Chameleons Age: How Long Do They Live? (Pet & Wild Animals)

Bringing a chameleon home requires a lot of research and preparation. One of the important things to know is the average age of the chameleon. However, there is no direct answer to the question, as it varies by species. Average longevity is based on how long most things have lived. Sometimes, these averages will reflect ideal care, but more often than not, they simply reflect average care. Nothing too special, but nothing overlooked either. Suffice it to say that the average lifespan of a chameleon might not be the experience you have, but it’s a good starting point.

chameleon-dividerHow Long Do Chameleons Live in the Wild?

The average lifespan of a wild chameleon has a great deal of variability by species, as does chameleons in captivity. Wild animals are at greatly increased risk of predation, disease, and starvation when compared to their captive counterparts. All of these factors play a role in the reduced life expectancy compared to captive animals. Some wild chameleon species only have a life expectancy of 2 – 3 years, while some can live up to 12 – 20 years. It is much riskier for animals to live their lives in nature than in a safe enclosure with plenty of food.

chameleon hatchlings that spill

Average Lifespan of Various Chameleon Species

Hooded 5 – 8 years
Panther 5 – 7 years
Meller’s 10 – 12 years
Jackson’s 8 – 10 years
four horns 3 – 7 years
Carpet 23 years
owned by Fischer 35 years old
Senegal 25 years
Flap-Necked 5 – 8 years
Usambara Pitted Pygmy 13 years old
Parson’s 8 – 12 years
Cuba Wrong 3 – 10 years
Dwarf 13 years old
Bearded Pygmies 13 years old
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What Factors Affect Chameleon Age?


Chameleons are omnivores by nature, with most of their diet consisting of insects. In captivity, chameleons should be fed a varied diet of insects consisting of crickets, grasshoppers, hornworms and dubia cockroaches, to insects such as wax worms, mealworms and superworms being fed a small amount as a snack. Gut loading makes insects more nutritious for your chameleon, ensuring all dietary needs are met. They should also be offered dark leafy vegetables, such as mustard greens, mustard greens, dandelion, endive, escarole, kale, and romaine lettuce, and other greens, such as sweet potatoes, summer squash, winter squash, carrots, and bell peppers. Some chameleons will refuse to eat vegetables completely, while others will pick and choose their favourites. The most important thing is to make sure the diet you are giving is nutritionally healthy and nutrient dense. Supplements should be given in the form of calcium powder with and without vitamin D3 and reptile vitamins.


Most chameleons do best when kept in high cages with lots of airflow, and some people even recommend using screened versus glass or acrylic cages. They need a humid environment, which can be achieved with a spray bottle, mister, or dripper. The need for humidity makes adequate airflow essential to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew. All of these things can make your chameleon very sick. As arboreal animals, they prefer to be in high places, so a network of branches and plants for climbing and exploring is necessary to ensure your chameleon’s stress levels are kept low. Maintain the ambient temperature of the enclosure in the 72 – 80 °F range, with 70 °F as the absolute minimum. A sunbathing area in the range of 85 – 95°F should also be provided. UVB lighting is necessary to ensure your chameleon synthesizes vitamin D3 properly.

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A safe and protected environment for your chameleon will increase the chances of longevity. The cage should not have weak spots that could give your chameleon an escape route or allow other pets to access the cage. Everything in the cage must be securely attached and made safe for the chameleon. Live plants should be chameleon friendly, such as pothos and hibiscus plants. Also, consider the safety of other spaces in your home that allow your chameleon to leave. Some chameleons enjoy time outside their enclosure. However, they should not be allowed to be around other pets or small children unless supervised by an adult. They should not be allowed to roam freely without proper supervision, and anything they might encounter should be safe for them, including plants and climbing surfaces.

Medical treatment

Access to medical care is a major advantage pet chameleons have over wild chameleons. Find an exotics vet near you who knows the right reptile farm. While chameleons may not require regular visits to the vet like cats and dogs, they should still be checked by a veterinarian from time to time. A veterinarian will be able to identify issues you may not be aware of, as well as being a great resource for chameleon breeding help and tips.


Chameleons are not very long-lived pets you can have, but many of them can leave very long and full lives with the right care. Average age doesn’t necessarily reflect the amount of time your chameleon will actually be with you. However, the average lifespan of goldfish is about 10-15 years, but the longest-lived goldfish are up to 42 years. Be very careful, your chameleon might surprise you. To give your chameleon the best chance for a long life, never be afraid to ask questions or seek help with any questions or concerns you may have about your chameleon.

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Featured Image Credit: Virginie Merckaert, Shutterstock

Chameleons Age: How Long Do They Live? (Pet & Wild Animals)
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