The Jackson Chameleon as a Pet

Jackson Chameleon

Who doesn’t love a beautiful miniature dinosaur? Since Male Jackson chameleons have horns, they resemble dinosaurs, and it is one reason why people prefer to have Jackson’s chameleons as pets.

Most chameleon owners prefer to buy Jackson’s chameleons because they are easy to handle and are the least aggressive chameleons. They don’t have a wide color range, and they won’t adapt to the environment easily.

You will find Jackson’s chameleons are more friendly than other types of chameleons. However, they require high humidity and cold temperature at night, making them not so easy to take care of.

Why the name Jackson?

Jackson’s chameleon comes under class Reptilia of the Order Squamata and the Suborder: Iguania. Further, they come under a unique Genus named Triceros (Tri= Three and Ceros=horns). Only male Jackson’s chameleons have three horns on their face.

The chameleon is named a Jackson chameleon because it was named after the first governor of Kenya, Frederick John Jackson, an English explorer, and Ornithologist. Since Jackson’s chameleons were discovered at that time, they were named after the Kenya Governor.

Another name for Jackson’s chameleon is Gikuyu Chameleon. This name comes from the largest ethnic group in Kenya, where Jackson’s chameleon is originated.

Types of Jackson’s chameleons:

There are three types of Jackson’s chameleons. They are:

  • Jackson’s chameleon
  • The Dwarf Jackson’s chameleon
  • The Yellow-crested Jackson’s chameleon

The Jackson’s chameleon originated from the woodlands and forests of South-central Kenya and northern Tanzania. Jackson chameleons of various types are found in Kenya, and only a few Yellow-crested Jackson’s chameleons are found in Tanzania.

Horn Jackson Chameleon

Is Jackson Chameleon friendly?

Chameleons are not pets that like human interaction and touch. They require a quiet and stress-free environment. Compared to other types of chameleons, Jackson Chameleons are not aggressive pets, but when you buy them, at first they often feel threatened and become aggressive due to the change in environment. Because of this reason, they may bite. Other than that they are the best pet you can have.

Yes,  but you need permission to own a chameleon. It is illegal to take a chameleon from the wild. But they are allowed to be kept, bred, and sold.

To own a chameleon, you need permission or CITES papers. But some breeds of chameleons are still not allowed to be bred, bought, and sold with CITES papers. They are illegal to keep as a pet. CITES lists all the types of chameleons on endangered lists, which means you won’t be able to keep them. But the IUCN states that these chameleons are stable in the environment, and chameleons are the least concerned.

Features of Jackson Chameleon

  • Changing color: Jackson chameleon can change their skin color within 20 seconds. The males change color faster than females in all species. Chameleons can also glow under UV light!
  • Tail: Since the Jackson chameleon is from Kenya which has lots of mountains and trees, they have extremely long and light coiled tails to survive in the wild.
  • Tongue: Unlike any other species, the chameleon can stretch out its tongue twice the size of its body size. When the tongue is inside the mouth of the chameleon, it is in a folded coil manner around the hyoid bone.
  • Teeth: They have tiny teeth that are difficult to see with our naked eyes. Though they are tiny, the teeth are very sharp
  • Nose: the chameleon’s sense of smell is not very developed. They have a poor sense of smell and they rely on their other senses to survive.
  • The Eyes: Chameleons can rotate their eyes at almost 342 degrees, and the eyes move independently from each other. They have a blind spot at 18 degrees.
  • The Ears: Jackson chameleons can hear you if you speak at a specific frequency of 200-600 hertz. The membrane at the side of their head helps the chameleon to hear low-frequency sounds.
  • The Feet: Jackson chameleon feet are Zygodactylous meaning there are two toes pointing inward and three toes point outwards. Because of the divided feet, they are able to crawl in branches and can balance without falling.
Yellow Green Jackson Chameleon

The Horns of the Jackson Chameleon

Male Jackson’s chameleons have three brown colored horns. The horn on the nose is called a Rostral horn, and the horns above the eye on the superior orbital ridge are called preocular horns. It’s because of these horns that the Jackson’s chameleon looks like a miniature Ceratopsid dinosaur.

Male chameleons have their horns to show off during the mating season and to defend their territory from other male chameleons.

A few female chameleons have traces of the horn in Jackson’s chameleons and Jackson’s dwarf chameleons. Jackson’s male chameleons are born with horns.

Which Cage is suitable for Jackson chameleon?

Chameleons are sensitive reptiles. We need to keep our surroundings comfortable for them. Chameleon cages should be taller than wider because chameleons like to climb. They won’t spend any time on the ground.

Jackson chameleons won’t pass the mirror test, which means they get aggressive by looking at their reflection in the mirror. It is because of this reason a glass cage is not suitable for the Jackson chameleon.

Apart from glass cages, any other type of cage is suitable for them. But a hybrid cage is most recommended for a Jackson chameleon with a combination of glass(minimum) and screen(maximum).

How much does it cost to take care of a Jackson chameleon?

The cost of a Jackson chameleon is around $50-$300, depending upon its type, age, and size. Apart from that, there are other expenses like food, gut loading, supplements, lighting, plants, and medical expenses, so it could cost you around $1500 per year.

In addition to these costs, the lighting and the automatic humidity system might be turned on for more than 15 hours, which will increase your electricity costs.

Size of the Jackson chameleon

The Jackson male chameleon will grow up to 15 inches, and the female chameleon will grow up to 10 inches. They differ from every other type of chameleon by having a saw-tooth-shaped dorsal ridge and no gular crest.

Chameleons keep on growing until 12 to 18 months. But they get into adulthood around 6 to 8 months. In adulthood, they can lay eggs, but it’s better not to breed until 16 to 18 months of chameleon pet’s age. Even though they reach adulthood early, they still grow up to 12 to 18 months.

Shedding in Jackson chameleon

Shedding is a standard process for all reptiles. Young chameleons shed once every 3 to 4 weeks, and adult chameleons shed once every two months. This process helps them to be clean, and it also tells that your chameleon is growing.

Life span of Jackson chameleon

Usually, male chameleons have a greater life span compared to female chameleons. This is because females undergo the gestation period and if not taken care of during that period then it will affect the later stage of the female chameleon’s life span. If you take care of them properly, The life span of the Male Jackson chameleon is about 8-10 years and for females is 4-5 years.

Male Jackson Chameleon

Male and female Jackson’s chameleons

Male Jackson’s chameleons have horns, and the females don’t. The males are more colorful compared to the female Jackson’s chameleon. Male Jackson’s chameleons have a bulge under their tail known as a Hemipenal bulge, and females don’t have that.

Reproduction in Jackson Chameleon

Most of Jackson’s chameleon will be sexually mature after 5 months but it is always recommended to breed after 9-10 months.

If the male chameleon is ready to mate, it will change to bright color while the female chameleon will be in subdued color. During the mating season, the color will remain consistent.

When the Jackson chameleon is not ready to mate and you are placing a female chameleon in its territory then the male will threaten the female to back off from the male’s territory.

The Male won’t mate without the female’s willingness. When the female signals her willingness then the male will mount in the female chameleon and inserts one of the two hemi-peni into her.

Jackson chameleon doesn’t lay eggs. Instead, they give live birth. The female chameleon carries 8-30 babies and gives birth after 6 months.

Pattern Jackson Chameleon

Dietary requirements of Jackson’s chameleon

All chameleons eat live crickets, worms, snails, cockroaches, and locusts. A few chameleons like fruits and vegetables, but it differs according to the type of chameleon and their nature. Out of all the insects, only a few are good and nutritious for chameleons. They are:

  • Crickets
  • Dubia Roaches
  • Hornworms
  • Reptiworms

It is suggested to provide these insects as the main course, and there are some other insects that you can feed your chameleon occasionally to maintain adequate fat content in their diet. They are:

  • Mealworms
  • Superworms
  • Waxworms

Water Routine

You can provide water for your Jackson chameleon by misting the leaves in their terrarium with a plant mister or spraying water on leaves. Jackson chameleons can’t drink water from still/standing water sources. Mist/spray the leaves around two times a day. If you don’t have time to do this regularly, you can buy a dripper.

Supplements for Jackson Chameleon

It is not enough to provide tasty food for your chameleon: you have to make your pet healthier as well. In this case, you would require additional vitamin and calcium supplements. The essential supplements required for your chameleon are:

  • Calcium without D3 – 3 to 4 days a week for the male and 4 to 5 days a week for the female
  • Calcium with D3 – Once a month
  • Multivitamins – Once a month

Common diseases of Jackson Chameleon

The most common diseases that chameleon get affected are

  • Dehydration
  • Metabolic Bone Disease
  • Thermal burns
  • Egg retention
  • Parasitic Infections
  • Tail rot
  • Stomatitis
  • Respiratory infections
  • Edema
  • Gout
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Skin diseases