Many people have long had a passion for the Yellow-crested Jackson’s Chameleon (T.jacksonii xantholophus) – the largest of the three recognized subspecies. Most of the “Xanths” in captivity in the US are from a feral population on Hawaii. This population is entirely from a handful of individuals that escaped in 1972. Beautiful as they are, the resulting isolation and inbreeding situation has resulted in shifts in the animals. We are noticing a great percentage of smaller animals and thinner/shorter/directionally challenged horns. The inexpensive Hawaiian animals ensure that a more expensive import from Kenya would be sporadic. Thus a whole generation of US chameleon keepers do not know what original Kenyan Jackson’s Chameleons are like and our captive breeding efforts were with 46 years of inbred animals. This project sought to change this.
I inquired with Steve McNary of Chameleons International about the possibility to bring over an import from Kenya. I knew he had the right contacts in Kenya to make it happen. Bringing in relatively expensive Xanths is not really a sound business move for anyone, but Steve committed to me that if I could generate enough interest he would use his contacts and facilities to make this happen. As he is known for the highest level of care for his imports I wanted to bring some in through him. The purpose of this was to bring in a group that was carefully scrutinized to ensure the quality and we would be able to track the individuals and their bloodlines. T. j. xantholophus has been imported from Kenya in small numbers before, but tracking them would be difficult. And since the difference between them and Hawaiian animals is in the genetics it is not always obvious by looking at the specimen where they are from. Although a larger percentage of Hawaiian chameleons would have crooked horns there would still be straight horn specimens in Hawaii just as there would be some crooked horn individuals in Kenya. It is all about the strength of the genetics. So, to start a lightly supervised breeding program, some control over the founder stock was necessary.
So in March of 2018, an import was made to the people involved in this passion project. It was fully recognized that this would not be appreciated by everyone. And it certainly will not be a money making project. Especially with Jackson’s Chameleon babies needing to be held longer than other species before going to new homes it was best that only the people who truly love this species get involved!
Our intention is that healthy Kenyan Xanth blood becomes the expected standard for people searching for a Jackson’s Chameleon. More and more, keepers are asking where they can find a captive born baby. This page serves as an education as to the situation. We hope that breeders will choose to work with Kenyan bloodlines and encourage working with the stronger genetics.
Who can join?
Anyone who understands the value of bringing in fresh genetics and wants a meaningful project within the chameleon community can join. To join the small community we have put together in this Kenyan Xanth Project just wait until babies are available from the founder stock. If breeding is your goal, we will be maintaining genealogy records to ensure you get an unrelated pair and your customers are able to find an unrelated pair. If you are just wanting a pet with Kenyan blood then there will be those as well! This is not to say there are no other Kenyan bloodlines out there! But we want to provide the service of doing our best to guarantee what you get is pure Kenyan genetics. And we can do this only by accepting in breeding pairs that we can verify.
Where to go from here?
We will be expanding this page with more information as babies become available and the community grows!
This concludes the official tour of the main points of jacksonschameleon.org. But there are many other nooks and crannies to explore! Whether you are researching for a possible pet, a school assignment, or want to start building a set-up, the links in the menu bar will help you on your way. If you are not sure where to go next you can continue your research by listening to the weekly podcast, the Chameleon Breeder Podcast. Start at episode 1 and listen during your commute, chore time, or work out. You can also interact with the community on the Jackson’s Chameleon Community group on Facebook. Whichever your direction, welcome to the world of the amazing Jackson’s Chameleon!