The Graceful Chameleon is a curious attraction… very becoming but delicate!

The Graceful Chameleon Chamaeleo gracilis is easily attainable and is fun to watch. They make wonderful visual pets, but like all chameleons they don’t appreciate much handling. They are delicate and can become anxious and stressed. They will need time to become established in their new home. This pet chameleon will also stress when around other chameleons, so they are best housed alone.

It is essential to provide a Graceful Chameleon with a proper enclosure and provide good care. These little creatures originate from central Africa. They are imported by the handfuls, so are fairly inexpensive, but are usually in rough condition by the time they arrive. They often need dedicated attention when first acquired.

The Graceful Chameleon is a temperature and humidity-sensitive pet lizards. There are not many activities that you can do with your Graceful Chameleon, but once established they make a wonderful showpiece. Watching them in a beautifully planted, creative enclosure is very rewarding, and the fun in keeping chameleons.

Scientific Classification

Species: gracilis

Scientific Name

Chamaeleo gracilis

Graceful Chameleon
Image Credit: Robert Eastman, Shutterstock

Habitat: Distribution/Background

The Graceful Chameleon Chamaeleo gracilis was described by Hallowell in 1842. The Graceful chameleons are widespread throughout Central Africa. They are a commonly imported animal, unfortunately they often arrive with many serious health issues. They are not highly valued and often little extra care is given to them during the collection, exportation, importation and distribution process that would ensure their health and well being as wild-caught captives.


The Chamaeleo gracilis is not on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species.


The basic body color of the Graceful Chameleon is anywhere from green, yellow, or a light brown. Dark vertical bands may appear on the body and tail. Rays extend from around the eye for a short distance. Males have a slightly higher casque (cranial crest) than females, but are smaller in average size. When a female is receptive to breeding, she will show yellow or orange spots. Older females can grow to as large as 15 inches.

Food and Feeding

Graceful chameleons will eat just about anything from crickets, fruit flies, mealworms, the occasional wax worm, and many other small insects. Be careful collecting prey foods from nature as they could have been exposed to insecticides, fertilizers, and could harbor parasites detrimental to your chameleon’s health.

Prey items can be dusted with a vitamin supplement to increase the nutritional value. RepCal and Herptivite are two excellent supplements. Crickets should also be gut loaded to help provide more nutrients. Gut loading your crickets with fresh fruit, vegetables, fish flakes, and any of the commercially available gut load diets will increase their nutritional value.

This chameleon should be misted twice per day with dechlorinated water. Make sure to spray the leaves well, as this is how the chameleon will drink. A good dechlorinator is Repti-safe, as it also provides calcium and electrolytes.

graceful chameleon
Image Credit: Er.Vikas Verma, Shutterstock


In the wild, these chameleons lived mostly in forest-like environments, so the easiest way to keep them is to closely mimic their natural habitat..

A thirty gallon tank is the smallest recommended tank for these chameleons. Keep in mind that they need more height, so a 55 to 75-gallon tank would be excellent. They have more height than a 40 gallon breeder, a tank that is commonly used for reptiles. Provide a good substrate, a mix of sand and either peat or a coconut-fiber bedding works well, and when misted daily helps keep the humidity level up

Chameleons tend to need many things to climb on. Provide a variety of climbing branches, vines (whether natural or artificial), and other things to climb on and move about. Misted vines are one of the best ways to get water to your chameleon. It provides them with their natural way to get a drink, where it collects on the leaves. Many pet stores will sell artificial vines with suction cups to attach them to your tank.

A screen top will be necessary as chameleons are able climbers, if somewhat slow at times. A chameleon can easily climb out of its tank and encounter many dangers; the bleach spilled on the counter, other household pets, and possibly temperatures too extreme for its liking. Make sure you buy a tank with a screen top.

Temperature, humidity, and Lighting requirements:

As with all chameleons, the Graceful Chameleons are somewhat sensitive to temperatures and humidity. Surprisingly, the temperature range for the Graceful chameleon is quite low; 64 – 73 {deg} F during the day. For the most part, if the temperature of your house is within these ranges, you won’t need too much heat for these guys though a basic 50 watt daytime basking bulb may be used. Exposure to UVA and UVB can be provided through full-spectrum fluorescent lighting.

These chameleons like extremely high humidity, coming in at about 90 to 100% on the hygrometer. Misting the tank daily with dechlorinated water is a must as it helps keep a lot of moisture in the tank. As most chameleons won’t drink from a bowl, this misting will also provide them with water to drink, collected on the leaves.

Cage Care

Cage maintenance is an important part of keeping reptiles healthy, and long-lived. Reptiles being kept in a confined area as pets need to be protected from harmful micro-organisms and parasites. The reptile cage needs daily and weekly maintenance. Provide fresh food and water in clean dishes everyday. Check on a daily basis to make sure that the tank is clean. As with any reptile, feces should be removed as soon as they are discovered.

Everything you put into their home should be washed and disinfected weekly. This includes dishes and cage decor. All of the substrate should be changed every three to four months. Never clean with a phenol such as Pine Sol. Chlorine and alcohol based cleaners are tolerated much better, but need to be thoroughly rinsed.

close up graceful chameleon sleeping
Image Credit: Oleg Kovtun Hydrobio, Shutterstock


Graceful chameleons have a reputation for being rather aggressive. They should be kept singly and out of sight of any other chameleons to prevent unnecessary stress for the animals. In many chameleon species, even being in the constant sight of a male is enough to put the female off of her food, so be careful.


As with any reptile, these are not tame pets. Most will not bite, however they should never be carried around outside of their cage for long periods of time. Most chameleons can be taught to accept gentle handling over time. Be sure to wash your hands before and after handling, for the chameleon’s health and yours.


Females will have one to two clutches of eggs per year, with numbers between 20 and 40 per clutch. They will incubate at 74{deg} F for six months before hatching. When the young hatch, let them remain by or inside their egg until they have absorbed their first meal out of the egg. From this meal, they will be full for a day or two, so do not be alarmed if they do not eat. After that you can begin to provide them with pinhead crickets and culture fruit flies.

Diseases: Ailments/Treatments

A large percentage of the available Graceful Chameleons are wild-caught specimens. There are many problems with internal parasites and mites, and with dehydration upon arrival. Other problems with chameleons include metabolic bone disease (MBD). Provide proper care and nutrition, and a good clean environment.

Graceful chameleon
Image Credit: prachisaste, Shutterstock


Graceful Chameleons are occasionally available through pet stores and on the internet, and are fairly inexpensive. However it is recommended, due to the normally heavy parasite load, dehydration, and stress of imported specimens, that only those people that can afford immediate veterinary care acquire these pets.



Featured Image Credit: Oleg Kovtun Hydrobio, Shutterstock