Jackson’s Chameleon Introduction

The Jackson’s Chameleon is one of the most incredible creatures on Earth.

  • Independently moving eyes
  • Color changing skin
  • Fully prehensile tail
  • A tongue longer than the length of their body which shoots out to catch dinner
  • Three long horns that are used for jousting
  • Live birth of babies


Could there be anything more fantastic? Well, if you ask the tens of thousands of people around the world that love chameleons there is no debate.


There are a couple hundred species of chameleon. They come mostly from Africa with their ranges extending into Europe, Yemen, and even as far east as India. Madagascar has the highest concentration of species. The Jackson’s Chameleon comes from Kenya with a prominent subspecies found just across the border on Mt. Meru in Tanzania. Due to extensive exportation, Jackson’s Chameleons have found their way to creating a thriving feral population in the Hawaiian islands.


Jackson’s Chameleons were, and still are, exported for the pet trade. Although these chameleons have adapted to disturbed land and have actually thrived on Kenyan farmlands, there are now breeding facilities that captive produce different Kenyan species for export.


There are three officially described subspecies of Jackson’s Chameleons, but the group is so varied that much more taxonomical work is being done. This work will certainly reveal a number of new classifications within this group. Any study into the Jackson’s Chameleon will soon run into their scientific names. Within the chameleon community we rarely bother with the common name. The reason is that there is not enough information in that. The Jackson’s Chameleon’s scientific name is Trioceros jacksonii. The further into this site you go the more and more you will see that used.

Male Jackson’s Chameleons can be identified by their prominent three horns. But, depending on the subspecies, females can have anywhere from no horns to one horn to three horns. While the females in the most common sub-species, the Yellow-crested Jackson’s Chameleon (T. jacksonii xantholophus), almost never have horns, the females in the Machakos Hills Jackson’s Chameleon (T. jacksonii jacksonii) will often have three horns like the male. This causes confusion to people that are not aware of the variability in Jackson’s Chameleons! Mt. Meru Jackson’s Chameleon (T. jacksonii merumontanus) females have a single horn.


Jackson’s Chameleons are commonly kept as pets. This is because of their otherworldly appearance – not because they are great pets in the traditional sense of the word. Dogs, cats, horses, and birds have a close enough social structure to humans that they can be our friends. Chameleons are completely different and if you take them into your home they will not integrate into your family. You must create a space for them that is theirs and maintain that space for them. If this intrigues you then you have a completely different world to explore. This site will guide you in that.

Tour Guide icon

You are welcome to browse around the website using the menu bar. But if you would like a short guided tour just follow the tour badge and we’ll give you an overview on the Jackson’s Chameleon! The next step is to learn about the different types of Jackson’s Chameleon. We call these “subspecies”.