The Chamaeleonidae family comprises one of the most amazing groups of lizards. With their high-ridged, flattened bodies capable of sudden color changes and long, sticky, fly-catching tongue, they are really astonishing. The species range from southern Europe to India and over to Africa. They are not easy to keep and need a lot of sun and fresh air.
Jackson’s Chameleon is sometimes called the Three-horned Chameleon. It is remarkable in that the male possesses three relatively long, horn-like structures, one over each eye and another on the tip of the snout. The female has only traces of these horns. The color is usually bright green, but it changes rapidly depending on their mood, position and temperature to black, brown, blue-green, or gray, often with spots.
Found in eastern Africa, this species reaches 12 in total length. Jackson’s Chameleon is becoming endangered in the wild and should only be purchased as captive-bred. Jackson’s produce live young and is rather easily bred in captivity. Females are capable of producing more than one clutch from a single breeding.
Chamaeleo pardalis, known as Panther Chameleon, was one of the first to be bred domestically. Long-lived and very adaptable, the Panther Chameleon is a colorful lizard of about 15 inches long. Males have a bluish cast absent in females, a prominent crest at the back of the head and a long snout. Panther Chameleons produce several clutches (each with 12 to 50 eggs) per season. If you must keep a chameleon, try to obtain this species.
They should ideally be kept in a large, airy, planted tall terrarium. Broad-spectrum lighting, good ventilation, and medium humidity are all important. Facilities to move the terrarium outside in suitable weather and allow unfiltered sunlight through a mesh lid should be arranged.
The daytime air temperature should be maintained around 77°F; with hotter basking areas. Reduce to about 61°F at night.
Chameleons eat insects (crickets, flies, wax worms, fruit flies, mealworms, plant lice, silkworms etc.), small frogs, birds, mammals and snails. Some species may eat leaves.
Male Chameleons live 4 – 8 years, but female Chameleons have a much shorter life averaging 3 years.
Known Health Risks
Chameleons can develop local skin infections (abscesses), dermatitis (commonly afflicts Chamaeleo jacksoni), Cloacitis (ulceration of cloacal tissues), eye infections, infectious stomatitis. Wild-collected Chameleons may host all kinds of internal parasites. By keeping the cage clean, you can prevent reinfestation.