Owning a pet chameleon can be hard, especially when you don’t know what they need to survive. Chameleons are from the hot climate region and at night, the temperature will fall. Since they are cold-blooded, these creatures will need plenty of heat to keep themselves warm. You may wonder if your chameleon needs a heat lamp.
So, do chameleons need a heat lamp? Yes, chameleons need a heat lamp to remain healthy and strong. Without a heat lamp, their body won’t be able to function correctly. Chameleons are cold-blooded creatures, which means they are not able to regulate their body temperature themselves. Instead, they rely on an external source like the sun.
Why Do Chameleons Need A Heat Lamp?
In the wild, chameleons get their source of heat from the sun. In the morning, it’s usually cool, and they need to warm their body. For that reason, they will go somewhere safe and bask in the sun for hours. Chameleons will do this until their body reaches the optimal temperature and will then go to find a shade.
Chameleons kept in captivity have no way of basking in the sun themselves. They are usually kept in cages and inside the house with no access to the sun.
Since they can’t bask in the sun, they’ll need a heat lamp installed in their cage. This is an artificial light that mimics the temperature and light of the sun.
When their body temperature falls to a certain point, they will go under the heat lamp to warm up. When they are warm enough, they’ll move away from the heat lamp. Chameleons will repeat this process throughout the day.
While a heat lamp is vital for the chameleon’s health, you should try to get them out into the sun as often as possible. There’s nothing better than natural heat from the sun.
What Heat Lamp Does a Chameleon Need?
Due to the increasing popularity of chameleons, there are many types of heat lamps available on the market. Heat lamps are available in LED, halogen, and incandescent. Also, it comes in different sizes too.
Besides that, you’ll also need a fixture to hold the heat lamp. They come in all different sizes and shapes. All of them are built for one purpose and that’s to hold the bulb in place.
The best type of heat lamp for your chameleon will depend on the cage size and the species. The larger the cage, the stronger and bigger the heat lamp will need to be.
For a typical chameleon, a heat bulb of just about 50 watts will work perfectly fine.
You may also want to buy one that comes with a built-in dimmer switch. This will help control the temperature of the heating lamp. If it gets too hot, it will trigger the switch to lower the heat.
This product, Fluker’s Repta-Clamp Heat Lamp is what I recommend. It’s quality built and from a company, you can trust.
Where Does a Chameleon’s Heat Lamp Go?
The sun is naturally above the chameleon, so you should try to mimic their location. Therefore, the best place to put the heat lamp is on the top of the cage.
Also, while it’s safe to put it anywhere on top of the cage, you should put the heat lamp in the corner. This will give the chameleon a way to move away from the heat when it needs to.
The heat lamp should be directly under the basking spot. This is the spot the chameleon will go to when they need to get warm.
Also, they will spend a considerable amount of time there, so you’ll want to make it as comfortable as possible for them. This means the basking spot is large enough for them to lay on and nothing is getting in their way.
Between the heat lamp and the basking spot, there should be no branches, foliage, or any decoration. If there is, it could block the heat from reaching your chameleon.
Another thing, make sure the basking spot is higher up in the cage. In the wild, chameleons will move up higher in the tree to bask. The higher up they are, the safer they feel.
For your chameleon, you should do the same. Keep the basking spot up high in the cage, but not too high where it’s too close to the heat lamp.
What Temperature Should a Chameleon’s Heat Lamp Be?
This will depend on the species of the chameleon. For panther and veiled chameleons, the temperature should be between 90° and 95°. If it’s more or less by a couple of degrees, it should be fine.
For baby chameleons, the temperature should be a bit cooler. They prefer the temperature to be lower since they are less active.
The temperature of the heat lamp should be checked regularly. Sometimes, it can get too hot for them and cause burn to the chameleon.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to buy a lamp with a built-in dimmer. This will make it easier for you to dial the heat down rather than turning the whole heat lamp off.
Also, be sure to check the distance of the heat lamp from the basking spot. If it’s too far, they may not get enough heat. On the other hand, if the heat lamp is too close, the chameleon can get a burn. Around 8-10 inches should be safe for the chameleon.
How Long Should a Chameleon’s Heat Lamp Stay On For?
The heat lamp should stay on for as long as the sun is still up. You should try to always mimic their natural environment.
During different times of the year, daylight will vary. In the spring and summer, you can expect up to 12 hours of daylight. In the fall and winter, there will be less daylight of about 6-8 hours.
Therefore, you should keep the heat lamp on for as long as the sun is still out.
If you find it difficult to turn the heat lamp on and off each day, you can use a digital timer.
Do Chameleons Need A Heat Lamp At Night?
There are a couple of factors that determine if your chameleon will need it or not. Some factors are the time of the year, how cold the house/apartment gets at night, and where you live.
In general, chameleons are able to regulate their body temperature when it gets cold. They can tolerate a significant change in temperature. A veiled chameleon can tolerate a drop in temperature by 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
For most chameleons, you’ll want to keep the temperature between 60° to 65°. A few differences in temperature won’t hurt them.
During the winter, if the room the chameleon is kept gets very cold, you may want to add an extra heat source at night for them. Consider getting a ceramic heater. This product provides the needed heat for them, but without the light.
Would a Heat Rock Help My Chameleon?
For reptiles such as snakes and bearded dragons, they can absorb the heat through their underside. For chameleons, they cannot do so. They are able to absorb heat through their back only.
Therefore, a heat rock would be a waste of money to get.
However, the rock can help with the ambient temperature of the cage. If the room in which the chameleon has kept changes in temperature often, the heat rock will keep the temperature stable.
Otherwise, you should not get a heat rock. The heat lamp combined with the temperature of the room is enough to keep them warm.
Dan got started with his first reptile, which was a green iguana, at the age of 10. From there, he has raised many different species of reptiles. Besides caring for reptiles, he enjoys woodworking, playing basketball, and spending free time with my 4 wonderful kids.