How long do chameleons live 5 tips to increase their life span

How Long Do Chameleons Live? [5 Tips To Increase Their Lifespan]

Chameleons are widely considered exotic reptiles to have as a pet. It is a beautiful creature to behold. But how long do chameleons live? What can you expect from their longevity, especially when selecting an ideal chameleon species to take home as a pet? Keep reading to find out!

Chameleons are among the most amazing reptiles in existence because of their extraordinary ability to change color. This ability has made them extremely popular as pets, as their unique appearances and diverse colors are well-known worldwide.

Unlike other long-lived reptiles, chameleons have substantially shorter lifespans. So, the question now is: how long do chameleons live?

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The average chameleon lifespan varies per species because some have extremely short lives. Even though it seems to be an easy reptile to care for, a variety of factors can adversely affect its survival.

Although most species of chameleons are perfect in home or captive environments, the longevity of this reptile may surprise you.

This article will answer the question: How long do chameleons live? We will also discuss the average chameleon’s lifespan and even more surprising facts about chameleons. Let’s get started!


The name ‘chameleon’ comes from the word ‘mela,’ which means tail, and ‘el,’ which means tail membrane. Chameleons are members of the Chamaeleonidae family. They are a unique and high species of Old World reptiles.


Many of these amazing reptiles live in saltwater habitats worldwide and have a colorful and diverse appearance. They belong to the lizard family and are classified into four subspecies, each of which has a distinct color.

Chameleons are the smallest lizard species, with females reaching lengths of three and a half feet and males up to two and a half feet.

These fantastic reptiles have evolved over millions of years, and they continue to change their appearance in order to keep up with modern changes.

Now that we know a fascinating little history about this beautiful pet let’s answer today’s question: “How long do chameleons live?”

How long do chameleons live?

Many people wish to have a chameleon as a pet, but they are wondering and asking the question: how long do chameleons live?

Generally, a chameleon has a life span ranging from 1 to 20 years, which is a substantial variation. A variety of factors causes the fluctuation in the lifespan of each species.

Factors That Can Affect the Lifespan Of Chameleons


The following are the factors that can affect the lifespan of chameleons.


Generally, the smaller a chameleon is, the shorter its longevity. In the wild, small chameleons like panther chameleons are easy prey because they have a lot of natural predators. It shows that they evolved to reproduce early and give space for the next generation.


Chameleons need diets rich in nutrients to flourish. They must be fed juicy live feeders like hornworms, crickets, and dubia roaches. Additionally, they need a calcium supplement that can be dusted onto their feeders.

Suppose your chameleon does not get enough protein in their diet. In that case, it will not have enough energy to sustain itself, leading to a shorter lifespan. The lack of calcium in your chameleon’s diet will eventually lead to a painful, fatal,and irreversible metabolic bone disease.

The lifespan of your chameleon will be shortened if it does not get enough protein in its diet, which leaves it without enough energy to survive.

A chameleon’s food must also contain enough calcium to prevent metabolic bone disease, which is irreversible, painful, and often fatal.

Sex and Reproduction

Unlike other lizard species in the pet industry, male chameleons are typically more costly than females because they live a bit longer.

Males often live longer since they do not have to go through the physical stress of producing eggs. Producing and laying eggs requires a significant amount of energy.


Even though handling chameleons might be fun, handling is not suitable for them. Some species, like the panther chameleon, can sustain regular handling well.

The best way to enjoy chameleons is through their screen rather than holding them in your hands. They are active and will give you hours of entertainment in their carefully-kept habitat.


A chameleon’s survival and well-being depend on its enclosure setup. Chameleons require a screen enclosure rather than a glass tank because they are known to mistake their reflections for another chameleon, which stresses them out and shortens their lifespan.

Also, a chameleon’s enclosure should be spacious because they are very active and require a lot of space to roam around and hide. A small enclosure will stress out your chameleon and shorten its lifespan.

Also read: Can Dogs Eat Cashews? Can My Dog Eat Cashew Nuts

Lifespans and Sizes of Chameleons According To Species

Despite everything we’ve said, chameleons are not guaranteed to live up to 20 years. But with the proper care, some can live longer.

Below are some of the most popular species with their respective size and longevity.

1. Panther Chameleon

Panther chameleon is the most popular pet chameleon. Also, it is one of the best chameleons to own because of its size and beautiful color.

panther chameleon
panther chameleon

This species can withstand some handling but always look out for signs of aggression or distress.

The key signs to look out for include throat swelling, rapid skin darkening, mouth opening, and hissing. These behaviors indicate that they want to be returned to their enclosures immediately.

Average Size Of Panther Chameleon

  • Females: 9 to 13 inches
  • Males: 14 to 21 inches

Average Lifespan Of Panther Chameleon

  • Females: 3 to 5 years
  • Males: 5 to 7 years

2. Parson’s Chameleon

Parson’s chameleon has a longer lifespan than most other chameleons.

parson chameleon
parson chameleon

In the pest industry, they are not as readily available as the panther chameleon, but they make wonderful pets if you can get one. Also, they are quite hardy if you get their care needs right from the start.

Average Size Of Parson’s Chameleon

  • Females: 18 to 20 inches
  • Males: 22 to 25 inches

Average Lifespan Of Parson’s Chameleon

  • Females: 8 to 10 years
  • Males: 15 to 20 years

3. Veiled Chameleon

veiled chameleon
veiled chameleon

Veiled chameleons come from the Arabian Peninsula and are known for the beautiful crests on their heads. Veiled chameleons do not sustain handling and should not be kept as display pets.

Average Size Of Veiled Chameleon

  • Females: 10 to 13 inches
  • Males: 18 to 24 inches

Average Lifespan Of Veiled Chameleon

  • Females: 3 to 5 years
  • Males: 5 to 8 years

4. Jackson’s Chameleon

Jackson chameleon
Jackson chameleon

Jackson’s chameleon, also known as Jackson’s horned chameleon, are East African natives and are easily identified by their male species, which have three horns on their heads: two close to their eyes and one located on their nose.

These chameleons are beautiful to look at but do not sustain handling.

Average Size Of Jackson’s Chameleon

  • Females: 9 to 11 inches
  • Males: 10 to 13 inches

Average Lifespan Of Jackson’s Chameleon

  • Females: 3 to 5 years
  • Males: 8 to 10 years

FAQs on How Long Do Chameleons Live

Why do some chameleons live longer than others?

Some chameleons have a specific reproductive strategy, which explains why some live longer. Those that reproduce at an early age have shorter lifespans than those that do so at a later age.

How long do chameleons live in wild?

Chameleons typically have a lifespan of one to two years in the wild. They suffer predation from numerous animals, human interactions with their environment, and general environmental stress caused by climate change.

Which Chameleon Has The Longest Life Span

The Parson’s chameleon has the longest lifespan of about nine years or longer. They have the longest life span because they are large lizards and do not reach sexual maturity until they are 2 years old.

Which chameleon has the shortest lifespan?

The Labord’s chameleon from Madagascar has the shortest lifespan of about 4 to 5 months. They are the shortest-lived four-legged animals in the whole of the animal kingdom.

Bottom Line

Chameleons may not be the long-lived pet you can have, but they can live very long with proper care and attention.

Average lifespans don’t necessarily relate to how long your chameleon will live. After all, goldfish have a 10 to 15-year lifespan, but the oldest goldfish lived for 42 years. Your chameleon might surprise you if you take good care of it.

If you want to increase the lifespan of your chameleon, it is recommended you get it from a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders raise baby chameleons in quality and healthy habitats and feed them diets ideal for their growth and development.

To give your chameleon the best shot at a long life, do not hesitate to seek advice or ask questions if any.

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