How Long Do Chameleons Sleep? (A Guide to Night Time Care)

Wondering How Long Chameleons Sleep? This guide is for you!

All living creatures require sleep or some rest. Sleep allows chameleons to recoup lost energy, relax, and rejuvenate.

But how long do chameleons sleep? When do they sleep?

All species of chameleons prefer to sleep during the night. How long they sleep depends on the particular species of the chameleon and the time of the year. On average, however, a chameleon sleeps about 12 hours each night.

The chameleon’s sleeping pattern follows that of diurnal animals. They are active during the day but sleep at night.


How Do Chameleons Sleep?

In their natural setting, chameleons prefer to spend the nights sleeping perched on branches. This is also seen in captive chameleons.

This is why you should provide enough plants in your enclosure for your pet chameleon to perch on.

You will find your chameleon sleeping peacefully on the branches at night. The elevated position of plant branches gives chameleons a sense of security.

Chameleons feel safe from predators among the leaves and can sleep peacefully at night. That’s why your chameleon prefers to clutch onto the branches covered in the thick foliage of leaves.

However, unlike most animals, chameleons don’t sleep with their eyes completely shut. Instead, some will sleep with their eyes partially open – with a slit opening to keep watch.

Others prefer to completely shut one eye and keep the other wide open. They do this to keep a lookout for potential predators.

They alternate between shutting one eye and keeping the other open as the night progresses. This is important as it allows each side of your pet’s brain to rest adequately.

Most species of chameleons display bold and vivid colors in their sleep.

Do Chameleons Need Heat and Light at Night?

Chameleons need cool temperatures at night to induce proper sleep. This is more important for this creature’s sleep process than whether they have light.

Actually, a chameleon will sleep whether there’s light or not, as long as the temperatures are right. However, a chameleon sleeps better in total darkness.

Of course, you have to provide your pet chameleon with light for heat and UVB during the day.

But lights are entirely useless to this animal during the night. Some marketers advocate purchasing red night lights, but these are only for aesthetic purposes.

The amount of heat needed by chameleons at night depends on the species. While most species will do just fine with about 100 C of heat, some will sleep well with colder or warmer temperatures.

For example, the Veiled Chameleons are quite hardy and can sleep in 30- to 50 C temperatures at night.

However, it’s better to play safe with your pet chameleon by providing some heat during the night. Don’t allow the temperatures to rise too high, which might disrupt your pet’s sleep pattern.

Depending on the species, provide your pet with a temperature drop of 20 C during the night compared to the daytime temperatures.

If you suspect that the nighttime temperatures will be too cold, install a ceramic heater and set it to the proper temperature settings.

Light and UVB are not necessary for your pet chameleon during the day. The important thing here is to mimic the chameleon’s life in the wild.

Wild chameleons get all the light and UVB they need from the sun during the day. However, these things are unavailable at night, and chameleons have adapted to sleeping just fine without them.

The closer you create the chameleon’s natural settings in the enclosure, the happier and healthier your pet is.

Do Chameleons Sleep During the Day?

Unlike nocturnal reptiles, chameleons don’t sleep during the day. Instead, they are wired to stay active during the daytime, hunting for food and looking out for predators.

This provides them with the opportunity to do nothing else but sleep at night. So, it’s unlikely that your pet chameleon will wake up to eat or walk about at night.

If your chameleon is active at night, take it as a sign of trouble. You should also be concerned if this animal spends most of its daytime sleeping.

These are signs that either your pet is stressed or unwell. For example, a dehydrated chameleon will likely be weak and exhausted and sleep most of the daytime.

Also, a sick chameleon will not be at peace during the night. So you will see or hear him move about as he tries to get some solace and comfort.

Moving your chameleon to a new home or changing the enclosure will likely disrupt his sleep pattern.

Give some time for this animal to adjust to the new environment, and only contact the vet if the problem persists.

How Long Should Your Chameleon Sleep?

How long your chameleon sleeps depends on several factors. For example, what species is your chameleon? How old is it? How are the enclosure settings? What time of the year is it?

You can expect your chameleon to sleep longer during the long winter night and shorter in summer. This is because a chameleon’s night-day cycle follows the natural day-night setting.

How long your chameleon sleeps is also affected by what he has eaten during the day, and how much energy he has expended.

On average, most chameleon species sleep for about 12 hours a night. However, this can extend to 14 or 15 hours during winter, and shorten to 8 or 10 hours in summer.

Why Do Chameleons Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

It is not strictly true that all chameleons sleep with their eyes open. Instead, most chameleons just sink their eye turrets in while sleeping.

They close the center of their eyes and leave what looks like a slit open. This serves two purposes. It gives the impression that this animal is actually not asleep.

At the same time, it allows the chameleons to keep an eye out for any potential predators.

However, some species of chameleons actually sleep with one eye open. The closed eye allows the corresponding section of the brain to rest. In contrast, the other section remains active, looking out for danger.

You’ll observe these chameleons keep alternating shut and closed eyes at night. This way, each section of the brain gets enough sleep, rest, and rejuvenation as the night grows.

Why Do Chameleons Change Color When Sleeping?

Very much like we wear our pajamas or night dresses during the night, chameleons change color at night.

Indeed, these creatures tend to be at their cutest as they sleep.

Most attune their colors to their natural setting. This gives them a natural camouflage and defense against their enemies at night.

A chameleon may also change its bold and vibrant colors if you wake him up at night. This signals that he is annoyed with your disturbance.

Some chameleons turn bright red or bright green as they sleep. According to some experts, this reflects the chameleon’s mood.

Chameleons born and bred in captivity are more relaxed and less vigilant in their sleep. They usually wear bright green or light green colors.

It should be a point of concern if your pet chameleon starts displaying bold or brash colors in their sleep.

This could be a signal that they are stressed or sick. Carefully observe this animal during the day to see how he goes about his activities.

Is he eating well and moving about? Check the enclosure parameters to ensure everything is as it should be.

Where Do Chameleons Sleep?

Chameleons can sleep just about anywhere inside the enclosure, as long as they have a branch to perch on. This is more so if the chameleon was born and bred in captivity.

It may not have much sense of danger.

However, you may find that your chameleon prefers a particular spot in the enclosure. If so, make that spot as comfortable as possible to provide your pet with deep sleep.

On the other hand, wild chameleons prefer to sleep in the branches of trees and shrubs. This creature may not have a specific sleeping spot, but tends to perch on the nearest branch when nighttime falls.

Wild chameleons don’t follow a routine like their captive cousins.

Allow your chameleon to sleep where he feels most comfortable. Also, don’t be scared if you see him sleeping upside down on the branch – or even adopting other weird sleeping positions.

You should only be concerned if he adopts these positions on the enclosure floor. A chameleon sleeping upside down on the floor tells you something is seriously wrong.

This animal is either sick or stressed. Move with speed to find out and fix the source of these problems.

Are Chameleons Nocturnal?

Chameleons are diurnal creatures. This means they are most active during the day and rest at night. As such, you shouldn’t expect your pet chameleon to sleep during the day.

A chameleon sleeping during the day or being overly active at night communicates trouble. It wants you to know that something is wrong, and that action is required.

Most chameleons sleep at the wrong time for reasons that can be easily fixed. For example, it could be that your pet is dehydrated or stressed by the enclosure setup.

Others fail to sleep properly because plant sap might be bothering their eyes.

Problems related to dehydration or easily fixed by proper misting and the correct diet. Actually, you can fix most sleep problems by taking care of the enclosure parameters.

For example, is the humidity right? Is your pet getting adequate lighting and heating during the day? What about its diet?

Some chameleons start sleeping an hour or so before lights out. So don’t be worried if you see this in your pet chameleon.

It just shows that this animal has become used to the natural day-night cycle.

However, if your pet starts sleeping way too early, find out what the problem could be. You’ll likely discover that something in the enclosure needs fixing.

Do Chameleons Sleep in the Dark?

Chameleons sleep well in darkness. Therefore, although some people advocate for providing red lights at night, this is not necessary.

This means you should dim the lights at night – or put them off altogether.

Simultaneously, chameleons in captivity can adapt to some level of light during the night. Therefore, if the lights are not too bright, your pet will adjust to sleeping in these conditions.

If you must leave any lights on, ensure they are not too close to your pet. This animal needs a level of darkness to sleep soundly.

Nighttime Humidity Requirements for Chameleons

The nighttime humidity requirements for your pet chameleon depend on the type of chameleon in your enclosure.

As with everything else to do with your chameleon, you’d want to mimic the conditions he’d have in the wild.

If your chameleon’s natural habitat is in the mountains and forests, it will need higher humidity than desert chameleons.

As such, you may have to install a fogger to keep the humidity levels high at night and during the day. As you go about this, however, ensure that the humidity levels don’t rise too high, as this could cause your pet a set of unique challenges.

The best reptile enclosure foggers have a timer. You can set the fogger to run for a specific period during the night.

You can run it for an hour at the start of the night, and an hour before the chameleon wakes up.

This ensures that your pet gets enough dew on the leaves when it wakes up to get a refreshing drink of water.

When shopping for a fogger, go for quality. Some foggers may be $5 to $10 cheaper, but they don’t last long.

Also, cheap-quality foggers tend to break down when you least expect it. So when it comes to caring for your chameleon’s needs, never compromise on quality.

The ideal humidity level should be between 30% and 50% depending on the chameleon species.

Do Chameleons Eat at Night?

There’s no reason your chameleon should eat at night if they get enough food during the day. Feeding your chameleon at night interferes with its day-night cycle.

Because they are diurnal animals, chameleons should carry out all their daily activities and sleep at night.

Disturbing your pet chameleon’s sleep patterns comes with a set of problems. For example, the chameleon gets stressed, and will likely fall prey to opportunistic infections.

At the same time, chameleons don’t digest food properly at night. This means you should not leave any leftover feeder insects in the enclosure at night.

Remove all leftover food items from the enclosure before this reptile sleeps. Some feeder insects like locusts and crickets will likely give your pet sleepless nights.

Some insects make too much noise at night, while others will nibble on your pet chameleon, causing him sleepless nights.

Also, as long as the humidity is proper, there’s no need to get your chameleon to drink at night. Fogging the enclosure for an hour or two at night is okay, but avoid misting it all night.

The key here is to ensure your pet has enough to eat and drink during the day. Then, leave the nighttime for rest and relaxation.

Can Your Chameleon Sleep On You?

By nature, chameleons don’t like being around people. Actually, your pet chameleon will not tolerate more than a few hours of handling per week.

So, if you make your chameleon sleep on you, you can be sure that this animal is uncomfortable. Forcing this animal to act outside its nature stresses him.

You should also remember that chameleons are not supposed to sleep during the day.

Encouraging your pet chameleon to sleep during the day interferes with his day-night cycle, which is bound to cause some problems.

Making your chameleon sleep on you means you’re over-handling him. This is one of the leading causes of stress and anxiety in these reptiles.

Be kind to your chameleon and allow him to spend more time in the enclosure than with you. This animal is happiest and most at peace in the enclosure.

As such, ensure that all the conditions in the enclosure are appropriately set up at all times.

How to Help Your Chameleon Sleep

Creating an enabling environment is the best way to help your chameleon sleep. If the conditions in the enclosure are right, sleep for this animal will not be a problem.

Your chameleon needs cool night temperatures and a level of darkness to attract deep sleep. This pet will even sleep in total darkness.

Place the chameleon’s enclosure in a place not bathed by light at night. This helps regulate this animal’s sleep cycle, causing him to sleep and night and remain active during the day.

If light from outside shines into the room, you can cover the cage with a towel or blanket to block out the light.

At the same time, avoid making frequent changes to your pet’s enclosure. For example, don’t move the cage frequently.

It is preferable that you keep only one chameleon per enclosure. If you must keep two or more chameleons, ensure the cage is big enough with enough resources for all the reptiles.

Never keep two or more male chameleons in the same cage, as this is a recipe for trouble.

Invest in digital or smart devices to regulate your pet’s sleep pattern. For example, a digital timer can regulate the lighting system so that the light goes off at nighttime.

This provides your pet chameleon with the darkness it needs to fall into a deep sleep.

Also, you can have a digital time for the heat lamp. This device will lower the temperatures at night to the ideal level, and raise them during the day when this creature needs more heat.


Chameleons sleep best at night in cool, dark cages. However, how long your chameleon sleeps is affected by a number of factors.

Key among these is the chameleon species in your home and the time of the year. Generally, chameleons sleep longer during winter and shorter in summer.

We can generally say that a chameleon sleeps about 12 hours each night – if the conditions are right.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can Chameleons See in the Dark?

Chameleons cannot see in the dark. However, your chameleon may keep one eye open in the dark, as a way of trying to detect whether there’s any danger nearby.

But your chameleon is quite okay sleeping in pitch darkness. It does not need any light or to see in the dark to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Do Chameleons Sleep Walk?

Whether chameleons can sleepwalk is not certain. However, what we know for sure is that chameleons do get restless in their sleep, at times.

Some chameleons shuffle about while they are in a deep sleep. This is more likely to happen if this reptile sleeps in an unconventional position or spot.

Do Chameleons Dream in Their Sleep?

There’s a chance chameleons dream in their sleep. Scientists have observed and recorded REM in chameleons in their sleep.

However, your guess on what these creatures dream about is as good as mine!

Does My Chameleon Need Heat at Night?

Yes, chameleons do need heat at night – though it should be lower than daytime temperatures. Most chameleons require about 100 C to 120 C during the night.

However, some species of chameleons can sleep quite comfortably in lower temperatures.

Most chameleons can cope with the temperature drop that happens at night. This is because their bodies are designed to adjust based on the environmental temperatures.

As the temperature drops, the chameleon’s metabolic rate goes down, inducing deep sleep. Also, since these creatures are not nocturnal, they have no need for extra heating at night.

Why Doesn’t My Chameleon Sleep at Night?

This is a sign that something is wrong. Chameleons are diurnal creatures, meaning they are most active during the day and spend their nighttime sleeping.

Find out what’s causing your pet chameleon to lose sleep at night. It could be that this reptile is stressed or sick.

Fortunately, most problems that make your pet lose sleep can be solved easily. First, check whether everything in the enclosure is as it should be.

Are the humidity and temperature okay? Does the enclosure have enough plants for the animals to hand on to?

Is this animal feeding well? This could be a sign of stress or sickness if it isn’t.

When Should I Take My Chameleon to the Vet?

Take your pet chameleon to the vet if it’s feeling unwell and needs treatment. However, you can find out the cause of your pet’s problem to see whether you can solve it at home.

In most cases, creating the proper conditions in your pet’s enclosure will solve the problem. But first, check the status of the enclosure parameters and adjust them accordingly.

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