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Yemen Chameleon Handling (Tips, Aggression & Care)

If you are interested in Yemen lizards, you may be wondering if they can be handled or loveable pets. It’s a good thing to check before you commit. I had similar thoughts and looked into this. Let me share my findings with you.

Do the Yemen chameleons like to be handled? No, they really do not like being handled. If you attempt to handle one of these lizards they may bite or inflate their body to appear larger to repel you.  You may find that the hatchling will be a bit more accommodating.

Now you know, in general, they don’t like being handled. But is there any chance that they can be tamed and handled? Let me explain how this can be done. But let me also explain what you need to be careful about if you want to do this.

What is a Yemen Chameleon?

The Yemen chameleon (Chamaeleo Calyptratus) is more commonly known as the Veiled Chameleon, however, it is also known as the conehead Chameleon. Its native habitat is in Saudi Arabia or Yemen.

The male Yemen can grow up to 24 inches, from the tip of his nose to the end of its tail. For females, they are quite a bit smaller, and they usually grow up to 14 inches in length.

Are Yemen Chameleons aggressive?

Generally speaking, they are not very aggressive lizards. In fact, they are quite calm and laid back. So laid back in fact, that you will often find that they move quite slowly. They may even slow down their walking if they feel that you are watching them for some bizarre reason.

The baby Yemen lizard is also quite laid back and relaxed and it’s probably more susceptible to being handled.

How do you handle a Yemen lizard?

Before I get into an explanation of how you can handle these beautiful lizards, as discussed earlier, in general, they do not really like to be handled. In fact, you should really treat them like fish. Meaning you should enjoy them visually but not physically engage with them.

As discussed earlier, you can train them to be more susceptible to being handled, however, this is more likely to be successful if they’re younger. This way they’ve never been pre-conditioned to not want to be around humans.

The main reason that the adult Yemen, in particular, is quite resistant to being handled is for the obvious reasons. Basically, it believes any physical contact of the human is typically followed up by a swift attack, and maybe even death.

So do not take it personally, it is just a defense mechanism from the Yemen Lizard to protect itself.

The step-by-step process

Now I will explain how you can handle them if you wish to proceed.

First step – Acclimatisation

Unfortunately, most people have a natural urge to handle their chameleon (What is an Albino Chameleon? Click here and see) as soon as they bring it home. However, you need to do the complete opposite.

You need to give the Yemen sometime to break-in. Give it time to respond to his new environment and feel comfortable. You can expect this to last for at least 1 to 2 weeks before you even consider moving on to the next step.

Second Step – Hand Feeding

Once you have passed the initial break-in period of one to two weeks, as discussed before, you can move on to the next step which is hand feeding.

Hand feeding is a gradual process. You can’t just wack some food in front of your Yemen and expect it to feed from you. You need to give it some time. The first thing that you want to do is just offer it some food. But, do not try and push your hand towards it.

To achieve this, you can use your naked hand or you can use some apparatus. Such as a pair of tweezers or some metal serving tongs. These are great for people that are a bit squeamish and do not really like handling insects.

Once the food is placed in the vicinity of the lizard, give it some time to see if it will actually take the food. Just keep your hand near it, so that it can start to associate your hand with providing food. In time it will start to associate your hand with a positive part of its day.

This part of the journey to hand feeding could take a couple of weeks before you see any real breakthroughs. Initially, it may just ignore you because it is frightened. In time it will start to feel a bit more confident.

For the best results, I’d advise that you attempt to feed it this way on the first feeding of the day. Reason being, they are generally starving at this point in the day and more likely to take the food.

Third Step – Giving them time to come out

The objective here is to let the Yemen lizard come out of its cage on its own accord and naturally approach you after you’ve had success with hand feeding it.

To make sure that this goes as smooth as possible you need to be very patient. Therefore,
you need to make sure that they come out of their hiding place on their own accord and not forced out.

One of the things that you can do is to literally leave the cage open. Then place an object just outside of the cage. This can be a tree, plant or something that may arouse some interest.

Give it some time, maybe do something to entertain yourself while you wait, such as checking your email or something like that. This may take days or even weeks, so don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t respond right away.

If you do this right, in time it will naturally react to you. After a while, you should be able to open the cage, offer your hand and allow it to walk onto your hand naturally.

Step 4 – Rewarding with positive actions

One of the things that you can do to make this happen a lot smoother is rewarding your lizard for coming out and interacting with you. Basically, associate this simple act of interacting with you with happy treats.

You can do this simply by having some food nearby or even giving them an opportunity to bask in some lovely sunlight whenever they come out.

In time, with persistence, they will start to enjoy coming out.

A final note on handling

The reality is not every chameleon will react positively to these steps. As discussed earlier, they are not naturally susceptible to being handled. And some will never really want to do this. So, you need to take this on a case-by-case basis.

Give it a shot and if it works, wonderful! If not then there’s nothing you can really do about it. The reality is not every Yemen chameleon will react positively to these steps.

If you are going to do this seriously, you need to give it some time. You can’t just try for 1 or 2 days, say it doesn’t work and then give up. You need to give yourself a number of weeks at least to evaluate if it successful.

Related questions:

Are Chameleons kind to humans? Chameleons do not naturally trust humans. So they are not the ideal beginner pet. They are not necessarily aggressive or unkind to humans, but they do not really like to be handled and do not trust humans.

Will chameleons recognize their owners? Yes, they can recognize their owners. However, their emotions are quite hard to read and gauge. Unlike dogs or cats, there is no obvious sign of happiness or affection.

Therefore, the closest thing that you can do to understand if they recognize or trust you, is to check how they react to you. Will they come towards you? and allow you to handle them? Or are they are willing to take food from you? If yes, then you have the proof they recognize and trust you.

Why are piebald chameleons also known as Coneheads in some cases? The piebald chameleon is effectively the same as a veiled (or Yemen) chameleon. In fact, the only real difference its distinctive color scheme. As discussed earlier another alias for the Yemen lizard is “Cone Head”. Hence the reason why the Piebald is also known as the Cone Head Lizard.

Is a chameleon’s bite poisonous? No, the Chameleons’ bite it is not poisonous. To be perfectly honest, the bite is not really that bad at all. You can easily survive a bite from a chameleon.


Hi, this is me with my daughter and my Lizard friend. I hope you enjoy my research. Please feel free to check out my "About Me" page to find out more about me.