What is the natural habitat of chameleons?

The habitat of chameleons is very diverse, as chameleons can be found on all continents. Each species has their own habitat, but usually the habitat of chameleons is warm climates. Their habitats that range from rain forest to desert conditions. They are mostly found in bushes, low woody growth and in trees. There are around 200 species of chameleon in the world. Chameleon species occur in Africa, Madagascar, southern Europe, and across southern Asia as far as Sri Lanka. In Australia and the Americas no natural populations of chameleons are found.

Habitat of the veiled chameleon

The veiled chameleon Chamaeleo calyptratus can be found in the wild in the south of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Yemen. It lives in shrubs and short trees in river valleys, mountainous areas and the dryer areas with shrubs. Its habitat is still pretty humid, but not as humid as a rain forest.

Veiled chameleon
Veiled chameleon

Habitat of the panther chameleon

Panther chameleons (Furcifer pardalis) are found in the eastern and northern parts of Madagascar. They are found in trees and bushes. Their environment is humid, mostly rain forest like-growth. Since humans started to cultivate Madagascar on a large scale, panther chameleons can also be found in plantations with shrubs.

Habitat of the Jackson’s Chameleon

Jackson’s chameleons (Trioceros jacksonii) can be found in the wild in East Africa, in the countries Kenya and Tanzania. They live at altitudes of 1,600 to 2,440 m (5,250 to 8,010 ft) and their habitat is pretty humid. The rain is seasonal but yearly there falls more than 127 cm (50 in) of water per year. The temperatures are not extremely high, typically 16–27 °C (61–81 °F), at night the temperatures at these high altitudes can drop pretty far to 4–18 °C (39–64 °F). They live in shrubs, low trees or other low vegetation.

Habitat of the Pygmy Chameleon

There are different species of pygmy chameleon. All of them are from East Africa. The most commonly kept as pets species of pygmy chameleon are: the Bearded Pygmy Chameleon (Rieppeleon brevicaudatus), the Spectral Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon spectrum) and the Usambara Pitted Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon temporalis). These species live in the cool, damp interior of the forest, mostly in the undercanopy and in the leaf litter. They can be found more close to the ground than other chameleon species, and usually hide between low plants and fallen leaves.

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Captive environment for a chameleon
Captive environment for a chameleon

The habitat of chameleons in captivity

Chameleons that are kept as pets should be kept in enclosures that mimic the conditions in their natural habitat. This is different for the different species of chameleon. To read more about housing chameleons, you can read our page Housing.