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Can Chameleons Live With Geckos? 

Chameleons are some of the most well-known types of lizards in the world. They have the unique ability to change the color of their scales to match the background environment. Chameleons, which originated in Africa, are often kept as pets. 

Another popular type of pet lizard is the gecko. There are thousands of different gecko species, but they all share similar physical characteristics. A gecko has soft skin, large eyes, a wide mouth, and grippy toe pads that allow it to climb vertical surfaces. 

Chameleons and geckos make great pets, but can you house them together? They require different environmental conditions and many are active at different times of day. Their preferred foods differ too. 

Continue reading to learn whether chameleons can live peacefully with geckos. Let’s get started. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Your pet chameleon must be housed alone without any other lizards, even other chameleons. 
  • Chameleons are innately solitary creatures that prefer to be alone. Your pet chameleon won’t feel lonely living on its own. In fact, it will enjoy having an entire habitat to itself. 
  • Geckos and chameleons have different diets and sleep schedules, which would result in them constantly aggravating each other if they did live in the same enclosure. 
  • An angry chameleon can’t hurt its owner, but it can injure a roommate through bites and scratches. 

Can Chameleons Live with Geckos? 

A chameleon color changing
Chameleon color changing | Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

No, you should not keep your chameleon in the same enclosure as any other animal except another chameleon. Chameleons are territorial creatures that are possessive of their habitat. Instead of peaceably sharing their terrarium, they may take the presence of a gecko or other reptile as a threat to their food supply and personal safety. 

A chameleon that feels threatened will lash out. It will try to fight the gecko over food, whether that consists of live insects or not. It may lie in wait near the water bowl and prevent the gecko from drinking. 

Can Chameleons Live With Any Other Animals? 

We’re sad to say that chameleons cannot get along with any other animal. In the wild, they are solitary creatures that spend most of their lives alone. Males and females only see each other during mating season. 

A chameleon is normally a laid back and quiet reptile. It spends most of its life slowly creeping along branches and leaves in search of insect prey.

The addition of another reptile to its habitat has the potential to stress it so much that it dies. This is more common if you put a chameleon into a new environment with other lizards. 

Introducing a new lizard into the chameleon’s terrarium is a bad idea too. The chameleon will consider the interloper a threat and may attack it.

Biting is not out of the question. Since males are more aggressive than females, overt attacks are more common. 

One of the only places to see chameleons and other reptiles in the same enclosure is in zoos. Zoos have the resources to build complex enclosures with enough space and vegetation so that the chameleons don’t feel threatened by other animals. Even so, it is rare to see a chameleon housed with other animals. 

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Do Chameleons Need a Buddy? 

Multiple chameleons should not live together. It makes sense that we humans would worry about the social needs of our chameleons since we are a social species. Chameleons, on the other hand, are not. 

Females are so antisocial that they don’t bother to take care of their young. An egg-laying chameleon female lays her eggs in a small hole in the dirt, covers them, and walks away. 

Two chameleons housed together will be sure to clash. They will compete for space with the heat lamp and access to the water bowl. They may even fight each other for food. 

The type of fighting escalates depending on the sexes of the chameleons. A male will intimidate and may even bite a female.

Two male fights will be the most injurious. One exception, however, is the violence of a pregnant female chameleon. She will lash out at any intruder into her territory. 

It is imperative that you do not house multiple chameleons together. 

Baby chameleons are the only exception to this rule. They can safely be housed together until they reach adulthood at 8 months. Reptile handlers do recommend that they be moved to solitary enclosures by the time they are 4 months old. 

Will Chameleons Eat Other Lizards? 

Jackson’s chameleon gets a snack
Jackson’s chameleon gets a snack | image by Florence Ivy via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Chameleons usually do not eat other lizards even though they have the ability to digest them. However, large adult male chameleons have been witnessed consuming lizards because they are big enough to catch and swallow them.

Whether a chameleon will eat lizards depends on the size of the chameleon, the size of the prey, and what other foods are available.

Most of a chameleon’s diet consists of insects. They eat crickets, stick bugs, locusts, grasshoppers, and beetles. These animals are smaller and easier to bite.

Smale anoles, however, do make it onto the menu. Some captive raised chameleons are fed tiny lizards by their owners. 

Do Chameleons Like to Be Petted? 

Chameleons are not social animals. They prefer to spend their lives in solitude except for territorial disputes and mating season. As a result, being petted or having social behavior that promotes physical contact – imagine how cats groom each other – isn’t common. 

Your chameleon probably doesn’t understand the human urge to pet something to show affection for it. It just doesn’t care because it doesn’t have the need for connection. 

If you want to show your chameleon affection, we recommend occasionally petting it or rubbing underneath its chin. It may learn to associate you with the satisfaction of properly sloughing off dead skin. If it learns this, it may tolerate or even approach your hand to remove annoying shed skin pieces. 

We also recommend acclimating your chameleon to a minimal level of human contact at the very least. This is because your veterinarian may need to examine the chameleon at some point, and you don’t want the lizard to be completely disturbed at the prospect of being touched. 

Do Chameleon Bites Hurt? 

Jackson’s chameleon crawling
Jackson’s chameleon crawling | image by Florence Ivy via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

If a chameleon bites you, it probably won’t hurt very much. Chameleons don’t have powerful jaws like other reptiles. This is because they don’t eat prey that requires ripping and tearing, like carnivorous animals do. 

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Chameleons are largely insectivorous, meaning they eat insects. These animals have hard chitin shells, but they are usually small enough to fit in the chameleon’s mouth. Plus, the lizard’s sticky tongue helps it pull the prey into its mouth. 

Chameleon bites are more of a risk for the emotional state of the chameleon than they are a risk to you. Chameleons are very calm and placid creatures. If it is agitated enough to bite someone, signs are it may be stressed or upset.

Examine the lizard to make sure it does not have any injuries. Investigate its enclosure too. If you can’t find anything, it might be that you have threatened your pet by rapid movement.

Lastly, if you’re housing another animal with the chameleon, separate them right away. The chameleon might be biting because it feels threatened. 

Conclusion

Chameleon owners should be aware that it’s a bad idea to make their chameleon share an enclosure with any other species of reptile. Geckos can occasionally live quietly alongside one another, but chameleons are another story. 

If you have both a chameleon and a gecko, it’s fine to place their enclosures near each other. It’s imperative to prevent physical contact so that the chameleon does not become aggressive. 

Don’t let the territorial nature of chameleons scare you away from owning one. It’s a big responsibility, but these colorful little lizards are still great pets. 

Sources:

  • “Chameleon,” San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, animals.sandiegozoo.org
Anna Lad

About Anna Lad

Anna is a wildlife biologist who graduated from Texas A&M in 2020. She enjoys studying and learning about wild birds and wildlife of all types.