How Do Chameleons Drink Water?

Every animal has its own ways of drinking water, but how do chameleons drink water?  Water is important to the well-being of a chameleon.  Chameleons need water to keep their bodies hydrated or they will die.

So how do chameleons drink water?  Chameleons drink water by licking dews and droplets off leaves from trees and plants.  In the wild, chameleons will get to drink only during the early morning and evening when dews are formed on the leaves from condensation.   

How Do Chameleons Drink Water?

Chameleons are not like other animals when it comes to drinking water.  If you were to put a water bowl in the cage like you normally would for other animals, the chameleons will have the faintest idea on how to drink water from the bowel.  That may seem strange, but it’s true.

In order for chameleons to drink water, you will need to replicate how they drink water in their natural habitat.  In the wild, chameleons drink water from water droplets and morning dews on leaves.  They also drink water from water running off the leaves.  So these are the only ways that a chameleon drink water.

When setting up your cage, it’s important to put a lot of plants, especially those with large leaves.  The more plants you have in the enclosure, the better it will be for the chameleons.

Can Chameleons Drink Tap Water?

Yes, chameleons can drink tap water. However, it depends on where your water source is coming from. If you live in the city, more than likely the water has been treated before it reaches your home. So tap water in cities should be fine.

If you live in a suburb or in an area where there are no water treatment plants, you’ll have to be careful with the tap water.  Since the water from your home comes straight from the well or water underground, it will contain minerals and other water content.  Some water content is good and some are bad. The good contents are things like chlorine, fluorine compounds, and trihalomethanes.

Some of the bad contents that might be present in the water will be harmful bacteria, parasites, pesticides, and infections.  You really can’t see these things in the water so it’s a good idea to get the water tested or use a filter to remove these harmful contents.  This content in the water can be harmful to your chameleons and even kill them.  

Whether you’re using tap water from the city or groundwater, one way to be safe with the water is to leave the water overnight in an open container.  This should let any chemicals evaporate or sink to the bottom of the water.  Also, there are products available to treat the water before giving it to your chameleons.  One of the products is a reptile water conditioner, which can be found on Amazon.  It will remove harmful content from the water and condition the water to a safe level for your chameleons to drink.  

Another option to remove harmful content from the water is using a water filter.  A water filter will do a great job of removing bacteria and other harmful content from the tap water.

Different Methods To Give Chameleons Water

Chameleons are amazing creatures, but they are not smart either.  To get them to drink water, you’ll need to imitate how they drink water in their natural habitat.  Below are some of the best methods to give water to your chameleons:


A simple way to give your chameleons water.  You can use a cup or a bottle to make a dripper.  On the bottom of the cup or bottle, make a small pin-sized hole.  Then watch how fast the water drip out.  If the water is dripping too slow, make another hole.  Do this until you’re happy with the drip.  You can attach the cup or bottle to the side of the cage, or place it on top of the cage.  Whichever location you choose, make sure the water is dripping onto the leaves of the tree or plants.

Hamster Bottle

This might work for some and might not work for others.  The only way to know if you give it a try.  Hamster bottle works by licking the tip of the straw in the bottle and water will drip.  Secure the bottle to the side of the enclosure and place the tip of the straw on a leaf.  When the chameleons see a droplet of water on the leaf, they will start to lick it.  When they do, another droplet of water will form.

Some chameleons will learn to drink water from the hamster bottle, while others will never.  If you have success with this method, that’s great.  That means your chameleons will always have fresh water throughout the day.

Ice Cubes

Probably the worse way to give water to chameleons, but it will work if you’re in a hurry to go somewhere.  This option should be used as the last resort.  To give chameleons water by an ice cube, place it on top of the cage.  Make sure it’s on top of the leaves of the plant or tree.  As the ice cube melt, it will drip water onto the leaves and the chameleons can lick the water from there.


Foggers are a great way to keep your chameleons hydrated.  All a fogger do is spray a fine mist of water all over the cage during a certain time throughout the day.  However, you can do this manually too.  If using a fogger, make sure it sprays for a long time because it takes a while for the mist to accumulate into a water droplet on the leaves.

Hand Misting

Like the name, you simply mist the chameleon’s enclosure with your hand spray bottle.  This is an effective way to give water to your chameleons, but it can also take a lot of time.  Hand misting the enclosure will require you to mist everything in the cage.  This will cause water droplets to form on the leaves, which your chameleons will drink from.

However, this method will cause your wrist to hurt from the repetitive squeezing of the bottle’s handle spray.  To avoid hurting your wrist, you can get a pressure pump spray, which will spray water automatically.

Auto Mister

Out of all the methods on this list, this is by far the best way to give water to your chameleons.  However, this method is also the most expensive too.  Auto mister comes with a pump and a reservoir that is attached to the side of the cage or placed on top of the cage.  You simply fill the reservoir with water, set the timer, and leave it to do its job.  It will create a fine mist and cover the entire enclosure without you having to do anything else.  Great for anyone who is always busy or doesn’t want to mist the cage themselves.

There are many auto mister products available on the market, but below are the ones I recommend:

Whichever method you use, always make sure you spray enough water for it to form droplets.  Just spraying the water into the cage will not be sufficient as the chameleons will not know where the water is at.  It takes a lot of water to form droplets from the mist, so spray until you start to see droplets forming on the leaves.  You will know if you sprayed enough water when the chameleons start opening and closing its mouth.

When spraying the cage, you can spray directly onto the chameleons as well.  While most people don’t think that it is a good idea to spray them, but in their natural habitat, when it rains, they get showered with water all the time.  However, spraying a fine mist onto your chameleons is fine, but showering them with water should be avoided.

When it comes to baby chameleons, spraying them with water should be avoided.  Since they are too small, spraying them with water could cause them to drown.

How Not To Give Chameleons Water

Below are things not to do when trying to give water to your chameleons.  Chameleons will not drink the water and it will be caused them to be stressed.


This is one method most people think is ok, which isn’t.  Chameleons live in trees and they spend almost 99% of their time in trees and on plants.  So in their natural habitat, a bath is not something that is normal to them.  By giving the chameleons a bath, they will most likely be scared and stressed out.


Showering the chameleons with water should be used only when they are dehydrated and need water badly.  If you are planning to shower them with water each day, it could cause them to be stressed out. Chameleons are not used to being showered with water.

In their natural habitat, when it rains, chameleons are hiding under the leaves of trees and plants. For that reason, they will never get soaked with water.

Sometimes a little showering isn’t bad. While you do your daily task of cleaning the cage, you could shower them with some water. This helps clean the plants of dirt and other debris.  However, try not to shower them with too much water.

Water Dish

If you put a dish of water in the cage, 100% of the time, it will be there collecting dust and forming germs.  The reason for that is because chameleons don’t know how to drink water from a dish.  They evolve to only drink water on the leaves of trees and plants.  It might work for other lizards, but not for a chameleon.

Chameleon drinking water

How Much Water Do Chameleons Drink?

Like humans, every chameleon is different.  Some require a lot of water while others require a small amount of water.  It really depends on different factors when determining how much water each chameleon drink.

One factor is the species and where they are located.  For example, panther chameleons will require a lot of water as they live in a tropical climate.  The hotter the climate, the more water they will need.

Now for species like the veiled chameleons, they may not need much water are their natural habitats are in the deserts.  Since there are not many rainfalls in the desert region, veiled chameleons adjust to this and don’t need much water to survive.

Since your chameleons are kept captive and not in the wild, it doesn’t matter what species they are.  It’s better to make sure they get enough water each day.  Like us, they will drink as much water as needed to quench their thirst.

How Often Do Chameleons Drink Water?

On average, they will require water at least twice a day.  However, depending on where you are located, they may require more than twice per day.

If you’re in the tropical climate area, you may need to give them more water each day.  The tropical climate tends to be hotter, which means the water will dry up fast.  So you’ll need to set the automatic mister to spray more often throughout the day or manually spray the enclosure every couple hours or so.

On the other hand, if you live in the cooler climate area, you’ll need to spray water-less due to less evaporation.  Water in cooler climates will take longer to evaporate from the leaves.

To ensure that your chameleons are getting enough water, give them access to water throughout the day. By doing so, you won’t need to worry about how often chameleons need to drink water.

How To Tell If Your Chameleons Is Drinking Enough Water

Believe it or not, chameleons are shy and won’t usually drink water in front of people. Because of that, it’s hard to tell if your chameleons are drinking enough water or not.  Sure, you may have an automatic mister, but how would you know if the chameleons drank water or not?

To find out if your chameleons are drinking enough water is to check their urates. Chameleons don’t urinate in the form of liquids. Instead, they excrete waste and urine together.  The white part of their waste is urine and this is how you tell if your chameleons are drinking enough water.

If their urates are white to clear, it means the chameleons are well hydrated. This is the color that you want to look for every day when they excrete waste.

On the other hand, if the urates are yellowish or dark yellow, it means the chameleons are not drinking enough water.  If you see this color, don’t be alarm as it can be fixed by giving them more water.

Besides the colors, other things you can check to make sure they are getting enough water is to look at their body and eyes.  Their bodies should be plump looking and their eyes are bulging.  Also, they will be active during the day, moving from one location to another.

If they are not getting enough water, they will look thin and their eyes will sink in. They will sleep during the day which is not normal for a chameleon.  Also, they will more than likely stay at one location for the entire day.

If you start to notice their urates are yellowish in color, along with wrinkled skin and sunken eyes, this is a sign your chameleons are not drinking enough water and their health is degrading.

Chameleons And Dehydration

Dehydration isn’t a laughing matter and it could mean life and death for a chameleon.  When a chameleon is dehydrated, it means their health is degrading due to an illness or they are not getting enough water.  If you suspect your chameleons are dehydrated, try giving them a shower first.  If after a couple of days, their health doesn’t seem to improve, take them to a vet that specializes in reptile care.