If you are someone that has spent their childhood visiting archaeological museums and fancied owning a dinosaur or have been ardent fans of Jurassic Park and read innumerable books on them, you are going to love keeping this pet on you that closely resembles the dinosaur Triceratops with its three horn snout!
We are serious!
We have seen kids and young adults jump with glee when they saw it at the pet stores and at the prospect of having one around them. What is it about Jackson’s Chamaeleon that you will not love! They are cute and adorable, and they are not even demanding!!
What are they?
Jackson’s chameleons are one of the most readily available of the three-horned chameleons in their family. They originally belong to Africa, and a huge number of their wild population is still present in places such as Tanzania and the Hawaiian Islands.
The three chameleon species in the genus are
1. Chamaeleo Jacksonii Jacksonii
These are about 4 inches in total length and are quite proliferating in Nairobi. They can be found at a height between 5000 and 8000 feet. This species is not the regular pet material as they cannot live in captivity.
2. Chamaeleo Jacksonii Xantholophus
This is the species that is extremely popular in the pet trade. It is widely available and always in heavy demand. It is 5 inches from its snout to vent and can be predominantly found in Kenya at about 6000 and 8000 feet. They can be differentiated from the wild ones by their yellow crests.
3. Chamaeleo Jacksonii Merumontanus
These are the smallest in size, about 3 inches. They are referred to as dwarfs. This species is concentrated on Mount Meru in Tanzania. They require a very cold environment, and that is precisely why they cannot be kept as pets in other parts of the world. The males in this species have a more brightly colored crest, and their horns are longer but more brittle than the females.
The year 1981 saw a ban on the import of these chameleons from Kenya. The ban is still in place, but most of the chameleons that you and I will find in pet stores here in the US are either bred here in captivity, or they are caught from the wild in the Hawaiian Islands and exported.
Why reptile enthusiasts and hobbyists love them!
The answer is simple. The way they closely resemble dinosaurs, and the easy-care that they need makes them endearing to most people who love to keep reptiles for the company.
Can you house them together?
There can be nothing more disastrous than housing more than one adult chameleon together in an enclosure. Apart from the fact that they are aggressively territorial and competitive for food and mating, there is something else also that anyone interested in them must know.
When adult chameleons see their reflection, they perceive even that to be a threat. That is precisely why they cannot and should not be housed in glass aquariums or enclosures. They must instead be housed in screen cages, which are 3 feet tall, 2 feet long, and a minimum of 2 feet wide.
What happens when you house them in places that they can see their reflection?
Stress is something that constantly grows on them when they are in the face of a threat but realize that they cannot escape it. It can be highly detrimental to their health and can result in losing your pet too.
Housing them alone then is a given. They do not like to be handled too much. Let us make it clear that occasional handling will not cause too much stress in them. You may remove them to clean the cage, which may need to be done as often as three times a week.
Once in a month, you may have to empty the cage of everything, thoroughly clean it and spray it with a reptile safe disinfectant so that your pet does not catch any undesirable infections.
Speaking of infections, Jackson’s chameleons are excessively prone to eye infections. You may want to particularly look out for signs where you can see it rubbing its eyes on the branches of the tree. If you see it doing it often, it is a good time to visit the vet.
What must its cage include?
The caged enclosure must include a large tree that will facilitate the chameleon to climb and foliage that will allow it to hide in it and to have its privacy. Chameleons need to feel safe and secure in their cages. Ficus Benjamina trees are one of the best suggestions to include even though a lot of breeders will tell you that plastic tree is good too. However, if you are scared that your pet may chew on the plastic leaves and/or ingest them, it is better to stay away from them.
For the substrate, newspaper, or paper napkins do great.
Chameleons need a lot of humidity. Frequent misting of their cages is a must. A minimum of two times daily gently mist the enclosures. Remember that the reptiles come from a very cold place, and their only source of water now in captivity is the moisture that is left from misting.
You could go ahead and also invest in a cool-mist ultrasonic humidifier if you live in a place where the humidity never crosses over 50 percent.
Creating artificial rain!
It is important that you keep your Jackson’s chameleon completely hydrated. Hydration plays an important role in its shedding, and any deprivation of it can lead to the formation of skin tourniquets that can get formed on their toes and joints that can result in loss of a digit or the foot itself!
Occasional artificial rains that you can set up for the pet will be a welcome decision. However, do make sure that you keep the showers slowly. It has been noticed that when the rain lashes too fast, they may land down dangerously on the ground with a thud from their perch to scamper off for some cover. That could lead to fatality too.
Finally, if you think that you can give in a little quality time and the effort for its care, you will have a lot of fun with them because they are the choice for pets!