If you are looking to purchase or adopt a new lizard as a pet, you may be considering a Gecko or chameleon. This article will explain the differences between the two lizards helping you decide which one is best for you.

Leopard gecko and chameleon
Leopard gecko and chameleon

Key takeaways

  • Leopard geckos and chameleons are different in appearance.
  • Chameleons grow larger than Leopard geckos.
  • Both of these lizards are easy to care for but have specific needs.
  • Geckos and chameleons have a similar diet.
  • Both Leopard geckos and chameleons are shy and have a calm temperament.
  • Chameleons generally have a longer lifespan compared to geckos.
  • Both of these lizards are affordable to purchase.

Leopard Gecko vs Chameleon

Leopard geckos and chameleons are both popular reptile pets. However, although these two lizards have many things in common, they’re actually very different, and they require different care, habitats, and feeding.

Appearance

Leopard geckos have long, flat bodies that appear somewhat rounded or chubby, particularly at the tail. They have pale yellow, tan, or white skin with black spots, which gives them their name.

Leopard geckos bred in captivity are often bred for particular colors, and many display bright yellow, red, white, or orange markings, spots, and stripes.

leopard gecko with black background
Leopard gecko

Chameleons have long, rounded bodies, thin, curled tails, and small legs with tiny claws. A chameleon’s head often has a helmet or crest shape, and some varieties have horns.

Chameleons also have distinctive round, bulging eyes.

Chameleons are naturally a green or brown color, but these amazing animals can often change their coloring to match their surroundings or display their mood.

Some chameleons can turn multiple colors, such as pink, blue, red, bright green, black, orange, or yellow.

chameleon on a tree branch
Chameleon

Size

Leopard geckos are relatively large, as far as gecko species go. They usually grow to between 6 and 11 inches long and weigh between 1.8 and 2.8 ounces.

Female leopard geckos are usually slightly smaller than males.

There are several types of chameleons available as pets, and how large a chameleon will grow depends on what type it is.

On average, most male chameleons grow to between 14 and 18 inches long, although some can grow up to 2 feet. Female chameleons average about 1 foot in length.

Female chameleons usually weigh around 4.5 ounces, while males weigh about 6.3 ounces.

Ease of Care

All reptiles kept as pets require specialized care, which can make them challenging for people who have never owned a reptile before.

However, leopard geckos are often considered to be some of the easiest reptiles to care for. They are relatively hardy, and it’s generally easy to meet their needs. They also breed readily in captivity.

Because they require specialized habitats and strict care, chameleons are often considered to be challenging to care for. These reptiles are best suited to people who have owned lizards or other reptiles before.

chameleon on a cage
chameleon on a cage

Diet

Like many reptiles, leopard geckos prefer a diet of live insects. Mealworms, crickets, Dubai roaches, and waxworms are the most common leopard gecko foods.

These insects should be dusted with vitamin powder before they’re placed in the tank.

Crickets, silkworms, roaches, and mealworms are also great food options for chameleons. To ensure the chameleon is receiving all of the necessary nutrients, feed the insects fresh fruits and vegetables before they’re fed to the chameleon.

Chameleons can also be offered some fruits or leafy greens.

Leopard geckos eating a mealworm
Leopard geckos eating a mealworm

Habitat

Leopard geckos are native to Asia and the Middle East, and they live in dry grassland environments.

To mimic this dry environment in the home terrarium, most leopard gecko owners keep them in desert terrariums.

However, leopard geckos should never be kept on sand, as it can cause serious health issues if it’s swallowed. Instead, large pebbles make a great substrate.

A single leopard gecko will require a tank of at least 10 gallons in size. Leopard gecko owners should also provide several caves or logs as hiding places.

The temperature in the tank should be between 75 and 85 degrees, although it can drop slightly at night. You should also provide a basking spot using a light or an under-the-tank heater where the temperature is around 90 degrees.

What type of habitat a chameleon needs depends on the species. Most chameleons, though, prefer jungle environments, and as these reptiles are arboreal, the tank should be tall with plenty of space for the chameleon to climb up.

There should also be plenty of plants for the chameleon to climb or hide in. Chameleon tanks should be misted each evening to increase humidity.

Chameleon’s tanks should be kept at between 70 and 95 degrees, although temperatures can drop in the evening. The humidity level should be between 40 and 60%.

An incandescent bulb outside the tank can help to keep the terrarium warm while also providing a daylight schedule.

Terrarium to keep tropical jungle animals such as lizards
Terrarium to keep tropical jungle animals such as lizards

Temperament

Leopard geckos are relatively calm and docile. Captive-bred geckos are often quite used to handling.

However, geckos, like most lizards, can become nervous when they’re handled, so it’s important to treat the gecko gently and ensure that it’s always secure and can’t leap.

Leopard geckos prefer to live alone, as opposed to in groups. If you do want to keep leopard geckos together, opt for a group of females or a male and female pair.

Ensure you provide 10 gallons of space for each gecko, and watch out for any signs of aggression.

Chameleons do not like to share habitats, so it’s best to keep only one chameleon in a terrarium unless you plan to breed them.

Chameleons are also relatively shy with people and do not enjoy handling. Holding a chameleon can make the lizard feel extremely stressed.

Because of this, it’s often best to only handle them when strictly necessary. Chameleons are wonderful to watch, however.

Holding a Leopard gecko
Holding a Leopard gecko

Lifespan

In captivity, leopard geckos can live for between eight and 20 years, if they receive the correct care.

How long a chameleon will live depends on the specific species. Panther chameleons, for example, live for between five and seven years, while Jackson’s chameleons live for between five and 10 years.

Veiled chameleons usually live for between 6 and 8 years.

Cost

The cost of a leopard gecko ranges from around $20 to $100. Geckos that have been bred for particular color combinations or patterns will often be more expensive.

The cost of a chameleon ranges from about $30 to $300, depending on the species. Panther chameleons are generally the most expensive of the common chameleon varieties.

Some chameleon types or colors are more sought-after, and reputable breeders will often charge more, as their chameleons are generally healthier.

Leopard gecko and chameleon
Leopard gecko and chameleon

Sharing is caring!