Do Chameleons Need A Heat Lamp?

Do Chameleons Need A Heat Lamp

If this is your first time owning a chameleon or planning to get one, you will have a lot of questions. One of the things that are important to them is heat. If your home is always warm, do chameleons still need a heat lamp?

So, do chameleons need a heat lamp? Yes, a pet chameleon needs to have a heat lamp. Chameleons are cold-blooded creatures, which means they need heat to help regulate the temperature of their body. Without a heat lamp, chameleons will start to become ill.

Why Do Chameleons Need A Heat Lamp? 

Chameleons are cold-blooded animals, which means they are unable to regulate their body temperature themselves. They need an outside source to keep their body temperature regulated. 

Since chameleons are usually kept indoors, they will not have access to sunlight. Therefore, a heat lamp should be installed to imitate the sunlight.

Unlike other reptiles like snakes, they can warm their bodies from all sides. When it comes to a chameleon, they are able to warm their body from its back. 

Chameleons in the wild will bask themselves in the sun during the day. Once they are warm enough, they will move out from under the sun and to a shady area.

They will repeat this process throughout the day. When their body starts to get cold, they will move into the sun. As their body gets hot, they will out of it.

A heat lamp allows them to carry this process out in captivity. 

What Heat Lamp Does A Chameleon Need?

There are many heat lamps available on the market. This is due to the increasingly popular choice of pet.

Heat lamps come in all different shapes and sizes. You can find them in standard to miniature sizes. Also, the bulb is from halogen to incandescent.

When it comes to heat lamp fixtures, you can find them in simple lighting form or those with more advanced technologies. Some heat lamps will have options with a dimmer switch and those that glow for a while to mimic the moon when the lights are off.

As for the heat lamp bulb itself, a 50w halogen spot bulb will work. Make sure to have plenty on hand as these can go out without at any time. 

Also, the bulb may still shine, but it won’t produce enough heat. 

Where Does The Chameleon’s Heat Lamp Go?

In their natural habitat, the sun is always on top of them. For that reason, the heat lamp should always go on top of the cage. 

Also, the heat lamp located at the top allows the chameleon to move in and out when they need to.

This is what’s called a basking spot. This is the place where your chameleon will spend most of their time during the day.

The basking spot should consist of nothing more than a flat platform. Leaves and other objects should not block the heat lamp from the basking spot. 

Also, the basking spot should be above head height at all times. This will make the chameleon feel safer as they are basking. 

If the basking spot is too low, they may feel threatened because they feel like they are being hunted from above.

What Temperature Should The Chameleon’s Heat Lamp Be?

The temperature of the heat lamp will depend on the species of chameleon. 

On average, the temperature should be between 90 degrees and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  For baby chameleons, the temperature should be a bit cooler.

The temperature should be checked regularly to ensure it remains the same throughout the day. During the day is when the temperature will fluctuate a lot. 

For most people, keeping the temperature of the heat lamp within range can be difficult, especially if you have work or have a busy schedule. 

If that’s the case, you can buy a heat lamp that has a built-in dimmer switch. When the temperature of the lamp gets too hot, it will turn down the heat slightly, rather than turning it off completely. This is a great way to save money since the lamp will require a lot of energy at the initial startup.

Also, make sure the distance from the top where the heat lamp is located to the basking spot is correct. The optimal range is around 8 to 10 inches for most species of chameleon.

How Long Should The Chameleon’s Heat Lamp Stay On For?

A heat lamp should try to replicate the sun. The heat lamp should stay on whenever the sun is shining and turned off when the sun goes down.

Throughout the year, the amount of time the sun is shining will be different. During the spring and summer, there will be more sunlight. At this time, you should leave the heat lamp for about 10-12 hours a day.

During the fall and winter, sunlight will be less. Therefore, you should adjust the time the heat lamp is on to about 6-8 hours each day.

You should always try to mimic their natural environment as much as possible.

If you’re unable to be around to turn the heat lamp on or off, it’s a good idea to get a digital timer. A digital timer will help control the timing of the heat lamp. You can set it when it should turn on and when it should turn off.

Do Chameleons need a Heat Lamp At Night?

It depends on where you live and the time of the year. Chameleons are able to tolerate a significant drop in temperature. It’s necessary for them to regulate their metabolism.

For most species of chameleons, the temperature should be between 60° to 65°. For veiled chameleons, they are able to tolerate a drop of temperature to about 40°.

However, if it during the winter and you are concerned about the temperature in your home, you can buy a ceramic heater.

A ceramic heater produces heat, but without providing any lights. This helps your chameleon sleep without lights to disturb them.

Would A Heat Rock Help The Chameleon Keep Warm?

Unfortunately, a heat rock will not be of any use for a chameleon. This reptile absorbs heat through its back, so a heat rock will just be a waste of money.


A heat lamp is required to be installed in your chameleon’s cage. It provides them with enough heat so that they are able to regulate their body temperature throughout the day. Without a heat lamp, your chameleon will begin to become ill quickly, and could even die from it.