Chameleons are a whole new level of challenging that I didn’t even want to think about getting into. I always remember hearing how short lived they are, how challenging it was to keep them happy, and how unforgiving they are with their care. I remember thinking “this species just sounds better off in the wild!”. To this day I do still believe that to be true. In a perfect world, Chameleons are best left in the wild. But with extensive deforestation (thanks to humanity’s worst half) many of these species are facing endangerment even extinction of entire species.
I started out with my crested geckos, who frankly are very forgiving to a beginner herpetocultirst. Their care was fairly straight forward. Feed them the appropriate diet every other night with supplements weekly and the odd treat here and there. No special lighting, no special foods other than their MRP and a relatively small enclosure. Easy as it gets. Why would I want to leave my comfortable routine with caring for my forgiving crested gecko crew?
Time after time my boss (veterinarian) at the time kept taunting me with acquiring chameleons and how it’s a whole new world and I will cross over one day. Time after time I declined. I get very attached to my critters and the naturally short lifespan would be bother me too much.
The years went by, I had expanded my horizons with acquiring more advanced reptile species and learning copious amounts about how intricate reptile health and care truly is. Years past and I had become much more knowledgeable and experienced with advanced species. Such as Uroplatus, naultinus, abronia, and a few other sensitive critters.
And before you know it, I found myself walking by a gorgeous Jacksons Chameleon in a petstore. I admired the animal in his enclosure then
proceeded to leave…When I noticed the chameleon was following my every move. I would step a foot to the left, he would follow. I would step a foot to the right, he would follow. He tried to climb onto my hand through the glass. His colours were relaxed, vibrant but not aggressive or agitated. He sure knew how to pull on ones heart strings…And to this day I don’t truly understand what he was after. My guess was my hair looked like a vine. Next thing I knew I was walking out the door with him and his lady friend. I justified to myself that taking him home was right as their enclosure was not up-to-par. Which it truly wasn’t and I worried about who’s hands they would end up in.
Chameleons have been the biggest learning curve by far. Thanks to the Chameleon Breeder Podcast, I have been able to keep up on the best practices for caring for this species!
SJ (Samuel Jackson) is my only Jacksons chameleon and he’s always teaching me something. I have him in the largest XL Reptibreeze enclosure with 3 sides wrapped to contain humidity while maintaining air flow. He has one basking bulb, Arcadia T5 UVB bulb and a Arcadia Jungle Dawn LED bulb for growing the live plants in his naturalistic enclosure. His diet mainly consists of black soldier flies, black soldier fly larvae, isopods, crickets, flies, butterflies, hornworms and silkworms. This species eats mainly flies on flowers in the wild and pollen is a big contributor to their diet, therefor I dust most of my insects being fed to him in pollen. With the live hibiscus plants in his enclosure, they naturally dust themselves
in the pollen too. He has an enriched diet that not only entertains him, but satisfies his nutritional needs as well. We receives Arcadia supplements as well.
He enjoys his early morning showers before his lights are fully turned on, then starts indulging in his grub buffet. I leave slow drip dripper on to splash on the leaves several times a week and witness him flushing his eyes while doing so.
After his bath, breakfast and morning roam around his enclosure I will open his door and leave it open for several hours in case he wants to walk around the reptile room…Which he loves to do. Some days he enjoys just staying in his enclosure, other days he enjoys climbing my live plants and trees throughout my home. I setup willow branches for a climbing path for him that he takes full advantage of.
Despite the very specific temperature elevations and drops at night, precise humidity and watering schedule, very advanced diet (balancing of certain minerals, supplements, enhancements, tongue health, hunting, etc, etc) and demands for husbandry arrangements, this species is very rewarding to care for. Such strong personalities and they truly let you know when they don’t like something just by changing the colour of their skin!
Jackson chameleons (xanths) are the friendliest chameleon I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. SJ has no problem ‘running’ across his enclosure to come climb up onto my arm. Although, he isn’t as welcoming towards strangers.