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Cool Climate Chameleon

Cool Climate Chameleon

includes Fischer's, Jackson's and rudis chameleons

Cool climate chameleons were once only found in Africa at elevations higher than 5,000 feet. Like all chameleons, they change color and use their long, sticky tongue to catch their food.

Cool Climate Chameleon

Cool Climate Chameleon Facts

Average Adult Size 5 to 11 inches long, depending on species
Average Life Span 5+ years with proper care
Diet insectivore

Will reach adult size in 9 to 12 months, depending on species and under ideal conditions; upgrade habitat size as your reptile grows.


A well-balanced cool climate chameleon diet consists of:

  • A variety of live insects, including gut-loaded (recently fed) crickets, mealworms and waxworms.


Things to remember when feeding your cool climate chameleon:

  • Rely on moisture on plants for water; mist plants 4 to 5 times a day and/or use a dripper.
  • Feed daily. Juveniles should have a constant supply of food.
  • Sprinkle food with a calcium supplement daily and a multi-vitamin once or twice a week.


  • Size – Appropriately sized and shaped habitat to accommodate normal activity; preferably taller than wide, with screened sides. Chameleons do better in a well–ventilated habitat. Habitats constructed of mesh or screen are recommended.
  • Habitat – Create a dense area of non-toxic plants to one side for hiding and create a more open, exposed area of branches for basking on the other side. When selecting branches, consider the width compared to the size of the chameleon's feet and their ability to grab on to them.
  • Substrate – Use sphagnum moss and mulch-type substrates.
  • Temperature – Temperature gradient (85°F for the warm end and 70°F for the cool end); no lower than 60°F at night. Use an incandescent light or ceramic heater as primary heat source.
  • Lighting – UVB rays with full spectrum lighting for 10 to 12 hours a day is required. An incandescent day bulb is needed for basking area if not using a ceramic heater.
  • House adult chameleons separately and do not house different reptile species together.

Normal Behavior

  • Most chameleons can become highly stressed when handled; use extra care. Regular handling is not recommended.
  • All chameleons change color, depending on temperature and mood. Chameleons have eyes that can see in two directions at once.
  • They are tree-dwellers and reside on branches and in plants exclusively.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect the habitat at least once a week: place chameleon in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all traces of bleach smell; dry the tank and furnishings completely and add clean substrate.

Grooming & Hygiene

  • Chameleons regularly shed their skin; ensure humidity of habitat is at appropriate level to allow proper shedding or provide a shed box, a hide box with sphagnum moss, that will aid in the shedding process.


Signs of a Healthy Animal

  • Active, alert and interested in humans
  • Clear eyes
  • Body and tail are filled out
  • Healthy skin
  • Clear nose and vent
  • Eats regularly

Red Flags

  • weight loss or decreased appetite
  • mucus in mouth or nose
  • swelling
  • lethargy
  • bumps, sores, or abrasions on skin
  • labored breathing
  • paralysis of limbs
  • abnormal feces
  • non-rotating eye(s)

If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Gastro-intestinal disease Symptoms or Causes Runny stools, caked or smeared stool around the vent area and loss of appetite caused by bacterial or parasitic infection. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian.
Health Issue Metabolic bone/vitamin deficiency Symptoms or Causes Inability to absorb calcium due to insufficient UVB light or improper amounts of calcium/vitamin D. If untreated, can lead to a disorder characterized by deformities, softened bones, swollen limbs and lethargy. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian and provide ample UVB lighting and the proper amount of calcium/vitamin supplements.
Health Issue Respiratory disease Symptoms or Causes Labored breathing and mucus in the mouth or nose. Can be caused by a habitat that is too cold or damp. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian and ensure habitat is the proper temperature.


Ask an associate about Petco's selection of books on cool climate chameleons and the variety of private brand products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All private brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all reptiles are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for reptiles and should consider not having a reptile as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at for more information about Lizards and disease.

This care sheet can cover the needs of other species.

Note: The information in this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the sources on the following page or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.