Jackson’s Chameleons are among the popular chameleons people keep as pets. For the newbie chameleon hobbyist and even veteran reptile enthusiasts, Jackson’s Chameleons are a great option to keep as pets. Jackson’s Chameleons are sometimes referred to as “Three-Horned Chameleons,” due to their resemblance to a tiny Triceratops. The male Jackson’s Chameleon grows a set of three horns on their heads. Females, on the other hand, do not have this feature so differentiating a male from a female should be easy. Their African origins can be narrowed down to places in Kenya and all through to Tanzania and now they are found as pets all over the world. Jackson’s Chameleons have a unique look and one may be tempted to domesticate them to be able to handle them but these chameleons are easily stressed and handling them may not be an option. They are really more of a watched chameleon rather than a handled pet. Adult Jackson’s Chameleons are about 8”-12” and male chameleons live to be about 8-10 years while females live only for about 3-5 years.
Jackson’s Chameleons do not like sharing their cribs and every enclosure should only have a lone adult chameleon. When they share an enclosure, a fight is bound to happen and you do not want any harm coming to your Jackson’s Chameleon. A secured enclosure measuring 18”L x 18”W x 36”H will do for an adult but something deeper is better, something like 48” should do nicely. Jackson’s Chameleons need lots of ventilation and because they are arboreal, plenty of branches and vines are needed. A good branch or vine should be slightly bigger than the chameleon’s grip. Basking spots, perch spots, and dining areas are all required as well. A live Ficus is a popular option that you may want to consider as well. Jackson’s Chameleons might eat a few leaves here and there but they will like walking about on the plant branches. Only pesticide-free plants, please.
A great substrate of choice would be Zoo Med Eco Carpet but you can also use paper towels. Nothing fancy and all easy to maintain. To keep your Jackson’s Chameleons healthy, particulate substrates are not recommended - just stay with non-particulate substrates.
Jackson’s Chameleons need to be kept at certain temperatures. During the day the enclosure must be between 75°F-83°F and at night this should go down to about 60° Fahrenheit. There should also be a basking spot where the temperature ranges from 84°F-87°F. Heat and lighting bulbs are usually kept as close as 8 inches but they can be as far as 12 inches from the chameleons. The use of a Infrared Ceramic Heat Emitter controlled by a thermostat makes it easier to regulate the temperatures. To be able to check the temps, a simple thermometer will do nicely.
Jackson’s Chameleons need a full spectrum of UV light in order to be healthy. The recommended UV light is the Mercury Vapor Bulb. Chameleons should be kept 8” to 12” from heat emitters and lighting bulbs. A 6-month replacement cycle for UV bulbs should be maintained so there can be proper UVA/UVB delivery.
When your “Jackson’s Chameleon” is shedding, misting the enclosure, the tree, and its body 2X a day should be sufficient to keep them hydrated and it should get the humidity to about 50% for optimal shedding conditions. When using a cool-misting system, provide a shower/misting for 30 minutes at the very least on a weekly basis.
For a Jackson’s Chameleon to have proper hydration, clean drinking water should be provided daily and it also helps if you maintain the healthy humidity level of 50%. Misting will allow them the option to lick the water from leaves and they can also drink via a fountain. To ensure proper lubrication of your chameleon’s mouth and tongue, give them some water before each meal.
Enriched or gut-loaded meals of insects like crickets and mealworms can be prepared as a staple food for a Jackson’s Chameleon. Commercially prepared food like Zoo Med Can-o-Crickets is viable options as well. Adult chameleons can have 5-7 insects that are slightly bigger than the distance between their eyes and young growing chameleons can have slightly more than 7. Leftovers must be cleaned up after each meal.
Enriching or gut-loading mealworms or crickets is the way to go with Jackson’s Chameleons so you should use Zoo Med All-Natural Cricket Care for enriching and gut-loading your crickets.
Jackson’s Chameleons are easy to care for but cleaning the substrate, such as the Zoo Med Eco Carpet, must be done 2X a week. With a mild detergent, wash the substrate, rinse and dry before putting it back. A paper towel substrate requires a change of all the paper towels 1X per week.