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Chameleon Lifespan: How Long Do Chameleons Live?

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Widely considered an exotic reptile that can be kept as a pet, the chameleon is a fascinating creature. But how long do chameleons live, and what can you expect from them, especially when it comes to choosing the ideal chameleon species to bring home as a pet?

While most species of chameleons do well in homes or captivity, this reptile's lifespan may surprise you. In this article, we'll discuss the average chameleon life cycle, the lifespan of different species, and more surprising chameleon facts. let's start!

how long do chameleons live
Widely considered an exotic reptile that can be kept as a pet, the chameleon is a fascinating creature.

© Jan Bures/Shutterstock.com

How long can a chameleon live?

Chameleons have an average lifespan of 2-7 years, depending on the species. Certain species of chameleons can live to be over 25 years old, although this usually only applies to the larger chameleons. But more on that later.

The reproductive process of chameleons can take a toll on their bodies and overall lifespan. This often results in male chameleons living longer than female chameleons, as laying eggs and carrying young can adversely affect female chameleons.

Many chameleons can also reproduce sexually before completing growth. This is another reason why many female chameleons don't live as long as male chameleons, as the number of eggs (also known as clutches) inside them can be very large. This can cause their young frames to unwind before they're mature enough to handle it.

Chameleons are also fairly solitary animals, preferring to live alone in cages rather than with each other. Keep this in mind if you choose to keep them as pets. Male chameleons are more likely to fight with each other than female chameleons, but regardless of sex, chameleons need a safe and private place to hide from everyday life.

Speaking of chameleon moods, chameleons are known for their fantastic color-changing scales. However, they don't do this to blend in with their surroundings at will. Most of the time, many species of chameleons change their colors when they are stressed or otherwise threatened, changing to more intense colors when they are more stressed!

How long do chameleons live?
Chameleons have an average lifespan of 2-7 years, depending on the species.

©Ferdy Timmerman/Shutterstock.com

Average Lifespan of a Chameleon

If you've always wondered what the average lifespan of a chameleon looks like, you're in the right place. Let's learn more about a chameleon's journey from egg to old age.


It's worth noting that most chameleons lay eggs. But some breeds or species of chameleons actually have live births. This is a very rare occurrence, especially considering the fact that these are lizards. Reptiles also generally only lay eggs.

However, given that most chameleons lay eggs, let's talk about the process now. Depending on the size and species of lizard, a female chameleon can lay 5-100 eggs. Once the eggs hatch, or the live-born chameleon has fused from the amniotic sac, the chameleon begins to walk and is ready to go. It's certainly a survival instinct that allows them to move around and survive even though they are only a few centimeters long.

young chameleon

How long do chameleons live?
Most of the time, many species of chameleons change color when they are stressed or otherwise threatened.

©Jason Mintzer/Shutterstock.com

Chameleons are considered young adults until they reach sexual maturity, an age that usually occurs later in a chameleon's life. Given that they take an average of one or two years to reach sexual maturity, many chameleons have longer life cycles than other reptiles.

Young chameleons are indecisive, curious and able to climb immediately. It takes only a few days for a baby chameleon to develop all the skills it needs to survive as an adult. Young chameleons eat insects. If you keep one as a pet, it's important to keep it hydrated frequently.

adult chameleon

Chameleons are generally considered adult animals once they reach sexual maturity. However, adult chameleons usually reach this stage of life before their bodies have finished growing. Depending on the type of chameleon, your lizard could be over a foot long. But most average species are around 10-15 inches.

An adult chameleon can thrive in a domesticated habitat if it is kept alone in a large cage, where there are plenty of places for it to retreat so it can feel safe. Keeping your lizard well hydrated is also key to its longevity. Taking care not to overfeed your chameleon will also keep it healthy.

But which chameleon lived the longest, regardless of environmental factors? Let's find out more now!

How long do chameleons live?
An adult chameleon can thrive in a domesticated habitat if it is kept alone in a large cage, where there are plenty of places for it to retreat so it can feel safe.

© Kinemator/Creative Commons

Comparing the lifespans of different chameleon species

There are many different species of chameleons, and they are all commonly kept as pets. Here are some common pet chameleon species and their average lifespans:

  • Veiled Chameleon : A very popular pet chameleon, the Veiled Chameleon can live from two to ten years in captivity, depending on sex and care.
  • Jackson's Chameleon : Smaller than the Veiled Chameleon, the Jackson's Chameleon is also a common pet. They can live anywhere from 2-5 years in captivity.
  • Panther Chameleon : The perfect size between a Jackson Chameleon and a Veil Chameleon. Panther chameleons can live an average of 3 to 8 years in captivity.
  • Pygmy Chameleon : The smallest of almost all chameleons, pygmy chameleons have the shortest lifespans. They average six months to two years.
  • Oustalet's Chameleon : A rare breed that can be kept as a pet. If cared for properly, this chameleon can live from 3 to 10+ years.
  • Meller's Chameleon : This chameleon is a longer-lived variety that can live anywhere from 4 to 12 years.
  • Parsonian Chameleon : One of the largest chameleon species, Parsonian chameleons can live for over 20 years in captivity, with an average lifespan of 7-13 years.

As you can see, the type of chameleon you plan to bring home as a pet will greatly affect its lifespan and overall health. Whether or not you plan on getting a new pet, larger chameleons will always live longer than smaller chameleons.


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Spiked Jackson's Chameleon Lizard

© Jan Bures/Shutterstock.com

about the author

august croft

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full time in Oregon. A graduate of Southern Oregon University with a BA in Theater and a major in Creative Writing, I have an interest in a variety of topics, especially the history of the Pacific Northwest. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping on the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my family's kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast-iron skillet.

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