Chameleons will hiss for a variety of reasons including temperature, handling and stress associated with the environment surrounding the chameleon. Chameleons are tree-dwelling, slow moving lizards that hiss at pet owners and possible predators when in their natural habitat. Frightened mature chameleons will glare intensely with their swiveling eyes at the object or person approaching them, strongly hissing to ward off contact.
Provide a Safe Environment
Fear, anxiety or discomfort within a chameleon's environment can cause hissing. Providing a comfortable environment will help the chameleon to feel calm and peaceful. Large cages allow the chameleon to roam around. Fill the cage with non-toxic safe plants, such as ficus plants. Place branches and vines diagonally throughout the cage. Provide water by using a spray bottle, misting the plants within the cage up to three times a day. Water will form into droplets that drip off plant leaves; the chameleon will use this water as his drinking water. Keep the cage at a comfortable temperature -- 75 degrees during the daytime, 65 degrees during the night -- and the basking area requires the range of 85 to 90 degrees.
Bask in Naturual or Aritficial Sunlight
Chameleons manufacture vitamin D3 by exposure to sunlight. Lack of access to sunlight can cause a chameleon to develop metabolic bone disease, also known as rickets, which is crippling to a chameleon. The bodily discomfort the chameleon feels from the disease can cause him to react by hissing at his owner. Placing the cage outdoors on a daily basis when the sun is out provides the chameleon with a natural source of vitamin D3. If natural light and heat sources are unavailable, supplying artificial light and heat is necessary. Fluorescent bulbs provide heat for the chameleon to bask under. Mercury bulbs provide a UVB light source, which helps the chameleon produce vitamin D3. The size of the cage determines the strength of the bulb necessary that will provide the chameleon with a warm, well-lit environment.
Keep Handling to a Minimum
Chameleons are solitary animals. Forced handling or unwanted handling can cause hissing and biting. A chameleons bite is painful, however, not toxic or harmful to humans. Handling can cause chameleons to have chronic low-level stress, which leads to poor health. Chameleons have different personalities -- some welcome being handled, while others prefer not to be touched. If a chameleon seems to be calm with a pet owner's presence, it's a possibility to tame the chameleon.
Be Aware of Injuries and Illness
Pain and discomfort can cause chameleons to hiss. Chameleons can injure their feet, legs and bodies. Eye infections and other illnesses can cause a chameleon to act out against his owner. If you suspect illness or injury, contact a licensed veterinarian immediately. At times, a separate, smaller cage is required during the healing process. Keep cages clean at all times to prevent illness and injuries to the chameleon.
Based in Miami, Shellie Alyssa has been writing articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on a variety of popular and informative pet websites including munch.zone. In 2000, she was awarded an editors choice award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry from the International Library of Poetry. She holds a fashion merchandising diploma from Penn Foster College.