Do Chameleons Yawn?

For humans, it is common to see us yawn throughout the day. For chameleons, their mouths are open frequently, which can confuse pet owners at first.

Throughout this guide, we’ll explain why chameleons yawn and possible health risks that can occur.

By the end, you’ll have enough insight to determine if your chameleon needs serious care or is just lounging around!

Do Chameleons Yawn?

Yes, Chameleons do yawn on occasion, but it’s not for the same reasons that humans yawn. Most humans yawn as a sign of being tired. On the other hand, chameleons will yawn as a way of removing skin from their face. 

Most of the time, your chameleon could be having their mouth open as a form of “gaping.”

Gaping is when a chameleon has their mouth open due to external temperature conditions or to stress.

In severe cases, having a chameleon who gapes excessively is a sign of upper respiratory issues and will need a vet’s assistance. 

Here is video of a chameleon yawning.

Reasons Why Your Chameleon is Yawning

When you see a chameleon with their mouth open, chances are they’re gaping. Here are some reasons why this occurs:

Collecting Air

Chameleons who yawn or keep their mouths open excessively are susceptible to health problems.

Chameleons suffering from respiratory infection will sit near the basking light and refuse to move. This is followed by them tipping their head upwards and taking a gulp of air from time to time.

In addition, the chameleon might have mucus in their mouth, and some have it dripping out of their mouths. 

In regards to food, the chameleon will ignore anything you throw at it.

They’ll even stare at their favorite food!

The infection causes pain in their throat, so it is difficult for them to drink water or eat. 

Respiratory infection is not a disease that can be cured at home. In addition, there is no over-the-counter medication that can aid them.

You’ll need to take them to a veterinarian to give your chameleon the medical attention they need in this scenario. 

Self Defense

When threatened by a predator or other external source, the chameleon will open its mouth to appear more threatening.

If it is an actual threat the chameleon will extend their throat, place their hands closer to their body, and flatten their bodies. 

This is not a serious thing to worry about, but you should remove the stressor before it causes more issues.

If you give them food in their cage, they will revert back to normal once you retreat.

However, if they are reacting to a pet bird, then you should consider moving the cage to reduce their inner stress levels. 

Also, this can occur when multiple chameleons are in the same cage. Chameleons are solitary creatures who prefer to be alone most of the time.

If this occurs, it’s best to place them in a separate cage. Doing so will keep your chameleon safe while reducing conflict with other species nearby. 

Temperature Control

Chameleons need a set temperature to thrive in a captive environment. When the temperature exceeds their comfort level, they will find a way to cool off.

They’ll do this by relocating to the lower areas of the cage towards the moist earth and shade.

During this process, they will keep their mouths open to keep hot air out. 

Usually, this is a warning sign of a potentially dangerous situation. This means that your chameleon is on the verge of overheating and needs to cool off. 

If your chameleon is gaping, then it’s getting close to its last step.

During this stage, the chameleon’s body will shut down while having its eyes closed.

You need to act immediately once this occurs, as it could be a potential sign of death for your pet chameleon. 

Overheating occurs when an owner places the chameleon’s cage outside to receive sunlight.

Since there is no floor or cover to reflect the sun’s rays, your chameleon can overheat easily. 


Chameleons gape but do not yawn. They keep their mouths open to express discomfort, sickness, or pain irritation. As a pet owner, it is up to you to notice these behaviors immediately to protect them from further harm.

Conclusively, understanding your chameleon’s gaping mechanisms will help you extend their lifespan and keep them happy!

Also read

Do Chameleons Sneeze?

Do Chameleons Eat Spiders , Ants?

Do Chameleons Eat Frogs?

Can Chameleons Eat Strawberries?

Can Chameleons Eat Cucumber

Can Chameleons Eat Carrots?

References and sources

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