Is Incense Bad For Chameleons? {What Will It Do To Them?}

Will burning incense sticks cause health problems for your chameleon? What are some better alternatives to keep your home fresh smelling without harming your reptile companion? Let’s get into this topic of burning incense and how it affects chameleons.

Are Incense Sticks Bad For Chameleons? Smoke and fumes from incense, candles, cigarettes and other pollutants may cause respiratory problems that could fatally harm your chameleon. Ventilate the room and keep incense sticks at least 10 feet away from your chameleon’s cage. 

Will Incense Kill My Chameleon?

Incense is generally smokier than candles. If the smoke gets pulled into your chameleon’s cage, you may hear strange noises from your little companion.

Wheezing or discomfort may become obvious. Otherwise, your chameleon may stop moving around and worst-case scenarios include sudden death.

Keep candles or incense burning at least 10 feet away or steer the smoke away from its cage with a fan.

What Does Incense Do To My Chameleon?

The scent and smoke from incense could cause the depression of your chameleon’s central nervous system. Other effects include:

  • irritation to eyes and skin
  • stuffed nose and upper respiratory tract
  • illness
  • lack of appetite
  • death

If you smell the perfume odor that is pleasant to you, the stronger it is, the more harm it may cause. Steer clear from other strong scents near your chameleon’s cage including:

  • scented candles
  • potpourri
  • aerosols
  • plug-ins
  • gas stoves
  • non-stick pans

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Are Chameleons Sensitive To Incense?

Yes. Lizards, snakes and various reptiles may show adverse reactions to fumes and smoke caused by:

  • incense
  • cigarettes
  • air fresheners 
  • smoke from cooking
  • oil burners

Studies show the decrease of cardiovascular health, respiratory issues and heart disease in humans and animals alike to prolonged exposures to smoke in poorly ventilated areas. Keep your chameleon’s cage at least 10 feet away.

Are Incense Sticks Harmful To Lizards?

Incense adds a pleasant aroma to our homes, but they are poisonous to most animals who are sensitive to smaller doses of fumes and smoke.

Lizards may have trouble breathing to the point where they stop doing anything and could eventually die from it. The effects of the smoke may lead to a decreased metabolism and cardiovascular functions.

Can I Light A Candle Around My Chameleon?

Candles are not recommended near chameleons within 10 feet of their cage. Ventilate the area and make sure the candle fumes are steered away from your chameleon.

Try to burn candles that are:

  • unscented
  • free of lead wicks
  • made of soy, coconut, beeswax

What Scents Are Safe For Chameleons?

There are no scents that are recommended to be directed at your chameleon who is far more sensitive that we are. You may try some naturally scented oils in their raw form or heat them for aromatherapy purposes.

Keep these oils at a safe distance, but enjoy them at your pleasure:

  • cedarwood oil
  • chamomile oil
  • citrus oil
  • eucalyptus oil
  • fennel oil

What Are The Health Risks Of Incense?

Experts agree that smoke inhalation from incense is dangerous in large amounts or prolonged exposure. It may lead to health problems in our pets and our own internal systems. Incense smoke has been linked to:

  • asthma
  • dermatitis 
  • cancer

Your chameleon is far more sensitive than you are. Keep the incense burning in a separate room or point it in a direction where the ventilation in the room steers it away from its cage.

What Is Toxic About Incense?

There are irritants that are toxic and harmful to us and our chameleons. The aroma is usually made of oil and compounds that are not natural.

  • polyaromatic hydrocarbons
  • benzene
  • carbonyls

You can try natural oil diffusers or smudging with only sage, but they can still cause sensitivity to your chameleon’s lungs.

Are Reptiles Sensitive To Smell?

Reptiles including chameleons are especially sensitive to the smell of fumes and smoke. They have an organ that is sensitive to chemical odors. This organ is called Jacobson’s organ.

Jacobsen’s organ takes any taste on their tongues and transfers it into odor for them to smell. They are able to apply this function to heighten their awareness to their surrounding environment. Your chameleon may taste the fumes of incense and convert it into a smell.

You may hear strange noises coming out of your chameleon during this time. More often than not, the smell of incense may cause your chameleon to freeze up while it waits for this unpleasant irritant to pass.


A stuffy respiratory tract in your chameleon may go unnoticed until it’s too late. Lethargy may seem natural until you see that your chameleon has stopped eating altogether. The fumes from incense could be poisoning your reptile companion.

Keep the smoke from incense or candles at least 10 feet away from your chameleon’s cage. Try to avoid using it in the same room if you can. Open windows or steer the smoke away with a fan. Your chameleon would prefer natural oils that aren’t being burned.

Aerosols, cigarettes, plug-ins and scented candles are all dangerous in smaller amounts compared to our hardy lungs and hearts. We wish for your chameleon to enjoy many years with you and we hope the environment you have created is healthy with fresh ventilated from everyone who dwells in this peaceful home.


Thank you for visiting for all your informational needs surrounding chameleons and other reptiles. We invite you to stick around and check out many of our articles concerning any pets that you are interested in. Your chameleon is one of our favorites! See you soon!