Do Chameleons Really Have Teeth?

  • By: Reptilia Planet
  • Date: September 26, 2021
  • Time to read: 11 min.

Chameleons are not the easiest pets for beginners and require a lot of care and maintenance. Many people who want to keep chameleons as pets usually ask different questions. For instance, are chameleons good pets, do they require a lot of care, and do chameleons have teeth?

Yes! Chameleons do have teeth, in fact, they have up to 22 small teeth used for chewing insects. You can’t see their teeth with your naked eyes because they are very small but they are there. These tiny teeth help them kill their prey and crunch their food.

Hatchling chameleons, on the other hand, are born with no baby teeth, however, these lizards can have horns at birth, which are known as rostral appendages. which protects chameleons and helps them win mates.

According to an NCBI study, most reptilian species have pleurodont teeth, which are ankylosed or fused to the inner surface of the bones in the jaw.

Yet, Chameleons have acrodont teeth located at the jaw’s alveolar ridge without sockets. Acrodont teeth are associated with strong bite force.  

Do Chameleons Teeth Regrow?

NO, Chameleons’ teeth do not regrow and if a chameleon tends to lose any teeth, then they can suffer from an oral health condition. If this happens to your chameleon then it’s essential to determine or diagnose the reasons why they are losing teeth.

Because these lizards rely on teeth to catch and crunch their prey it’s very important that you consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice that it is losing teeth or else they can not eat.

Unfortunately, Once your pet chameleon loses their teeth, they will live the rest of its life without them, and this can significantly affect your pet’s overall health and wellbeing.

As mentioned earlier, chameleons have acrodont teeth that don’t have roots. Their teeth are attached and ankylosed to the jawbones, which don’t allow chameleon to regrow its teeth.

Reptiles that have pleurodont dentition can easily replace their teeth. For example, many lizards and snakes can replace their teeth when they fall out.

On the other hand, reptiles that have acrodontic dentition can’t replace their teeth because their teeth are loosely attached to the jaw and have no roots.

Such reptiles have teeth that are prone to fractures and infections.

For instance, some reptiles like chameleons and bearded dragons are captive lizards, which have acrodont dentition and can develop an oral disorder known as periodontal disease.

It is a common disorder in chameleons that can lead to substantial morbidity in them. That’s why it is essential to maintain a proper diet and avoid giving your pet a fruit-based diet to prevent the condition.

Why Do Chameleons Teeth Fall Out?

The primary reason chameleon teeth fall out or get damaged is when it fights with another chameleon. They will often fight each other and use their teeth to protect themselves from one another.

Reasons Why Chameleons Teeth Fall Out Or Get Damaged

  • Fighting with other chameleons
  • Gum recession That Damage The Teeth
  • Accidentally Bite Hard Objects
  • Due To Health Conditions

When chameleons fight, they can significantly damage their teeth. It is because a chameleon uses its teeth to bite another chameleon. It tries to bit another chameleon with force, which can cause it to lose teeth.

Gum recession is a common phenomenon in most reptiles. A receded gum can’t replace itself, which leads to exposure of teeth that eventually become prone to damages.

“Once the teeth are damaged, they have higher chances to fall out”

Chameleons have strong and sharp teeth that they use for crunching insects. However, sometimes, when they try to crunch an insect, they accidentally bite hard objects like the cage and branch.

As a result, can damage their teeth and make the structure vulnerable to breaking.

That’s why, as a pet owner, you should ensure a proper habitat for your chameleon that allows your pet to eat properly in a safe environment. In simple words, you should remove any hard object so that your chameleon does not bite it.

The loss of teeth is also due to health conditions. For example, when you feed your pet with a fruit-based diet, it can cause damage to the structure of teeth and make them vulnerable.

Although fruits are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, some of them contain a high level of sugar that can lead to a condition called periodontal disease.

Moreover, when your chameleon does not get enough vitamins and minerals in its diet, it can deteriorate the immune system and cause problems in teeth.

How Many Teeth Do Chameleons Have?

Typically, chameleons have 15-22 teeth. The frontal teeth are tiny whereas the posterior ones are slightly larger. Because they are acrodont, their teeth sit vertically on the jawbone.

Unlike mammals that have a separate tooth cavity, chameleons don’t have a separate tooth cavity. That’s the reason their teeth remain for a lifetime with lower chances of damage and fall out.

The vertical, sharp, and strong structure of chameleon teeth enable them to easily chomp on a wide range of insects. For instance, they can easily chew crickets, mealworms, roaches, and waxworms.

The teeth also allow them to easily chomp on leafy green vegetables, including collard greens, ficus leaves, and pothos. It is essential to feed your pet food that is a rich source of vitamin A.

Your chameleon needs vitamin A because it improves your pet skin, eyes, mucous membrane, strengthens muscles, and keeps teeth healthy.

Moreover, a proper diet is important for your chameleon to keep its oral cavity and teeth healthy.

Have you heard of stomatitis? It is commonly known as chameleon mouth disease that can severely affect its tongue, oral cavity, and esophagus preventing your pet from chewing food properly.

Inadequate diet and bacterial infection are the primary causes of stomatitis in chameleons. Stomatitis is characterized by a brownish-yellow matter that stains the gum line of the chameleon.

It is essential to treat the infection on time because it can cause of loss of appetite.

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Are Chameleons Teeth Sharp?

There are different opinions about the sharpness of chameleon teeth. Some people say they don’t have sharp teeth yet they can chew their food.

However, the most reasonable argument is that chameleons have small, sharp, and triangular teeth, which help them chew their food easily and make it ready for digestion.

At the same time, you should know that these reptiles do not have teeth roots that prevent them from having their teeth replaced.

In simple terms, there is no tooth-replacement mechanism in chameleons like human beings and other reptiles. Their teeth are ankylosed at the base of the jawbone.

Research shows that Jackson’s chameleons have rows of tiny, sharp, and pointy teeth that exist on both jaws. Their sharp teeth actually resemble the teeth of sharks.

The sharp and pointy structure of the teeth enables them to chew their food fast and easily.

Because chameleons mostly eat insects, it’s no surprise that they have sharp and strong teeth. Their teeth work swiftly to catch the prey and crunch it without any problems.

Considering the firmness of the teeth, they do have stronger jaws that also play a key role in killing the prey.

As mentioned, in this article that your chameleon pet needs proper diet and nutrition. If you fail to maintain a proper diet, it can undergo various health conditions, including the chameleon mouth disease that can affect its oral health.

Poor husbandry and lack of proper nutrition are the main causes of chameleon mouth disease. Calcium is important for teeth development and proper functioning.

This can affect the sharpness of the teeth due to vitamin A and vitamin C deficiency or improper calcium and phosphorus levels.

Can Chameleons Damage Their Teeth?

Even tho these reptiles have strong, sharp teeth, they can still be damaged by bacterial infections and physical trauma. For instance, any physical trauma can cause rotting out of bones in the jaw.

When your chameleon rubs its teeth against the enclosure or bite a firm object, it can damage the teeth. The most common reason behind this is when you keep a wild chameleon as a pet.

Therefore, it will press through the lid or walls that can eventually lead to self-injury. So it is essential to keep a wild chameleon in proper cages and prevent your pet from getting into contact with a hard object.

Research shows that the teeth of chameleons develop as individual structures. They develop their teeth at some distance from the jaw bone during the pre-hatching and post-hatching period.

On the other hand, adult chameleons have tightly packed teeth attached to the jaw bone. The firm attachment is due to the tissue that contains essential minerals.

It leads to the formation of a single functional unit. Although the attachment is strong and firm, an injury to the oral cavity can cause a broken jaw and damage the teeth.

Most often, damages to the teeth are due to fighting, which occurs when one chameleon fights with another one. Remember, chameleons are territorial species that can attack each other reptiles.

Gum recession is another common cause of tooth damage in reptiles. Furthermore, when your chameleon bites a hard object, such as wood or metal, it can cause damage to the teeth.

Chameleon Tooth Care

There is no direct way to take care of your chameleon teeth. However, when you consider a few things like proper diet, calcium supplements, and habitat, your chameleon’s teeth will remain firm and functional.

If you want to keep their teeth strong and sharp, it is essential to focus on a proper diet. Because these reptiles teeth have higher calcium composition, you can give them food that is rich in calcium.

At the same time, there are calcium supplements available on the market. Buy a high-quality one and give an adequate amount of calcium to your chameleon according to the instructions and directions are given on the bottle or packaging.

If you want to keep more than one chameleon in the same terrarium, chances are that they will fight each other.

As mentioned above, chameleons use their teeth, horns, and other parts of the body to protect themselves, they can damage these organs in the fight.

In general, male chameleons often fight one another. So, it is better to keep them in a separate terrarium. Remember, a male chameleon can also fight or bite a female one.

If you want to avoid fighting from fighting each other, provide a comfortable environment so that they feel peaceful, relaxed, and calm.

Make sure you have a large cage or terrarium that will allow your pets to roam around. Fill the terrarium with ficus plants, which are non-toxic and safe plants for your chameleon.

Do Chameleons Bite?

Yes, they can bite you because they have pointy teeth. In general, they are not very aggressive lizards and often roam alone. However, like other reptiles, chameleons can have aggressive behavior when other creatures threaten them or when they feel unsafe.

The aggressiveness of chameleons is for their self-protection and fight against other creatures that can hurt them. So, it does not matter if it is you (the owner) or any other creature, if your chameleon feels danger, it will react harshly and bite you.

Remember, chameleons are relaxed creatures and who want to stay peacefully. Therefore, it is essential not to poke or threaten them.

Chameleons require proper care and maintenance. Primarily, you have to take care of your diet. If your chameleon is thirsty or hungry, it will bite you if your fingers or any other part of the body get close to its mouth.

Chameleons also bite when they feel threatened or if you try to scare them. Because they are peaceful creatures, it is vital not to make them nervous. Chameleons don’t allow intruders to invade their space.

In the wild, chameleons prefer to reside on trees and stay under the plants’ leaves. I recommend you avoid handling them because it can cause stress and as a result, your pet can bite you.

What Are The Signs

Your chameleon won’t bite you or any other creature unless and until it is scared, nervous, or threatened. The good news is there are some clear signs to look out for when your reptile is about to strike.

Signs That Chameleons Will Bite

  1. Change In Color
  2. Hissing Sound
  3. Stares At You With Both Eyes

Change In Color

  • A chameleon changes its colors when it feels threatened. When you notice that your chameleon has changed its color to black or a dark shade of black, don’t get close to it.

Hissing Sound

  • It is a sign that your chameleon is ready to bite. Hissing is another common sign of biting in chameleons. A chameleon usually hisses when it feels something is wrong. Once you hear this you will have very little time before it bites you.

Staring With Both Eyes

  • When your chameleon stares at you with both eyes, it means something is wrong. It means your chameleon does want you to get close to him. Besides changing color and hissing, staring with both eyes means you should not get close to it.

If They Do Bite

If your chameleon bites you, it is important to pull your finger away. Human beings have strong reflex action capability and any harmful stimuli trigger the CNS and PNS to start reflexes immediately.

It means the moment your chameleon tries to bite you, the reflex action will cause you to pull your finger immediately.

Because they have sharp teeth, you may have a small but insignificant cut on your finger. Unlike other reptiles, chameleons’ bite is not dangerous because there is no poison.

The reason is that your chameleon does not have toxic substances in its mouth. However, when you have a new wild chameleon, it may carry toxins in the mouth that can several harmful disorders.

So, even if you want to get close to your wild chameleon, you have to wait a few days or weeks so that the toxins are naturally excreted out of the body.

Conclusion

So now you know that chameleons have teeth. However, the important thing you to make sure that you take care of their teeth and as mentioned above, this includes having a suitable habitat where they can’t chew on hard objects.

Also, avoiding fights with other chameleons as this is one of the main causes of tooth loss. Remember once they lose their teeth they never growing back and will live for the rest of their life without them.

Once this happens it will be very hard to care for the chameleon as they won’t be able to eat the food they enjoy like live insects and other food the need to survive.

Make sure you don’t feed them too much fruit that is acidic as again this can also cause tooth loss that can lead to other problems later on.