Why Is My Chameleon Not Moving? {What Should I Do?}

Are you noticing that your chameleon is far too lethargic or motionless for hours on end? Is this a sign of illness or early death? In this article, we’ll focus on your chameleon who is not moving and see what we can do to help.

Why Is My Chameleon Not Moving? A deficiency in nutrients or an adjustment period to a new enclosure may result in a chameleon not moving. Check the temperature to make sure it isn’t too cold or hot and add plenty of calcium and vitamin supplementation to their meals. 

Why Is My Chameleon Not Active?

There are many reasons why a chameleon would lie motionless on a branch for hours on end. Here are a few examples:

  • lack of vitamin A
  • getting used to new surroundings
  • fearful of outside movements
  • MBD – metabolic bone disease
  • insufficient calcium
  • not enough UVB exposure
  • something is stuck on its body
  • swollen limbs
  • improper temperatures

If your chameleon has newly arrived to your home, give it time and make sure the conditions are appropriate.

Feed gut-loaded insects and dust vitamin D, calcium, multivitamins twice a month on their own food for supplementing nutrients they commonly lack in captivity.

Add 12 hours of light exposure through UVB lighting and look out for wounds or something impeding its movement.

Is My Chameleon Not Moving Because Of The Temperature?

The appropriate temperature is crucial for your chameleon to feel comfortable and move around with ease. The actual temperature requirements vary for different types of chameleons. Here are a few examples:

  • Jackson’s chameleon: 80-85°F
  • Veiled Chameleon: 90-100°F

The ranges above tend to be on the warm end of the spectrum. The cooler your chameleon is, the less chance that it will move around. Also their digestion slows down in cooler weather. Here are the limits of how cool they can be without losing much mobility:

  • Jackson’s chameleon: 70-75°F
  • Veiled chameleon: 72-80°F

Continue to check the temperature of the enclosure with a thermometer and make sure your chameleon is getting plenty of water and food.

Why Is My Chameleon Lethargic?

Lethargy when coupled with other visible symptoms could indicate that your chameleon is unwell. Look for more changes in their appearance including the following:

  • loss of color around toes and fingers
  • mucous expelling from mouth and nose
  • sunken eyes
  • bloodshot eyes
  • droopy lips
  • closed eyes throughout the day

Seek medical help from a vet if you notice these symptoms along with lethargy. It’s normal for a chameleon to not move for many hours in a new enclosure.

Give it a few days and see if there is any improvement if you don’t notice negative signs from their appearance.

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Why Is My Chameleon Laying On The Ground?

A chameleon on the ground and not on a branch could indicate:

  • a female trying to lay eggs
  • a male looking for a mate
  • a calcium deficiency and weak bones
  • fractured bones
  • uncomfortable branches
  • looking for insects

Some of the possible reasons above are quite normal while others indicate that there might be a need to visit the vet. Check to see how often your chameleon lays on the ground.

If this persists, you may have a weakened, malnourished or sick chameleon that needs attention.

Will Supplements Help An Inactive Chameleon?

Supplements are surely a part of normal diet for a chameleon in captivity. Without supplementation, it’s hard to make sure that our reptile companions are getting the nutritional requirements they need for their optimal health.

  1. Dust calcium and vitamin D3 on their meals 1-2 times a week.
  2. Lightly cover crickets with calcium and vitamin dust without completely ghosting them.
  3. Check for droppings to be brown and white. If orange, then there might be a dehydration issue.
  4. Dust Vitamin A or beta carotene twice a month.
  5. Gut-load insects before serving them to your chameleon with vegetables like:
  • kale
  • mustard greens
  • carrots
  • sweet red pepper
  • sweet potato
  • squash
  • zucchini

Why Is My Chameleon Motionless?

Chameleons are naturally able to lay motionless for hours on end as a form of protection. They camouflage themselves and hide from predators without moving. This instinct continues in captivity.

Illness and stress are also factors that contribute to your chameleon’s lethargic state. Once your chameleon is uncomfortable, a lack of appetite may result. A trip to the vet is necessary if your chameleon is refusing everything you are offering.

How Long Can A Chameleon Go Without Eating?

Fully grown chameleons can go 2-5 days without eating anything. Younger chameleons need to eat daily. Water continues to be necessary throughout this period of fasting.

A small dose of vitamins added to the water may help when your chameleon is not eating. If this continues for over 3 days, seek medical help from a vet.

Testing its calcium and phosphorus levels might be helpful to figure out if there are any underlying issues in its health. Offer crickets, caterpillars and butterflies. Your chameleon should perk up soon if there is no illness.

Why Is My Chameleon Not Eating?

Make sure to offer your chameleon a varied diet when they are refusing to eat the same thing. There are many reasons for this period of fasting including:

  • stress
  • skin shedding
  • hot or cold temperatures 
  • blocked gut
  • body pain
  • tongue issues
  • jaw infection
  • gout

Look to see if your chameleon’s eyes are bloodshot, droopy, closing often or sunken in. Check for mucus expelling through the eyes and nose. Visit the vet together if you see these warning signs.

Is My Chameleon In Heat?

The mating cycle affects movement and adds to lethargy or refusal of food in chameleons. Breeding season is when female chameleons need to lay eggs.

They will reduce their activity during this time. Males may not experience the same amount of lethargy. They could be on the move to find a female in heat instead.


A motionless chameleon could be hiding from a perceived threat as their natural instincts do not change from their natural habitat to your enclosure that you have provided.

It takes time to adjust to this new home. The food should be varied and it’s ok if they don’t eat for a couple of days. Check for warning signs ranging from mucus expelling from their eyes and nose or changes in their body such as color loss.

Prolonged motionless behavior could indicate illnesses such a metabolic bone disease (MBD) or a deficiency in vital nutrients. A trip to the vet might be required if this persists for more than 3 days.


Thank you for visiting HomePetHelp.com 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!