Can Chameleons See In The Dark

Chameleons are diurnal, which means they are active during the day, sleeping at night. If you’re wondering if your pet chameleons can see in the dark, continue reading to find out more.

How Do We See In The Dark

Human eyes allow light through the pupil, while the lens inside the eye focuses on the image. The retina, which comprises of rods and cones to detect light, detects the image, sending it to the brain.

Rods are responsible for capturing the dim light and movement, but not for the detection of colors. The cones are what helps us see vivid colors, functioning with ample light.

Humans have four times the amount of rods than cones, enabling us to see well during daylight hours. Humans have more cones than most animals, enabling us to distinguish colors and see fairly well in the dark.

Can Chameleons See In The Dark

Chameleons have one more cone than humans, which enables them to view an ultraviolet range. Their cones are packed densely without rods, which are used for low light vision. Chameleon’s night vision is poorer than humans and other nocturnal animals.

Can Chameleons See Color

Chameleons are able to see color, better than humans. While many animals don’t have color vision, chameleons are able to see the colors we see, but with the added benefit of ultraviolet light.

Humans see color in three colors: blue, red, and green. Most mammals will see two colors, which are blue and red or red and green, which they can barely distinguish.

To understand this better, let’s talk about the basic ability to see in color. Most humans can see versions of three basic colors: blue, green, and red. Chameleons are able to see a broader range of colors.

Can Chameleons See Infrared

Chameleons are able to see infrared, but being daytime animals, infrared should not be used in your chameleon enclosure.

Chameleons have a third eye, known as a parietal eye, which helps them detect a spectrum of light from infrared to ultraviolet. The pineal organs connect the third eye, which is responsible for controlling sleep.

When a chameleon’s eyes are closed, it will still see light, which means having an infrared light at night will prevent your chameleon from controlling its sleep.

When exposing chameleons to infrared light in the long term, they can get exhausted and possibly starve to death as a result.


Chameleon’s eyes are designed to help them see clearly during the day. Provide your chameleon with 12 hours of light per day to mimic the natural day and night cycle. 

While these animals are able to see colors more vividly than we do, their night vision is not as good as many other animals.

It is recommended not to use infrared light in their enclosures to reduce the risk of lack of sleep and exhaustion in your pet.

Rather than infrared light, it’s recommended to use a ceramic heat bulb to create the optimal temperatures in their enclosure.

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