We don’t know why, but most people connect poison with reptiles – consciously or subconsciously. Probably a fair share of that credit for that goes to the snakes. But what about the chameleons? Are they also poisonous? After all, they’re reptiles too.
Well, chameleons are not poisonous – not to humans or any other animals. So, even if your pet or you’re coming in contact with any of them, there’s no chance of getting poisoned. Unlike some of the major reptiles, they just change their colors to hide from upcoming threats rather than slipping in any venom.
But is there any other way through which these beautiful reptiles can harm you? Well, it’s time to find that out!
Well, the bite of a chameleon surely hurts enough. But if you think that chameleons are frequent biters like some of the aggressive reptiles, you’d be disappointed to meet them for real. They do that only when it’s their last resort. They’re not into biting anything larger than themselves, including you.
But that doesn’t mean when they won’t do that under certain circumstances. So, if you’d ever get bitten, there’s a high chance that they’ve done that due to the following reasons.
If there’s anything that we can call the ‘kryptonite’ for chameleons, we’d say it’s the stress. After all, that’s what can kill a cham more than anything else. During that time, they might react to almost everything moving around them. It might sound funny, but they even can negatively react to brighter colors at that time.
So, if you’d get too close to your chameleon when it’s under stress, there’s a chance that it might give your hand a nice mark with its teeth. That’s why you need to be cautious about the signs of stress in a chameleon in the first place and keep your hands off.
We don’t know if you checked out the reasons for a cham getting stressed or not, but overhandling can surely put them into a stressful situation. Just because your lizard doesn’t show signs of botheration when you’re handing, that doesn’t mean it still wants to be handled. Leaving them alone is always best for them.
So, when you’re handling them too frequently or handling them inappropriately, that eventually can stress them up and make them land a bite on your hand. Besides, if you’re a newbie with a chameleon, make sure that you’re making your move on the handling part slowly and in an appropriate way.
We can totally understand if you want to hand-feed your pet reptile, and that’s a good way to get close to them as well. But at that time, they might accidentally leave a bite on your hand. Usually, the accidental bites don’t hurt much, as the lizard doesn’t do that with an intention to hurt you.
Still, when you’re hand-feeding your lizard, make sure that you’re maintaining a safer distance while doing so. To be sure about the safety, you can use a tweezer as well for feeding them their favorite insect.
Can you name an animal that doesn’t attack back once it feels cornered? Well, we can’t. Clearly, the same tendency prevails among the chameleons too. You’re surely not going to get the reptile cornered, at least not intentionally. But what about doing it unintentionally?
Well, you might corner up the lizard while cleaning the enclosure. So, when you’re in such circumstances, make sure you’re not making the cham feel cornered. Not only with you, but it’ll show similar aggressive behavior with any other animal, including its own species.
Probably among all the other reptiles, the chameleons are the most territorial ones. Even reflection of another chameleon can trigger stress and aggression in them. So, when you’re putting another chameleon in the enclosure, the result is obvious. The cham will fight and bite the other one from a sense of holding their possession over the territory pops in.
A chameleon’s mood, to a huge extent, is dependent on its health condition. So, if it’s regularly acting aggressively, then it’s possibly happening because of its undergoing health conditions. This is why sometimes sick chameleons bite the hands of the vet when checking their health. If there are any other reasons for aggression, you will find here the ways to deal with them.
The good thing is, due to being too small, most of the chameleons can’t bite hard enough to make you bleed. So the most it can do is make you feel a sensation over your hand similar to stinging that can’t even break your skin.
But when it comes to keeping pets, people mostly like species like Jacksons, Panther, and Veiled chameleons. These are the species that come with a larger size and sharper teeth. So, if you somehow come under their teeth, the possibility of getting hurt and bleeding is quite high as their teeth can break your skin.
Don’t worry, as these reptiles are not venomous. So, you won’t have to deal with a life and death situation for sure.
This might get you a bit demotivated about getting a chameleon as your next pet, but these reptiles can carry a disease that can harm humans. The disease we’re talking about is called Salmonellosis.
But chameleons aren’t the only ones that work as the carrier of this disease. Some of the other animals, like iguanas, turtles, frogs, snakes, horned toads, geckos, and salamanders, also carry the bacteria Salmonella, which causes the disease.
Whether you’re coming in direct contact or indirect contact with the reptile or their droppings, it still can get you infected. And guess what? If you’re roaming in an environment of reptiles containing Salmonella, can get you infected. So, even if you’re coming in contact with water from their container, you’re not fully secure from the disease.
If anyone under the age of five years comes in touch with this bacteria, their level of illness will be severe compared to the elders. After all, people at that age have a weaker immune system. But there are certain ways to prevent this disease. You might find some of them a bit hassling, but they’ll do the trick.
Right after touching your reptile, make sure that you’re washing your hands using warm water and soap. Do the same, even if you’re touching anything in the area where they live or roam. In case you’re out of water and soap, disinfect your hands with sanitizer.
And yes, you need to keep your hands away from your mouth before washing them. After all, that’s the easiest way for the bacteria to go into your body. The same goes for eating and drinking with uncleaned hands.
Don’t hesitate to do the same like we said earlier when your kids are coming in touch with your chameleon. Yes, we’re talking about cleaning the hands with soap and water or sanitizer. To be on the safer side, instruct them strictly to follow this rule even if you’re not around.
But the best thing to do will be is simply keeping your kids away from the lizard, especially when their age is less than 5 years. Make sure that they’re not coming closer to their enclosure or containers, including the free space you’ve given the reptile to roam. Experts also advise restricting the chameleon from entering places like bathtubs and kid’s pools.
Not everyone knows that the harmless-looking reptile can slip a severe disease into them. So, to avoid the hazard, set the enclosure in a place where the traffic is minimal or there’s no traffic at all. That will take down the chances of people coming in touch with your reptile.
Like the 5-year-old kids, the old people around us also roam with a weak immune system, where even a small disease can make them suffer a lot. So, you can easily imagine what a disease like salmonellosis can do, where the patient suffers from severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.
What you can do is make sure that none of the olders are coming nearby the chameleon or touching it. In case they do so out of curiosity, ask them to clean up their hand with soap and water before touching anything else.
You never know how curious your favorite cham might become about your food and taste it a bit. So, if it’s carrying the bacteria, there’s a high chance that it might infect your food as well. What you need to do here is restrict the access of the chameleon in places like the kitchen or any other place where you prepare your food and drink.
Once you’re done with cleaning the habitat of the reptile, make sure that you’re getting rid of the cleaning accessories as well. We’re indicating accessories like gloves and clothes that are not meant to be used twice, not effective cleaning chemicals like Wipeout.
Also, make sure that you’re not washing the reptile in places like your kitchen sink. Try using the bathtub, but you need to clean it thoroughly after washing the lizard. If you’re feeling the need, try rinsing the tub with a registered disinfectant. In case that’s not around, you can get the job done with a chlorine bleach solution as well.
Like we said before, chameleons aren’t poisonous, not even for dogs. So, if you’re seeing that your dog is coming in touch with a chameleon, don’t worry too much. But that doesn’t mean you should let your dog be around your reptile. As they’re quite big in size compared to the chameleons, the lizards can count them as a predator and that will stress them out for sure.
And if under any circumstance, the lizard manages to land a bite on your dog, there’s still nothing to worry about. But chams can surely infect dogs with harbor bacteria and put the dog’s health at risk.
Like the dogs, chameleons are not venomous to cats as well. But you can’t blow away the possibility of your cat eating or biting your chameleon. If the cat is displaying unusual behavior like vomiting or skipping meals after eating the cham, call the vet as soon as you can.
And if you’re asking about the harbor bacteria, chams can infect cats with that too. So, no matter what, stop your cat from eating your reptile.
It’s quite normal for people to hold the misconception that chameleons are poisonous. But the truth is simply the opposite of so. That doesn’t mean you can oversee their ability to harm humans and animals in other ways. Don’t worry, if you’re doing it right as we mentioned above, they can be one of the best pets you can ask for.