Chameleons are primarily found in mainland Africa south of the Sahara and on the island of Madagascar, although some species are also found in North Africa, Southern Europe, the Middle East, South India, Sri Lanka and a number of Small islands in the western Indian Ocean. There are representatives of wild populations in Hawaii and have been registered in California and Florida.
Chameleons live in all kinds of tropical forests, savannahs, and sometimes deserts and steppes. A “typical” chameleon from the subfamily Chamaeleoninae is usually found on trees or shrubs, although some (in particular Namakwa) are partially or largely terrestrial. Most species from the subfamily Brookesiinae live in low vegetation or on land.
Chameleons settle in the steppes, savannas, deserts and tropical forests. Most live in the humid forests of the tropics and settle on trees. Individual African chameleons settle on the ground, dig burrows in the desert sands or live on a forest litter.