My chameleon is grumpy & won’t leave the cage

Thts_my_slimeee

New Member
I’ve had my veiled chameleon for about two weeks now and every time I reach for him in the cage, he either runs away, hisses, and sometimes lunges at my hand (like he’s going to bite me or something but doesn’t open his mouth). Please help or give me tips!!


Thanks so much !!
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
Chameleons are not cuddly pets. Think of them as fish, look but don’t touch. They are more of a hobby and display animal. You can build trust through handfeeding
 

Thehippie

Chameleon Enthusiast
a lot of times you can build up the trust of a chameleon simply by hanging out around them, them knowing that everytime your coming into the room and doing stuff isn't a bad thing, knowing that u will not provoke them everytime you come into the room means the cham may be a little more comfortable with you, then as mentioned above try food, its a great way o build trust, associating your hand with food means that he'll see you as a positive thing instead of someone poking or prodding him.
 

KingGoodman

Member
Chameleons are naturally defensive of their territory. However most of the time this is just a show. You can train your chameleon to be comfortable with you and your hands. There are a lot of opinions about this, but basically this means positive reinforcement like bringing treats, special bugs, and taking them to climb on something special. Also you want to avoid enforcing negative behaviors so if you reach in and if he starts to hiss and show defensiveness, don’t run away or he will feel successful and repeat these behaviors. Let him get all mad but stay still and stay there until he relaxes a little and then keep on moving in. Usually if he tries to bite you he will really just head butt you and even if he does bite, it won’t hurt much or do any real damage. You can encourage him onto your hand with some gentle touching/poking of his hind legs and tail, which he will not like much and will naturally climb onto your other hand to escape from. Do not wrap your hands around him and pull him from the branch of course, he needs to walk onto you and trust it’s okay to do that without pain or injury. Once you remove him from his territory he should calm down as you continue to move slow.

Try to keep each interaction positive and rewarding for him. Move slow, things moving fast in his natural environment are usually predators. and just know that he won’t like his hind legs or tail touched and he probably won’t like you touching him at all with your fingers for a while until he trusts you. Most chameleons seem to want to be picked up because they know it means they get to go hang out on their favorite tree or walk around in the sunlight. These kind of positive rewards helps the chameleon associate you with happy things. Every chameleon has a different personality and chameleons have moods too so it’s important to understand this as it can also help you know when something is really wrong. Grumpy can mean sick.
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
Chameleons are naturally defensive of their territory. However most of the time this is just a show. You can train your chameleon to be comfortable with you and your hands. There are a lot of opinions about this, but basically this means positive reinforcement like bringing treats, special bugs, and taking them to climb on something special. Also you want to avoid enforcing negative behaviors so if you reach in and if he starts to hiss and show defensiveness, don’t run away or he will feel successful and repeat these behaviors. Let him get all mad but stay still and stay there until he relaxes a little and then keep on moving in. Usually if he tries to bite you he will really just head butt you and even if he does bite, it won’t hurt much or do any real damage. You can encourage him onto your hand with some gentle touching/poking of his hind legs and tail, which he will not like much and will naturally climb onto your other hand to escape from. Do not wrap your hands around him and pull him from the branch of course, he needs to walk onto you and trust it’s okay to do that without pain or injury. Once you remove him from his territory he should calm down as you continue to move slow.

Try to keep each interaction positive and rewarding for him. Move slow, things moving fast in his natural environment are usually predators. and just know that he won’t like his hind legs or tail touched and he probably won’t like you touching him at all with your fingers for a while until he trusts you. Most chameleons seem to want to be picked up because they know it means they get to go hang out on their favorite tree or walk around in the sunlight. These kind of positive rewards helps the chameleon associate you with happy things. Every chameleon has a different personality and chameleons have moods too so it’s important to understand this as it can also help you know when something is really wrong. Grumpy can mean sick.
I’ve had my cham draw blood and leave a scar from biting me, it hurt like hell. Let your cham gradually get used to you, don’t force the issue
 

KingGoodman

Member
Ouch. I guess it depends on your chameleon. I typically expect people to acquire them young but that is not always the case.
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
The little booger had powerful jaws even as a juvenile. Don’t underestimate your cham or force them to do something, it’ll never end good, either physically (for either one) or through losing the trust the two of you had
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thanks a lot for the info guys I appreciate it!
Just to recap, don’t handle, build trust through handfeeding and just hanging around. Once he trusts you and allows you to handle him, carefully pick him up (always come from below and let him climb onto you, don’t rip him off a branch), and always reward him with something, like a treat, going to a free-range set-up, or going outside (when it’s warm enough, of course), etc. Don’t force him to do anything and keep handling to a minimum and for short periods of time (I handle my chams once in a blue moon, there’s no need for it)
 

Harley510

Established Member
I had the same issue with my veiled when I first got her. For about a month or two i fed her crickets and worms from the palm of my hand. Best advice in my opinion is to just give it it’s space and handfeeding. Keep in mind they shouldn’t be held to often for stress reasons. I pick mine up maybe once or twice every other week to let it bask in the sun ( when the sun is out lol california is on fire )
 

Franquixote

Established Member
I don't handle mine- had a veiled about 30 years ago and after he got to be a year old same deal, they don't want to be touched.
Considering mine has teeth 1/8th inch long and can bite full grown orange head roaches in half with one bite I would assume if he bit me I'd be getting stitches.
 
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