Are Chameleons Dangerous, Poisonous, Or Mean? Are They A Good Pet?

are chameleons dangerous

Chameleons are reptiles native to the wild but can do well in captivity. So, is it okay for humans to have these creatures in their homes? In this article, we’ll begin with a quick overview of what a Chameleon is. Then, we’ll get into the heart of the topic and answer the question, are Chameleons dangerous to humans?

are chameleons dangerous

We’ll then go over whether they’re poisonous or not, if they have teeth and if they bite, how to recognize signs of aggression in Chameleons, and what to do if a Chameleon is aggressive toward you.

Finally, we’ll discuss whether Chameleons are good pets or not and how to handle them.

What Are Chameleons?

Chameleons are lizard Tree-Dwellers that are part of the Iguana family. These reptiles are often climbing trees and leaves, rarely leaving their spot.

In addition, Chameleons are well-known for being able to change their body color, depending on how they’re feeling. For example, they can camouflage with their surroundings to help them catch prey or hide from predators. 

The unique thing about Chameleons is that they walk slow but have long, sticky tongues that are fast to catch their prey and eyes that look 360-degrees.

Most of their prey in the wild consist of various types of insects. For example, they’ll eat crickets, worms, and even snails or slugs. In some cases, they’ll eat small birds. Depending on the species of Chameleon, they’re known as insectivores. However, some are omnivores and will eat dark leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables.

There are about 160 known species of Chameleon, and they’re all similar but quite different from one another. For example, depending on the species, Chameleons have an average lifespan of anywhere between three years and eight years. They also have different personalities and temperaments. 

Are Chameleons Dangerous?

So, are Chameleons harmful? The short answer is no. Chameleons are not dangerous. If a Chameleon gets scared, for example, they’ll simply hide. They can change their color to camouflage with their surroundings. So, if they feel threatened, they’ll most likely hide from the situation. They’re slow-moving creatures, so hiding is their best option. However, if you notice your Chameleon changing colors when you get near, make sure to move slowly and show them that you’re not a threat.

Are Chameleons Poisonous?

Is a Chameleon poisonous? No, Chameleons are not poisonous, and they do not have venom.

So, if they bite or they hiss, you can be sure that there is no poison or venom being spit or transferred to you.

Since they don’t carry any poisons or venom at all, you can be rest assured that they’re a completely safe pet to have in your home.

For you, for other animals in your house (such as a dog or cat), or your children, Chameleons are harmless in this sense.

are chameleons dangerous

Do Chameleons Have Teeth?

Believe it or not, yes. Chameleons do have teeth. However, they are so small that it’s difficult to see them with the naked eye.

A Chameleon uses their teeth and strong jaws to crunch on insects and other food they eat, such as dark leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits.

Click here to read our full guide to Chameleons’ teeth.

Do Chameleons Bite?

Yes, Chameleons can and will bite. However, they will rarely bite.

They will only bite due to the following reasons:

  • They are mishandled
  • They are hungry
  • They are scared or anxious
  • You are checking their mouth for something

As you can see, the reasons they might bite aren’t all malicious. For example, if they’re hungry, they might bite you, mistaking your finger for food.

If they do bite, there’s nothing to worry about. Their teeth are sharp, but the bite will only feel like a pinch. But, of course, the bigger the Chameleon, the more painful the bite will be.

You won’t get any diseases from them, though. So, aside from dealing with the pain, here’s what to do if a Chameleon bites you: all you’ll need to do is wash your hands and put a bandage on it if it even bleeds.

Watch this video:

Are Chameleons Mean?

The answer to this question depends on the species of Chameleon you have. For example, Veiled Chameleons are known to be more aggressive than others. On the other hand, Panther Chameleons are known to be relatively patient.

However, every Chameleon may have reason for feeling aggressive or being mean to others.

So, the answer will depend on their species, personality, and how well they’re taken care of. 

You can learn more about the differences between Veiled Chameleons and Panther Chameleons here.

Can You Handle Chameleons?

The short answer is yes. You can handle Chameleons. Whether you should handle them or not is a different question.

Chameleons are solitary creatures. They don’t like the company of other Chameleons, and they don’t care too much for the company of humans.

In addition, they don’t like to cuddle. So, unless you’re bringing them to the vet, there isn’t much reason to hold them.

However, you can handle them once in a while to bond with them. You can also hand-feed them their food. This will allow them to get used to you and know that you’re a safe person to be around.

are chameleons dangerous

How To Stop Chameleons Being Aggressive

Are Chameleons aggressive? They can be.

If you notice that your Chameleon is being aggressive, there are probably certain reasons.

For example, if you recently adopted them, they might not be used to their new surroundings just yet. Also, they might not be used to you or the rest of the family.

The reason they’re showing aggression might be because they’re stressed or scared. So, how can you help calm them down and show that you’re a safe person?

First, move slowly when you approach them. If you’re going to feed them or give them water, make slow movements to show that you are not a threat to them.

Moving slowly is especially a good idea when you first bring them home so that your Chameleon can get used to you.

In addition, don’t handle them too much. As mentioned earlier, Chameleons don’t like to be handled often. You can certainly hold them once in a while, but if they’re showing aggression, then you don’t want to hold them at all.

If you hold them, they might get more stressed out. Instead of comforting them, you’ll only make things worse for them.

It’s hard to do, but sometimes you’ll need to leave them alone if they’re feeling too stressed or afraid.

Finally, you’ll want to ensure that everything is set up correctly and working properly inside their enclosure.

They might show aggression because they’re agitated that something is not right. For example, maybe the temperature is too cold, or they don’t have enough room to climb their favorite tree branch.

So, be sure everything in their habitat is as it’s supposed to be so that your Chameleon can thrive. 

How Can You Tell A Chameleon Is Being Aggressive?

Chameleons make it pretty obvious when they’re being aggressive toward others.

For example, they’ll change color to look more intimidating, or they’ll change their coloring to hide.

Also, Chameleons can hiss. So, if you hear that sound, you can easily know that they’re unhappy.

Finally, Chameleons might also look you right in the eyes. This is their way of keeping an eye on you if you might be a threat to them. 

Are Chameleons Endangered?

Luckily, Chameleons are not endangered. However, there are about 160 known species of Chameleon. So, while one species might be thriving, others could be suffering.

As of late 2021, Chameleons are doing pretty well in the wild. However, one rare Chameleon is known for hanging on by a thread.

The Pygmy Chameleon was found in 1992 and was not seen again by scientists until 2016.

This particular Chameleon is pretty rare and hard to come by. So, they are listed as endangered because it’s unknown how many there are in the wild.

Scientists are doing their best to protect the Pygmy Chameleon population by isolating them in the wild to keep them safe, allowing them to breed more. 

Are Chameleons Good Pets?

Even though Chameleons don’t seem to be cuddly and can be aggressive creatures, they do make excellent pets.

Chameleons are hardy pets as long as their enclosure is set up right and they have their proper diet, temperature, hydration, and everything in between.

Whether you decide to get a Chameleon for yourself or a kid, they’re fun to watch. Also, they’re easy to feed, so they can be a good first pet for children learning to be responsible.

Overall, though, Chameleons are quiet and don’t take too much space. So, if you’re looking for a companion during the day, they’ll be there in their tank climbing in their trees while you’re working. 


Overall, Chameleons are fascinating creatures. It may take some time for them to get used to you, but there is no harm in having a Chameleon as a pet.

You can still form a small bond with them, and they’ll be a delight to watch crawling around in their habitat.

Read to know exactly how often you should feed your chameleon here. Also know the best drip system for chameleon here or learn more about Chameleons here.

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