Male vs. Female Chameleon (What Should You Choose?)

Wondering which to choose between a male and female chameleon? This guide is for you!

Did you know that each of the chameleon genders has its unique needs? So knowing the gender of the chameleon you want to bring home gives you an advantage as a pet parent.

If you are looking for a chameleon that will live for 10+ years, it’s the male for you. However, if you are looking for a chameleon for breeding purposes, choose the female gender. While male chameleons have brighter, more vibrant colors, they are prone to stress. Females, on the other hand, are easier to manage but are susceptible to medical problems.

Each gender has its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Acquaint yourself with these to enable you to choose the most suitable one for your home.


Male vs. Female Chameleons: Does It Really Matter?

Does it really matter whether the chameleon you bring home is a boy or a girl? Of course, it does! For starters, either gender bears a unique name that reflects their sex and what they stand for.

Also, male and female genders should be treated differently in many respects. For example, females are more friendly and docile, but need special housing and feeding arrangements.

On the other hand, males are aggressive and harder to tame, but easier to provide care for.

Females’ unique demands come from the fact that they are breeding chameleons.

They need special diets when gravid, and you’ll have to be more careful should they experience breeding-related challenges.

Some owners do not shy from the husbandry responsibilities associated with nurturing a female. However, they are more interested in the fact that only females can give you additional babies.

Owners that favor males are attracted to the fewer husbandry responsibilities attached to the gender. Also, they appreciate that male chameleons display more color than females.

Did you know that male chameleons live up to 5 years longer than females? While males can live for 10+ years, most females make it to 5.

The reproductive cycle does take its toll on the females. They age more rapidly and become more susceptible to diseases and infections as a result.

Apart from breeding, female chameleons have the added advantage of being docile and personable. Okay, no chameleon is really friendly because they are not wired to be our friends.

But, compared to males, females provide a more enjoyable experience. On the other hand, males are more irritable and quick to anger. Females are less likely to bite than males.

Males take longer to train and domesticate. Additionally, males will require more food, higher temperatures, and more misting.

This is because they have bigger bodies than their female counterparts.

At the end of the day, your choice of either male or female will be determined by the following:

  • Why do you want the chameleon – aesthetics or breeding?
  • The extra cost associated with either
  • Time, space, and effort needed to care for either

Comparative Look at the Most Common Chameleon Species

To give you a clear idea of where to stand in the male vs. female debate, let’s have a look at the most common chameleon species:

  • Jackson’s Chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii)
  • Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis)
  • Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)

Male vs. Female: Jackson’s Chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii)

Unlike other chameleons, Jackson’s Chameleons have horns on their faces. As such, it’s very easy to spot this species in the midst of others.

Also, Jackson’s Chameleons have simpler colors than other species.

While most chameleons have a dazzling display of bright colors, Jackson’s Chameleon is okay with an intense green as the predominant color.

Males tend to display their colors more frequently than females. This is because the patterning on the male’s skin is more colorful and shouting than the female’s.

The male Jackson’s Chameleon uses this to express strong emotions, such as anger, stress, and excitement.

At the same time, the males are distinguishable with 3 horns between their eyes and nostrils. These horns are meant to ward off or fight off other males.

On the other hand, females have one or no horns between the eyes or nostrils.

As with most chameleons, the females come out as the more placid of the two.

A unique thing about female Jackson’s Chameleon is that she does not lay eggs. Instead, she makes an egg membrane and keeps the eggs inside until they are ready to hatch.

Reptiles that do this kind of thing are called ovoviviparous.

Then, she drops the eggs from a height, making them break open, and the babies come out live-born.

As such, the keeper does not need to prepare a special deep substrate for the female Jackson’s Chameleon to lay her eggs.

However, this does not mean this female does not need specialized care. As a breeder, she needs a calcium-rich diet.

Also, you need to monitor her for potential medical issues, especially when she’s gravid.

Male vs. Female: Jackson’s Chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii) Comparative Table

Sex Identity On birth On birth
Body Length Longer – up to 10 inches Shorter – up to 8 inches
Colors Bright green accentuated with blues and yellows Green with fewer patterns. Shows bright green when ready to mate.
Lifespan 8 – 10 years 5 years
Horns 3 between eyes 1 tiny or none
Egg laying No No. Lays eggs with live babies (ovoviviparous)
Casque Small Small
Breeding Potential Excellent stud Excellent breeder
Aggression High Low
Behavior Territorial, can’t accommodate other males Fairly docile
Habitat Needs Needs a large space, higher temperature, more misting, and UV light. Less demanding
Group living No No
Heminal Bulge Yes No
Rostra Process ((Long Nose) No No
Tarsal (Heel) Spurs No No

Male vs. Female: Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis)

A first-time keeper may be unable to tell apart the male and female Panther Chameleon at birth because they are so similar.

However, the advanced keeper will notice the presence or lack of a hemipenal bulge. This is a protrusion below the vent, at the base of the tail.

A rounded hemipenal bulge indicates a boy. However, if this spot is curved inwards and the tail is skinny, you’re probably dealing with a girl chameleon.

An experienced breeder will go further and compare the color of the two Panther Chameleons. Female babies are brownish at birth, while male babies are more grayish.

By about 4 months, the color difference between these two becomes evident, and you can quickly tell which is which.

By the time they are adults, their coloration becomes obvious. The male is more colorful, and the female is brownish.

Because of their strikingly beautiful colors, male Panther Chameleons are in higher demand than females.

However, a good number of keepers think that females are also beautiful. Females can display an array of pinks, pastel peaches, and neutral colors.

The faces of the male and female adults also differ. Males have a long ridge (Rostral Process) around the top area, while females don’t.

The face of an adult female Panther Chameleon is reasonably smooth and well-rounded.

Like most Chameleon species, Panther males are more aggressive and reactive than the females, who are calmer and more relaxed.

From the age of 6 months, female Panther Chameleons start laying eggs. So, if you want to keep a female for breeding, you can expect to begin reaping benefits around this time.

However, this varies with individual chameleons – some start their reproductive cycle earlier, while it comes later for others.

Unlike Jackson’s Chameleon, female Panther Chameleon requires deep substrate to incubate their eggs.

Breeding females need to be kept healthy, and careful attention should be given to them during the egg-laying process.

Consider providing this Chameleon with a calcium-rich diet and all the comforts she needs. After all, she deserves it.

Male vs. Female: Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) Comparative Table

Sex Identity About 3 months About 3 months
Body Length Longer, heavier – up to 18 inches Shorter, lighter – up to 14 inches
Colors Many bright colors Pinks, peaches, and neutral variations
Lifespan 4-5 years 2-3 years
Horns No No
Egg laying No Yes
Casque No No
Breeding Potential Excellent stud Excellent breeder
Aggression High Low
Behavior Territorial, intolerant to other males Not aggressive
Habitat Needs Needs a large space, higher temperatures, more misting, and UV light A deep substrate to bury eggs
Group living No No
Heminal Bulge Yes No
Rostra Process ((Long Nose) Yes No
Tarsal (Heel) Spurs No No

Male vs. Female: Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)

Veiled Chameleons are some of the largest reptiles that can be kept as pets. It’s pretty easy to tell apart the sexes of this species right after birth.

Males have a small spur or bump that protrudes to the rear between the toes of the hind legs. Although females can have this spur, too, it’s not common.

By age 4, this spur becomes more prominent, and you won’t doubt which animal is male or female.

The male spur is larger and more prominent. If the female had it at birth, it has receded or disappeared altogether.

Another noticeable difference between the two genders by the age of 4 months is body size. Again, males are larger and bulkier than females.

Also, males display brighter colors of green, patterned with blue bars and vertical yellow and orange. On the other hand, females are demure and speckled green.

The temperaments of adult male and female Veiled Chameleons differ a lot. Males are what we refer to in humans as hot-tempered.

They are aggressive, territorial, and highly irritable. Indeed, male adult Veiled Chameleons should always be treated with caution, don’t handle them unless you’re sure they are calm enough.

Females are calmer and more docile; you can easily build relationships with them. However, they may become a bit aggressive if mishandled.

Female Veiled Chameleons start laying eggs by the age of 5 months. Therefore, you need to provide her with a deep substrate to incubate her clutch around this time.

She’ll also need to be put on a calcium-rich diet and monitored closely throughout the process.

This female is particularly sensitive whenever she’s gravid, and simple mistakes can make her egg-bound.

Giving her the proper care and support will enable her to successfully lay her eggs. Otherwise, egg-bound female Veiled Chameleons often need surgical intervention.

But this can be avoided by monitoring her dietary needs and temperature management.

Male vs. Female: Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) Comparative Table

Sex Identity Birth to 5 months Birth to 5 months
Body Length Longer, slimmer – up to 24 inches Shorter, wider – up to 12 inches
Colors Bright green with gold, blue, and orange patterns. Speckled green. May display yellows and blue bars when ready to mate.
Lifespan 8-10 years 5 years
Horns No No
Egg laying No Yes
Casque Taller – more than 3 inches Shorter
Breeding Potential Excellent stud Excellent breeder
Aggression High Low
Behavior Territorial and aggressive towards other males. Easily irritable and can bite when provoked. Fairly docile. More accommodating and friendly to humans.
Habitat Needs Needs ample space, higher temperature, more misting, and UV light. Needs a deep substrate for burying eggs.
Group living No No
Heminal Bulge Yes No
Rostra Process ((Long Nose) No No
Tarsal (Heel) Spurs Yes Sometimes

Male vs. Female Chameleon: Considerations for Keeping Either

To decide which is better for you between the male and female chameleon, you should understand what keeping them entails.

Let’s have a look at some things you should have in mind:

How Much Space Will You Need?

Males of all chameleon species tend to be larger and bulkier. From the 4th month, they have grown noticeably taller and heavier than the females.

They are also feistier than females, who enjoy peace and quiet. So, when looking at housing arrangements, you need more space for the male chameleon.

Here, females are preferable if you don’t have a lot of room in your home.

What’s the Maintenance Cost?

This factor could swing either way, because both the male and the female chameleons have special needs.

Being the larger and bulkier, the male chameleon needs more space, food, and energy for heating and lighting.

He also needs more misting and cannot do without UV light. All these are capital intensive.

On the other hand, the female is susceptible to health issues because she’s a breeder. As such, you’ll have to spend more on her for frequent vet visits.

At the same time, she needs more supplements to take care of her egg-production requirements. All these cost good money.

What is the Expected Lifespan?

The male chameleon can live for up to 10 years in some species. The females of the same species live for about 5 years.

For example, the Jackson’s and Veiled Chameleon males live for about 8 to 10 years. Their female counterparts have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years.

This discrepancy is understandable, considering the female carries all the burden of bringing the offspring into this world.

If you consider the role played by the female in perpetuating their kind, you can easily call a draw for this round.

But, it all depends on your priorities as a pet owner.

How Approachable is the Pet?

No questions about it – females are more docile, personable, and people-friendly than males. This is the general rule, of course.

Owners find female chameleons more pliable and fun to have around the house.

Who’s More Colorful?

Most chameleon pet keepers take pride in the colors of their pets. In this case, males are preferred because they are more colorful.

However, the issue of color boils down to individual preferences.

When Can I Keep a Female Chameleon?

You should get a female chameleon if you:

  • Are good with reptiles.
  • Are interested in breeding chameleons.
  • Don’t mind chameleons with less dull colors.
  • Have other reptiles in the house.
  • Ready to incur medical-related bills.
  • Prepared to provide care to an egg-laying reptile.
  • Are you okay with a pet that will live for about 5 years?
  • Want a friendly, docile, calm chameleon.
  • Can get a fancy, girl-name for a chameleon

When Can I Keep a Male Chameleon?

You should get a male chameleon if you:

  • Are interested in bright and colorful chameleons.
  • Don’t mind not handling your chameleon much.
  • Can put up with all the hissing, puffing, and aggressive behavior.
  • Are not interested in breeding baby chameleons.
  • Have a lot of space for this reptile.
  • Are you willing to spend on consumables?
  • Want a pet with a lifespan of 8+ years.
  • Can get a masculine name for the chameleon.


The care of your chameleon largely depends on its gender. As such, you must determine the sex of a chameleon before making a purchase.

While male chameleons tend to eat more foliage, females require more specialized diets. You should make these kinds of comparisons to know which of the two genders you should choose.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Can You Identify the Sex of an Oustalet’s Chameleon?

Only female Oustalet’s Chameleons are green. Additionally, the hemi-penal bulge in males is bigger than that of females.

The male’s hemi-penal bulge can grow as long as 30 inches.

How Can You Identify the Sex of a Fischer’s Chameleon?

Only males have the hemi-penal bulge in Fischer’s Chameleon. Also, the double Rostral Process (long double-face prong) is more pronounced in males.

How Can You Identify the Sex of a Four–Horned Chameleon?

The males of this species have a casque and a prominent crest on their backs. Males also have between 2 and 6 horns on their heads.

The female Four-Horned Chameleon lacks these features.

How Can You Identify the Sex of a Carpet Chameleon?

The prominent bulge at the base of the tail near the vent identifies the male Carpet Chameleon. Females are smooth at the base of the tail.

How Can You Identify the Sex of a Flapneck Chameleon?

Female Flapneck Chameleons grow longer than males. A female can be up to 16 inches long. The shorter of the two Flapneck Chameleons have a hemi-penal bulge. This is the male.

How Can You Identify the Sex of a Meller’s Chameleon?

It’s rather hard to differentiate a male and a female Meller’s Chameleon because they look similar in virtually all aspects.

However, you can use two methods to tell them apart:

  • A female will likely lay eggs, and a male can’t.
  • An x-ray scan will reveal the difference.

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