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Natural History

It is generally agreed upon that chameleons originated in eastern Africa, then moving into the rest of Africa, the Mediterranean region, the Arabian Peninsula, India, and Madagascar. Today, the majority of chameleons are naturally found on Madagascar, but captive-bred chameleons are found throughout the world.

Chameleons are easily recognized by their independently movable eyes, long tongues, and fused digits on each foot. They are beautiful creatures that come in a wide range of colors and varieties. They generally make their home in trees or bushes, making use of their gripping feet and tail. Perhaps the chameleon's best-known trait, their ability to camouflage is also useful in their leafy habitat. In addition to color change, some chameleons' camouflaging abilities include other forms of mimicry, such as pretending to be leaves swaying in the wind or purporting to be dead in the presence of a predator.


Chameleons are carnivores. In the wild, they feed on a variety of insects, spiders, mites, millipedes, earthworms and small lizards. A good assortment of these foods can be purchased at any pet store. Most chameleons today are also fed crickets, as they are inexpensive and very readily available. One of the keys to keeping a healthy chameleon is to provide a varied diet, so mixing crickets in with a diet that mimics their diet in the wild is a good idea.

Feed your chameleon once or twice a day. Serve the food in a bowl that is attached to a branch. This will allow the chameleon to peer down into the bowl and snatch up their prey in a relatively natural way.

While chameleons need a water supply, most of them will not drink from a water dish, as this is not the way they intake water in the wild. In their natural environment, chameleons catch water droplets that fall from or accumulate on leaves or plants. Many hobbyists try to mimic this in captivity by misting the terrarium once or twice a day. Other chameleon owners use drip waterers with their pet. These will supply a constant drip of water onto a leaf, which the lizard can consume as he wishes.

Getting Started

Chameleons require a variety of items to ensure their health and happiness in captivity. As a chameleon owner, you will be attempting to replicate your pet's natural existence as closely as possible. The following list contains some of the items you may need:

Cage (vertical screen cage)
Heat Source (basking light)
Light (UVB source)
Hide Box
Dripping Water Source
Food (highly varied diet of live insects)

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