscape and est people.

    Mauricio

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    1. Thank you Mauricio! I'm glad this has given you ideas. Letting them roam around a little, especially when you're calmly on your computer or watching tv, seems to relax them over time. They get used to the idea that they aren't cornered and that you aren't out to get them.

      Both types of cage have their pros and cons. I don't think your house is cold enough where you HAVE to have glass, but it does do a great job of keeping up humidity when the AC is running. An adult veiled will need a cage size around 4' tall and 2' deep and wide, at least, so cost may be the deciding factor when it comes to what to buy next when he outgrows his baby cage. The benefit of the screen cage is that it's light enough that you can move it outside for some natural sunshine when the weather allows.

      If you have any other questions to run by me just let me know!

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    2. Hi I have a 8 month old female veiled chameleon. And when I stick my hand in the cage for any reason ( feeding, spraying, cleaning) she just hisses and backs away. What should I do to get her to come on my hand. She is not aggressive but just scared. She recently had surgery because she was egg bound. Do you think this is why she didn't like people. Also she is always a dark color no matter what i am woried about that.

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  2. Hi,
    So I'm planning on buying a panther chameleon sometime in the future and I like the idea of holding it at least for short periods of time. If I buy a younger chameleon and handle it more when its younger will it tolerate being handled when it is older? What age (of the chameleon) do you propose is a good age to buy it at?
    I am a new chameleon owner but do not have one yet I am just trying to gather as much info as possible.
    Thanks

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    1. Hey,
      Yes, it'll be more likely that a chameleon raised with people from the start will be much more tolerant once he's older. Usually breeders will not sell babies younger than 2 or 3 months of age, and this is typically a good time to start. If you are buying from a small-time breeder or really dedicated family breeder (like, say, Chameleonsonly.com or The Chameleon Farm) they will usually be more than happy to hand-pick a more docile or friendly chameleon for you. Starting with a guy that has a nice personality will make things much easier from the get-go!

      Good luck getting your new chameleon!

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    2. What kind of panther cham is Daedalus

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  3. Hi Olimpia!
    I have been looking and researching and wondering about this sort of thing for weeks now. I have had my male Ambilobe panther for about 5 months now. He is 9 months old. For the first 4 months of him being with me he wanted nothing to do with being out of his cage. And we granted him that, opening the door for him every once in a while, allowing him to get comfortable with being out of the confines of his cage. About a month ago, I went through the ritual of greeting him good morning, turned on his UVB and opened his cage door, and to my surprise, he came RUNNING out of the cage up my arm and on to my head and just chilled up there for a good five minutes. I offered him to go back into his cage, thinking he would want the option, and he refused and ran back up my arm. I try not to handle him for long periods of time but I HATE stressing him out by trying to get him back into his cage (he will put up a fight and turn dark colors and run away at the sight of his cage). So I changed it up, rearranging all of his vines and leaves, adding a few more, changing the sides that the lights were one, changed the moss floor. I tried changing practically the whole thing, yet he still would rather be roaming the house on my shoulder than in his cage. I went to Lowe's and picked up a couple of house trees (Chameleon safe) and set them up as an out of the cage "playground" and even when I place him on that, he likes it for about a minute, then he turns dark and starts bolting for my arm/shoulder again. Now, I am not one to humanize animals; I am studying to become a research zoologist, mainly focusing my studies in aquatic life, so I know this isn't "love" or anything of the sort, however I am rather confused by this behavior. I can tell signs pretty well and from what I see, this chameleon is more content on my shoulder or on my head than anywhere else. I only see stress signs when I go to place him back in his cage.

    I guess what I'm getting at is, every site and blog and forum is telling me I'm slowly killing him by even GIVING him the option to be handled. But when the poor thing is SCRATCHING at the screen to come out when he sees me, I feel like he's stressing himself out more than when he's being handled. I'm just curious if you have an insight to this. Honestly, I've asked many people, and I'm just getting "stop handling him, stop allowing him to come out and he'll be fine"...

    -Sierra

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    1. Hey Sierra,
      I've had a few panthers just like yours! In this type of situation I think that it's fine because it seems like they are choosing to come out and climb on you, as opposed to being forced. So I don't think you are killing him or otherwise harming him by letting him hang out on you a while. I had one panther (the blue one pictured in this blog) that was so incredibly tolerant of handling, he would climb out and sit on my shoulder or head for a long time. He was so good that he's the chameleon I would take to educational shows, to university functions, or reptile shows, he just did so well even in crowds. I couldn't have done that with other chameleons, but with him it was totally fine. Some chameleons are just way more tolerant than others.

      In addition I do think that he's right at the age where he's probably starting to pace looking around for a female. A lot of males go through a fidgety adolescent phase between 7-10 months where they won't sit still and it's because their hormones are going crazy. He'll settle down and he won't be so desperate to wander in a little time.

      Hope this helps! I'm typing as I make dinner so hopefully it's cohesive. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Olimpia

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  4. Hey Olimpia, I am seriously interested in keeping a Jackson's chameleon. My mom is wary of me having one because I "will never be able to touch it" even after reading your report. (I am 14 btw). I believe I am fully capable of housing one, I have researched for over a year on care and keeping, as well as experience with tropical tree frogs, only to have my dream pet be shot down by potentially not being able to hold him. Do you have any suggestions on how to convince my mom//find a good tempered Cham//anything? Also, if I was to be able to tame my Jackson's, how long would it take for him to be accepting of handling? Thanks so much Olimpia! I know chameleons are not easy, but I don't need easy. Thanks again, Torrey.

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    1. Hey Torrey. Jackson's are great, my first chameleon ever was a male Jackson's. Even as a wild caught individual he was so mellow (shy, but so even-tempered) that it didn't take me long at all to gain his trust. It seems from others that have the same experience that Jackson's seem to be a little less aggressive than other popular species. That said, I still started slowly - I gained his trust by trying to hand-feed and then slowly worked up to holding him, moving him outside to bask, etc. It took a couple months but he became very comfortable with me.

      If you wanted to ease your mom's mind perhaps you could start with a captive bred baby, one that has been raised with people and would be much more accepting of you than a wild guy. They can be a little hard to find, but if you check the classifieds at Chameleonforums.com you might be able to find someone that has babies available. I'll check with a few people meanwhile who I think may have babies and ask if they do, and I'll forward you that info if you want. If you're considering getting an adult animal from a pet store or reptile show let me know, because there's a lot of info you could probably know about picking out a good pet - these places don't usually treat Jackson's super well since they're cheap, so there are tricks to making sure you get a healthy animal.

      I couldn't tell you how long it might take to get him handleable, it could be days (if you're lucky and have a naturally social guy) or a handful of months, but I do believe that you'll get there with a little patience. Out of my 3 current chameleons, 2 were wild and 1 was neglected for 3 years, and within a couple months they were all eating from my hands and I can handle all of them. So you can definitely gain the trust of these guys!

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    2. Thank you so much! I have noticed, it is really hard to find CB babies, even adults. My local pet store LLL Reptile seems pretty good, they have nice setups and everything, but out of all of their Chams, the Jacksons are the only wild caught. I think my mom is warming up to the idea, so thanks! I found out she has been investigating your blog after I showed it to her. xD So thanks so much! From Torrey.

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    3. I got him today. :)

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  5. I have a new veiled.. my first chameleon! I have him as a school pet, and need to bring him home for the weekend. He is rather brown, not the vibrant green he was at the pet store. I don't want to stress him more by moving him each week, but I don't have access to my school over the weekend. He will walk onto my hand, and seems OK with it. Any advise? Thanks!

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    1. Hey! The brown isn't necessarily a bad thing, some veileds go through "dingy" color phases as young animals (is this a little guy? Or an adult?) I would just make sure that while in your classroom that he's up high, so he can be above the heads of children if he wants to be and that he has plants and such to hide behind if he gets nervous. But if he seems to willingly come out onto you then I think perhaps you got really lucky and ended up with a very tolerant chameleon! I've definitely had some like that, and I feel that as long as they have a good cage to retreat to when they aren't feeling as "social" then letting him come out on his terms seems like a healthy relationship.

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    2. He is 3-4 inches without tail... I guess a 'teen'? He was brilliant yellow/green this morning, but was brownish by afternoon. I brought him home tonight, but want to find the lease stressful way to transport him back and forth each week.

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    3. Hello! I am considering a chameleon as an addition to my classroom as well. Wondering how necessary it is to feed him/her daily...in other words, would it be unreasonable to miss feeding on Saturdays and Sundays in order to be able to leave at school, rather than transporting back and forth each weekend? I have a red-eared slider turtle and this works fine for him...far less stressful than transporting...but it may be a way different situation than with turtles. Thanks!

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  6. Hi, I've been thinking of getting a chameleon, but the pet store in my area doesn't have any reptiles. The shopkeeper says he can get a guy to find one in the wild, but I've done research, and the only native ones are Common Chameleons (I live in the Middle East, by the way), which I've heard are a lot harder to keep than the Veiled or Jacksons. Is it still a good idea, or should I take my sister's advice and just get a hamster instead?

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  7. Hi i have a 4 month old male ambilobe panther chameleon and one time he climbed onto my face and then started hissing and moving his head around .i got him last month and i was really happy cause the guy i got him from put his hamd in his screen cage and he
    Climbed right on his hand but now he hisses and turns black and puffs up if i put my hand in his cage 2 times he fell one time off the top of his screen cage because he was upside down and one time when he was climbing on my shoulder he got really aggressive
    After he fell off my shoulder but it was on carpet so he was okay he hisses if i put him close to my face and starts to puff up and open his mouth im just asking is this noormal?

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    1. Hey,

      It's normal because compared with you your chameleon is a tiny, defenseless food-item, so when you get your face too close to him he thinks you are going to eat him. Make sure to follow my tips above - don't reach in to grab him, don't corner him, and always use a lot of gentleness and patience when trying to make him comfortable with you. And start with hand feeding! Food is one of the best ways to associate yourself with positive things (food!)

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  8. Hi, I have purchased a veiled chameleon a fees days ago. When I brought him home he began to wonder around and sunbath and was very active and eating and drinking. But now he's been hiding the past two days completely in the dark under some vines and hasn't come out. He's alert and moves in that little area that he's hiding in but hasn't come out. He still showing good poo signs and I think he's eating cause the crickets are mostly gone and I think he's drinking I hope. But should I be concerned? Is this normal behavior?

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    1. Hey, congrats on the new chameleon! It's normal for a new chameleon to take as long as a week to adjust, but it's less normal for them to be hiding like this. Is there any reason he would be so nervous? Think about things like, is the cage too bare so he doesn't feel safe anywhere except in that corner? Is he in an area with a lot of activity or getting bothered all the time by curious children or other pets? Have you been trying to handle him a lot the last couple days? Etc. I don't think it necessarily means he's sick or anything like that, but perhaps just nervous or insecure.

      If you want feel free to email me (Olimpia515@gmail.com) and include a photo of the cage and him, I'd be happy to see if there is anything that might be bothering him. Some chameleons are more sensitive than others to big changes in environment.

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  9. He cage is fully furnished to fit his every need. His cage is located in a quite room so nothing can bother or make him nervous. But he did finally come out and was eating and drinking and sunbathing again. But he has his I wanna hide from everything moments.

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  10. Hello!!! I've only had my baby panther chameleon for about 6 days and he's going to the bottom of his cage to sleep, is this normal? During the day he seems pretty content his cage is full of Pothos and vines, I've gotten him to take 1 super worm from my hand once.
    I'm just worried about this little fella!!!

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    1. So sorry for the delay! How is he doing? Still acting the same way?

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    2. He's doing much better. Still only eating supers, with the exception of 1 butterworm. I'm hoping as he gets older he will start to like new things.
      He's still going to the bottom of his cage, and sleeping during the day (less than before) but I'm guessing it's because we have a strange schedule and we were keeping him up at night.
      We moved last week and he's not my friend anymore. He stopped hand feeding but I'm hoping when he realizes that I'm his friend again he will trust me again and settle down.

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  11. So I am a first time buyer and I found someone who is selling a chameleon but it is 5 months old and just lived in his cage and has had no interacting, do you think its a good idea and would he be able to be tamed i would like to hold him from time to time

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    1. Yea, a slightly older chameleon (and a full adult as well) can totally be turned around, it's all in how you treat them. Again, chameleons are not social like dogs are, but you can build up trust and respect with them. I've purchased adult chameleons that had never had a lot of handling and still managed to get them to be easy to handle. So good luck!

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    2. You don't tame viewed chameleons. They tolerate you, like any wild animal they will come to you in time if you treat them with respect. Mine has come out with me during summer months drinks water from a bottle cap and is happy to eat UK insects that get to close. All you have to remember is they do what they want not the other way round.

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  12. Hi I've recently purchased a new chameleon he's a diego Panther 11 months old, but he just doesn't seem to be interested in food he's not eaten at all since I got him 28th Feb he's been poo twice once on 28th and once today 4th. He drinks fine all his temps are ok 88f basking humidity is 75 drops too 60 over the day misting in morning with dripper most of the day then mist again at 630 when I get home ... loves too be handled just doesn't seem to want too wat.. His diet was locusts as what the breeder told me... any ideas

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  13. Hello! I love reading your blog! It is very informative, especially for someone like me who has never owned a chameleon.

    I am looking to buy a veiled chameleon in the near future, but would like a more docile and friendly chameleon (not so I can play with it or anything, just so cage cleanings, outdoor time, and vet visits are bearable for the both of us!). Would it sound rude if I were to ask a breeder for a docile and more friendly chameleon? And where would be a good place to get a veiled chameleon from?

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  14. Hi! I had bought a Panther Chameleon 3 weeks ago and recently bought a nice magnetic vine bridge for my chameleon, as I went to install it my chameleon freaked out and ran into a plant in the corner of the cage and didnt move for about 15 hours (was near bedtime and he slept just fine, he just didnt want to move) then i tried in the morning to coax him to get used to the new vine and he wasnt having any of it. I removed the vine and he seemed to relax immediately, he finally started to move on his own again and got him to eat too.

    Although my question is, how can I help my cham get used to this new plant when it requires for it to be set up inside the cage and it terrifies him?

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  15. Hi. I got a male veiled chameleon from a family that was getting rid of him. And when we picked him up he was so sweet and was be handled very well with his colors very bright. Then we brought him home we put him in a cage that I had built being quite big 6 feet high by 6 feet long and 2 feet width and we let him settle for a few days but his colors darkened and he wouldn't eat crickets so we moved him into a smaller cage thinking maybe it was too big for him and when we moved him into a smallerr cage he started to shed and we reazlied he scared of crickets. (Which i find is very strange) He now will eat mealworms but he's still really dark and will lighten up at night when he's sleeping. He still won't let us near him. Even when we walk by the cage it stresses him out and he hids. I guess I'm not really sure what to do because he was so sweet when we got him and now hes super onery and I'm not sure what to do to help him.

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  16. Hi. I purchased a 3 month old blue Barr ambilobe Panther chameleon about 10days ago, he is a male !! I've never had one before but when I first got him I started handling him about twice a day, but he started going really dark and hiding in the leaves. I have managed to get him to hand feed from me while he is in his cage and he will hand feed from me while sat on my hand. I've been in his cage this morning and offered him my hand so he could come out for a wander but he is not interested.Goes dark and turns and goes the opposite way, All this is new to me as I've never had one before.
    But what is my best option to gain his trust and get him to come to me on his own accord, don't want him thinking I'm not bothered about him by not holding him but also don't wanna get him out and stress him anymore.While he in his vivarium he is fine it's when I go to handle him. Please help ��

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    1. Congrats on the new chameleon! First thing to remember is that chameleons are not like a pet bird, for example, birds are naturally wired for social interaction while chameleons (and reptiles in general) are not. So it will take longer to train a chameleon than it will a pet parrot, for example. Also, remember that you've only had him a little over a week - everything is still new and scary for him! Time is your friend here.

      I would keep doing what you are doing; keep hand feeding him in his cage and trying to lure him onto your hand. If he isn't in the mood then don't force it, I think forcing him will take your work a step back. When you respect his moods he will notice that and give you a little more trust. Some days he may not feel like it, and that's ok. Keep feeding him in his cage those days, or leave the door open to let him come out on his own, and stay patient.

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  17. Hi. I was just wondering how to get an angry chameleon back in its cage after it comes out to explore on its own (step 2).

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  18. I guess it depends on the situation. I would try to lift him up or get him on something in the least stressful way possible, like on a stick, and then let him climb from the stick to the cage. If offering your hand under him is too much stress then something like a long dowel or stick should do the trick.

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  19. Oh I am thrilled (de echo completamente encantada, de verdad!) to have found your blog! My daughter who is half Spanish - from my Madrid-born and raised hubby and half American - is turning 10 this next weekend (10/25) and after doing months and months of research, has decided that she wants nothing more than a male baby Panther Chameleon for her special cumpleanos. She has been drawing chameleons, writing comic strips about them, reading about them, etc. etc. It's absolutely adorable. She too is an artist and animal lover, and I plan to show her your site so she can read all your fabulous blogs and be further inspired by your stunning artwork. I also just got off the phone with a local store that sells them and they have a little guy on hold for me (well I sure hope he's a little guy and not a senorita.) Your site helped me to learn a bit more about spotting the differences between females and males, que maraviloso! GraTHias de nuevo! Lindsay Lopez(TH)! :)

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    1. Thank you for the kind words about the blog! Of course, 10 is a big milestone, a panther would be an awesome present (my parents never let me have any reptiles as a child!) If the pet store chameleon doesn't turn out to be a male let me know and I might be able to recommend some local breeders or breeders nearby that can ship a chameleon to your front door. In some states (like California) I know a lot more people but there are breeders almost anywhere that I've known from Facebook or forums.

      Let her know she can always email me if she has any questions at Olimpia515@gmail.com. Good luck with the new purchase!

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  20. Thank you so very much for your offer, I so appreciate it. And I did get the little guy a few days ago from a place I researched (and read extensive Yelp reviews about.) They seemed to really know what they were talking about but I by all means my daughter and I will follow your blog very closely to make sure we're doing the right thing. I haven't surprised her yet, I figured we'd let him acclimate for about a week until her actual bday, then perhaps a little handling here and there will allow them to bond. I did just get him (ever so gently) from his new enclosure so I could take a picture and if I could ask your expert advice perhaps I could email a picture to you and you could put my mind at ease that we do actually have a male? :)

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  21. Hello Olimpia , my chameleon is biting artificial branches of terrarium this is normal ?
    Thank you

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    1. Hi Matheus. This can be normal, chameleons will lick or bite things to see what they are but it can also mean there might not be enough humidity/drinking water and they are trying to eat leaves to get hydrated.

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    2. I understand thank you very much!
      if I spray more water to increase the humidity it can stop biting / eating artificial branches ?
      thank you very much for your help

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  22. Hi Olimpia, I've had my male veiled chameleon for probably 4 months now and he willingly takes food from my hand when hungry and puts up with me being in his cage. The problem occurs when I go to handle him, once I get too close he freaks out and starts to hiss a lunge. He has never bitten me, but I don't like feeling as though im stressing the poor guy out. Ive successfully handled him a number of times, but it takes 15 minutes for him to eventually cooperate. What are some tips you have for an easier handling experience?

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  23. Hi Olimpia, I'm 11 years old and I want to get a chameleon for me and my seven-year old brother for christmas. I have read your whole blog and think it is amazing, but I still have some questions:
    How and when do I have to clean the cage?
    When and for how long do I mist?
    When do I turn the lights on and off?
    What supplements do I use and when do I give him them?
    Thank you!

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  24. I have a 5 month old veiled chameleon but every time I try to handle her she runs she dosent give me a chance so I don't know what to do so someone please help

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    1. I have read a few things about handling younger chameleons. First make sure she has gotten use to her environment. Then slowly introduce your hand in front of her. Then try putting your hand in front of her as she is walking. If she doesn't climb on your hand then, lift one of her front legs on your hand very carefully. Then she will slowly put they rest of her body on your hand. Give her time to adjust to everything around her. Good Luck! :)

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  26. I am looking forward to getting a veiled chameleon, but I am worried about a few things. I have done a lot of research and everything I have read says something different. Do I have to get a heating lamp for the day and night? When can I introduce my hand to the cham? Will it bite? How much will everything cost? I have been saving up for this and I don't want to mess it up. I had recently got a fish to test my skills as taking care of a pet... it died after a month and a half. My family says it was sick before but i think they are just saying that to make me feel better. What should I do? I don't want to kill a beautiful chameleon. Anyway, thank you for listening to me and i hope to get some answers! :)

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    1. Hi! I know how you feel, there is a lot of information out there and not everything is correct. Even among experienced keepers like myself and other breeders we can differ on opinion, but generally we feel the same way about the basics of care.

      1. You do NOT need a heat lamp on at night unless your house is getting below 55-60°F during the night. Chameleons do just fine with a temperature drop at night as long as their lights come on in the morning for 10-12 hours. They need total darkness to sleep properly. If you do think you need one at night use a ceramic heater "bulb," as these put out only heat and no light. They can still see the red lights (they have excellent color vision) so those will keep them up at night as well.

      2. Read the blog post on this page and if you still have questions regarding handling feel free to ask me. But yes, chameleons can and will bite if you scare them, so always be very gentle with them. Don't be rough with them and try not to make jerky movements, this will make them more nervous.

      3. http://www.muchadoaboutchameleons.com/2012/03/average-cost-of-owning-chameleon.html

      Fish are tough, there is a lot about water quality that you have to be careful with! At least with chameleons you only have to worry about temperature and humidity, and not ammonia and carbon levels on top of that! My best tip is to read, read, and read some more and maybe even join the Chameleonforums.com and get advice from other people, see how they are doing things, and decide if you think you're up to the challenge!

      If not, there are other pet reptiles that might be an easy transition. I highly recommend something like a crested gecko - they are cute, easy to handle, and very easy to keep properly. I think they make great introductions into keeping reptiles because they are so easy but still let you play with keeping humidity and temps stable in a cage set-up.

      Good luck!

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    2. Thank you so much!!!

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  27. I have been reading all of the comments and it has helped! I have some questions of my own as well.
    1. Should I get a veiled cham as my first?
    2. Male or female? Any difference in handling is my main concern
    3. How much do heating lights, a cage, and automatic water drip thing cost?
    4. If I am getting a cham not young but not an adult, should i get a smaller cage to start out with or just go for the biggest cage
    5. Do I handfeed dead or live worms to it
    6. Where should I purchase the cham, I was thinking Petco?
    7. Where do I purchase the branches for inside the cage
    Thank you so much for reading my questions! I really want to get a chameleon and I hope all of my questions will be answered to help that happen.

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    1. 1. You could, veiled, panthers, and a few others make great first chameleons. Veileds are the most affordable, however.
      2. http://www.muchadoaboutchameleons.com/2012/05/comparing-males-and-females.html and http://www.muchadoaboutchameleons.com/2012/05/on-specific-care-of-females.html Will answer your questions about males and females.
      3. http://www.muchadoaboutchameleons.com/2012/03/average-cost-of-owning-chameleon.html
      4. I, personally, would just get the largest cage to start off with. You can always cup feed to make sure they have easy access to food but it seems like a waste of money to buy a medium cage and then a large cage.
      5. Always live! Chameleons don’t recognize dead food as food and it is of no nutritional value. Those freezedried insects are no good.
      6. I would find either a local reptile convention or a breeder. The chameleons at Petco aren’t usually very healthy, even if they look like they are. http://www.muchadoaboutchameleons.com/2013/10/why-you-shouldnt-believe-what-pet.html
      7. I personally just cut them from outside, rinse, and add them to my cages. You can buy grapewood and wood like that but you can find great branches outside for free!

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  28. I have heard that chameleons arent the best pet to get as your first reptile. Should i get maybe a leopard gecko instead? And if i do, how big would the cage have to be and what do i have to feed it?

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    1. They are not as easy (aka, low maintenance) as something like a leopard gecko but they aren't as horrible as people say, either. It's all about research, research, research. 98% of the time, when a new keeper fails with a chameleon it's because they weren't properly prepared (either they listened to bad advice, got the wrong supplies, started off with a chameleon that wasn't in good condition from a pet store, etc.) But if you do your research properly then it's not as bad.

      Leopard geckos are great, very easy. They do very well in a 20 gallon Long tank and have to eat the same things as chameleons; live bugs like crickets, mealworms, superworms, butterworms, roaches, etc. There are lots of caresheets out there for leopard geckos that are pretty good, just ignore them if they say that they can live on mealworms 100% of the time, that's not true in my professional opinion!

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  30. I am 14 years old and currently trying to convince my parents let me get a carpet chameleon. My mom is worried about us going on vacation and leaving it with someone. For a first time chameleon owner, should I get a male or a female? I have 2 tanks that I could use, one is about 25 gallons (don't worry, I will not be filling it!) and the other is about 2.5 times as big. I would really prefer a small breed. What kinds of food can I use other than crickets? That is the biggest to my mom!

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  31. I just got chameleon 4 days ago. First couple days he ate 3-4 crickets. Today he stop eating and I saw that his poop has some orange color. Here is my question
    1. I have some waterfall in his cage but I am not sure it is good for chameleon or not? Since I have waterfall, do I still need to mist him too.
    2. All the cricket that I put in his cage, they are always stay at the bottom of his cage. Do I have to do something so my chameleon can find them easier?
    3. Until now he turn black sometime but he turn dark green or pale green while he sleeping. Should I worry about this? Also he do this went he basking too.
    4. Today I notice that his eyes is close all the afternoon and he even let me touch him or hold him without resistant while his eyes is close as well. Should I worry about this?
    Please advise me. I am freak out and I don't want him die too.

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    1. Hi Giffy,

      It’s not a good sign if he is keeping his eyes closed and is not giving you resistance when you hold him, I worry that he was sick already when you got him. In the meantime, make sure that everything in your cage is correct for the little guy. This is a good list of caresheets, you can click on each section and then pick the caresheet for the species you have: http://www.chameleonforums.com/care/

      You still want to mist the chameleon even if he has a waterfall, some chameleons may not drink from a waterfall and it keeps the humidity up as well. Make sure the temperatures in the care are not too hot too, that can make him dehydrated faster.

      And the color changes are normal, chameleons are usually lighter when they sleep. Feel free to email me if you still need help!

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  32. After feeding my chameleon how long should i wait to hold him

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  33. After feeding my chameleon how long should i wait to hold him

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  34. Hi Olimpia sorry this is so late! I have a veiled chameleon around 9 months old now. He eats crickets at sometimes superworms. But something went wrong once he turned around 7 months old. One day he turned away. I got him when he turned 4 months and i never met a chameleon before, he was incredible. He loved everyone and everything. But now he doesnt. This all started a couple months ago. Suddenly one day i opened the cage and he hissed. He never hissed before then. No every time i feed him he hisses and a couple weeks ago he went up to me and bit my thumb. I tried to handle him once every week to keep a good attitude but it has lowered to once a month since July. He is never really happy; unless he is sleeping. He has perfect basking temperature and humidity. His enclosure is a special made chameleon enclosure with netted walls. I have been starting "therapy" with him. Every day i stick my hand in his cage for 5 minutes, i don't move my hand or anything. I have started to hand feed him but once i open the cage he hides behind a grouping of leaves. If i try and feed him a worm he sticks his head out, takes the worm, and returns to his leaf. I even bought a 100 dollar live tree so he can hang out on that. I cant even take him out to place him on the tree. So many people have told me it is a stage in their lives but this has been going on for 3-4 months. It is honestly the saddest thing knowing that your chameleon, not only hates you, but is never happy. I don't want to give up on him but i really believe he deserves a happier life. So far you seem like an expert. Is there anything i am doing wrong? I am willing to do anything for him but so far all i have done hasn't seem to make any changes. Sorry this is so long. Any information would help! Thanks so much Olimpia!

    ~Joey (Sebastian's Owner)

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  35. Hi Olimpia, is Daedalus a nosy be cham?

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    1. Hey, Sorry for the delay. No, Daedalus was actually a mix between an Ambanja and a Nosy Faly. But yes, he did look a lot like a Nosy Be!

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  36. What type of chameleon would you recommend I'm a newbie and have never had a reptile except two leopard geckos but I'm very excited to get a chameleon

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