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REPTILE / new pets

Chameleon Care Guide

Tips from home to health to food and fun


4 things to know about chameleons

  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Size: Chameleons can grow to be 18 inches (45 cm) long
  • Lifespan: Chameleons can live up to 5-7 years
  • Origin: The Veiled Chameleon originates from Saudi Arabia; the Jackson’s Chameleon is from East Africa

How do I set up a chameleon habitat?

Chameleons should be housed individually.

  • Choose a well-ventilated terrarium or screened enclosure that’s at least 16 x 16 x 30 inches.
  • Line the bottom of the habitat with reptile carpet, 2 to 3 inches of coconut fiber or reptile bark. Spot clean the floor material frequently and completely change it at least once a month.
  • Include rocks and real or artificial branches purchased from a store to elevate your pet—no closer than 8 inches—to the terrarium’s heat source. Branches should be sturdy and just slightly larger in diameter than the chameleon’s grip.

Heat & light

  • Help your chameleon regulate its body temperature by keeping the bottom of the habitat cool and the top warm. During the day, the cool area should be between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 Celsius), while the warm area should be between 80 and 85 F (27 to 29 C) for Jackson’s Chameleons, or 90 and 100 F (32 to 38 C) for Veiled Chameleons. Track the temperature of both areas of the habitat with separate thermometers.
  • At night, the overall habitat temperature should be between 65 and 70 F (18 to 21 C).
  • Every reptile requires a 12-hour light/dark cycle; a UVA/UVB fluorescent bulb will supply the rays your chameleon needs to properly absorb calcium.
  • The humidity level in your chameleon's habitat should be between 65% and 80%. Track the moisture level with a hygrometer (a humidity gauge).
  • The habitat should also include an automatic fogger, mister or drip system.
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What do chameleons eat?

  • Feed your chameleon crickets, or waxworms daily. Only offer as much as the chameleon can consume by the end of the day. Remove any leftovers.
  • Dust insects with a calcium supplement twice a week.
  • Veiled Chameleons should also get appropriate greens, such as collards or mustard greens, once daily. Offer only as much as the Veiled Chameleon can eat in 4 hours, then remove any leftovers.
  • Chameleons do not drink from a dish. Instead, they hydrate by licking water from their skin and habitat so be sure to mist the habitat regularly.
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How can I keep my chameleon healthy?

Try not to handle chameleons for 3 to 4 days, while they adjust to their new home. If you notice any of the following signs during or after your chameleon’s settling-in period, contact a veterinarian or a PetSmart store associate:

  • Runny droppings for more than 2 days
  • Eating or drinking less; weight loss
  • Swollen joints
  • Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth
  • Shedding problems; discolored skin
  • Increase in the amount of time spent hiding


  • Thoroughly wash your hands before contact with your chameleon.
  • Use caution when handling pets, and remember they may bite or scratch, especially when stressed.
  • Supervise children around pets.
  • All animals can carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases that are contagious to humans. Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water after contact with any pet, its habitat, or aquarium water. Adults should assist children with hand-washing.


Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well being of our pets.

Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.


If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.