Chameleons are popular reptiles, but they can be challenging to care for. Caring for reptiles, in general, can be a learning curve for pet owners who have only had experience with cats or dogs, but most reptiles will usually give warning signs that something is amiss, such as trying to escape, refusing to eat, or other odd behaviors. On the other hand, Chameleons very rarely show signs of anything being amiss, so problems may slip entirely under an inexperienced reptile owner’s radar until it is too late.
When it comes to the most basic care of a chameleon—offering food and water—it can be difficult to tell when either is needed. Chameleons do not eat every day, although they need a misting of water daily. In the most extreme cases, chameleons can survive about 1 week without food and water, but your chameleon will be in bad shape after.
Knowing What Your Chameleon Needs
Although chameleons can technically survive with no food and water for a week or more, this is not something you should deliberately put your pet through. Before 1 week without water, your chameleon will be dehydrated. Soon after the 1-week mark, it will be starved. Just because chameleons can last this long without food and water does not mean that they should. To learn your chameleon’s general food and water guidelines, keep reading below.
Chameleons and Food
If your chameleon does not eat every day, don’t worry. This is typical feeding behavior, as chameleons are known to go 2–3 days between meals. For this reason, it can sometimes be hard to tell when a chameleon is not eating enough.
Pay attention to subtle changes in your chameleon to make sure it is well-fed. If your chameleon starts losing weight or pigmentation, that is a sign that something is wrong. Likewise, if your chameleon is exhausted or unable to open its mouth or eyes, it may be starving.
Chameleons and Water
Chameleons do not need to drink water daily, but they must be misted every day. If they are not, they will swiftly begin to dehydrate. Assuming that your chameleon is being misted each day, it can go 2 days without water and not suffer from dehydration. However, if your chameleon goes a few days to a week without it, then the symptoms of dehydration will begin to settle in.
One of the most common causes of bodily fluid loss in chameleons is dehydration. Some signs of dehydration include lethargy, discolored urine, discolored eyes, and sunken eyes.
Why Your Chameleon Is Not Eating or Drinking
If you have noticed that your chameleon is not eating or drinking, there are many possible reasons for that behavior. These reasons are natural, normal processes that will likely sort themselves out. Others are more serious behavioral or medical issues. If you are worried about your chameleon’s well-being, do not hesitate to contact your vet.
There are many non-medical reasons why your chameleon may not eat or drink normally. Some of these are natural aspects of a chameleon’s life that you have no control over, such as the following:
Experiencing a heat cycle
Other reasons you may have more control over, such as your chameleon’s food or environment. Some related reasons that your chameleon may not be eating or drinking as much include:
Enduring stressors from its environment
Growing bored of the same food over and over
Health complications are another possible source of your chameleon’s changed eating and drinking habits. Below are some medical issues that may cause your chameleon to stop eating or drinking.
- Intestinal blockage
- Injury on the tongue
- Infection of the gums, jaws, or tongue
- Intestinal infection
If you suspect your chameleon is suffering from any of these medical issues, reach out to your vet immediately.
How Long Can a Chameleon Be Left Alone?
Chameleons can endure being alone for a day or so, but they should never be left truly alone. If you are going out of town, ask a friend or neighbor to check on your chameleon at least once a day to ensure it is happy and healthy.
Chameleons are unique and fascinating creatures. Although they may not be the easiest pets to care for, they are remarkable companions for those with little experience caring for reptiles. While caring for your chameleon, be sure to keep an eye on any subtle changes in your pet’s body or behavior. If you are ever concerned about your chameleon’s health, do not hesitate to reach out to your vet.
Featured Image Credit: Wolfgang Berroth, Shutterstock