It can be unnerving to discover your chameleon hanging upside down. Upon making that discovery, many questions will flood your mind. Those include why he is hanging upside down, if there is something wrong with him and how can you help him? Read on, to find answers for those and other questions related to chameleons hanging upside down.
Why is my chameleon hanging upside down? One of the most common reasons for chameleons hanging upside down in their enclosures is lack of enough plants and vines. In the absence of adequate plants and vines, your chameleon will be inclined to climb the screen, and then proceed to hang upside down. You therefore need to have plenty of plants and vines. In fact, you should view any part of the enclosure that has no plants or vines as ‘wasted space’.
Besides lack of enough plants and vines, a chameleon hanging upside down could be due to lack of warmth. Or it could be due to too much warmth. Other possible reasons include where a male happens to be in search of a female to mate with. Or where a gravid chameleon happens to be about to start laying eggs. There is also stress, as a possible reason for a chameleon hanging upside down.
Of course, a chameleon’s hanging upside could also be normal. It is one of the postures they adopt from time to time (these being arboreal lizards). That is even when nothing is really wrong with them. Thus, when you find your chameleon hanging upside down, you just need to rule the possibility of it being due to a problem. If it doesn’t seem to be due to any specific problem, then it is probably one of the chameleon’s acrobatics – and you should just let him be.
In this article, let’s take a deep look at why chameleons hang upside down, what to do when chameleons hang upside down and how to care for them the right way.
Can Chameleons Hang Upside Down?
Yes, it is possible for chameleons to hang upside down. Therefore, a chameleon may find his way to the top of his cage. Once there, he may hang there, upside down: often for quite long periods of time. The design of chameleons’ feet makes it possible for it to hang upside down, without falling. It is akin to how a gecko is able to hang upside down from the ceiling, usually without falling.
It is important to put this ability to hang upside down into perspective. That is before proceeding to answer the question on why is my chameleon hanging upside down? So, as we have pointed out, chameleons do indeed have the ability to hang upside down. Therefore, if you find your chameleon hanging upside down, you need to know that he is doing something that is done by other chameleons. It is not a unique behavior. It is within the realm of normal chameleon behavior.
Besides hanging upside down on the cage’s top, you can also find a chameleon hanging upside down by tail from a branch. Or you may find a chameleon hanging by tail (upside down) from pretty much any other sort of supporting surface.
Do Chameleons Hang Upside Down When Bored?
We can assert that one of the reasons why chameleons hang upside down is boredom. This may be normal boredom, which arises once the chameleon runs out of fun things to do. But it could also be the boredom/frustration that arises, for instance, when a male who wants to mate can’t find a female. It can also be the boredom that arises when you place a chameleon in a cage without plants or vines. Therefore he has nothing to spend time climbing up and down on.
Thus, if you have been wondering why is my chameleon hanging upside down, now you know that it could be due to boredom.
Do Chameleons Hang Upside Down When Insecure?
Insecurity is definitely one of the things that tend to make chameleons hang upside down.
That could be the insecurity that he experiences upon, say, finding himself in a cage without plants or vines to hide in. Or it could be the insecurity that a chameleon feels when in unpleasant company. (This, by the way, may include the company of another chameleon nearby in sight, even if in a different cage). Further, it could be the insecurity that he feels upon finding himself in a new environment.
Why Is My Chameleon Hanging Upside Down?
Firstly, your chameleon could be just relaxing in that posture. So it could be entirely normal.
Secondly, your chameleon could be experiencing insecurity or stress. The insecurity could be due to lack of enough vines and plants to hide in. The stress could also be due to him being in a new place. Thus, if he is a newly acquired chameleon, it will be entirely normal to spend a bit of time, in the first few days hanging upside down.
Thirdly, the chameleon could be too cold or too warm. Thus, for instance, he could be hanging upside down in a bid to ‘bask’ and become warmer. That is if it is too cold inside the cage. Or if it is too warm in the enclosure, he could have gone to the top and hang upside down in a bid to escape the excess heat.
Fourthly, the chameleon could be looking to mate.
Fifth, your pet chameleon could be looking to lay eggs.
Why Is My Panther Chameleon Hanging Upside Down?
Well, there could be something wrong with the enclosure he is in. For instance, the cage could be too cold or too warm. Or the cage could be having too few or no trees and vines to hide in.
There could also be something that is wrong with the chameleon himself. He could be under stress, for instance.
Further, the chameleon could be in mating mood (for a male) or egg laying mood (for a female).
It is also possible that nothing is wrong with the chameleon or his cage, and he is just relaxing.
So, exactly why is my chameleon hanging upside down, you may ask. To find out exactly why he is hanging down, you will have to do a bit of investigative work. For instance, if the enclosure he is in is bereft of plants and vines, he could be hanging upside down due to insecurity. If he has taken on a very dark hue and is hanging upside down, it could be in a bid to get more warmth.
Conversely, if he has taken on a very light hue and is hanging upside down (with mouth agape) it could be due to too much warmth. If he is male and he has adopted very bright color (notable even when lights are off) it could be that he is in search of a female…
Much will also depend on how much time he spends hanging upside down. Suppose, for instance, I found my panther chameleon hanging upside down for an entire week. In that case, I would have more concern while posing the question on why is my chameleon hanging upside down? I would certainly have more concern than someone whose chameleon has only been hanging upside down for an hour.
Why Is My Chameleon Hanging Upside Down By Tail?
It is not uncommon for chameleons to hang upside down by the tail. Once a chameleon manages to wrap his tail around a vine or branch, he gets a strong anchor, and he can hang from there for quite a lot of time. Some even posit that the tail functions as a fifth foot for this animal.
That said, if you have a situation where your chameleon has been hanging upside down on his tail for days without moving, it would be cause for concern. You may want to see if he is alright.
Thus, the key consideration is how long he hangs upside down by tail. Another one is where, within the cage, he hangs upside down by the tail. For instance, if he is hanging by the tail near the bottom, and he is not eating (and he looks lethargic), he could be ill from one or another of the chameleon illnesses.
Why Is My Chameleon Hanging On Top Of Cage?
The temperatures inside the cage could be uncomfortable (either too hot or cold). Alternatively, the chameleon could be looking for a mate to breed with. (That is likely if he is male, and he has adopted bright colors). On another note, he could be feeling insecure. That is especially if there isn’t enough foliage in the cage for him to hide inside. Remember, lack of foliage also often means lack of water: because these are creatures that mostly prefer to take water droplets from leaves.
Most of the time, when a chameleon hangs on top of the cage, he does so in an upside down position. Thus, this question is closely related to the one on why is my chameleon hanging upside down?
Veiled Chameleon Hanging Upside Down And Lethargic
By itself, a chameleon hanging upside down is not usually a very big deal. But if a chameleon is hanging upside down, and is also clearly lethargic, it could indicate that something is wrong with him. It could be that he is experiencing too much warmth or cold. Alternatively, it could be that he is ill – with a chameleon bacterial infection, viral infection, fungal infection or a physiological illness. You may want to check him, and perhaps talk to an exotic pets vet about his condition.
Why Is My Chameleon Sleeping Upside Down?
It could be due to temperature-related discomfort. Therefore the first thing to check would be whether it is either too cold or too warm inside the cage. If the cage doesn’t have plants/vines that he can hang onto, he may be inclined to sleep at the top. That would be in the upside down posture. Or perhaps he has some illness that inclines him to sleep upside down…
Then again, it could be that he is alright, cage conditions are alright and he just prefers that sleeping posture. Before coming to this conclusion though, it would be ideal to be sure that none of the issues above is at play.
Why Is My Chameleon Hanging Upside Down Under Basking Light?
This almost certainly means that it is too cold inside the cage. So he hangs upside down under the basking light to get more warmth. What you therefore need to do is provide more warmth inside the cage, for better comfort.
How To Tell If A Chameleon Is Dying?
Usually a chameleon who is dying will lose appetite in a drastic manner. He will also have great lethargy. Further, he will have changes in the eyes: where either they sink in or become bloodshot. The chameleon may also show swelling: in the whole body (edema) and more specifically in the joints. On another note, a chameleon who is dying may have greater tendency to sit in the cage’s lower part.
Final Verdict – Why Is My Chameleon Hanging Upside Down?
Why is my chameleon hanging upside down? Your chameleon could be hanging upside down because the temperature conditions in the cage are not ideal for him: it is either too cold or warm. It could also be that there are no plants or vines for him to hang on in the cage. So he becomes insecure, and starts hanging upside down at the top of the cage. Further, he could be in search of a mate or about to start laying eggs.
Other possible reasons for chameleon hanging upside down include boredom and stress. A chameleon could also hang upside down if ill (especially if he is also lethargic).
There are also many cases where chameleons just enjoy hanging upside down, and in which you find nothing wrong with them or their surroundings.
The best you can do is to ensure that the chameleon’s cage has ideal temperature conditions, and that the chameleon has enough plants and vines all around to hide in/climb onto. Also try to deal with situations that may be causing the chameleon stress.