Jackson’s Chameleon

Scientific NameTrioceros jacksonii
Common NameJackson’s Chameleon
Care LevelIntermediate
Lifespan5-10 years
Adult Size8-12 inches
OriginEast Africa (primarily Kenya and Tanzania)
TemperamentRelatively calm, but solitary
Color VariationsGreens with occasional yellows and blues
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

About the Jackson’s Chameleon

Jackson’s Chameleon, known scientifically as Trioceros jacksonii, is a distinct and iconic reptile, predominantly recognized for its trio of horns reminiscent of a triceratops. Originating from the lush highlands of East Africa, particularly Kenya and Tanzania, these creatures have garnered significant popularity in the pet trade. Their bright colors, unique appearance, and relatively calm disposition have cemented their status as a favorite among reptile enthusiasts.

Jackson’s Chameleon Natural Habitat

The dense, cool montane forests in East Africa serve as the natural habitat for the Jackson’s Chameleon. These environments, laden with dew and mist, provide ample moisture and a rich selection of insect prey, making them ideal for these unique reptiles.

Preferred Climate

Jackson’s Chameleons are accustomed to moderate temperatures and high humidity levels. In their natural environment, they experience temperatures ranging from 50-75°F (10-24°C), making them more tolerant of cooler conditions than many other chameleon species.


Adult Jackson’s Chameleons, depending on the subspecies and individual factors, can range anywhere from 8 to 12 inches in length. It’s worth noting that males, equipped with their signature three horns, are generally more substantial and more extended than females.

Color Variations

While they predominantly exhibit various shades of green, Jackson’s Chameleons can display a spectrum of colors. Occasional hues of blue, yellow, or even black can be seen, especially when the chameleon experiences different moods, environmental changes, or health states.

Unique Features

The three pronounced horns on the male Jackson’s Chameleon are the species’ most iconic feature. These horns, primarily used in combat between rival males and for attracting females, give them a prehistoric and distinctive appearance.

Behavior and Temperament

While relatively docile, Jackson’s Chameleons are solitary animals. They prefer not to be in the company of other chameleons, and when forced into close quarters, they can become stressed or aggressive.


Although they tolerate handling better than some other chameleon species, frequent or prolonged handling can stress Jackson’s Chameleons. It’s best to interact with them minimally, ensuring their comfort and well-being.

Diet & Nutrition

Being insectivorous, Jackson’s Chameleons thrive on a diet of crickets, locusts, worms, and occasional flies. It’s essential to supplement their diet with calcium and vitamins, ensuring they receive all necessary nutrients for growth and health.

Terrarium Size & Setting

A vertical terrarium, mimicking their arboreal lifestyle, is essential. A minimum size of 18x18x36 inches is recommended. Incorporating live plants, vines, and branches provides them with adequate climbing structures and hiding spots.


Given their preference for cooler climates, the terrarium should maintain temperatures between 50-75°F (10-24°C). Basking spots can reach up to 80°F (27°C), while nighttime temperatures should drop to mimic their natural habitat.


High humidity, between 50-80%, is crucial for Jackson’s Chameleons. Regular misting and the inclusion of live plants can help maintain these levels.


UVB lighting is non-negotiable. It facilitates vitamin D3 synthesis, which in turn aids calcium absorption, crucial for bone health. A 10-12 hour light/dark cycle is ideal.

Common Health Issues

Like many reptiles, Jackson’s Chameleons can suffer from metabolic bone disease, which results from insufficient UVB exposure or calcium intake. Respiratory infections, often due to overly cool and damp conditions, can also be a concern. Periodic health assessments by a veterinarian are advised.


Breeding Jackson’s Chameleons can be an intricate process. After mating, females lay eggs in the soil or soft substrate. Unlike many chameleon species, Jackson’s Chameleons give birth to live young after a gestation period.

Mating Habits

The male, using his horns, will approach and court a receptive female. Color changes, displays, and posturing are all parts of the mating dance. After mating, it’s essential to monitor the female for signs of gestation and ensure she receives the right nutrition and care during this period.

Jackson’s Chameleon FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)