Jackson Chameleon Care Sheet

The Jackson Chameleon or otherwise known as the Chamaeleo Jacksonii can be classified as a medium species of chameleon. The Jackson Chameleon is originally thought to be from three locations: East Africa, Tanzania and Kenya. However, recent studies and sightings have shown that the Jackson Chameleon has also found a home in the Hawaiian Islands as well. There are other areas relative to the area but there are no confirmed reports or not enough evidence to suggest they’re living there as well.

 

You can often find the Jackson Chameleon in mountain slopes that have a humid environment or where ever there’s significant vegetation. They prefer to live in areas with plenty of rainfall and plenty of vegetation. You can easily identify a Jackson by looking at the horns on top of their head. The Jackson Chameleon’s are classified a mid-size species because of their size and their distinct differences between males and females. The males have three horns on top of their heads.

 

However, there are three different types of species of the Jackson Chameleon. You have the standard Jackson Chameleon which also known as the Chameleo Jacksonii, the Yellow Crested Jackson Chameleon which comes from Mt. Kenya (otherwise known as the Chamaleo Jacksonii Xantholophus) and finally, you have the Dwarf Jackson Chameleon from Mt. Meru. The Dwarf Jackson is also known as the Jacksonii Merumontanus.

 

The Chamaeleo Jacksonii Jacksonii species or more commonly known as the standard Jackson Chameleon is by far the rarest species in the US of the Jackson family. They can grow to a total length of approximate 10 inches and are thought to originate from Kenya. You can tell the females and males apart by noticing and examining how many horns they have on top of their heads. The females should be noticeable with three horns while the males only have a single horn on their head.

 

In the United States, the most common species to have and find in people’s homes is the Yellow-Crested subspecies. While originally introduced from Kenya, it didn’t take long for this species to make its way over to the US and become a popular exotic pet. If they’re kept appropriately and well fed, they can grow up to a total of a whopping 2 feet in length. The male Yellow-Crested Jackson Chameleons will have three horns on their head but their females will have no horns. However, it’s not uncommon to find a female with a single small horn on the nose.

 

The last species of Jackson Chameleons or otherwise known as the Mt. Meru Dwarf Jackson Chameleon is easy to find and available in the United States but not nearly as common as the Yellow-Crested species. Being the smallest of the Jackson Chameleon’s, they will only reach an approximate length of 8 inches long. You can tell the male and females apart by examining the horns like the other species. The males are noted to have three very long horns that are very narrow in diameter. The majority of the females will have a single narrow horn on the tip of the nose. You’ll also notice that both the males and females have very bright yellow crests on them.

 

While they’re growing, it’s not uncommon for them to exhibit a dark green pattern on their skin as they get older. The species is known to live for up to 7 years but it’s not uncommon under proper care for them to live up to 10 or more years. The females even under perfect care are not expected to live as long as the males.

 

One of the most misconceived things about the Jackson Chameleon is that they’re difficult to handle and amateurs should seek the help of professional handlers. Not only that, but a lot of people believe that they’re difficult to keep in captivity, which they’re not. However, it’s been shown that Jackson Chameleons are actually very calm and easy to manage as long as they’re under proper care. It’s recommended that you only buy from a reputable breeder and someone who knows what they’re doing. When Jackson Chameleons were first discovered, they were in fact hard to keep in captivity because of the climate and environment they were used to. Now though, there are plenty of reputable breeders out there with a vast amount of experience with the species and they know how to keep them in captivity.

 

Caging/Shelter

 

A Jackson chameleon will do relatively well in a captive environment if they’re provided with the proper amount of care and adequate shelter. However, while they make great beginner’s pets, they’re a bit more difficult to keep and maintain over the panther pets which are slightly easier.

 

For a Jackson chameleon, it’s best to have a screen sided enclosure that will allow more airflow into the enclosure. Sure, you can have a glass enclosure but the problem with this is that you’re increasing the risk of a respiratory infection or issues if you don’t have a proper adequate airflow system in place. It’s difficult to find a proper glass enclosure that allows stagnant air to come through and to house appropriate sized chameleons. If you’re looking for a recommendation on size, then you should know that bigger is better.

 

The chameleon will grow over time, so it’s important to make sure that you start out with a larger enclosure than you need as you more than likely won’t have to go back later on when the chameleon has grown and buy a new enclosure. You shouldn’t need anything larger than an 18 inch by 18 inch enclosure. While they can tolerate slightly smaller enclosures, it’s not really recommended that you get one. However, if you really want to start out with a smaller enclosure and buy a larger one later for adults, then juvenile Jackson chameleons can be kept in a 16 inch by 16 inch enclosure.

 

They can be kept in these enclosures until they’re approximately 12 months old and then they’ll need to be moved into the larger enclosure that I recommended buying in the first place. One of the most important rules of sheltering your chameleons is that they need to be kept separated when they become adults if you own more than one. The reason for this being, they will fight each other if you place them together once they’re adults. Chameleons in general are known to be highly territorial and will fight for any reason.

 

You may furnish the inside of the enclosure with some small vines and foliage, but that’s not completely necessary or mandatory. This is purely optional for cosmetic reasons. Much like some species of snakes, you should leave some horizontal branches for the chameleon to rest and bask on as well. Some people have different recommendations for the substrate, but it’s better off not to have an kind of substrate at all, as the Jackson chameleons don’t need them.

 

Some people may like to use paper towels or paper at the bottom of their aquariums, but this isn’t necessary and will be a mess to clean up. It’s easier to clean up the bottom of the tank than it is clean it up with paper lining the bottom.

 

Heating/Temperature

 

Like a lot of different exotic pets, the Jackson chameleon will require two different forms of light. The first type of light they’ll need is a light that’s warm that allows them to bask. The second type of light they’ll need is a light that provides their skin calcium, also known as UVB light waves. Without these waves, the skin may not age well and your chameleon’s health will suffer greatly over time. One of the most common novice mistakes that some owners make is trying to put the chameleon directly into sunlight.

 

While this is a form of natural light, this is the worst thing you can do to your chameleon if you have it kept in a glass enclosure. Sunlight will heat the enclosure to dangerous levels and possibly kill your pet. For basking, you should have a platform, a rock or some kind of surface setup that your chameleon can bask in. A heat lamp for basking should be placed about 8 inches above that basking surface.

 

A temperature gradient must exist inside the enclosure to ensure survival and longevity of your pet, because they like to be warm during the day and prefer it to be slightly cooler at night. The perfect and ideal basking temperature for the Jackson chameleon will be a nice and warm 85 degrees. However the cool gradient side of the enclosure should be 75 degrees in order to let the pet cool down. The winter weather is a concern for some people but it shouldn’t be, because they can handle extreme cold conditions.

 

Chameleons are able to bask in the morning immediately after a 40 degree night, and it’s important to make sure that they do have a place to bask in.

 

Food/Water

 

In the wild, a Jackson chameleon, as most chameleons don’t commonly run into standing water sources such as a water bowl. For this reason, it’s important that you utilize a technique that’s known as misting. In the rainforest or the amazon, most creatures live off of droplets of rain, since there’s plenty of rain during almost every season in the rainforest. The chameleon will survive by licking droplets of water off of leaves and the side of the enclosure.

 

All you have to do is take a water bottle, fill it up with moderately warm and clean water and spray the enclosure. Make sure you lightly douse the chameleon as well to keep the humidity levels adequate. Spray any branches or plants that you have placed inside the enclosure and that will be adequate enough for water. Don’t utilize anything such as a waterfall when you’re trying to get your chameleon to drink because they see moving water as a place to leave excrete.

 

Excrete can carry bacteria and all kinds of infections since parasites are prone to growing in them. If you do notice some excrete near any type of water supply, then it’s best to remove it immediately so that you greatly reduce the risk of bacteria or infection.

 

As far as food goes, the Jackson chameleon babies need to be fed approximately twice a day while the adults only need to be fed once every other day. They like to eat small things such as crickets, mealworms and wax worms. However, wax worms are highly discouraged because of how fatty they are. They’re more like a delicious snack to a pet rather than a main meal course.

 

It’s recommended that you use crickets instead for the nutrients they provide and how easy they are to come across. It’s highly inexpensive and easy to find bulk crickets for feeding. Some people get into gut loading with vitamins, but you don’t have to feed your crickets vitamins as a necessity, they come with quite a few vitamins already.

 

Handling

 

One thing you need to remember about the Jackson chameleons is that they’re mostly display animals. This means that they’re not usually handled a lot and aren’t used to that much attention. Different owners have different experiences handling their chameleons based on their own experiences but in general, most chameleons don’t really like to be handled a lot. A bearded dragon on the other hand can be handled as often as you like, because they’re very friendly and docile creatures (despite having the word dragon in their name).

 

If you hold them for short periods of time and not too often, the Jackson chameleon can be a very friendly pet. However, if you’re constantly holding the pet and bombarding it with attention, then you’re going to have a rough time getting it to eat, because it could become depressed. Excess handling will cause stress to your animal because it’s not something they’re used to.

 

It’s up to you to find out what your animal can tolerate and what they can handle but as they’re growing, try not to handle it more than once a week. Once it’s an adult and is used to you, you may be able to get away with handling it for a few times a week, but even then you might be pushing it. Know your limits and keep an eye on the feeding habit to see if there’s any decrease after handling.