Do Chameleons Go Into Hibernation?

Reptiles going into hibernation is nothing new, as in winter, they need to conserve energy in the adverse atmosphere. But what about chameleons? Do they go into hibernation too? 

Well, unlike some of the other reptiles, such as snakes and turtles, chameleons don’t go into hibernation typically. As an alternative to that, they go into a period known as brumation where they reduced their activity and metabolism when winter is hitting really hard. 

Why exactly chameleons can’t go into hibernation? And what makes brumation different than hibernation? Well, it’s time to dig into that. 

Why Chameleons Can’t Go Into Hibernation? 

You’re already known of the fact that chameleons are cold-blooded. This means they’re not designed to regulate the temperature of their body and need to depend on the surroundings to do that job. 

But when winter starts hitting and the temperature goes down drastically, lots of the reptiles, including snakes and turtles go into hibernation. They’re naturally designed that way for two purposes – one, it helps them in conserving energy, and two, it helps them to sustain in harsh weather. 

However, chameleons are on a different page here. They’re simply incapable of going into hibernation as their bodies are not made for the process. Thanks to their unique respiratory system which is too good at sucking oxygen from the air. But unfortunately at the same time, it makes 

Chameleons have a unique respiratory system that is highly efficient at extracting oxygen from the air. But at the same time, it leaves them more susceptible to respiratory issues such as infections and diseases. If they go into hibernation, their metabolism becomes so slow that they become more vulnerable to these illnesses. And the worst-case scenario? They can die. 

On top of that, due to being highly specialized creatures, they need specific environmental conditions in order to survive. The difference between chameleons and other reptiles is that without food and water, it’s impossible for them to maintain their health to function properly. 

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But the prime condition of hibernation is staying away from food and water. In case a chameleon goes into hibernation, it’ll suffer from dehydration and starvation, which later on will trigger major health issues. 

The thing is, chameleons have evolved in a way where they survive in tropical environments, which, for obvious reasons, are warm. So, hibernation isn’t exactly a suitable option for them when the conditions go harsh.

What is the Difference Between Brumation and Hibernation?

Clearly, hibernation is not the ‘thing’ for chameleons. But we can’t say the same thing for brumation. But what actually makes these two different from each other, though they’re often used interchangeably? 

Well, dormancy, in the forms of hibernation and brumation, allows reptiles to preserve their energy during times of extreme environmental stress, such as hard cold winters and sometimes a lack of food.

But when it comes to brumation, it doesn’t cause any dramatic drop in temperature in the reptile’s body. It actually keeps the temperature fairly stable. But that doesn’t mean it can’t go slightly a bit down than normal. 

By the way, no one said that chameleons enter brumation only in winter. Even if the dry season is causing scarcity of water and food, the reptile might give it a shot. But that only goes for chameleons that live in the wild. 

But in captivity, lots of the chameleon owners try inducing brumation in their reptiles. They do that for one of two reasons – one, to mimic the natural conditions for the chameleon, and two, to encourage breeding. 

On the other hand, you’ll see the tendency of hibernation mostly in mammals. The most common ones there are groundhogs, squirrels, and bears. During that time, not only their metabolic rate but also their body temperature drops drastically down. They become so inactive that they stop eating for weeks and sometimes even months.

As chameleons are not mammals, they’re incapable of going into hibernation. So, the best option they’ve got for themselves is brumation. Brumation makes the chameleons inactive and eat less. But unlike hibernation, it does drag down the temperature to almost zero, as that might kill the lizard. 

Why Letting Your Chameleon Go Through Brumation is a Bad Idea?

Okay, we admit that brumation is a natural process that chameleons go through under certain circumstances. But does that make it good for captive chameleons as well? The answer is – No. It surely will give your chameleon the feeling of its natural habitat, but that doesn’t it won’t bring in some potential drawbacks like – 

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1. Dehydration

You already know that brumation is a state where chameleons stay away from all kinds of water. But the kind of time they take to complete the brumation period is enough to make the dehydrated certain health issues. These issues can go so bad that they might have to deal with kidney failure.

2. Weight Loss

Having the right weight is always among the best indicators of having a healthy body, whether it comes to humans or chameleons. But during the brumation, a serious fall on that becomes too obvious. 

At this time, they reduce both their food intake and activity level to an extent where their weight can’t help dropping. And when the weight is out of balance, the chameleons can get seriously sick. 

3. Metabolic Problems

Well, isn’t it inevitable when your chameleon has stopped eating and drinking? During brumation, metabolic imbalances can take a bad turn and can make your chameleon sick. After all, during this period of time, their metabolism becomes slow that it can lead to severe issues like organ failure. 

4. Infections

Indeed brumation is a natural process. But that doesn’t mean it won’t mess with your reptile’s immunity. Actually, brumation weakens the chameleon and makes it comparatively susceptible to infections. 

So, don’t get surprised if you see your reptile suffering from respiratory infections, bacterial infections, and parasitic infections during that period of time. If not cured on time, it can even kill your reptile. 

5. Length Of Brumation

Chameleons are not made for a longer brumation period. So, if they’re somehow pushed that, they might not wake up at all. If you see something like that in your chameleon, you better wake it up forcefully and run to the vet. And we don’t think we need to explain why keeping your reptile in brumation can be seriously fatal for it.

6. Environmental Stress

The biggest mess you can create while aiding your chameleon is getting them an enclosure with an inappropriate condition. Rather than making the brumation a good experience, it will simply trigger their stress and eventually lead to numerous health issues. 

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For example, when the temperature goes too low, the reptile will fail to regulate the body temperature and you know that’s going to lead to.

How to Stop Your Chameleon From Going Through Brumation? 

In most cases, you shouldn’t try to stop a chameleon from entering brumation because it’s an essential part of the animal’s natural life cycle. If a chameleon’s owner is worried about the length of the brumation period or believes their pet isn’t healthy enough for the process, they better choose to discourage brumation. 

So, if you too are planning on something like that, try the following ways to discourage your chameleon from brumation. 

1. Increasing The Temperature

In colder weather, a chameleon is more prone to go into a state of brumation. It’s possible to prevent the chameleon from entering the dormant state by warming its habitat. However, extreme heat is also dangerous for the chameleon. So, don’t make it so hot that the reptile feels more stressed and uncomfortable than ever.

2. Increasing The Light

Since chameleons are light-sensitive, reducing the light in their habitat can coax them into brumation. If you can increase the lighting, you might be able to prevent hibernation as the reptile won’t feel like it’s dark and cold winter anymore. 

3. Keeping the Chameleon Active

If they are kept busy and occupied, chameleons are less prone to go into their brumation period. You don’t need to do anything much but give your reptile plenty of opportunities to climb, explore its surroundings, and go on a search for food.

4. Providing Enough Food and Water

When there is a scarcity of both food and water, these reptiles are more prone to go into brumation. You can prevent your chameleon from going into brumation if you provide it with a ton of food and water over the winter.

Before We Go…..

May you’re still thinking that brumation is a harmless process of your chameleon. Well, it’s not, as the whole thing will do nothing but make your reptile more stressed than ever. And if you don’t know what stress can do to your chameleon, find that answer in our blog Can Stress Kill A Chameleon?

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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