Providing proper humidity levels is critical to your pet chameleon’s health and wellbeing. Improper humidity levels can cause tail rot, poor skin shedding, and digestion issues.
How much humidity do chameleons need? Most chameleons need humidity levels of about 50%. Some chameleon species need 60% but 50% humidity is the minimum amount required.
Why Do Pet Chameleons Need Humidity?
Most chameleons need a certain level of humidity to survive. This is due to the climate they evolved in.
In the same way certain plant species can only grow in hot and humid climates, nearly all chameleons can only survive in humid climates.
A proper humidity level for all chameleons helps to maintain skin smoothness, eye health and is important for digestion.
A good humidity level and regular misting can also help aid a chameleon if it is suffering from impaction or constipation. Proper humidity levels also aid skin shedding.
Proper humidity doesn’t really help with keeping chameleons hydrated though and water will need to be provided separately for this.
There is a dangerous myth that chameleons absorb water through their skin and that humidity will help with this.
This is not true as they need to drink water to maintain hydration. A good humidity level alone is not enough to make sure they’re sufficiently hydrated.
How Much Humidity Do Pet Chameleons Need?
This will vary from species to species but experts agree that on average pet chameleons need a humidity level of between 50% and 70%.
The three most commonly kept chameleon pet species are veiled chameleons, panther chameleons, and Jackson chameleons. Each one has different humidity requirements.
Veiled Chameleon Humidity Level – 50%
Veiled chameleons are the easiest to provide and maintain humidity levels because they originate from the hot and dry climate of Yemen.
Rainfall is still relatively high there, particularly in the forested areas where veiled chameleons live but 50% air humidity is perfect for them.
As this is the general room humidity level in most buildings you don’t really need any extra special measures to maintain this level.
It’s important to not maintain it at a level higher than this though. Too much humidity can cause problems like tail rot.
Obviously natural air humidity fluctuates all the time so don’t worry if the area you live in has higher levels. It’s when you try and maintain a constantly high level of humidity for veiled chameleons that problems can start.
Panther Chameleon Humidity Level – 60%
Panther chameleons originate from Madagascar a very hot and humid climate with high rainfall.
Ideally, a humidity level of 70% would make your panther chameleon the most comfortable. However, this is difficult to achieve in most homes competing with running air conditioners, heaters and the like.
A study cited in this book found that panthers kept at a humidity level of around 50% showed no adverse health effects associated with poor humidity levels.
So don’t worry if levels drop to this from time to time but between 60% and 70% will be great for a pet panther chameleon.
Jackson Chameleon Humidity Level – 60%
Jackson chameleons are largely found in mountainous regions of East Africa in countries like Kenya and Tanzania. Conditions there are similar to Madagascar but the humidity is often higher going up to 80%.
Humidity levels of around 60% or a little bit higher of around 65% will be ideal for a Jackson chameleon.
Pro Tip: Humidity levels will spike throughout the day as you provide your chameleon with their water needs. A base level of 50%, which is the standard level of most rooms anyway, is a good place to operate from.
How To Maintain Humidity In A Pet Chameleon Enclosure
Use Real Plants: I get it, you’re not very good at caring for plants. I can relate to that.
I was so bad at keeping plants alive I probably spent more money on them than anything else when I had my veiled chameleon but real plants are ideal for a chameleon’s enclosure.
Why? Because they’re living breathing organisms, the soil they’re planted in provides humidity as well as the leaves and not to mention the extra oxygen your chameleon will benefit from.
Think of lush, green and steamy jungles and you’ll see why real plants are a good idea.
Oh yeah, sometimes your chameleon will want to have a nibble on some plant matter. This is really bad if you fill your enclosure with artificial plants!
Regular Misting: Misting is primarily for a chameleon’s hydration purposes but it has the secondary benefit of boosting humidity.
I personally think many chameleon owners go a bit overboard with this step by setting time limits on how long to mist, how often, and so on.
In reality, you just need to mist until your chameleon has started the drinking response of opening and closing their mouth, until the enclosure is wet and the leaves are dripping with water.
I used to mist once or twice a day for my veiled chameleon and he lived to the grand old age of ten and never showed signs of serious dehydration.
You can mist by hand but that gets old pretty quickly so instead I recommend getting an auto mister. It will make taking care of your chameleon so much easier.
Regular Fogging: This is similar to misting but instead of a spray it releases a fine fog that settles over the enclosure and looks really cool! It has the added bonus of leaving dew drops on leaves that your chameleon can drink from.
I recommend this more for owners of Jackson and Panther chameleons. You can set it to run in the morning to give a more natural vibe to the enclosure as mist descends in the morning in their natural habitats.
Regardless of what species you own I recommend foggers if you live in a particularly dry area or your residence has drier air in fall and winter time. A fogger will help to keep levels topped up throughout the day.
Dripper: This is simply a tub of water placed on top of the chameleon’s enclosure and set to drip at frequent intervals over the chameleon’s plants.
This again provides the double benefit of ensuring your chameleon has access to water all the time and keeps the humidity levels at a stable level, particularly when combined with real plants in the enclosure.
How To Measure Humidity Inside A Chameleon’s Enclosure
To know the humidity levels of a chameleon’s enclosure you’ll need to have a measuring device called a hygrometer.
You can get analog or digital hygrometers but I recommend only getting a digital one.
Analog hygrometers can give wildly different readings each time you measure. This will make it difficult to provide you with an accurate overall picture of your chameleon’s humidity levels.
Night and Day Humidity Levels For Chameleons
Night Time Humidity
Extra measures to provide this are not usually necessary. Chameleons are hardier than we give them credit for a lot of the time and they can tolerate drops in humidity at night.
This drop would happen in their natural environment anyway. If you do have concerns about this though, particularly if your area is drier in winter because of heating, a fogger turned on once at night time will help.
Day Time Chameleon Humidity
During the day you just need to keep an eye on the humidity level and adjust your misting schedule accordingly.
Once you’ve got a good idea of the general humidity levels of where you live you won’t need to do much more than mist two or three times a day for both hydration and humidity.
During the winter if the heater’s on I recommend misting more anyway and using a fogger too.
Dry air dries out the enclosure quicker and your chameleon might not get enough to drink. Any live plants will also need more frequent watering too.
During the summer when air conditioners are running all day then reduce misting a bit for humidity as the levels in the room will probably be sufficient anyway.
If in doubt about humidity levels just run a fogger once or twice overnight and once during the day to keep levels optimal.
What Happens If Chameleon Humidity Levels Are Incorrect?
It’s not too difficult to maintain the correct levels but there are complications that can be caused by incorrect humidity.
Humidity Level Too High – This can cause tail rot and respiratory infections. High amounts of moisture in the air cause bacteria to breed more effectively and enter the chameleon’s system.
Humidity Level Too Low – Can lead to shedding problems and incomplete sheds because if the air is too dry it means the chameleons’ skin is too dry to fully shed. Bits of skin remaining aren’t usually too much of a problem but these can become infected if left.
Low humidity can also cause digestion problems and blockage. Proper humidity helps food digest better and is partly why a good misting with warm water helps chameleons pass feces if they haven’t been able to for a while.
As you can see humidity is critical for a chameleon’s health but it’s an aspect that can get overlooked as deeper concerns regarding hydration take precedent.
However, it is possible to over complicate things leading to more unnecessary worry.
Really if you just measure levels properly using a hygrometer, keep a close eye on them and stick to a regular misting schedule your chameleon will be fine.