Jackson’s chameleon was not discovered by a scientist named Jackson. Instead, their names come from ornithologist and former Kenyan governor Frederick Jackson.
These chameleons are native to East Africa but have been introduced to California, Hawaii and even Florida in recent years.
Young Jackson’s chameleons are brown and turn brighter green at about four or five months of age. Males tend to be more brightly colored, with blue or yellow markings. They are sometimes called triangular chameleons because the males of this species have small brown horns above the eyes and one on the nose.
- Common name: Jackson’s Chameleon, Jackson’s Horned Chameleon
- Scientific name: chameleon
- life: 5 to 10 years in captivity
- size: Jackson’s chameleons range in size from about 9 to 13 inches, including the tail. Men tend to be larger than women.
Jackson’s Chameleon Behavior and Temperament
Jackson’s chameleons are territorial and should be kept alone. Handling is stressful for them, so like other chameleons, they are pets better suited to be observed than handled.
The Chameleon That Holds Jackson
Chameleons should never be kept in terrariums. They require the ventilation provided by the mesh housing; fine metal or fiberglass mesh is not recommended. Vertical space is essential because chameleons like to climb very high from the ground.
An outdoor cage can be used when the weather is warm enough, as long as it is prevented from overheating.
Cage cleanliness is essential to prevent bacterial and mold growth. Line the cage with paper towels or newspaper to make cleaning easier. Some breeders use soil (no vermiculite or perlite) or peat moss, but these are more difficult to keep clean and dry.
Potted plants can be placed on a plain paper substrate for easy cleaning while still allowing live plants in the cage. Do not use wood chips or any other substrate that could be accidentally ingested and cause blockages.
Provide many sturdy, non-toxic plants and branches for the chameleon to climb. Banyan trees are often used for chameleon housing, but care needs to be taken as the sap can be irritating. Other plants you can try include dill, hibiscus, and dracaena.
Artificial plants can also be added; artificial vines work well. Selected branches (different diameters) should be provided to ensure safe habitat at different heights and temperatures within the cage.
For Jackson’s chameleons, provide a daytime temperature gradient of about 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 26.5 degrees Celsius), with basking locations up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius).
At night, they should have a drop in temperature of about 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 10 degrees Celsius), so if the temperature in your home is no lower than 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 21 degrees Celsius). Heating is best accomplished by using sun or incandescent lamps in reflectors or ceramic heating elements, either of which should be placed outside the cage to prevent burns.
Chameleons also need a full-spectrum ultraviolet (UVA/UVB) light source, so you should buy a good bulb. Keep the UV light on for 10 to 12 hours a day. Keep in mind that these bulbs need to be replaced every six months or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Chameleons will enjoy natural sunlight outdoors when the temperature is right, but watch out for overheating, as Jackson’s chameleons cannot tolerate temperatures higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).
food and water
Jackson’s chameleons require a humidity level of 50 to 80 percent. This can be achieved by regularly (at least twice a day) spraying the plants in the enclosure and using drip irrigation or misting systems. Chameleons rarely drink from water bowls, but they will lick water droplets off plants; misting and drip irrigation systems also serve as water sources.
Place a drip irrigation system so that water drops pour down on the plants in the enclosure. Also, invest in a hygrometer to measure humidity.
Chameleons are insectivores, so feed them a variety of insects. Crickets are usually the main food, but can also be fed mealworms, superworms, waxworms (in limited numbers), cockroaches, silkworms, flies, fruit flies (for young chameleons), and grasshoppers. You should only feed wild-caught insects if you are sure they have not been exposed to pesticides, and always avoid fireflies. All insects should fill their guts before feeding them to chameleons.
Also, some chameleons will eat some plant matter, including live plants in cages, so use non-toxic plants. Kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and sugar pods are possible (try attaching them to the side of the cage).
You must monitor your chameleon and adjust the feeding amount as needed; if there are a lot of insects not being eaten, or if your chameleon is too plump, reduce the feeding amount. Do not leave uneaten live prey in the cage for long periods of time, as insects may attack and injure your chameleon.
common health problems
Parasitic infections are common in insectivorous animals, especially when the animal is stressed or sick. Like most reptiles, Jackson’s chameleons are prone to respiratory and fungal infections. These conditions should be taken care of by a reptile veterinarian.
Choose Your Jackson Chameleon
Find a reputable breeder to ensure your pet is treated appropriately. Chameleons should have alert eyes without any clouding. Swollen limbs or fingers may indicate infection, so keep an eye out for this. If your Jackson chameleon is drooling or wheezing, these are signs of a respiratory infection.
Jackson’s chameleon should have no bruised or cut skin. The first thing you should do after you get a Jackson chameleon is to have it checked by a reptile veterinarian for parasites.