There are three sub species of Jackson's chameleon's, including jacksonii, merumonta, and xantholophus. We work with the most common of the three which is the Chameleo jacksonii xantholophus, also known as the Yellow Crested Jackson Chameleon. These chameleons are arboreal reptiles from the Mount Kenya region.
When Yellow-crested Jackson's chameleons hatch out they measure 3-4 inches in total length from snout to the tip of their tail. By the time they are adults, they have doubled in size. Adult females are the smaller of the two measuring 7-8 inches in total length and males being a little larger, measuring 8-10 inches in total length. These chameleons are relatively long lived compared to other chameleon species, living between 8-10 years in captivity.
The ambient temperature for a Jackson's Chameleon enclosure should be between 70-78° with a basking spot of 80-85°. The temperature can drop into the 60's with no issue. These chameleons prefer cooler temperatures and do very well at room temperature. We use a 50 watt heat bulb to create a warm basking spot in the tank. Be sure that you get the lowest wattage heat bulb possible so that you do not overheat the chameleons cage. Alongside your heat bulb, you will need to provide your chameleon with 12 hours of UVB lighting in order to keep a healthy, happy chameleon. Tubular UVB lights are far more effective than coil bulbs, but nothing is a substitute for natural sunlight. If your climate allows it, try to get your chameleon out every so often so that the chameleon can absorb natural rays from the sun. We recommend the Arcadia 12% UVB lights for tropical species. Be sure to use a light fixture with a reflector inside of it so that the light from the bulb is directed downward into the enclosure.
Jackson's Chameleon's do well on a varied diet consisting on crickets, dubia roaches, phoenix worms, horned worms, wax worms (treat only), and butter worms. Dust all insects with a high-quality Calcium supplement, such as Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, every other feeding. We also recommend using Bee Pollen on the insects 1-2 times a week. You can use this in conjunction with your calcium powder to help give the Chameleon everything it needs. Be sure to dust with a vitamin supplement every other week to insure that the chameleon is getting all of its proper nutrition. We recommend Rep-Cal Herptivite as a great vitamin supplement. Place all prey items in an elevated bowl so that it is easier for the chameleon to find its food. We place around 5-8 insects in the bowl in the morning and then 5 insects in the bowl 3 hours before lights out. Feed the chameleon smaller meals, rather than larger meals. Remove any uneaten insects out of the cage at the end of the day. If the chameleon is eating all the insects in the bowl and looking for more, then increase the amount of insects slowly until the chameleon is leaving a few uneaten ones in the bowl.
An adult Jackson's Chameleon should live in a cage no smaller than 24”x24”x36”. They need a screen cage to insure proper ventilation. Chameleons can easily stress out and should never be housed together. Even a breeding pair should only be kept together for the mating process and then separated afterwards. Any chameleon's housed together will be put through unnecessary stress that could end up killing your chameleon. Be sure that your chameleon's cage is in a peaceful area of your house, free from cats, dogs, loud noises, and a lot of human interaction.
We line all our chameleon cages with reptile carpet, tile, or paper towels. These liners are easy to remove and clean. If you want a more natural looking tank, you can also use eco earth as a bedding. This dirt will help maintain humidity and will also look more aesthetically pleasing.
The chameleon needs to have coverage to make it feel safe and secure in its enclosure. Be sure to provide vines leading throughout the cage so that the chameleon can travel the cage with ease. Be sure to have some vines that are 6-8” away from the heat and UVB lights so that the chameleon can bask under them. We recommend using live plants in your chameleon's enclosure because it will not only raise the humidity, but it will also purify the air. We use either Schefflera, Ficus or Pothos plants in all our chameleon cages. Be sure to rinse off the plant's leaves and re-pot any plants so that there is no way for your chameleon to come in contact with pesticides or fertilizer.
Jackson's Chameleons live in a very wet and humid climate. The humidity in the cage should remain between 50-80%. These chameleon's are very sensitive when it comes to humidity. You need to be sure you mist twice daily to insure proper humidity. If your house is on the dry side, you may need to invest in a fogger or automatic misting system. We recommend giving the chameleon a shower once a week for approximately 30 mins. This is done by placing a branch in your shower and letting the chameleon climb through the mist and water to re-hydrate.
Chameleons are sensitive, so care must be taken when picking the kind of water to use. We recommend using spring water, but, if you need to use your own tap water, you will need to use de-chlorinator in order to remove any impurities from the water. If the chameleon is not getting enough water from misting the enclosure, you'll want to install a drip system that drips into a potted plant or large bowl.
As with any chameleon, you should not handle Jackson's Chameleons on a daily basis. Jackson's Chameleons are more docile than some other species of chameleons, but will get stressed out if you handle them too frequently. Chameleons should be viewed as a display pet, meaning they are great to watch, but should be left alone as much as possible.
We recommend spot cleaning the cage at least once a week and doing a full bedding change and tank cleaning once a month. Every week look for poo, dead insects, shed, and food smears on the ground or glass and remove it from the enclosure. When cleaning the entire cage out, first remove all bedding and wipe down all surfaces with hot soapy water. Put the bowls, fake foliage and décor into a bucket with warm water and a capful of bleach. Let it soak for 15 minutes and then rinse off the items and place them in bucket of hot water. Once the decorations have soaked for 15 minutes, rinse them off again and then they are ready to go back into the tank once cleaning is complete. Then you want to be sure to disinfect the tank with either bleach, vinegar or a commercial reptile cleaning product. Once you have disinfected the tank, thoroughly rinse your tank out with hot water until it is completely free of any cleaning products.
☐ Screened Cage 18”x18”x36”
☐ Elevated dish for feeding
☐ Crickets or Dubia Roaches
☐ Vine or bridges
☐ Mister Bottle or Spray Bottle
☐ Thermometer & Hygrometer
☐ Reptile Water Dripper (Optional)
☐ Leaf Foliage
☐ Live Plants (Pothos, Schefflera, & Ficus)
☐ Cage liner, tile, or eco earth
☐ UVB 5.0 strip light
☐ 50 watt heat bulb