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Should You Use Hibiscus For You Chameleon?

As the popularity of keeping pet chameleons continues to increase each year, the number of people asking various questions about caring for their pet chameleons also increases.

Due to many people choosing to add live plants to the vivarium of their pet chameleons, we have noticed a number of people reaching out to specifically ask about using hibiscus for chameleons so we wanted to publish our own dedicated article on the topic.

Hibiscus is considered a safe plant to add to your chameleon’s vivarium with some chameleons enjoying to eat the leaves of the hibiscus plant that you use.

Keep in mind that not all chameleons will actually eat hibiscus though and it is not suitable for all types of vivarium setups due to the plant not doing well in certain temperatures and humidity conditions.

When looking to use hibiscus for your chameleon’s vivarium there are a range of different species that you are able to try with each having their own different colored petals.

This can allow you to decorate your vivarium to meet the overall look and feel of the setup and although some people do ask about potential problems with different colored species of hibiscus, they are all generally considered to be safe for use with chameleons by the reptile keeping community.

Are Hibiscus Plants Safe For Chameleons?

No scientific testing has been done on the toxicity levels of hibiscus to chameleons but many people who keep chameleons as pets use the plan in their vivarium with a large number of chameleons actively eating hibiscus without issue.

It is generally considered to be a safe plant to use with chameleons and is not considered to be poisonous.

The unique natural design and mixed colors of hibiscus do make it a popular option for people looking to add live plants to their chameleon’s vivarium but there are other options available.

Some of these such as shefflera and ficus are slightly more popular than hibiscus and also considered to be safe plants to use in your chameleon’s enclosure but they do have a more bland look to them so the popularity of more decorative plants like hibiscus are increasing.

For the most part, hibiscus is very easy to keep in most vivarium setups so it shouldn’t add much additional work to your tank maintenance and you can usually find a species of hibiscus available that will thrive in the temperature and humidity of your chameleon’s vivarium due to there being so many species available.

This, coupled with the fact that there really are a huge number of different colored species of hibiscus is likely to keep it a popular option within the community.

Do Chameleons Like To Eat Hibiscus?

Not all chameleons like to eat hibiscus with around half just ignoring it when added to their vivarium.

The chameleons that do like to eat hibiscus are likely to eat all of the leaves of the plant in a short period of time often causing the plant to die. You can often avoid this problem if you try to keep your hibiscus plants potted and cycle them out to let them recover.

A small number of chameleons like to eat hibiscus so much that they can neglect their other food sources potentially causing problems with the nutrition of your pet chameleon.

If you do notice that your pet chameleon is focusing its feeding efforts on eating hibiscus then removing the hibiscus from the vivarium and only re-adding it for one or two days per week is probably a good idea.

This is due to hibiscus plants not being considered nutritionally complete and lacking a large amount of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that your pet chameleon requires in their diet.

This is due to chameleons usually having closer to a strict insectivore diet in the wild rather than an omnivore or herbivore diet so you should always use an insect-based food product in addition to any plants that your chameleon chooses to eat.

Should You Use Hibiscus For You Chameleon?

Hibiscus is a very common live plant added to vivarium and enclosures for chameleons due to it being a visually appealing plant as well as many chameleons enjoying eating hibiscus too.

Around half of chameleons tend to just ignore hibiscus though and don’t pay it any attention so keep this in mind before you go out and buy some new live plants for your chameleon’s enclosure.

Only you can decide if you want to use hibiscus in your chameleon’s vivarium but keep in mind, hibiscus can struggle when placed in an indoor vivarium as well as in certain temperatures and humidities limiting what you are able to use the plant for.

This is why other plants such as shefflera and ficus are also popular as well as the various fake plants that are also becoming increasingly popular too.

If you do choose to add hibiscus to your chameleon’s enclosure then you really keep a close watch on how your chameleon reacts to the plant.

As we touched on earlier, some chameleons will ignore their other food sources so you will have to intervene where as other chameleons may eat so much hibiscus that the plant may wilt and die so you may have to cycle the plant in and out of the vivarium at different stages.


That brings our article going over if you should be using hibiscus for your chameleon to an end. Hibiscus plants really are one of those things that comes down to your own personal choices for how you want to set up your chameleon’s enclosure. Many people do worry about possible toxicity problems with hibiscus for their chameleons but a large number of people within the chameleon keeping community use the plant without issue so it is generally considered safe.