As a chameleon owner, you may become concerned if your chameleon becomes slow, doesn't eat, and seems to want to sleep during the winter months. Chameleons come from tropical and subtropical areas, which means they shouldn't need to brumate. It's important to learn about hibernation, whether your chameleon should be hibernating and what you can do to prevent it.
What is Chameleon Hibernation/Brumation?
Brumation is a hibernation experienced by many reptiles. The same as hibernation in mammals, the reptile’s body shuts down to conserve energy. During brumation, reptiles may not drink, eat, or defecate. You may notice your reptile not moving for weeks. Some bury themselves to get to the coolest area in the enclosure. It can be scary when reptiles brumate for the first time and pet owners aren't prepared for it.
Do Veiled and Panther Chameleons Hibernate?
Veiled and panther chameleons come from tropical and subtropical climates and therefore they do not brumate in the wild. Once placed into captivity, it is your responsibility to ensure you keep the enclosure temperatures at optimum. Some chameleon owners find their pets don't eat much during the winter months, this can be determined by the temperatures in the enclosure and your local weather. Ensure you keep your temperatures at optimum and your lighting on a 12 hour cycle.
Brumation should not be encouraged in captivity.
Do Other Chameleons Hibernate?
Parson's chameleons that come from Eastern Madagascar are known to brumate. They are the heaviest chameleons and their eggs take up to 24 months to hatch, which requires them to stay in a semi-dormant state as adults in order to cycle and incubate the eggs. This coincides with the dry and cool winter in Madagascar, where the rainforest's temperature can drop to 40ºF with daytime temperatures in the high 60ºF.