Do Chameleons Like to Be Held? What to Do + What to Avoid

Wondering if chameleons like to be held? This guide is for you!

Chameleons are cautious loners in the wild. They don’t socialize or carry out their activities in groups. As such, it must be very strange for this creature when a human wants to hold it.

This is simply against its genetic coding.

Chameleons don’t like to be held. Centuries of evolutionary instincts have taught this animal that all bigger animals are predators. As a result, chameleons classify humans as potential threats and would like to keep away from us.

You need to be very patient to convince this animal you mean no harm. Your chameleon may eventually enjoy being held if you treat him respectfully.

The worst you can do is to hold your chameleon when it doesn’t want to be held. This makes your pet stressed, which could cause serious health issues if it keeps happening.

But again, you should consider that not all chameleon species can learn to be handled. Some will remain adamant and resistant to the end.

chameleon held

Do Chameleons Like to Be Held?

This is a valid answer if you’re looking to own a chameleon. Well, there’s no definitive answer to this question, considering that people’s experiences with chameleons are different.

At the same time, you should consider that chameleons have different personalities.

One chameleon may not mind being held for a few minutes a week; another wants to be left absolutely alone.

This is understandable when you remember that chameleons are wild animals, not like cats or dogs that have since been domesticated.

This means chameleons cannot create the same bond we make with cats and dogs. But, can you train a chameleon to form a bond with you?

This is possible and has happened many times. Many chameleon owners worldwide enjoy a quality bond with their pet chameleons.

However, this is not to say that these chameleons enjoy being cuddled or held. On the contrary, they have learned to tolerate handling for very brief periods.

Bear in mind that it is against the chameleon’s instincts to be held by humans, let alone cuddled. Also, consider that these reptiles are very delicate.

They are scared of any animal bigger than them. So if you keep handling a chameleon against his will, he’s likely to be stressed and fall ill.

If your chameleon is okay with being handled, be sure not to overdo it. Instead, handle him briefly so he can continue trusting you.

Do Chameleons Like Being Held? What to Do…

It is not in the nature of chameleons to be held. However, you can get your chameleon to enjoy being in your arms with the right moves.

Of course, don’t expect to hold this reptile in your arms for hours on end. If you are to hold it, it can be for a few minutes per week.

Here’s what to do to win this reptile’s favor:

Let the Chameleon Know When You’re Around

Chameleons are highly sensitive creatures. Because of centuries of conditioning in the wild, they are easily startled.

You can make things easier for your chameleon by alerting him of your presence. The best way to do this is to approach him from the front, not the back.

Do this slowly as you move closer to them.

Let the Chameleon See You Mean Well

Chameleons are genetically wired to look at humans as predators. So from the time you meet him for the first time, your chameleons will look at you suspiciously.

Put him at ease by offering him food. This is the more effective way of letting him know you mean well.

The moment he starts associating your hand with food, he’ll notice that you are not that dangerous, after all!

Prioritize Your Chameleon’s Comfort

As a pet parent, your chameleon’s welfare should take first priority. This entails providing this reptile with the best quality diets for their kind.

Feed him tasty worms and succulent foliage.

Ensure that your pet’s medical issues are promptly handled.

This is particularly important if you’re dealing with a female chameleon prone to health challenges because of its reproductive cycle.

How clean and well-kempt is your chameleon’s terrarium? Does this animal have everything it needs to lead a comfortable life?

If you have provided your pet will all the support he needs, it is only a matter of time before he trusts you.

However, even your best efforts to get his attention will be hissed at if he is perpetually scared, hassled, and stressed.

Do Chameleons Like to Be Held? What to Avoid…

If you want to win your chameleon’s trust, you need to avoid making these serious mistakes:

Avoid Cuddling Your Chameleon

Chameleons are not cuddly creatures. Actually, your chameleon does not like to be held, let alone cuddled.

You’ll quickly lose your little friend’s trust if your start petting and cuddling him. Petting this animal scares him; his alarm bells start ringing, and he will be forced to deploy his defense mechanism.

Instead of cuddling your chameleon, just allow him to rest on your hands or shoulders. If you don’t mishandle him, he may enjoy hand-walking between your two hands.

A chameleon that has known you will always respond well if you treat him with respect and gentleness.

Avoid Being Pushy with Your Chameleon

One good thing about chameleon pets is that they are very good communicators. As we’ll see in the next section, this animal will tell you when he wants to be left alone.

For example, he may puff or hiss when you approach him. This indicates that he’s going through a situation, and wants nothing to do with you at the moment.

Learn to respect your pet’s boundaries. For example, don’t force him to come onto your hands when he doesn’t want to, as this is bound to attract disaster.

Remember, chameleons are delicate animals easily stressed by such incidences.

Avoid Hovering Over Your Chameleon

Chameleons have learned the hard way that danger almost always comes from above.

Be it birds or prey swooping down to snatch this reptile from a branch, or a snake attacking from above, they know danger lurks above them.

This is ingrained in their DNA, and your chameleon knows not to trust anything or anyone approaching from above – or behind.

This is your cue never to approach or pick your chameleon from above or behind. Instead, allow him to see your approach so that he can tell your genuine intentions.

Approaching a chameleon from above invites trouble. This animal will be stressed to the extent that he may jump at and bite you.

This is one of his classic defense mechanisms.

Avoid Putting Two Chameleons in the Same Space

Chameleons are particularly antagonistic, territorial, and aggressive. The males of any chameleon species cannot stand the sight of one another.

It would be a grave mistake to bring two of them together. Holding them in your hand or putting them in the same terrarium is the signal they need to start a vicious fight.

Each sees the other as a threat and will try to eliminate him.

How Do You Know Your Chameleon Does Not Want to Be Held?

As earlier indicated, chameleons are very good at showing us when they are uncomfortable. You can tell you a chameleon does not want to be held through these signs:

  • Leaving the mouth Open

Also known as gaping, this stance is adopted by a chameleon to warn you against touching or holding him.

By leaving his mouth agape, he exposes a row of sharp teeth to remind you that he can bite to protect himself from you.

  • Puffing the throat

I’m big enough to defend myself; keep off! This is what your chameleon wants you to know when he swells his body to double its normal size.

This move is meant to scare you to avoid holding him.

  • Scuttling away

Rarely do chameleons resort to running away when they don’t want to be held. Instead, they prefer to employ other weapons, such as hissing and puffing.

When your chameleon runs away, he’s really had it. He wants to put as much distance between you and him as possible.

This is your cue to let him be if you don’t want to lose his trust forever.

  • Biting

Chameleons bite when they have no other way of putting their point across. This could happen because you have ignored all the other signals he’s sent you.


New owners often ask themselves whether they can hold their pet chameleons, and how this animal would take it.

The truth is that chameleons are instinctively wired to reject any attempts to be held.

However, with patience, a positive attitude, and the right effort, you can get your chameleon to allow you to hold him a little.

Unlike most other small reptiles, chameleons are best handled by experienced hands.

Frequently Asked Questions ((FAQs)

What kind of Chameleons Like to be Held?

Of the hundreds of chameleon species worldwide, only a handful can be handled by humans. Of these, only a few would cooperate with you as you hold them.

Chameleons have evolved to be solitary, territorial creatures of the wild. So, even the fact that we’ve introduced them to our homes is a shock to these creatures.

However, we now know that some species adapt to the new way of life more quickly than others. Therefore, it’s best to study the personality of the species you want to bring him to know where it lies.

Can Chameleons Form Groups?

Chameleons cannot form groups – whether in the wild or in captivity. Instead, they are solitary animals that prefer to live in the branches of trees and bushes.

Do Chameleons Recognize Their Owners?

Chameleons are intelligent creatures and can recognize their owners within their first week of interacting.

They also know when the owner treats them poorly, and are quick to reciprocate with their defense mechanisms.

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