Jackson’s Chameleons As Pets: The Essential Guide

 Jackson’s Chameleons As Pets: The Essential Guide

Are Jackson’s Chameleons Good Pets?


Jackson’s chameleons are also known as the three-horned chameleon. They are easily stressed out from handling and prefer to be left alone in their enclosures. Like many chameleons, the Jackson’s chameleon is best suited for experienced chameleon owners. 



Chameleons need to be kept in a tall and well ventilated mesh cage. They should never be put in glass enclosures for long periods of time. Their enclosures should be at least three feet tall. Jackson’s chameleons are arboreal like other chameleons and spend their whole lives in trees. 


The enclosure needs to have many perches that are perfect for climbing. Implementing fake vines, branches, and foliage will make your chameleon feel right at home. The branches need to lead up to a basking spot and further down the cage for a cooler area. 


The substrate that you can use at the bottom of your cage that is the least amount of maintenance are paper towels. Paper towels can be removed and replaced in less than a minute and you will easily be able to remove any droppings. If you want the enclosure to look more natural, you can lay soil without fertilizers on top of the paper towels. Both the soil and the paper towels will also help with humidity and holding in moisture. 

Lighting And Humidity


Jackson’s chameleons require full-spectrum UVA/UVB lighting. This lighting is great if you are using live plants in your enclosure. The full-spectrum lighting also helps your chameleon metabolize calcium. Without UVB lights, your chameleons could develop metabolic bone disease which can be fatal or lead to other health issues. 


One important thing you need to know about UVB lighting is that it needs to be changed out every six months. It will lose its potency and it will become harder for your chameleons to metabolize the calcium. Their UVB light also needs to be on 10-12 hours per day. 


Your chameleon will also need a ceramic heat bulb to maintain the proper temperature. Jackson’s chameleons need temperatures that range from 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Their basking spot needs to be around 85 degrees Fahrenheit and any places in the shade should be around 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, their temperature should not drop less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 


Humidity is another huge part of their care and health. Jackson’s chameleons thrive in humidity levels that are between 50%-80%. As I mentioned earlier, damp paper towels or soil substrate will help hold in humidity.


Using a fogger for a few minutes every day will also provide a lot of humidity. Do not use the fogger near the heat bulb because then it could become way too hot in the enclosure. Lastly, you can lightly spray their enclosure with water everyday. 

Diet And Water


A chameleon’s diet consists of insects. They will need to eat store-bought insects because wild ones could contain parasites. The insects that they like to eat are crickets, super worms, wax worms, horn worms, locusts, and roaches. 


All of these insects need to be dusted with a reptile calcium powder. The crickets and roaches can also be gut loaded with insect food. Gut loaded and dusted food will provide a lot of great nutrients in your chameleon’s diet. Jackson’s chameleons need to be fed every other day. 


If your chameleon has not eaten all of the insects, make sure to take those insects out. They can bite your chameleon and cause an infection.


Chameleons will also stop eating when they are feeling full. Only feed them the appropriate amount. For example, they may only eat up to 10 small crickets in one sitting and feel full the rest of the day. If they are only eating 10 at a time, don’t put in more than that.


Chameleons do not drink from water bowls. They lick the water droplets off of plants and vines. This is why the enclosure needs misted daily. Chameleons also need a slow drip system. The slow drip system is a small water reservoir that sits on top of the cage that has a spout going through the top of the cage.


You can change the settings of the spout to drip slower or faster. Make sure the water droplets are falling on a plant or branch that will hold the water droplet for your chameleon to drink. 


Since chameleons need so much water it can seem like a lot may collect at the bottom. You can place a tray underneath the cage with a hole on the side. The hole can have a small tube that will lead to a bucket. All of this water that collected at the bottom will be able to drain easily into a bucket. This keeps the cage from flooding at the bottom. 


Do not used distilled water for your chameleon. Filtered water is the safest and healthiest option. Also avoid spraying water into their eyes. This can be irritating and stressful for them. 

Temperament And Handling


Like other chameleons, the Jackon’s chameleon is not a fan of being handled. They can get stressed very easily and prefer being left alone. Too much handling will lead to stress and that can cause other health issues. 


Chameleons are very docile with people, but they also like to be housed alone. Chameleons can be extremely territorial. 

Wrapping Up


Jackson’s chameleons have a unique look from their horns and their beautiful shades of green. Their care requires a lot of maintenance and they are great pets for experience chameleons owners. 

Jade Messieh

Proud bearded dragon, tortoise, crested gecko, and green tree python mom. I've always been passionate about animals and hope to help other reptile & amphibian enthusiasts along their journey!

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