Handling chameleons

Bugaboo89

New Member
I've heard a lot of different opinions about this topic, both for and against handling chams, so I figured I'd ask the same question here. Today I held my cham for the first time since I bought her a new enclosure and she freaked out worse than I've ever seen. The whole time she was in my hand she was displaying her frightened black dots. Is there a better way to get her used to handling or should I just leave her alone to avoid stressing her out?
 

melric

Established Member
Everyone does have a different opinion about it, but I think it's pretty simple. If you're chameleon doesn't stress when you hold it then hold it.

I've been trying to hold my Veiled his entire life and he still tries to bite me when I pick him up. After I do though he just stays nicely on my hand, but I still have to be careful.
 

ferretinmyshoes

Veterinarian
Staff member
Better to leave her alone unfortunately. They just aren't snuggly creatures. Some don't mind being held and for others it's the msot frightening thing that could possibly happen to them! My panther scratches at his cage when he sees me so he can come out and crawl around and has never shown stress when held, but my veiled would rather die than even let me look at him. He even dives into a plant every time I feed him even though I never touch him. I would try to get her used to just seeing you before trying to get her used to being held.

If she eventually tolerates you being close to the cage without being concerned then you can try to just touch her feet a few times and go away. After she gets used to you touching her feet and isn't concerned by it you can try to get her to grab your finger with one foot. Eventually you may progress to her not minding you enough to crawl on your hand. It's the method I tried with my other chams (besides my devil veiled) and it's a very slow process which may or may not work. But if you want to try that's what you'll have to do. But if it's too stressful and she never really gets used to being touched then you may just have a cage ornament like most other chams.
 

Elizadolots

New Member
Also, "in my hand" suggests you grabbed her. While that might be necessary at times, it's never going to be pleasant.

You might try opening the door and then stepping back a bit to see if she approaches. Offer your hand as an option to crawl on. If she declines, don't worry about it. Wait a day or two and try again.
 

Itwas

New Member
my young veiled used to cower away but i have been hand feeding half his feeders and half in his cup for the past month and now i can place my hands near him and even temp him onto my hand with a worm or two, although he sometimes gets a bit hissy when he realises hes been tricked onto my hand:D.

last night he actually fired at my hand a few times after he ate a worm. i dont know if he could taste the worm or just liked the taste of my sweaty hand?
 

jojackson

New Member
Is there a better way to get her used to handling or should I just leave her alone to avoid stressing her out?..........

Why not let her tell you? :) Patience grasshopper!
 

pmui

New Member
i was about to post the same question about handling. It seems like the Veiled cham. are less tolerant to being handled. Anyone with panthers have this problem?
 

ferretinmyshoes

Veterinarian
Staff member
I've heard a lot of people talk about their very social veileds and mean panthers. Mine are the exact opposite. It varies from chameleon to chameleon, I wouldn't necessarily say it's a species-dependent characteristic.
 

Cainschams

New Member
Everyone does have a different opinion about it, but I think it's pretty simple. If you're chameleon doesn't stress when you hold it then hold it.

I've been trying to hold my Veiled his entire life and he still tries to bite me when I pick him up. After I do though he just stays nicely on my hand, but I still have to be careful.
Trying to bite you means it is stressing out when you handle it.

Personally, I say dont handle unless necessary. I handle them when I do complete cage cleanings. At that time I give a good check over and this is also when I take most of my pictures. All chameleons would rather be left alone.
 

bigfink909

New Member
i have been having similar problems with our cham. The first day we brought her home she loved being held, in fact she was more comfortable in our hands than in the enclosure. but the past two days have been difficult. She has been really stressed in general and not wanting anything to do with us. When i extended my finger to her she tucked her arms in and opened her mouth like she was going to bite me. i definitely feel your pain.
 

Itwas

New Member
I leave the choice down to my cham, if he wants to walk onto my hand then fine, if he doesnt he makes it obvious and theres no point forcing him. I dont really handle my cham buy i am trying to get him more tolerant of me so when i need to move him he wont get too stressed.
 

pmui

New Member
that's pretty amazing, i thought that some like to be handle very frequently. I guess when people take the picture, it's on their "good days" when the want to be on you arm.
 

DeviousMike

New Member
I have found that my ambilobe is much more tolerant of me when I put him on his free range. In his cage, forget it! He turns into a biter!
 

ferretinmyshoes

Veterinarian
Staff member
i have been having similar problems with our cham. The first day we brought her home she loved being held, in fact she was more comfortable in our hands than in the enclosure. but the past two days have been difficult. She has been really stressed in general and not wanting anything to do with us. When i extended my finger to her she tucked her arms in and opened her mouth like she was going to bite me. i definitely feel your pain.
She didn't have a territory where she felt comfortable yet so she was more tolerant. Now she has a home that she likes (her cage) and does not want to be removed from it. So you must have done a good job designing her cage!

that's pretty amazing, i thought that some like to be handle very frequently. I guess when people take the picture, it's on their "good days" when the want to be on you arm.
My panther Oscar scratches at his cage door when he sees me because he wants to come out and crawl around. Many times it's just cause he has to poop because he refuses to do that in his cage. But he crawls around on people without ever showing signs of stress. There are some, but you can't predict which ones will do that, or do much to encourage that behavior in a cham not already showing it. My veiled hates if I even look at him. Forget holding him. Luck of the draw!
 
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