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Are Chameleons Dangerous as Pets? (And What to Do if You Get Bit)

Are Chameleons Dangerous as Pets? (And What to Do if You Get Bit)

The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.

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You might be one of the many people who are drawn to owning exotic pets. Some people love standard pets such as dogs and cats, but others might be more interested in caring for lizards or snakes.

If you’ve been considering buying a pet chameleon as of late, then you’re likely trying to do the research ahead of time to ensure that it’s a good fit. Chameleons are certainly intriguing and raising a chameleon has the potential to be very cool overall.

However, you might be concerned about whether or not a chameleon is a dangerous pet to own. This is especially true if you have children or other pets that you’re worried about.

Are chameleons dangerous or are they safe to own? Keep reading to dig into the details so that you can make an informed decision.

Chameleons Are Generally a Low-Risk Pet

You’ll be happy to hear that chameleons aren’t generally considered to be dangerous pets. Most people would say that they’re quite low-risk pets to own overall.

However, this doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to just do whatever you want when you’re caring for a chameleon. Chameleons aren’t pets that you can handle all the time, and you’re likely going to want to keep them away from children.

If you try to handle chameleons, then it’s possible that they might try to bite you. They’re solitary animals and they’re more meant to be admired from afar than anything else.

Thankfully, getting bitten by a chameleon isn’t going to be a huge deal. Chameleon bites are nontoxic and you shouldn’t have to go to the hospital or anything like that.

It is going to be a bad idea to allow a child to handle a chameleon, though. You should only handle the chameleon when necessary and you need to know how to do so properly to keep things as safe as possible for both you and the chameleon.

Chameleons Typically Won’t Attack Humans

Chameleons aren’t typically going to choose to try to attack humans. This makes raising chameleons as pets pretty safe all things considered.

When a chameleon feels threatened, it’s often just going to try to run away. It knows that it won’t be able to win a fight with a larger creature, and it wouldn’t be good to try to attack a human.

If the chameleon is unable to flee, then it’ll probably try to blend into the environment to hide. Chameleons are most famous for their ability to camouflage themselves and blend into the background nearly seamlessly.

Scaring a chameleon in some way will most often cause it to flee or hide. It’ll only attack in rare situations, and it’s more likely to see a chameleon attack another chameleon.

When a chameleon does choose to attack someone, it’s going to bite them. You already know that chameleon bites aren’t a huge deal, but they can hurt a bit.

You want to avoid getting bitten by your pet chameleon when you need to handle it. This is why knowing how to approach handling a chameleon is of paramount importance.

Chameleon Handling Advice

Understanding how you’re supposed to handle chameleons will make your life a lot easier. If you’re going to be keeping a chameleon as a pet, then you’re going to need to handle it from time to time.

That being said, you don’t want to excessively handle the chameleon. It’s advised that you only handle the chameleon when it’s truly necessary to do so.

You see, chameleons will be put into a state of stress whenever you try to handle them. This releases a chemical into the chameleon’s body that will make it feel anxious.

Chameleons are very solitary creatures and this means that bites can occur when you try to handle them. A chameleon is going to be healthier and happier if you keep handling it to a minimum.

Now that you know that you should only handle a chameleon when you really need to, you’ll want to learn how to avoid chameleon bites. If you handle the chameleon correctly, then being bitten by the chameleon should be a very rare occurrence.

Moving slowly is advised since it’ll help the chameleon to feel less threatened. When you’re approaching the chameleon’s habitat to feed it, you should be careful not to make sudden motions.

You’ll be helping the chameleon to see you as a normal and helpful person instead of viewing you as a potential threat. Eventually, a chameleon should become more at ease when you’re near it.

If you need to pick the chameleon up, then you should never try to do so forcefully. Grabbing a chameleon quickly is a good way to get yourself bitten.

Instead, you should consider allowing the chameleon to slowly walk onto your hand. A chameleon might become more comfortable with the idea of doing this as it grows more accustomed to your presence.

However, it should be noted that you shouldn’t usually have a need to handle your chameleon. It isn’t necessary to grab or hold your chameleon when you’re feeding it.

How to Know When a Chameleon Is About to Bite You

If you want to be able to handle your chameleon from time to time, then it’ll be good to be able to recognize signs that it’s about to bite you. This will allow you to back up and prevent the bite from occurring.

One of the first things that you might notice when a chameleon is starting to feel aggressive is hissing. A chameleon will hiss as a way to try to intimidate other creatures to get them to back off.

It’ll be similar to a cat hissing or something like that. If you hear the chameleon hissing, then you should really give it some space.

A chameleon might also start staring right at you if it’s feeling feisty. Under normal circumstances, a chameleon’s eyes will sort of move around in many directions, but it’ll focus its attention on you if it’s considering attacking.

The chameleon might also start to change colors before it’s about to bite you. All of the signs that have been mentioned can occur in conjunction.

As you can tell, these signs of aggression are pretty distinct and easy to spot. You should be able to just leave the chameleon alone if it starts trying to do things like this.

What Happens If the Chameleon Does Bite You?

Now you’re likely wondering about what happens when a chameleon does bite you. You know that it’s not supposed to be particularly dangerous, but is there anything you’ll need to do to treat the bite?

Depending on how things go, it’s likely that the chameleon bite won’t be problematic at all. Chameleon bites might not even break the skin if you don’t overreact and try to pull away from the chameleon.

The chameleon is typically going to try to chomp down on your finger or your arm. It’ll then back away when it realizes that it didn’t do anything much to you.

A chameleon bite will commonly just be a nip that the chameleon does to try to get you to leave it alone. It might only last less than a second.

Sometimes a chameleon bite can linger, but it shouldn’t linger for too long. If you just let it happen, then that’ll be better than trying to rip your hand away from the chameleon.

You’d be more likely to cause the bite to break the skin by pulling away. You’ll get used to this if you decide to handle the chameleon every so often.

Watching out for the signs that the chameleon is getting aggressive should allow you to get away from the chameleon before the bite occurs. If you’re too late, then it still shouldn’t give you anything much to worry about.

Leave the chameleon alone and go wash your hands and arms. Washing the area that you were bitten in with warm soap and water should be enough.

If you want to be really safe, then you could disinfect the area using alcohol. This might be a good idea if the chameleon broke the skin with its bite.

Since chameleon bites are nontoxic it won’t be necessary to worry beyond this. Normal cleaning methods will be just fine to take care of everything.

Larger Chameleons Will Have a More Powerful Bite

Some chameleons are going to be very tiny and this means that their bites won’t hurt much at all. In fact, some chameleon bites will feel like little more than getting pinched by something.

This isn’t the case if you’re getting bitten by a much larger chameleon, though. Chameleon bites do have the potential to hurt you a fair bit, but they still aren’t anything to be super worried about.

Some very large chameleons might be almost a foot long. If you get bitten by a large chameleon such as this then the pain from the bite will feel more substantial.

You’ll still be able to clean things up using normal methods, though. It’s just going to hurt a bit more when getting bitten by a larger chameleon.

Ensure That Your Chameleon Has the Right Habitat

Ensuring that your chameleon has the right habitat will go a long way toward keeping the chameleon happy. A chameleon is going to be more likely to be agitated about being in captivity if it doesn’t have what it needs.

You need to make sure that the habitat that you’re using has the right temperature settings. You don’t want the chameleon to suffer from health issues because you got this wrong.

Lighting is also quite important when you’re concerned about the health of the chameleon. Keep everything in a good range and the chameleon will have the best experience possible as a pet.

You’ll need to purchase an adequate UVB light for your chameleon so that it can remain healthy. Get what you need ahead of time so that your chameleon can have everything that is required for it to thrive.

Some People Have Claimed to Have “Tamed” Chameleons

There are chameleon owners out there who say that they have “tamed” their pet chameleons. This is possible and it’s actually easier if you’ve been raising a chameleon from a very young age.

Certain chameleons might be more open to interacting with humans. Generally, chameleons want to be left alone, but there are reports of chameleons becoming comfortable enough with their masters that they will eat out of their hands.

If you hope to attain this level of trust with your chameleon, then you might need to ensure that you buy a very young chameleon. You’ll need to let the chameleon know that it can trust you and you’ll want to ensure that you always approach it slowly.

Eventually, the chameleon might become accustomed to you. Perhaps it’ll feel more comfortable about being handled by you than an average chameleon would as well.

Regardless, you should know that the majority of chameleons won’t want to be held. It’s just worth mentioning that there are people who have been able to make their chameleons open up to a bit more interaction than is standard.

Is Keeping a Chameleon as a Pet Right for You?

Now that you’ve learned a lot more about chameleons, it should be easier to determine whether owning a chameleon is a good fit for your household. They can be very interesting pets to own, but that doesn’t mean that they will be appropriate for everybody.

For example, you might prefer having a pet that you can interact with more. Some people will want to play with their pets, and chameleons just aren’t a good pet to own if that’s your goal.

Since chameleons are largely solitary creatures, you’re going to need to leave the chameleon alone most of the time. It’s not even advisable to handle a chameleon too often since it can cause the creature to experience stress.

Chameleons aren’t dangerous, but they aren’t necessarily a great pet to have around children either. Children will be more likely to make chameleons nervous due to making fast movements and seeming a bit unpredictable.

If you have kids, then you can still keep a chameleon as a pet. They just shouldn’t try to handle the chameleon until they’re older and they understand how to approach things properly.

Even then, it isn’t necessary for anyone to handle the chameleon. They’re perfectly fine on their own and they don’t need to be handled to be fed.

You can make your own decision now that you’ve received all of this information. If you think that having a pet chameleon would be cool, then you can move forward with getting one now that you know that they really aren’t dangerous.