If you have a chameleon, sooner or later you will start to notice something about their skin. It will start to become dull and have white spots all over its body. For that reason, you may wonder if there’s something wrong or your chameleon is just shedding.
So, do chameleons shed? Yes, chameleons do shed. On average, a chameleon will shed every 4 to 8 weeks. However, it will depend on the species and their age. Young chameleons grow very fast, so they will shed more frequently. Adult chameleons will shed less as they are not growing much anymore. By shedding, it will help keep them clean, accommodate their growth, and renew skin cells.
Why Do Chameleons Shed Their Skin?
There are 2 main reasons why chameleons will shed their skin.
The first reason is for growth. Young chameleons grow very rapidly to deal with this, they will shed their skin.
Once they reach adulthood, they will not grow anymore. However, they may gain weight. As a result, they will shed their skin.
The second reason is renewing old skin cells. Chameleons will shed a couple of times throughout the year. This helps them renew their old skin cells and keeping themselves clean.
How Often Do Chameleons Shed?
How often chameleons shed will depend on their age.
It’s important to know how often your chameleon is shedding, so it can be helpful to determine if they are healthy or not.
Young chameleons will shed more frequently than adult chameleons. They tend to shed more often since they are still growing.
Typically, young chameleons will shed every 3-4 weeks. Some may shed more depending on how much food they eat.
They will continue to shed until they are between 10 and 18 months of age. The exact age will depend on the species.
Once the chameleon reaches adulthood, they will not grow that much anymore. For this reason, they will shed less frequently.
Adult chameleons will shed every 6 to 8 weeks. The actual frequency of their shedding will depend on the species.
Some species like the veiled chameleons will shed more than other species due to their large size.
What Happens When a Chameleon Sheds Their Skin?
When your chameleons start to shed, they will give off several signs and their behavior will change.
When they start to shed, there’s really no concern for it. This is normal and what they do. Below are some of what you will notice:
Eating Less – A few days before they start to shed, your chameleons may not eat much. This is normal behavior for them and nothing to worry about.
Acting Restless – Chameleons will be more active when they are about to shed. It’s irritating for them, and they will move around a lot.
White Spots – When they are about to shed, white spots will appear all over their body. The size of the white spot will vary throughout.
The white spots occur as the skin is being lifted off the body. Once it appears, it will start to flake off.
Skin is Dry – As the chameleon starts to shed, their skin will become drier. Also, this could be a sign of poor humidity and hydration levels.
Rubbing on tree branches or against the cage – As they start to shed, they will find branches, objects in the cage, or the cage itself to rub their body on. This will loosen the skin and help them shed faster.
Scratching themselves – During shedding, they will get itchy. This will cause them to scratch themselves. Doing will help loosen and remove the old skin from their body.
How Long Does Shedding Last?
How long a chameleon takes to shed their skin will tell you how their health is.
A healthy chameleon will usually shed for 2 to 3 days. If there is a bit of skin still stuck on their body, that’s fine. You can help them by peeling it off with your hand.
On the other hand, if a chameleon is taking longer than 3 days to shed its entire skin, it could be a problem. This could be a result of low humidity in their environment, not drinking enough water, or an illness.
Unhealthy Reasons Chameleons Shed Their Skin
It’s natural for chameleons to shed their skin, which is to keep them healthy.
However, there are times when a chameleon will shed, which is not healthy for them. Below are some unhealthy reasons why chameleon may shed their skin:
When a chameleon is stressed, they may start to shed. There are a lot of things in their environment that could cause stress.
One of the things is being brought home for the first time. Since they are new to the environment, they will become stressed.
Another reason could be simply moving their cage to a different location.
Any of the above reasons could cause them to become stressed. In response to that, the chameleon will shed.
Sometimes a chameleon will shed when they have an illness, particularly if it’s related to the skin.
Chameleons are prone to having parasites or skin infections. This could be from a cage that’s not kept clean, or it could be the humidity level is too high or too low. Any of these will cause the chameleon to start shedding.
Also, chameleons will shed if they lose weight, which usually occurs when they are sick.
Does Shedding Hurt The Chameleon?
It doesn’t hurt them, but it’s uncomfortable and frustrating for them. When the skin is shedding, it will cause the chameleon to be itchy.
In response to the itch, they will try to do everything they can to get the old skin off their body as quickly as possible.
Shedding is stressful for them, but it doesn’t cause them to be hurt.
Why Is My Chameleon Eating Their Shed Skin?
If you notice your chameleon is eating their shed skin, there’s no cause for concern. This is actually normal behavior for them.
In the wild, there is always a predator nearby waiting for an easy meal. During shedding, chameleons are weak, which makes them easy prey.
By eating all the skin that they shed, it will prevent predators from noticing them.
Also, the dead skin has some nutrients, and eating it will help them recover.
Chameleons do shed, and it’s necessary for them to keep their skin healthy. Baby and juvenile chameleons tend to shed more often as they grow rapidly. Once they become an adult, the shedding will be less. They will shed as they gain weight or renew dead skin.
Donovan got his first pet chameleon at the age of 7. Ever since then, he cared and raised over 10 different species of chameleons. Beside raising chameleons, he enjoys gardening and the outdoors.