15+ Signs Of A Happy Chameleon [Must Know For Owners]

Every animal in this world expresses their happiness, in one way or another. Dogs will wag their tail and cats will knead their paws. But what about a chameleon? After all, it’s not going to wag the tail like the dogs, is it?

Guess what? There are also signs that show if a chameleon is happy or not. When it’s happy, you’ll see it’s sticking to its natural color. Besides, a happy chameleon doesn’t roam with a fully curled tail like a tight coil. But are there only two signs to find out whether the lizard is happy or not?

Well, no! There is a bunch of more reasons and we’re just about to unbox those signs for you. All you have to do is scroll a bit down to see what’s inside.

5 Signs Of A Happy Chameleon

If you own a chameleon, then you already know that they’re not emotionally too expressive. So, expecting them to show any exaggerating signs will be nothing but a waste of time. But if you notice the following signs in your lizard, then you can be sure that they’re happy to be there, at your home.

1. Being in Its Natural Color

Probably you find it extremely amazing how dramatically chameleons change their color. But the thing is they do that when they’re in a stressful situation, not in the happy one. They usually do that in order to scare off their threats and fool them.

You’ll also see them doing it when there’s a need of adjusting their body temperature. And yes, they do it to establish communication with other lizards of the same kind as well.

So, what kind of color will they take when they’re happy or relaxed? Well, call it their dull or natural color, but they’ll stick to that when they feel happy about their surrounding.

A common thing about their owners is that they get to see the natural or normal color after a long time. Now the question is how would you know if the color they’re changing into natural color? Well, if it’s natural, then it won’t be too bright or too dark.

2. Eye Movement

There’s no way to deny that chameleons got incredible eyes. With the 360° vision, they can literally look anywhere around and that’s without moving a bit from their spot. What’s more interesting is how they use it to show off their state of happiness or relaxation.

Feeling okay with the atmosphere is something they usually express with their eye movement. Like any other curious animals, they too like exploring around and checking out the surroundings every now and then. But when you’re seeing them staring blankly for a long time, then you can be sure that they’re pretty much scared or not happy at all to be there. 

3. Gentle Curl on the Tail

A chameleon doesn’t wag its tail like dogs, but that doesn’t mean they don’t communicate with it at all. Even you can get a clear hint of their current emotional state through that.

They’ve got good muscular control over their prehensile tail. This is why using it like a limb is no big deal for them. When there’s a rival around, especially the male chameleons tightly curl up their tail like a coil to give the opponent a signal of fighting. Not only that but they use it while balancing and walking as well.

A relaxed and happy chameleon will keep its tail a little curled but not in a tighter way. So, if you’re seeing your lizard doing that, you can be sure that they’re happy, at least right now.

But don’t fall for a droopy and weak tail as that might be a bad sign for your lizard. And yes, also look for lumps or kinks on their tail. If you’re seeing something like that, then you can be sure that it’s time to see the vet.

4. Exploring

Remember when we said they like exploring? Well, that’s not only with eyes but they actually roam around physically to explore the atmosphere. But that’s only when they’re relaxed and happy.

You’ll see your lizard hopping on the vines and branches you’ve put closer to its enclosure. But a stressed chameleon will be too busy hiding itself or not moving at all. So, clearly, an active lizard is a happy lizard.

5. Eating

A happy chameleon is simply a good eater. They can easily swallow a good amount of food like insects and definitely the large ones. So, monitor your chameleon’s eating routine and amount to find whether they’re in a pleasing situation or in the opposite one.

5 Things That Make A Chameleon Happy

Unlike any other, only offering a treat is not enough to make a chameleon happy. You need to do something much more. Well, we say try the following things and with time, there’s a high chance of seeing a happy chameleon in your home. 

1. Providing a Spacious House

A cage made from screen is considered the best place you can provide a chameleon with for living. That’s because it’ll bring in enough airflow in the cage. Plus, it has to be spacious as well, containing enough cover and perches. We’d say you can try that with plants like Schefflera spp.

The size of the enclosure should be like 16” x 16”x 30”. But that’s when you’re lizard’s age is 8 months or less than that. Once they grow older than that, try something like 24” x 24” x 48”.

And don’t even think about putting them into glass aquariums as they won’t let the airflow come in. This can lead to the predisposal of the chameleon to skin infections. By the way, don’t forget to remove any kind of sharp objects from the cage or surroundings of the cage where the lizard will or might roam.

2. Minimize the Stress

Stress is something that not only will make it harder for your lizard to be happy but will also leave a negative impact on its health. The best way to do that is to give it a safer environment.

You can also try putting their habitat in a place that is not only quiet but also providing them enough cover in the enclosure. By the way, chameleons love to stay as loners. So, it’ll be better if you can just let them be alone and not slip in another lizard in the cage.

And yes, handling them too often can also trigger stress in them. So, make sure that you’re causing them minimal disturbance and avoiding handling them often.  

3. Providing UV Exposure

The one thing your lizard is probably not going to get in your house is sunlight. So, you’ll have to arrange that by yourself. No, we’re not asking you to put the enclosure right under the sun. That’ll simply leave them open for other threats.

You can simply use a special lighting system. These systems are designed to provide UVA and UVB for indoor pets like lizards. That’ll help them in attaining better psychological and physical health. And also give it a good basking spot where it can get its body temperature adjusted.  

4. Providing Sufficient Nutrition

It’s easy to see a chameleon happy when their tummy is full and they’re getting enough nutrition. So, you better keep their diet healthy where you can include fresh vegetables and of course, insects.

Try to maintain a variation in the insects and try crickets, super worms, mealworms, wax moths, wax worms, and roaches. We bet they’ll love it that way.  

5. Ensure Hydration

One of the easiest ways to piss off your lizard is to keep it dehydrated. But that doesn’t mean slipping in a water dish in their cage will always be enough. Try habitat misting along with putting in a drip system. That’ll be more helpful more maintaining their hydration.

8 Signs Of A Healthy Chameleon

Seeing a chameleon happy is nothing but impossible if it’s dealing with health issues every now and then. So, how are you going to find out if it’s physically okay or not? Well, check out the following things and that’ll say it all.

1. Good Appetite

The easiest way to find out if the lizard is feeling healthy or not is by checking out its appetite. An adult and healthy chameleon should eat six or more insects every two or three days.

So, if the chameleon is showing no interest in the insects or food they used to love, then there’s a high chance that there’s something wrong with it. In such cases, you better look up to your vet and be sure about what’s going on.

2. Sunning Under the Heating Lamp

If the lizard is feeling healthy, you’ll see it’s relaxing on the branches while sunning by the lamp’s heat. It’s just enough to understand that the chameleon is not under any stress and enjoying its time around. You can also receive a hint on its health condition seeing its color, body, and tail posture.

3. Sign of Curiosity

A healthy chameleon is also always curious about its surroundings. So, if it’s feeling better, you’ll see it’s exploring the place. Even out of curiosity, it might walk over your hands too. But always staying hidden in the dark corners is a sign that your lizard is not feeling good – probably about its health or the atmosphere. Sick lizards are also prone to moving less.

4. Eye Movement

Being able to move the eyes anywhere also speaks a lot about the health of a chameleon. Their powerful eyes are so flexible that they can look anywhere in the room with their 360° vision. But if there’s an infection building up inside, there’s a chance of it losing the smoothness of movement over the organ.

Also, if you’d see any lacking in eyes and they’re not clean as before, that too can be a sign of sickness. So, check out if there’s any residue or leakage in the eyes and if it’s bright as before.  

5. Fitting the Whole Tongue In

If there’s anything that we can call impressive right after their eyes, then it’ll be their tongue. They’ve got a long tongue, which is almost twice the size of their body size. And guess what? they still manage to keep the entire thing in without any hassle.

This tongue is so powerful that it can reach the speed of 60 mph within the blink of an eye. Though the tongue size is literally humongous for their body size, they can easily retract it in their mouth. But that’s only when the lizard is healthy. So, if you’re seeing the mouth is slightly open, then probably it’s not feeling okay after all. 

6. Number of Nails

You can also assume the health condition of your lizard on the basis of the number of nails on their foot. A healthy chameleon will have 5 nails on each of their foot which they use for having a grip on the branches and walking. Besides, they should be sharp enough to slice plants.

But once these nails get broken, they surely are not going to grow back. An overly stressed lizard might also chew them off. So, if you’re seeing something like this, then you better consult the vet and resolve the situation. By the way, to save their nails, you better keep them away from dangerous surfaces as well.

7. Good Foot Grip

The kind of confidence a chameleon show on their walk also says a lot about their health. Having a good foot grip with those amazing toes and prehensile tails is surely a blessing for them. After all, these allow them to climb up even if the twigs are simply precarious.

But you can call your lizard unhealthy once you see them walking with a weak and wobbly grip. Do not make any delay to see your vat right away when this starts happening.

8. Responsive and Alert

One of the easiest ways to be sure about your lizard’s healthiness is its level of response and awareness of its surrounding. A healthy chameleon will respond to any minor movements and the same goes for changes in light as well. So, once you turn the light on, see how your lizard is responding to that.

If it’s opening its eyes instantly and checking the surrounding, then it’s all okay and the chameleon is as healthy as it could possibly be. Also, check out if it’s aware of any prey animals around. Watching you move can also be considered as a sign of them being in a good health. After all, staying alert is a common characteristic of a chameleon.

Also, try to see them from a point where they can’t see you. If it’s still equally alert and aware, then there’s no reason for you to worry about its health. But if it’s snoozing and get back to the alert mode only after seeing you, then there’s a chance that it’s not feeling well after all. 

How Do I Know If My Chameleon Is Stressed?

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a chameleon or any other animal, being under stress will always be the biggest barrier on the way to staying healthy and happy. But to know that if your four-legged friend is in distress or what, you need to read the signs here too. So, what are they? Well, the list is waiting below –

1. Leaf Walk for too Long

If you’re planning to list up the interesting behaviors of chameleons, then we bet it’ll impossible to keep the leaf walking off that list. It’s basically a common technique used by the lizards to camouflage themselves, especially in bushes and trees.

This is also the part of their behavior that points out the remarkable ability to blend in with their green surroundings. In such action, they mimic a leaf’s movement in the wind by swaying back and forth. It’s considered one of the most useful tactics for sneaking up on prey and at times, skipping the eyes of an incoming predator.

A bit of leaf walking is kind of normal for their owner and at the same time, entertaining as well. But when it’s reaching a level where you can call it ‘excessive’, then you can be sure that your lizard is roaming nervous.

To be sure, check out for how long it’s doing the leaf walking after catching prey. If the time is too long then it’s probably feeling intimated by your presence. So, if your lizard is constantly leaf-walking, increasing the amount of hiding space in the tank will be a wiser move.

2. Keeping the Eyes Closed

The eyes are simply the first place where you can simply get the hint of a lizard being in distress. One of the common signs of a healthy chameleon is it keeps its eyes open in daylight. On top of that, its round and bright eyes will also show the sign of maximum clarity of fluid within when its health is right on point.

So, if your lizard is keeping its eyes tightly closed then probably it’s not feeling well at all. Another probable cause for doing such a thing is dealing with the upsetness. After all, it’s considered one of the regular coping techniques for chameleons whenever there’s fear or some sort of internal stress.

Under certain circumstances, it might also go for changing color, biting, or hissing. They too are on the signs when the lizard struggles with health issues.

3. Extreme Colors

We don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not but chameleons are incapable of adapting the exact same colors of their background. All they do is just blend in, to a certain extent.

And Yes, colors do say a lot about a lizard, especially about their mental condition. You already know what kind of color a chameleon sticks to when it’s in the good mood. But what about the ‘stressing out’ part?

Well, don’t get surprised when you’d see it’s differing from one chameleon to another. But no matter which one it is, usually it’s the darker colors that represent feelings like stress and fear. Yes, we’re talking about colors like brown and black. You might see the same kind of color when they’re in discomfort.

So, if you’re seeing that your lizard has suddenly gone down to a darker color, then there’s a high chance that it’s not in a chill mood after all. The best thing you can do in such a situation is to check out if the habitat’s temperature is up to the mark or not. That’s because when they get too cold, they dress up in darker colors.

If the temperature is not the culprit here, then you better look for other elements or disturbances which might stress up the lizard. In case you’ve detected one, then do whatever it needs calm down your four-legged friend.

Hold on a second! What about vivid and bright colors? Well, catching those colors are part of their communication as well. You’d see their colors like orange, red, or blue when their not in the mood to stay hidden. But are understanding the colors enough to understand the mood of the lizard? Well, we’re going to answer that question ahead as well.

When It’s Time to Worry About Your Chameleon? 5 Signs

Every pet animal goes through certain stages at times that can draw the curve of worry on the forehead of its owner. But the challenge is to detect that time in the first place. So, when should you actually start worrying about your lizard? Well, we’d say when the following signs start popping out.

1. Is It Keeping Its Mouth Open Widely?

You’ve heard about gaping, haven’t you? It’s actually a posture where the lizard keeps its mouth wide open for a while. There are tons of reasons for which this can take place. And the bad news? None of those reasons are good.

You’d usually see them doing this as a part of their attempt to cool themselves down under occurrences like overheating. They can also do it where there’s a difficulty in breathing.

Gaping is also considered one of the common signs of stress. So, when you’d see your lizard doing this, then probably it’s getting ready to defend itself. In such cases, they often end up biting.

Along with the gaping, they might also express a bunch of other signs including catching vivid colors, which we bet would seem a bit aggressive. Also, you probably would notice inflated throats. If it’s you that they’re counting as a threat, they’d do all these while facing you, while keeping an intention to drop a bite on you of course.

So, the best suggestion we can give you for that moment is to back off. What you can do is just get yourself away from the lizard in a place it can’t see anymore, at least till it calms down. But if it continues to repeat gaping even if you’re not there, then we’d say try visiting the vet as soon as you can.

2. Is it Biting and Hissing?

Having a bite from your lizard is probably the last thing you’re expecting right now. But if you’re seeing the chameleon doing something like that, then you can be sure that it’s not comfortable or happy. The same goes for the lizard when it’s hissing at you.

In such cases, the first and best thing to do is to find out what is causing the lizard all the anxieties. There can be numerous reasons for triggering it up. One of the most common reasons is the insufficient size of the habitat. Lack of water and humidity too can lead a lizard to anxiety. Along with all that, the temperature too can play the role of villain here.

And yes, if they’ll have to deal with unwanted handling, the biting and hissing can become the ‘everyday’ routine. After all, they’re known for being solitary animals and love to be alone. So, no matter what kind of affection you show them, they still won’t understand much of it. That’s why, unlike your dog or cat, petting them or picking them up is nothing but a bad idea.

3. Is It Turning Side On?

Want to know what can be considered worse than turning to darker colors? Well, we’d say it’ll be turning its side on to you. We call it the rude side of the lizard. They usually do that when they’re trying to look more intimating and bigger at the same time.

Not only that but they show a fair share of aggression through their bright color as well. If it’s not you who’s causing it to take such action, then keep your eyes open and see when or towards what they’re turning their side on.

4. Is It Too Busy At Digging?

When you’ve got a female and it’s too busy at digging the ground, then you can be sure that it’s in discomfort. They usually do that for laying the eggs and hiding them. That’s the time when they need a place that is moist and cool at the same time.

But when the lizard fails to find out a place like that, getting stressed and gradually ill is quite obvious. The easiest solution to this problem is getting some perfect dirt so that she can dig in. You don’t need to fill the entire surface with dirt. Just put in a container deep enough with soft and clean sand or some earth in that habitat will be enough.

By the way, don’t worry about the fertility of the egg. If it’s not caused by mating with a male, then there’s nothing to worry about. But not letting her lay the egg can surely make her egg-bound and might not be solved without some serious medical attention or a surgical intervention.

5. Is It Often Trying To Escape?

Satisfying a wild animal like a chameleon with the right habitat at home is kind of a tough job, but it’s still possible. The problem starts when the lizard often tries to escape.

If it goes for such attempts, you’d see it climbing up on the screen and these efforts can end up damaging their claws too. In such situations, you can be sure that the chameleon is somehow not happy with the habitat or missing something there. It can be insufficient space or insufficient shelter and sometimes it can be both.

In this case, the best possible solution is to add more foliage and leaves to the cage. Also, you can try moving it to a bigger cage. And yes, if you’re changing the cage, then make sure you’re keeping the ceiling high and adding long branches. After all, they feel safer on the higher part of the tree. Along with all that, ensure enough humidity, heat, and UV lighting.

How to Say the Chameleon Is Not Healthy Anymore?

Like we said before – if it’s not healthy it’s not happy. But how would you know if the lizard in your cage is actually struggling with illness? Well, keep your eyes open for the following signs and we don’t think understanding its physical condition would be that hard.

Imbalance in Weight

A good apatite is one of the most common characteristics of a healthy and happy chameleon. But that doesn’t mean seeing only this should keep you away from monitoring the lizard’s weight regularly. After all, an imbalance there can be a sign of nothing downgrading in its health.

Check the weight of the lizard every month, so that you can maintain data of your own. It’ll help you to find out the ideal weight of your pet or what kind of weight you can call ‘normal’ for it. Measuring the weight shouldn’t be a tough task as all you have to do is just put the weighing scale in a blank container and put the lizard in there. The numbers will say the rest.

Dirty Vent

One of the characteristics of chameleons we like the most is them being clean poopers. This is the reason why most of their owners find their vent clean every now and then.

But what if you start seeing their vent dirty? Well, this can be an indication that the lizard is sick. If you’re seeing it dirty, clean it up by moistening the dirty area. But don’t even think about picking at it.

Even after doing that, the situation might not get better and it still can roam with its dirty butt. In that case, we say get an appointment with the vet as this symptom can end up in Cloacal prolapse. After all, in this issue, quick treatment is a must.

Sagging Skin

Like humans, the skin of a lizard too can say a lot about their health condition. Generally, a healthy lizard comes with tight skin. But when you see wrinkles over it or see it being loose, then there’s a chance of it developing dehydration within backed by weight loss. The best way to deal with such issues is to increase misting along with dietary intake.

Collapsed and Flat Eyes

Have you ever seen a lizard with flat or deflated eyes? Well, if you have then probably you were looking at an ill one. That’s because a healthy chameleon’s characteristic is protruding eyes out from its head which are also big and round.

When your lizard too is roaming with flat eyes, then it can be a clear sign of dehydration. And don’t take it lightly as it can lead your chameleon to sickness and gradually, death. This problem can be solved with misting though. Putting the UV light too close can also trigger irritation and pain in them.

It’s nothing extremely surprising to see issues like fluid discharge in the eyes or injury. But that should be fixed by making it drink regularly. If that doesn’t work, feel free to have a chat with your vet. But don’t wait too long as that might increase the complications.

Drooling

If you start Googling about the most common health problems of chameleons, then you’d surely see the name ‘stomatitis’ there, which is also known as mouth rot. This bacterial infection doesn’t only trigger causes swelling and redness, but also yellow pus.

According to professionals, this issue is tough to get cured without antibiotic treatment. So, the first and the best thing you can do after seeing the symptom is to rush to the vet.

Stuck Old Skin

Like any other lizards, shedding skin is quite normal for chameleons too. This is why they look so shiny and bright. But when you’re seeing the dry patches, white bumps or lumps, and the skin getting stuck, then there’s a chance of an infection growing within.

This kind of infection can be triggered by bacteria or fungus. Once you get a confirmation on that, don’t wait to meet the vet and don’t even think about going for a self-diagnose.

Low Energy

Have you heard about Metabolic Bone Disease in chameleons? Well, this one simply makes your lizard low on energy along with refusing food. That’s because when this disease hits, it takes down the calcium and makes the bones spongy.

Gradually the lizard loses its ability to move, it even can’t use its tongue. Worst can scenario – the lizard can end up with broken bones and die.

But preventing this disease is nothing impossible. All you have to do is give it calcium supplementation filled with vitamin D3-enriched. To maximize the making of Vitamin D so that it can take in more calcium, make sure that your chameleon is getting UVB light every day for 12 hours. And yes, the moment you see the signs of MBD, reach your vet ASAP.

Why Is It Important to Keep Your Chameleon Happy?

Well, the first and most important reason to keep your lizard happy is – it’s your pet and you love it. But if you’re asking for more of a constructive answer, then we’d say – a happy chameleon stays away from stress. And once the stress is out of the picture, tons of health issues will also leave your pet alone.

Under anxiety, sickness, or fear, the lizard starts producing cortisol which is mostly known as the stress hormone. The interesting thing about this hormone is it allows the lizard to have the amazing adaptation ability that helps them in escaping danger.

But at the same time, it raises the heart rate along with boosting the energy supplies. Sounding like a good thing? Well, it’s entirely not so.

By suppressing other bodily functions such as immune response, digestion, and growth, this hormone pushes the chameleon to major health risks, if it’s under continuous chronic stress. So, the happier you’d keep it, the healthier life it’ll lead.

Can Colors Say it All About the Mood of A Chameleon?

Other animals usually express their current mood through different body language. But when it comes to chameleons, they do it through their colors. But is it possible to understand all their moods just by seeing their colors? Well, to a certain extent, yes!

Normal Color

Brown and green basically represent a chameleon’s neutral state. But depending on the species, it differs. What mostly influence that is the natural habitat where they need to blend in at time under stressful situations like the presence of a predator.

Aggression

Chameleons express their aggression by displaying bright colors. It mostly happens when there’s a need of defending the territory from another male. They’re pretty quick at taking the colors, especially bright green, red, blue, white, and even yellow.

Feeling threatened also makes them take bright and vibrant colors. By the way, they use bright colors to attract females as well in their mating season.

Stress

Stressing up the chameleons is pretty easy. After all, they like to live alone, like tons of other wild animals. So, when their peace is violated, they get stressed. This is when they show the darker colors. They use red, green, and blue colors for expressing their excitement.

And while feeling ill or threatened, they turn black. In case it’s brown, then probably it’s in depression or dealing with brumation.

Final Words

Every single pet owner out there wants to see their pet happy, but not all pets are very expressive about their happiness in the same way as cats and dogs. Well, that list includes chameleons too.

But still, knowing about their emotional state is still highly essential for the owners as that’s related to their survival and health issues. We believe this article will ease things up at least a bit for you on understanding whether your lizard is upset in its surroundings or feeling at home finally.

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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