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The chameleon which features most commonly in this website is the Jackson's chameleon - Chamelaeleo jacksonii  which is found in it's natural habitat on the slopes of Mount Kenya, in Kenya and in the surrounding countryside. The classification of the Jackson's chameleon can be seen by clicking on this link.

They are usually found in areas where;

  •   annual rainfall is greater than 50 inches;

  •   daytime temperatures are between 60 - 80 Fahrenheit (F)

  •   night time temperatures are between 40 - 65 F;

  •   elevation is between 5000 - 8000 feet.

Map showing the area where the Jackson's chameleons originate from.

The Jackson's chameleon is distinctive as the male has 3 horns that protrude from the front of it's head, two from above the eyes and one from the snout. The horns are made of horny skin with bone at the base, though the function of these is not fully understood. The male is usually a lime green colour sometimes with turquoise showing near the head.

The female does not have horns, though may have a tiny protrusion from the snout. Her colour is usually a faded or mottled brown or green.

        

                                Male Jackson chameleon                                 Female Jackson chameleon

 

The Jackson's chameleon is also very special because it does not lay it's eggs in the ground as other chameleons do, but it gives birth to a fully developed live baby. 

The female keeps the babies inside her body until they are fully developed and they are born above ground. Each one comes out of the females body in a transparent membrane, and drops to the ground to stimulate the young to break out of the membrane (sac) that they had grown in, inside their mother. Sometimes they stick to leaves and branches until the baby chameleon can struggle out of the membrane.  

Photo courtesy of 'Chameleons' by Claudia Schnieper and Max Meier

Jackson's baby chameleons are between 3 - 4 centimeters long when they are born and are charcoal grey in colour with off-white striping on their bodies. The sex of the young Jackson can be seen from the age of four months, which is when the males start to develop their triple horns.

 

Newborn Jackson chameleon                Jackson chameleon at about 2 weeks old

The Jackson chameleon give birth to between 8 - 50 young, depending on the mothers age and size, and these babies are between 3 - 4 cms long when they are born and are very susceptible to extreme cold and heat.

The young chameleons double their size in the first few years of their life and are able to have their own babies from the age of one year old.

The newly born chameleon climbs up into the branches of a nearby tree or bush straight away and they look after themselves for food, water and protection. Their horns are already tiny bumps on their heads, ready to grow and distinguish themselves as Jackson's chameleons.

Young Jackson                                                Showing aggression

 

 

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