Chameleon Teeth: Everything You Need To Know

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: November 15, 2022
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It’s easy to say that you know what a chameleon is. They are green lizard-looking reptiles that often change color and camouflage in almost anything they set foot on. Chameleons are camouflage kings and may change their colors depending on their mood. How cool is that? But that’s general knowledge; almost everybody knows that. But does everyone know anything about their teeth? Or if they have any? Or what they’re used for?

Chameleons are insectivorous reptiles that frequently consume insects like flies, grasshoppers, and crickets. Their diet also includes greens like escarole and dandelions, a wonderful source of vitamins, minerals, and fluids. But how do they chew their food? This article uncovers everything you need to know about chameleon teeth.

Do Chameleons Have Teeth?

chameleon
Chameleons have small and pointy teeth designed specifically for crushing insects.

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The quick answer is yes, chameleons do have teeth, but their diminutive size makes them difficult to see with the naked eye. They have small and pointy teeth designed specifically for crushing insects.

Unlike mammals, there is no barrier between the chameleon’s tooth socket and the tooth within. The teeth of chameleons are not naturally altered, and they are fixed in place for life.

What Kind of Teeth Do Chameleons Have?

skull of chameleon
Chameleon teeth are calcium-based and extremely sharp.

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Acrodont dentition, or small, conical teeth that are all identical and primitively positioned on the upper border of the jawbone, is what chameleons have. This dentition differs from most reptiles, whose teeth are fixed in cavities or on the inner edge of the bone. Chameleons can have 15 to 22 teeth in one lifetime, but the exact length and measurement of their teeth are unknown.

Chameleon teeth are calcium-based and extremely sharp. However, they are only sufficiently sharp to allow them to consume prey and fend off competitors. Chameleons, unlike other reptiles, have evolved to chew their food instead of swallowing it whole. Thanks to their tiny, sharp teeth, they can seize and grip prey, some of which are larger than themselves.

Do Chameleons Have Baby Teeth?

Chameleons don’t have replacement teeth as baby humans do, which means they don’t have any baby teeth. Because they are all fused to the chameleon’s jawbone, none of its teeth can grow back. Therefore, it is an issue if you see that your chameleon is losing teeth, and it is crucial to recognize any underlying issues that may exist.

Although tooth loss in chameleons is uncommon, it is important to be aware of it in case it starts to occur. Gum recession, which affects many reptiles, an underlying ailment such as a weaker immune system, or biting on anything hard are a few common reasons for dental problems and tooth loss in chameleons.

What Are Chameleon Teeth Used For?

Chameleon hunting
Chameleons use their teeth to crush prey and fight.

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The sharp teeth of chameleons function quite similarly to those of humans. Chameleons must chew, shred, and tear through their food because they cannot swallow it whole, especially live insects like crickets, tiny worms, and roaches.

Additionally, unlike other reptiles like bearded dragons who consume their food whole, chameleons like to chew it instead of doing so; hence one function of their teeth is to aid in chewing.

Chameleons also use their teeth to fight. Fighting between male chameleons is very common, usually involving a fight for territory or a mate. When this occurs, their main options are to bite, push, or utilize headbutts.

The chameleon’s mouth cavity frequently has varying colors inside, primarily used for protection. Some chameleons will expose the interior of their jaws when confronted to frighten off their adversaries. Mucus-secreting and non-sticky saliva-producing glands can both be found in the chameleon’s mouth.

Chameleons may also have horns from birth. As with teeth and claws, horns serve as a form of defense and are also crucial for appealing to and seducing a mate.

Do Chameleons Bite?

Chameleon
A chameleon usually gives off warning signs before biting, which humans can note to avoid getting bitten.

©Matt Jeppson/Shutterstock.com

As is well known, any animal with a mouth has the potential to bite. Chameleons, though, are typically laid-back creatures. In the face of difficulty or threat, they take different actions, such as changing color and hiding, as they are not often aggressive. If you’re unlucky enough to get bitten by a chameleon, it would likely be because it was handled poorly, threatened, or nervous. Chameleon care requires more skill than that of many other lizard species. Many do not enjoy being handled, which might result in tension and bites.

A chameleon usually gives off warning signs before biting, which humans can note to avoid getting bitten. They often turn to a dark shade of black if they feel threatened. Hissing is another typical precursor to biting. It means they are admonishing you not to approach any closer because they will bite you if you do.

Does a Chameleon’s Bite Hurt?

A chameleon’s bite isn’t agonizing, yet not enjoyable. So while a chameleon’s bite differs from that of a dog or cat, it can occasionally puncture the skin and draw blood. It can also induce a paper-cut-like stinging sensation.

The worst thing you can do if you are unfortunate enough to get bitten is to take your finger away from the chameleon. Although this is a natural response, it is likely to make the injury worse and increase the risk that it will break the skin. If you can maintain your composure, the best course of action is to wait for the chameleon to release your finger, which they typically do rather quickly.

How to Care For a Chameleon’s Teeth

It makes sense to inspect your chameleon’s teeth occasionally to ensure everything is in order. It’s better if you can establish a routine of doing it monthly or so. You might want to think about having your chameleon’s teeth cleaned by the veterinarian once a year, as some chameleon owners do.

Up Next:

Pomeranian Teeth: Everything You Need To Know

What Do Chameleons Eat? 16 Foods in Their Diet

The Best Cages for your Chameleon for 2022

Chameleon Poop: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know


The Featured Image

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Beautiful colored chameleon.
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Sources
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  2. KidZone, Available here: https://www.kidzone.ws/animal-facts/chameleons/teeth.htm
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