Jackson’s Chameleon - Care

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Jackson’s Chameleon - Care

Post  Admin on Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:51 am

The Jackson’s chameleon is only one of a huge group of chameleons all over the world, most under the genus Chameleo. It has many features which make it perfectly adaptable to survive and thrive in the wild and captivity. The Jackson’s chameleon is also named the three horned chameleon due to the large horns coming from its head, only males have this feature, females have no horns at all, the males use these to attract females and to battle with rival males. Depending on the subspecies, they can grow to 30cm in length while the smaller Murumontana species only get to around 12cm. chameleons in there own right do not live for long, only around 5-7 years, this can also be shortened if the specimens are bred at a too early age. All three subspecies of Jackson’s chameleon are found in Kenya through to Tanzania, they have also recently been introduced to Hawaii.

Housing
The Jackson’s chameleon requires very specific housing. It is difficult to start up but once done the animal should thrive in its new home. Most keepers house their chameleons in melamine vivaruium’s but there is much debate and contradiction as there are many cages to choose from, e.g. wooden, glass, mesh etc. I would highly recommend a fiberglass tank as they are escape proof, waterproof, hold humidity well, and are very nice looking. Been as the Jackson’s chameleon is an arboreal subspecies it would need a tank around 3ft long, 2ft wide and 4ft high, a tank this size could house a pair or possibly a trio of adults. The whereabouts of this species is a forest type area so foliage and décor is essential, things like branches from tree’s and some live plants would look very nice in this type of set up and would suit the needs for your new acquisition. Temperature is a very important thing to get correct with chameleons, just that few degree’s can be the difference between a healthy or very sick animal. Day temps should remain at 78f with a drop at night; humidity should also be quite high, preferably no less than 60%. Heating and lighting is one of the most vital things you will need, a full spectrum ultra violet light and a basking spot lamp will encourage your animal to bask and collect its essential vitamin D.
Feeding and Watering
All chameleons are meat eaters, most being insectivores but there are a few exceptions, larger chameleons may take small rodents or even other reptiles, Jackson’s chameleons are primly insectivores. Most chameleons are able to take in their own body wait of food in a week, mainly feeding on crickets, wax worms and small locusts, in the wild however their diet would be much more varied. Whatever the food is it must be gut-loaded first, gut-loading being the feeding of the insects before giving them to your chameleon, a diet of fruit, vegetables, or fish food can be given to insects to boost their nutritional value. When you feed your insects different foods, they taste different to your chameleon, making your animal very happy.
The size of the insects you give to your animal must be of a reasonable size depending on the age of the chameleon, adult Jackson’s can easily take on fully mature crickets while babies require pin-head sized crickets or fruit flies, if you feed your animal a prey item that is too large, it may not digest properly, creating internal damage inside your chameleon, usually however regurgitation is much more common. Without a healthy supply of calcium or vitamin D your chameleon may develop ‘MBD’ (metabolic bone disease) this is quite serious in most cases but can be easily avoided. Along with the full spectrum light, special supplements are now available to purchase, these being either a powder to sprinkle onto the food item, or pellets which can be fed straight to your animal. This should only be done once a week, as chameleons can take in too much calcium and the phosphorus build up can be quite lethal to your animal, it can also overmetabolizing of calcium, and result in visceral and articular gout.
Watering is probably the most important thing you will need to get sorted, providing adequate hydration for your chameleon can be more difficult than providing a balanced diet. Chameleons are not designed to drink from water bowls and do not often do so, in the wild and in captivity they will encourage to drink after rainfall when the water buildup on the leaves create a perfect dripping system, regular misting is the easiest way if doing this and high amounts of foliage will collect more water for the animal to drink. A misting time of up to three minutes is preferred.


General maintenance
Once the housing, feeding and watering requirements have been met, your chameleon should now start enjoying its new home. There are a few other small husbandry tasks you will need to complete while have your chameleon, misting the cage minimum of twice daily, cleaning out the faeces once or twice a week and keeping a regular check that its general behavior is normal and that it is eating and drinking without a problem.
I bet the next thing on your minds is when can I handle my chameleon? It is not recommended that Jackson’s chameleons are handled, unlike panther chameleons or veild chameleons which take to handling much better, the Jackson’s get a little more stressed, there is also a chance you may damage your new animal as they are very fragile indeed. You should only handle your chameleon when its tank should be moved or cleaned, or for any other obvious reason.
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