Widely considered an exotic reptile to keep as a pet, the chameleon is a fascinating creature to behold. But how long do chameleons live, and what can you expect out of their lifespan, especially when it comes to choosing an ideal chameleon species to bring home as a pet?
While most species of chameleons are ideal in home or captive environments, the lifespan of this reptile may surprise you. In this article we will discuss the average chameleon life cycle, their lifespans depending on their species, and even more surprising chameleon facts. Let’s get started!
How Long Do Chameleons Live?
Chameleons live an average of 2-7 years, depending on the species. Some species of chameleon can live to be over 25 years of age, though this is usually only true of larger chameleon species. But more on that later.
The reproductive process for chameleons can take a toll on their bodies and overall life span. This usually results in male chameleons living longer than female chameleons, as laying eggs and carrying their young can have adverse effects on female chameleons.
Many chameleons are also capable of sexual reproduction well before they have finished growing. This is another reason why many female chameleons don’t live quite as long as males, as the amount of eggs in their bodies (also known as clutches) can be quite large. This can lead to undo stress on their young frames, before they are mature enough to handle it.
Chameleons are also fairly solitary creatures, preferring to live in a cage on their own rather than with one another. Should you choose to keep them as pets, keep this in mind. Male chameleons tend to fight amongst each other more often than females do, though no matter what the gender, chameleons require a safe and private location to retreat to everyday.
Speaking of a chameleon’s mood, chameleons are known for their fantastic color changing scales. However, they don’t do this to simply blend into their environment at will. Most of the time, many species of chameleons change their colors when they are stressed or otherwise threatened, turning more violent shades as they get more stressed out!
The Average Chameleon Life Cycle
If you have been wondering what the average chameleon life cycle is like, you’re in the right place. Let’s learn more about what a chameleon goes through, from egg to old age.
It is important to note that most chameleons give birth to eggs. But there are some breeds or species of chameleons that actually have live births. This is an extraordinarily rare occurrence, especially given the fact that these are lizards. Reptiles also usually give birth to eggs exclusively.
However, given that most chameleons lay eggs, let’s talk about that process now. A female chameleon will lay anywhere from 5-100 eggs, depending on the size and species of lizard. Once the eggs hatch, or the live birth chameleons merge from their amniotic sac, chameleons are walking and ready to go. This is no doubt a survival Instinct that allows them to move about and survive, even when they are only centimeters long.
Chameleons are considered young adults until they reach sexual maturity, and this age usually comes later in a chameleons life. Given that it takes them an average of a year or two to reach sexual maturity, many chameleons have longer life cycles than other reptiles.
Young chameleons are hesitant, curious, and capable of climbing right away. It only takes a baby chameleon a few days to have all of the skills it will need to survive as an adult. Young chameleons will eat insects. If you are keeping one as a pet, it is important to hydrate it frequently.
Chameleons are usually considered adults once they reach sexual maturity. However, grown chameleons often reach this point of their life before their bodies have finished growing. Depending on the species of chameleon, your lizard may reach over a foot in length. But most average species are around 10-15 inches.
An adult chameleon can thrive in a domesticated habitat if it is kept in a large cage on its own, with plenty of places that it can retreat to so it feels safe. Keeping your lizard hydrated is also key to its lifespan. Taking care to not over feed your chameleon will also keep it healthy.
But what species of chameleon lives the longest, no matter the environmental factors? Let’s learn more about that now!
Comparing Lifespans of Different Chameleon Species
There are many different species of chameleons, and all of them are generally available to keep as a pet. Here are some common pet chameleon species and how long they live on average:
- Veiled Chameleon: An extremely popular species of pet chameleon, veiled chameleons can live anywhere from two to ten years in captivity, depending on gender and care.
- Jackson’s Chameleon: Smaller than veiled chameleons, Jackson’s chameleons are common pets as well. They can live anywhere from 2-5 years in captivity.
- Panther Chameleon: The perfect in-between size between Jackson’s chameleons and veiled chameleons. Panther chameleons can live an average of 3 to 8 years in captivity.
- Pygmy Chameleon: The smallest of almost all chameleons, pygmy chameleons live the shortest lifespan. They average six months to two years.
- Oustalet’s Chameleon: A rare breed to keep as a pet. This variety of chameleon can live anywhere from 3 to over 10 years if kept in captivity well.
- Meller’s Chameleon: This species of chameleon is a longer living variety, living anywhere from 4 to 12 years.
- Parson’s Chameleon: One of the largest chameleon species, the Parson’s chameleon can live over twenty years in captivity, though averages 7-13 years.
As you can see, the species of chameleons that you intend to bring home as a pet will greatly affect its lifespan and overall health. The larger species of chameleons always live longer than the smaller ones, whether or not you plan on breeding your new pet.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jan Bures/Shutterstock.com
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