Can Chameleon Hear? [Owner’s Voice, Music, etc.]

When you saw your chameleon last time, have you seen any ear on it? Well, if not then how is it hearing sounds in the first place? Or you should just ask, can chameleon hear anything at all?

Chameleons can hear. But the extent of the hearing is hugely dependent on the sound’s frequency. This means, there’s always a chance that they might not clearly hear every sound you’d make. So, the best way to talk to them is to catch the right pitch while uttering your words.

But how can they possibly hear without visible ears? And what kind of sound can actually slip into their hearing organ? Well, this article is all about putting all these answers on your table.

Do Chameleons Have Ears?

Clearly, the prime purpose of ears is to let a being hear sounds, no matter it’s an animal or human. And as a part of the physical attribute, we all expect to see visible ears on other beings. But interestingly, chameleons don’t come with any traditional ears.

If you’d get closer to your lizard and look for ears, we’re quite sure that you won’t see any. So, on the basis of the initial observation, anyone can think that these creatures can’t hear at all. But guess what? That’s not true.

Chameleons don’t come with ears, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the ability to hear. Like the snakes, they too are owners of unique features when it comes to hearing.

They’re missing the ear structure on the outside and also don’t have any middle ear that can catch the sound. So, looking for an eardrum or ear-opening will go nowhere but in vain. But what they have is the quadrate bone. This one works to help them in sensing and interpreting vibrations.

In a more specific way, you can say, on both sides of their head, they’ve got two microscopic holes – close to the eye of course. But they are obviously not there to replace the ear and allow hearing everything.

So, what they can depend on is their other highly developed senses like sight and touch. After all, they too need these senses to find food along with saving themselves from predators, right?

How Do Chameleons Hear Sounds?

Well, you already know that they can hear, but we don’t think we’ve answered the ‘how’ part. By the way, do you know what is common among most of the reptiles when it comes to sensing the surroundings? Well, they rely on sensing the vibration a lot. From that perspective, chameleons are nothing different.

They’re amazingly good at sensing frequency and vibration. This is what helps them in being alert whenever there’s any kind of danger, especially predators.

Like we said before, there’s quite a resemblance between snakes and chameleons, as they both don’t have any external ear structure. It’s a special bone structure which we usually call quadrate bone that triggers their ability to track any kind of vibrations.

As the quadrate bone is a hard find, you’ll have to take a closer glance at the surrounding area of their eyes. Seeing any tiny hole there? Well, this is what works in detecting and interpreting the vibrations for them.
And guess what? They also come with a membrane by the side of their head. If you’re asking how they can hear low tones – this one does the magic. If there’s any low tone detected by the membrane, the tone will make the membrane vibrate.

Now the question is can they hear well? The answer is, No. These tiny holes aren’t good enough to make them hear every sound clearly. So, what they can do is just hear sounds within a certain frequency range. Actually, according to some reports, they can pick the sound when it comes within the range of 200-600 Hz, with longer wavelengths of course.

It’s clear as day that chameleons are not good at picking sounds. But nature hasn’t been fully brutal with them as they have their own auditory papilla to hear sounds like any other birds, amphibians, or lizards.

Another thing we usually see in creatures with ‘not so good hearing’ is they develop other senses to a greater extent. So, they’ve become good at sensing things around with their sight and touch. Their eyes allow them to look almost anywhere without moving even a bit.

How Much Sound Can Chameleon Hear?

No matter which animal you’d point to, they all have a range of frequencies when it comes to hearing sounds. Well, the same goes for chameleons. If the sound generated around is within the range of 200 HZ and 600 HZ, then you can bet that your lizard can hear it up.

The thing is, the chameleon’s ear is not as developed as the other reptiles you know of. Compared to any other regular lizards, their internal pattern shows the sign of being a bit different.

In a more clear way, if you’re looking for any visible tympanic membrane external ear opening, they don’t have any. And yes, they’ve got no round windows of the cochlea as well.

By any chance, have you had the chance to go through major research studies lately on the chameleon? If yes, then you probably have seen that two of the chameleon species got the poorest scores when it comes to the cochlea’s sensitivity electrical potential. Those two species are none other than Chamaeleo senegalensis and Chamaeleo Quilensis.

So, where human ears can detect any sound between 20HZ to 20KHZ, chameleons can take in sounds with 200-600HZ frequency only. Clearly, human ears have higher sensitivity when it comes to vibrations or sounds. So, whether it’s a whisper or an explosion, human ears can hear both.

But when it’s a chameleon that you’re talking about, they can hear neither an explosion nor a whisper. They can take in only low-frequency sounds. For example, if there’s any deep or grave voice, they’ll react to it and the same goes for vacuum sound.

The best part about a chameleon being a low-frequency sound hearer is that if any of your other pets are making noises like meowing or barking, that won’t bother the lizard. But that doesn’t mean if your dog decides to come closer and barks out loud to it, the sound waves won’t hit its auditory papilla.

So, simply, if the sound made around it is less than 200HZ, your lizard won’t hear it. The same thing will happen for a sound above 600HZ, as its papilla won’t be able to perceive it in order to trigger an auditory sensation that can send signals to its brain.

Are Chameleons Scared of Sound?

Getting scared of sound is a term that is applicable to almost any animal and human who can hear sound. Clearly, that puts the chameleon on that list as well. But aren’t they capable of hearing low-frequency sound only? Then can bigger sounds scare them off?

You already know that these lizards have no outer ear that can detect any kind of aerial sounds. Research on two chameleon species has already proven that. But that’s definitely not the case when you’re talking about low-pitched sounds that have longer wavelengths.

Might sound like a complicated process, but once the sound wave hits the lizard’s head, the generated vibration transmits itself into its inner ear and ends up signaling the brain.

Now the question is what kind of sounds are we talking about. As we’re mostly focusing on your pet reptile, we’d say there are tons of sounds that you can put under the category of low-frequency sounds. You can include TV sound, speaker’s base, phone ringing, and vacuuming as the most common examples.

So, if there’s any sound (or let’s just call it noise for them) like these generated close by the chameleon, they can surely get scared. But what about the dogs and cats as they’re also among the most common pets and can be seen around pet chameleons?

Well, the good news is that their barking or meowing is not going to bother them or can scare them off. The frequency range of a dog’s bark varies from 1000 Hz to 2000 Hz. For obvious reasons, the number is beyond a chameleon’s hearing capacity. But if the dog is close enough to the lizard, there can be a minor sensation in their auditory papilla.

Almost the same goes for a cat’s meow. We’re using the word ‘almost’ here because the frequency of range meowing varies between 400 Hz to 1200 Hz. So, if your cat is meowing below 600 Hz, then there’s a chance of your lizard hearing it in the first place.

Can Chameleons Hear Human Voice?

Compared to tons of other beings out there, the level of variation in a human voice is quite high. For example, our complex speech tones often range between 100 Hz to 120 Hz in frequency. So, can chameleons actually hear your voice?

Well, if you’ve checked out the numbers we’ve told earlier about the required auditory frequency range that chameleons can hear, you already know that 100 Hz to 120 Hz is way below that. So, you can at least be relaxed thinking that no human voice will or can disturb your lizard.

But what if anyone wants to communicate with a chameleon through sound? We won’t say that’s entirely impossible. If you’ve got any idea on the Fundamental Frequency, then there’s a possibility of being able to communicate.

The fundamental frequency is known as the lowest frequency of human voice signals which is focused on the pitch of the voice along with the speech’s intonation.

For instance, 125 Hz is the average frequency when it comes to men’s voices which can reach up to 200 Hz if it’s a woman. Many female chameleon owners might find this interesting as they can possibly make their chameleon hear them.

What we think is more interesting is the fundamental frequency of children. Any guesses on that number? Well, it’s 300HZ! This means whether your lizard can hear you or not, it can definitely hear when your kid is speaking.

But if you really want to make a chameleon listen to you, a high-end speaker and microphone can surely help you out. Just don’t forget to set them up in a way where the frequency range of your voice sticks to somewhere between 200 Hz to 600 Hz frequency.

You’re probably wondering how a speaker can help you here. Well, a speaker can simply change the pitch of your voice. In another word, you can say it can alter your fundamental frequency and set it within the range of 200 Hz to 600 Hz. Needless to say, that is the exact range you need to reach a chameleon’s auditory papilla.

Can Chameleons Listen to Music?

Yes, they can. But the music has to be something that has a frequency within the range of  200 Hz to 600 Hz, like any other sounds they can hear of course. In the same way, if the sound doesn’t fit in within this range, then it’ll be simply ‘unhearable’ for the lizard. 

By the way, are you too believing in statements of people where they say it’s a pet’s personality and grooming pattern that determines whether they’d listen to the music or not? Well, we say you better let this myth go as it’s got no scientific proof.

It’s not the personality but the frequency range with the right wavelengths that can take the music to the auditory papilla of a chameleon. So, if the music you’re playing meets those criteria, then you can expect the lizard to listen to it, though it’ll be like any other plain sound to them that they usually hear.

But how would you make the music audible for a chameleon if it’s not on the right frequency? Well, you can try increasing the bass to the fullest and taking down the treble right to zero. This way the speaker will be able to produce sounds that have longer wavelengths. After all, the longer wavelengths come with lower frequencies.

By the way, don’t get chilled yet just because you’re playing the music in a way your lizard can hear it out. Once you play up the music, observe the reptile’s reaction first. If the music is causing any kind of stress or discomfort to it, hit the stop button immediately.

There are even myths like high-pitched music has made a chameleon stand on its hind legs. Well, don’t even think about believing that as it’s not backed by any scientific logic.

Now the question is, should you actually make your chameleon listen to low-pitched music? Our answer is No as it can get the lizard scared and make it feel stressed. The easiest way to find out if your lizard is feeling stressed under such a situation or not is to check if it’s activating its defense mechanism or not.

Remember, what is a mid-frequency for you, can be extremely loud to your chameleon and make it scared.

Are Chameleons Sensitive to Loud Music?

Can you name a sound out there that can scare you off without you hearing it? No, right? Guess what? It’s the same for loud music when it comes to reptiles like chameleons.

Like we said before, loud music often doesn’t fit within the frequency range that chameleons can hear. So, there’s no chance of them being sensitive to loud music. But if you’re setting a speaker right where it reaches their hearable frequency, then there’s a chance of them hearing it and freaking them out.

Can Chameleons Recognize Owner’s Voice?

Who doesn’t like to communicate with their pet? After all, the relationship is based on care and love. But, unlike cats and dogs, it’s kind of a bit hard to communicate with chameleons as they can perceive sounds with certain frequencies only.

But what if you somehow manage to reach their auditory papilla with your sound? Well, the thing is unlike other pets, their brain is missing the emotional centers. So, even if you manage to talk to them somehow, they still can’t form a bond with you. The only thing they do is categorize something or someone as non-threat or threat.

Can Chameleons Make Sound to Communicate?

Though in tons of aspects, chameleons differ from most of the animals that you can count as pets. But when it comes to communicating they also make sounds like other animals.

If you’d heard a chameleon making weeping sounds, then it’s trying to roar or growl, just like a lion. They make hissing noises if you feel scared or angry. But you’ll hear them making hooting noises once they try to communicate with other lizards of their kind.

There are other kinds of sounds that help them in expressing their physical issues. For example, if they’re feeling ill due to respiratory problems, they’ll be making wheezing sounds. 

Final Words

Chameleons might not be among the lizards with great hearing ability but they can surely hear the sounds around them. Though, for that, those sounds being in the right frequency is highly essential. And if you’re asking about them listening to you, you too will have to stick to the same frequency to make that possible.

Muntaseer Rahman

I have been keeping shrimps as a pet for many years now. I’ve fallen in love with these cute pets from the moment I saw them. That’s why I am writing articles to share my shrimp keeping knowledge with you.

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