Chameleon Buying Guide

This is What You Want in a Jackson’s Chameleon!

Lady Jacksons Chameleon
Female Trioceros jacksonii xantholophus

This female Jackson’s Chameleon is showing the strength, alertness, and vigor you are looking for in a healthy chameleon. She is full of confidence and would make an excellent choice.

Healthy baby Jackson's Chameleon

This is a young male Jackson’s Chameleon. Notice how he is able to hold his body up and climb easily? He shows no sign of MBD or nutritional issues. His eyes are bright and alert. He is skittish, as youngsters tend to be, and does not like to stay still! This juvenile is about four months old and his green color is starting to come in.

Buying a Jackson’s Chameleon

The absolute best way to start with Jackson’s Chameleons is with a captive bred baby Yellow-Crested Jackson’s Chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii xantholophus) from the breeders in the Kenyan Xanth Project. They are dedicated to the best genetics, sustainable breeding practices, and exceptional quality of captive bred babies. This entire website is offered for free by this breeding group to promote the welfare of all Jackson’s Chameleons within the community. It is, hands down, the best coalition from which to obtain a Jackson’s Chameleon. You have the added bonus that if you decide to one day breed, and you breed from bloodlines within the project, you are eligible to join the effort to maintain the best Jackson’s Chameleon standards.  As far as species selection, the T.j. xantholophus is a large, hardy species with plenty of community support to help you along for the rest of your chameleon’s life. It is our pick for the best starter Jackson’s Chameleon.


A little bit more detail…

Yellow-crested Jackson’s Chameleons (Trioceros jacksonii xantholophus) are quite easy to find. In the US, wild caught T.j.xantholophus from Hawaii are readily available at reptile shows, standard pet stores, and from online keepers that have had surprise babies. There are few consistent hobbyist breeders of Hawaiian Jackson’s Chameleons because the price pressure from imports makes breeding programs unsustainable. The imported chameleons come in with the standard importation stress and issues. It is highly encouraged to bypass the cheap price and get yourself a solid captive bred, well started juvenile. If you are looking for a pet then ask around and see if there are any babies available. The most reliable source for captive bred Jackson’s Chameleons are the breeders featured on this website from the Kenyan Xanth Project. It is worth the wait and extra effort to get the best animal to start with. Since you are on this site and have all this information, you are getting ready for a seven year relationship with your chameleon. Don’t be impatient. Be selfish and get the best animal possible. If you are balking at the difference in price between captive bred from an approved breeder and a cheap wild caught or accidental breeder selling them as young as possible then take that savings, subtract out a veterinary visit cost, and divide the rest over seven years. It isn’t worth it to compromise when it comes to chameleon quality. Get the strongest, most well started, and captive born individual possible. If you are interested in getting a captive born individual or unrelated pair then please join the Jackson’s Chameleon Facebook group and inquire about availability

If you plan on breeding at any time in the future we encourage you to find and breed Kenyan bloodlines. You will also want to get used to using the scientific names as the common name usage can get confusing. “Kenyan Jackson’s Chameleon” is often used as a common name for T.j.jacksonii, while “Kenyan Xanths” refer to T.j.xantholophus from Kenya.


Other sub-species: At the time of this writing (Aug 2018), there are no co-ordinated captive breeding programs of T.j.jacksonii or T.j.merumontanus. T.j.jacksonii is sporadically imported and often babies are born. Thus both wild caught and CBB are regularly available if you know where to look. T.j.merumontaus, from Tanzania, may be exported again, but Tanzania is highly unpredictable. Captive bred “merus” are almost never available. Hopefully, we can change that in the near future.


Sex: whether you get male or female is personal preference. The only major difference is if you pick up a wild caught specimen. It is likely your female will have babies waiting to present to you when you least expect it.

Sources to purchase Jackson’s Chameleons

Jackson’s Chameleon Private Breeders

The absolute best source for a Jackson’s Chameleon is a reputable breeder. This site is dedicated to establishing a thriving Jackson’s Chameleon breeding effort in captivity and we promote known breeders. Please check out the Jackson’s Chameleon Facebook group to learn more about who they are and what is available. Jackson’s Chameleons take a bit more effort than other species, so get from a dedicated breeder rather than a casual breeder that just got a bunch of unplanned babies. Jackson’s Chameleon babies are easy to get, but harder to raise up to a strong age where they can be safely sold to new homes. There seems to be a difficult time around three months old where many seem to die. We are still getting to the bottom of the cause, but, until we do, serious breeders will have to hold on to their Jackson’s Chameleon babies much longer than breeders of other species.  Finding babies that are born will be simple. Getting a strong, well-started captive born sub-adult from a serious breeder will take some searching and patience, but is well worth that effort.


Jackson’s Chameleons from a Pet Store.

Many impulse buys come from pet stores. Unfortunately, pet stores generally get in what is available and training of staff is minimal to non-existent since the management may have never known what to do with a chameleon before. You will probably be getting a wild-caught animal and you’ll want to be very careful for sickness. Even reptile specialty stores are often woefully lacking in chameleon husbandry information. I am sorry to say that I have to caution you to research anything a pet store employee tells you. Even the one who says that the owner – or anyone else – is a breeder. The information coming from pet stores is usually abysmal. Your first clue is when they tell you that Jackson’s Chameleons can be kept together. Everything else that comes out of their mouth is a waste of your time.


Jackson’s Chameleons at Reptile Shows

Jackson’s chameleons are often sold at reptile shows where they have 20 wild caught mixed in a cage with depressingly inadequate conditions. Please don’t support these meat market peddlers. But if you do. All concerns regarding poorly cared for wild caught apply. Babies are sporadically available. Study what a healthy chameleon looks like and do not compromise or let your sympathies get wrapped up in “rescuing” a chameleon unless you are fully aware as to what this entails and have the money to spare for vet visits. There will be experienced and competent chameleon breeders that go to shows. They will have uncrowded and clean cages as well as in-depth knowledge of husbandry. And they will let you know that Jackson’s Chameleons cannot be kept together even if it means losing a sale. In fact, if you buy a pair and come back to pick them up with only one cage under your arm the reputable breeders will possibly just refund your money and not sell to you.


Jackson’s Chameleons in Online Classifieds

Online classifieds will give you the best prices anywhere! But you have no idea what you are getting. You had best know your chameleon health inside and out before going to a general classified site. The sellers there are not part of the community and so their chameleon will most likely not be in top condition. There are exceptions, but make sure you are experienced enough to recognize them when you see them!

Buying for Breeding Jackson's Chameleons

If you are intending to start a breeding project then you will be concerned more for genetics than the outside appearance. If you get an unrelated captive born pair then you get both. But if you are purchasing wild caught then injuries from living life are common. If they are healed then this does not have an effect on breeding potential. In fact, some breeders even prefer the ones with battle wounds. These individuals have shown their strength in conquering injury!

healed injuries in Jackson's Chameleons

Missing horns and this completely healed foot injury are cosmetic and do not affect breeding or pet potential