Tutorial: How to handle and tame a chameleon

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
Idk me Charlie is nice @snitz427 and a stud muffin 😛
Thanks! Charlie is cool as a cucumber. He has never been aggressive to anyone, but he is VERY territorial when it comes to other chams. He is the alpha of our boys for sure. He is about 18 mos old.

He just ate a big ol’ hisser and hornworm (thanks @jamest0o0 !) so he wasn’t interested in moving. Usually he is very eager to climb out and hang with me.
 

Sharon12

Member
Agreed, females are definitely the problem!
My green veiled girlie Etosha 1 yr old has gotten much "friendlier" as I now restrict her food as her first clutch was large. Its been 5months since laying but really food is all she thinks about and since I am.the food provider - she eats from my hand no problem- she comes running whenever she sees me. I am under no illusions as when there is no.food her disdainful look is priceless. She never hisses or bites.
 

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
My green veiled girlie Etosha 1 yr old has gotten much "friendlier" as I now restrict her food as her first clutch was large. Its been 5months since laying but really food is all she thinks about and since I am.the food provider - she eats from my hand no problem- she comes running whenever she sees me. I am under no illusions as when there is no.food her disdainful look is priceless. She never hisses or bites.
Clarice begs worse than the dog... and she is sweet as pie if I have food. No food, no friend!
 

Gingero

Avid Member
Please more videos. They are awesome. Your Chameleon looks so smart and even looks likes he loves you. I knew it was possible! Nice work.
I have 29 videos so far on my YouTube channel. Feel free to check them out: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3n4S2GRkOGfk2U8-xhaw6Q/featured

@Gingero what do you do when they actually get on the stick?lol.
I will usually put them on a plant to free range for a bit or take them outside for fresh sun if the weather is nice. Try to make it a positive experience.

My cham used to not like getting handled, and I handled him anyway, against advice. Now he never hisses, even if I come from above. He also climbs on my arm at every chance, even when I put feeders in. Guess he is just an exception to the rule. (he is a male veiled)
This is the other technique people use to tame chameleons. It's a form of fear conditioning. This method just doesn't sit well for me because of the stress caused to the chameleon and me being a big baby and afraid of getting bitten haha. Glad it worked for you.
 

GoodKarma19

Chameleon Enthusiast
Beman has actually become moderately aggressive over the last few months - or at least, not nearly as puppy dog tame as he was as a juvie! 🤷‍♀️ Hormones often cause massive changes to personality and behavior.

Kismet tolerates me if I have food, and will willingly climb onto my arm if I bait her. Otherwise, she's full of hisses and salutes, Haha! She's handleable most days, though, at least to get her from point A to point B without much of a fuss.

It's a form of fear conditioning.
I see this a lot in birds, though I suppose it could happen with reptiles as well! They just give up. In birds and mammals, it does a lot of damage to the mental well-being of the animal, and has repercussions down the road. Reptiles are tougher to gauge! Either way, I only use positive reinforcement techniques with my crew. Even my flighty crested gecko is coming around with some good old tong feeding!
 

Redman

Avid Member
Hormones often cause massive changes to personality and behavior.
I have tried to tell several people exactly this, but they never seem to believe me. I guess they can understand it for humans, but not their Chameleons. They usually end up doing the "I will ask around until I get an answer that I like or an answer that is in line with what I want to believe anyway!" dance.
 

GoodKarma19

Chameleon Enthusiast
I have tried to tell several people exactly this, but they never seem to believe me. I guess they can understand it for humans, but not their Chameleons. They usually end up doing the "I will ask around until I get an answer that I like or an answer that is in line with what I want to believe anyway!" dance.
Absolutely! It's a problem anywhere you go. People will try to cherry pick the answers they like best. Everyone likes to pretend their animal is different.

Heck, 3 years ago when I brought home my starling, Benjamin (then a week old), I swore up and down that she was the cuddliest, nicest little bird and that there was NO WAY she'd end up flighty and touch phobic like 99% of starlings once they hit puberty. Guess what? She hit puberty, and her personality completely changed. Now we interact in different ways, and do a bunch of target training.

Enjoy your animals when they allow handling, and go at their speed. Understand that they tolerance may not last forever. Kiz is hitting her hormonal phase now, and is less and less keen on me. Best you can do is keep working with them and find other ways to interact.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
If you had asked me a year ago if I thought their personalities changed I would have said no due to my ignorance and little hands on experience. However they do. Beman was extremely trusting with me and over the last year has slowly changed. Beman will be 2 years old in a few months. He is very very cage aggressive now. He makes sure that I understand that is his territory. While he has not bitten me yet I am extremely mindful of his body language and watch his every move. If I have food he is totally different with me. This is how I get him out to clean and take outside on nice days. I do think that all of my working with him in a KIND NEVER FORCED manner when he was young makes a huge difference now. He still trusts me and will come to the front of the cage to see me. But he definitely takes his role as a Male Veiled seriously and has changed his personality completely.

Here is the blog I did on trust building using feeders. I do not recommend any form of forced interaction as @Gingero said this is fear conditioning.... Not trust building. https://www.chameleonforums.com/blogs/building-trust-with-your-chameleon.2396/
 

PabloTheCham

Established Member
I have 29 videos so far on my YouTube channel. Feel free to check them out: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3n4S2GRkOGfk2U8-xhaw6Q/featured


I will usually put them on a plant to free range for a bit or take them outside for fresh sun if the weather is nice. Try to make it a positive experience.


This is the other technique people use to tame chameleons. It's a form of fear conditioning. This method just doesn't sit well for me because of the stress caused to the chameleon and me being a big baby and afraid of getting bitten haha. Glad it worked for you.
How is this fear conditioning? Fear conditioning is

"Fear conditioning is a type of classical conditioning that involves pairing an aversive stimulus (such as an electric shock) with either a neutral context (such as a location) or stimulus (such as a tone). This results in the expression of a fear response in the presence of the context or stimulus alone."

So explain to me. What location am I associating with fear and using what stimulus?
I simply nudged him onto my hand and put him on a plant in the sun. Then, he associated me with the freerange. This is positive reinforcement, not "fear conditioning".
Now he climbs on my arm at any occasion. How am I getting him to willingly climb on my arm using fear?? All he wants to do is go on the freerange, and now he associates me with it.
 

GoodKarma19

Chameleon Enthusiast
How is this fear conditioning?
I'm surprised that I didn't catch this the first time, and is a fair point. No, it's not fear conditioning or negative reinforcement. I could make a case for learned helplessness, if I stretched. However, I have much more experience with the psychological effects of learned helplessness on birds, and feel I'm not learned enough with reptiles to comment. Plenty of people use the method you use to accustom reptiles to handling, and while it isn't my preferred method I don't have evidence one way or the other.

What works with one animal, may not work with others. 🤷‍♀️
 

The Wild One

Chameleon Enthusiast
This is what my parents suggested I do with Coda but I protested because I hate seeing the animals so scared the first few times
 
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