Keeping a chameleon well hydrated is vital to their health and well-being. If you have been looking into getting a chameleon, you have probably heard that they are quite picky when it comes to drinking water. The short answer to the question of how do chameleons drink water is that they prefer to drink small drops of water off leaves and other surfaces.
The reason chameleons prefer to drink water in this manner is due to their arboreal nature. In the wild chameleons rarely leave the trees, so they don’t usually have access to standing water. Instead, they rely on water droplets that build up on leaves and stems inside the tree’s canopy. Thanks to the fact that chameleons live in tropical environments they usually have a fresh source of water year-round, due to the frequent rains and high humidity that are endemic to those regions.
How to Make a Chameleon Drink Water
In order to mimic the conditions chameleons have evolved for in nature, you will either need to get a misting system for your chameleon (Read More), or you can get an automatic chameleon dripper system. A misting system will periodically spray your chameleon’s habitat with a fine mist of water, which will allow them to lick the droplets off all the surfaces in their habitat.
A chameleon dripper system, on the other hand, will serve as a constant source of water that your chameleon can rely on at any time. Chameleon drinking systems come in both passive and active variants. The main difference between the two is that active systems use a pump that has to be powered, while passive systems rely solely on gravity. If you want to know more about specific systems, continue reading on if you want to learn about the pros and cons of each chameleon drinking system.
Best Chameleon Drinking Systems
|Exo Terra Dripper Plant|
|DIY Micro Automatic Drip Irrigation Kit|
|Zoo Med The Big Dripper|
Best Chameleon Dripper Systems
The Exo Terra Dripper Plant (Buy Online) is one of the more naturalistic chameleon dripper systems on the market. This system will provide a steady stream of clean well oxygenated water to your chameleon anytime they need to rehydrate. You can also get the Exo Terra Dripper Plant System in a small or large size, which makes the Exo Terra Dripper Plant a good fit for any size chameleon habitat.
This chameleon dripper system comes with a small recirculating pump and two natural looking artificial leaves that act as a drinking fountain. The pump moves water to the top leaf where it trickles down the center of the leaf , and then it drips off the tip of the leaf onto the large second leaf below it. The larger second leaf then channels the water back into the reservoir where it can be pumped back up to the top leaf again to continue the cycle.
The great thing about this system is that it closely mimics the way chameleons drink water in nature. When a chameleon sees the large realistic looking leaves glistening with water they will instinctively want to take a drink from it. This is in stark contrast to less natural looking dripper systems that might require your chameleon to go through a long acclimation period before they feel comfortable drinking from it.
The DIY Micro Automatic Drip Irrigation Kit (Buy Online) is perfect for anyone who wants to setup a custom chameleon drinking system. This system comes with a pump that can either be powered by an included USB cable or AA batteries. The DIY Micro Automatic Drip Irrigation Kit also comes with 33 feet of hose, 10 dripper heads, 10 T-Connectors, 1 Four-Way Connector and a filter.
With all the included accessories that come with this kit, you can make sure your chameleon will always have access to water. Since the DIY Micro Automatic Drip Irrigation Kit comes with 10 individual dripper nozzles, that will make it possible for you to strategically place water sources all throughout your chameleons terrarium.
The clear hosing and dripper nozzles can easily be hidden in foliage or blended into any other kind of decoration. The modularity of this system means you can attach the drip emitters to real or artificial plants, or you can leave them exposed if that is your preference.
The other real nice thing about this system is the programmable digital pump. This pump can be set to water at multiple times and intervals throughout the day. The pump also has built in memory so your settings won’t be lost if the batteries run out, or if it is disconnected from the USB power cable. You can also use the pump on almost any size reservoir, so you can rest assured your chameleons will always have a source of clean drinking water even if you have to leave them alone for an extended period.
The Zoo Med Big Dripper (Buy Online) is one of the most popular passive dripper systems on the market. This system is made up of a large 1 gallon reservoir that comes with a lid with a built-in handle. Also included in this package are two nozzles and a short length of black drip tubing.
Overall this system is very easy to setup and to use. All you will need to do to set it up is insert one of the nozzles into the base of the reservoir, and then connect the drip line to the nozzle. Then you can adjust the flow of the nozzle using the control valve in order to set your desired drip rate. The control valve can also stop the flow of water completely, so you can stop the system from dripping when you think your chameleon has had enough water.
This system also comes in a small version that holds 70 ounces of water. That system is called the little dripper, and it is a good alternative if you don’t want to lug around a gallon of water, or if you prefer to change the water in the reservoir more often.
The Fluker Labs 12-Ounce Reptile Drip System (Buy Online) is a good starter dripper system for a new chameleon owner. This system is made up of a small 12 ounce reservoir with a built in dripper nozzle. The Fluker Labs 12-Ounce Reptile Drip System also comes with a suction cup which will allow you to mount it to the wall of a glass terrarium.
This dripper system is a passive unit that emits a slow stream of water out of its adjustable nozzle. The dripper nozzle can be set to release either a slow drip of water, or a continuous stream depending on how you set the control valve. The nozzle can also be connected to drip line tubing to extend the reach of this system.
If you are looking for an easy to set up and cheap chameleon dripper system the Fluker Labs 12-Ounce Reptile Drip System is a great option. This system is also great for use in a temporary chameleon habitat, or if you are traveling with your chameleon and you need a convenient way to provide them with some water.
Chameleon Water Fountain
The Arboreal Climb Self Circulating Water Fountain (Buy Online) is a great plug and play chameleon drinking system. This chameleon water fountain is a totally self contained system that can be easily added to any chameleon habitat.
This chameleon drinking fountain is made up of a reservoir with a hood that covers a large artificial plant. The reservoir contains a pump the moves water to the top of the hood where it rains down on the artificial plant from a drip emitter.
The totally enclosed nature of this system helps ensure that the water stays in the fountain until your chameleon drinks from it. This is great since a lot of the other chameleon dripper systems can cause water to pool up in the base of a chameleons habitat.
Another real nice thing about this chameleon drinking system is the large artificial plant. This plant has a multitude of leaves for your chameleon to lick the dripping water off, and the plant will also hold on to water longer thanks to its large surface area.
How Often do Chameleons Drink
Most adult chameleons will need to drink 3 to 4 times a day for at least a 10 minute interval. Younger chameleons will need to drink a little less, but they will still need to have access to water throughout the day.
In order to provide your chameleon with enough water you can either mist their habitat 3 to 4 times a day by hand, or you can use an automatic misting system. Alternatively, you can set up a dripper system so they can have constant access to water, or you can set the dripper system on a timer to regulate their water consumption.
Can Chameleons Drink from a Bowl
In most cases, chameleons will not drink from a bowl, but it is not totally unheard of for some captive chameleons to take a lick of some standing water. For the most part, though chameleons prefer to drink fresh clean water droplets off leaves and stems.
Chameleons aren’t even attracted to standing water since they have evolved to respond to flowing drops of water. They also need to drink very fresh clean water, and they can suffer health issues if they are forced to drink stale standing water.
Water bowls are notorious for acting as breeding grounds for bacteria, and they also usually end up with a lot of debris floating around in them. So, even if you could get your chameleon to drink from a bowl it would be a bad idea since it could lead to a wide range of health problems in the long run.