Chameleons are solitary and shy reptilian pets that are best kept to watch and enjoy than to handle. Of course, chameleon owners want to be able to handle their pets, bringing them out of the enclosure for cleaning and to explore. Learning how to identify an angry chameleon and how to tame them can ensure you and your pet have an enjoyable experience and that handling is associated with something positive.
Are Chameleons Aggressive Pets
Most of the time chameleons are shy, solitary, and very cautious reptiles. They are not generally vicious, but if they feel threatened, then they will display signs of aggression. They will bite if their signs are ignored. They are best when left alone rather than being cuddled and played with.
Veiled chameleons are the most aggressive of the popular chameleon species kept as pets. This doesn't mean that they will attack you, but they are very territorial and will quickly put on a display of aggression if you go to close too their space. While they do get used to their human owners over time, they may still put on aggressive displays to show you that you are too close to their territory.
Panther chameleons have very similar temperaments to the Veiled chameleon, though they are slightly less aggressive. They still prefer being left on their own and will let you know by hissing when they feel threatened. With gentle care and handling, these can become tame or at least tolerate handling from time to time.
Jackson chameleons are known for being the most docile of the popular chameleon pets on the market. They are generally easier to handle and are less likely to make a quick aggressive display. They still do not enjoy regular handling but are definitely one of the easier to handle to clean the enclosure or check on their overall health.
Signs Of Angry Chameleons
You will quickly note if your chameleon is angry or showing signs of aggression. Signs of aggression include:
- Opening Mouth
- Inflating body to make it look bigger
- Changing to a darker color
- Trying to bite
How To Tame Angry Chameleons
It's important that in order to tame your angry chameleon, you provide it with the time and comfort that it needs. Your reptilian pet will get used to you being around after a while.
Make Them Comfortable
Put the enclosure in a quiet room without a lot of foot traffic. You don't want them hidden as you want to be able to view the antics of your reptile when it's comfortable. If the room is too busy, it can increase stress.
Ample Climbing Space
Ensure your chameleon can climb high, much higher than your head. Your chameleon will feel more comfortable and safer if it can be a few feet higher than you. This reduces the risk of your pet feeling threatened. It will not see you as a threat about to come down and catch them.
Provide Plenty of Foliage
It's important to provide ample foliage, places where your chameleon can hide and feel safe. You don't have to overcrowd the enclosure, but provide enough hiding places to reduce stress.
Give Your Chameleon Time to Settle In
Bringing a new chameleon home for the first time is stressful. It doesn't matter if you have purchased a baby or rescued an adult. The new environment will be stressful until your new pet becomes accustomed to it. Resist handling until your pet has become accustomed to its new habitat. Chameleons are very sensitive to change and a new home can increase stress and make your pet feel threatened. Waiting can be frustrating, but it is worth it in the long run.
Try Hand Feeding
Food is probably one of the best ways to tame an angry chameleon. They will get used to your hand being close to them when feeding. Give your pet a few days to get used to their new enclosure before you try hand feeding. Move slowly as you present the food to your chameleon. You can start with tongs or tweezers and progress to your hand. Try hand feeding the first feeder of the day when your chameleon is hungry. It may take some time and patience before they are happy to eat from your hand.
Don't put your hand too close when you first start hand feeding and don't stare at your pet, to reduce discomfort. The food will grasp their interest eventually and they will take time to eat. Try once a day until your pet starts eating out of your hand. Try for a few minutes and if there is no interest, then try again tomorrow. It is worthwhile feeding hornworms or another treat by hand rather than their everyday diet of crickets.
Never Force Your Chameleon Out of Their Enclosure
It is very important to never force your chameleon to come out of its enclosure. They must leave under their own terms. It doesn't matter how gentle you are, forcing them will only increase stress and aggression. Rather open the enclosure, allow your pet out with you in the room, helping them become comfortable exploring with you in their space.
Once they start coming out of the enclosure on their own, you can start trying to handle them. It's all about building trust and getting your chameleon families with you, getting used to the idea of being held. Slowly increase your handling sessions making them longer.
Make Handling a Positive Experience
It's very important to associate handling with something positive, so they are willing to come out of their cage and be handled. This can be taking them outside to bask in the sunshine, letting them roam freely on a plant by the window, or giving them their favorite treat. Your chameleon will soon associate your hand in the cage to be associated with food or something they enjoy, making them more inclined to be handled without aggression.
It is important to remember that every chameleon, no matter the species, has its own personality and behavior, which means each one reacts differently to certain experiences. Not all chameleons will become sociable. You may be able to get your chameleon to tolerating level or complete trust. Using positive reinforcement works on chameleons, even those that prefer being left alone.
The good news is with a lot of time and patience, you are able to turn the most aggressive chameleon into a tolerable one that you can allow out of its enclosure with confidence without the risk of an irritating bite or upsetting your pet that they are stressed. Remember patience and time is essential to building trust with your new chameleon pet.