15 Chameleon Types – Pet Chameleon Species
Chameleons can make great pet reptiles for beginner, intermediate, and advanced keepers. These little peculiar pets are not only interesting to look at but also easy to maintain.
Apart from that, they come in different species, features, sizes, and behavior as highlighted below:
1. Veiled Chameleon
A veiled chameleon is scientifically referred to as Chamaeleo calyptratus. This chameleon species is popular with pet owners, especially beginners. Veiled Chameleons are among the easiest species of chameleons to find in most pet stores.
As the name suggests, Veiled Chameleons have casques, hence their name. They are typically green with males having defined black, white, yellow, and orange bands. Even though females are relatively colorful, they tend to assume a more mottled appearance.
Veiled Chameleons are native to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which is why they are sometimes called Yemen Chameleons.
On average, a Veiled Chameleon grows to a size of about 12 to 24 inches long.
If taken good care of, Veiled Chameleons can live up to 4 to 8 years.
Veiled Chameleons tend to be aggressive as well as territorial, especially when their living space is infringed by other lizards.
2. Panther Chameleon
Panther Chameleons belong to the genus Furcifer. Their scientific name is Furcifer pardalis. Most Panther Chameleons you will find on the market today are captive-bred.
This species of chameleons come in a variety of attractive bright colors. Their vivid coloration makes them popular among pet owners as they can perform rapid color changes to match their background. Males tend to be more colorful than females although females can easily alternate between different shades of pink color and high-contrast tones of black or red.
Northern and eastern parts of Madagascar
Panther Chameleons are relatively larger than most chameleon species. Females can grow to an average length of 9 to 13 inches while males can attain an average length of 14 to 21 inches.
Under good care, Panther Chameleons can live up to 5 to 7 years.
Panther Chameleons are considered to be one of the most docile species of chameleons. They are friendly and easy to handle regardless of their solitary nature. This is attributed to their territorial tendencies towards others.
3. Jackson Chameleon
Also known as Trioceros jacksonii, Jackson Chameleon is a popular chameleon species among lizard hobbyists. These chameleons are highly sensitive to husbandry mistakes despite their popularity in captivity.
The unique thing about Jackson Chameleons is their distinctive triceratops-like horns in males. Female Jackson Chameleons don’t have horns. These chameleons are also characterized by their thick spiny ridges along their entire backs.
At birth, Jackson Chameleons assumes a brown color. However, they quickly change into their signature green color after a few months. Compared to females, males are more colorful although green is their primary color. There are also splashes of yellow and blue, especially around the face.
Jackson Chameleon is native to East Africa with some established invasion populations in California, Florida, and Hawaii.
Jackson Chameleons can grow to a length of about 8 to 12 inches.
On average, Jackson Chameleons can live up to 8 to 10 years for males and 4 to 5 years for females.
Jackson chameleons are territorial, thus they need to be housed alone to avoid conflicts with other lizards. Besides, they don’t like being handled from time to time.
4. Senegal Chameleon
Senegal Chameleons are scientifically referred to as Chamaeleo senegalensis and can adapt well to more arid or moist savanna environments.
Senegal Chameleon species have no crests, casques, or horns. They are just plain-looking lizards with lime green or olive-brown bodies with a few speckles of darker pigmentation.
From their name, Senegal Chameleons are native to Africa’s savanna in Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, and Cameroon.
Senegal Chameleons can grow to an average size of 7 to 12 inches depending on the environment around them.
Their lifespan ranges from 3 years to 7 years.
Even though Senegal Chameleons have a calm personality in general, they don’t tolerate being handled. That is why they are kept as pets by experienced hobbyists.
5. Elliot’s Chameleon
Native to Eastern African countries, Elliot’s Chameleons are charming and a popular species of chameleons. Their scientific name is Trioceros ellioti in addition to their common names such as Side-striped Chameleon and Groove-throated Chameleon.
Elliot’s Chameleons are relatively small with variable colors, which are brown, gray, green or orange.
Elliot’s Chameleons originate from Eastern African countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, and South Sudan.
The Elliot’s Chameleons can grow to a body length of approximately 10 inches.
When looked after properly, Elliot’s Chameleons can have a lifespan of about 3 to 10 years.
Unlike other pet chameleon species, Elliot’s Chameleons have a mild personality. This means they can be held or played with without affecting their well-being. On the contrary, Elliot Chameleons can display spontaneous violent responses towards other chameleons, thus the need to house them separately.
6. Helmeted Chameleon
The Helmeted Chameleon species is scientifically called Trioceros hoenelli. This species of pet chameleons is only ideal for advanced keepers due to its high-stress levels when caught from their wild habitats.
Male and female Helmeted Chameleons have a horny protuberance on their noises, a casque, serrated backs, and throat crests. Both males and females display a range of colors from lime green to golden yellow or almost black depending on their environment and time of the day.
The Helmeted Chameleons are native to the Eastern African region, particularly Kenya and Uganda.
Helmeted Chameleons can grow to a length of 10 inches under good care.
Helmeted Chameleons have an average lifespan of 5 years.
Since they are endemic to the Eastern African region, Helmeted Chameleons are territorial. Males are likely to hiss at each other when placed together in one cage.
7. Bearded Pygmy Chameleon
The Beard Pygmy Chameleon, Rieppeleon brevicaudatus (scientific name), belongs to various Pygmy Chameleon species, hence the name. From their names, Bearded Pygmy Chameleons are very small in size and don’t dwell on trees.
Bearded Pygmy Chameleons are plain species that can change their coloration to some extent. Typically, these pet chameleons are characterized by their muted tan or brown colors which make them blend in with their immediate environment excellently.
The Bearded Pygmy Chameleon is native to Uluguru and the eastern Usambara Mountains in parts of northeastern Tanzania and Kenya.
They can reach a body length of 3.5 inches for both males and females.
Bearded Pygmy Chameleons have an average lifespan of 3 to 5 years
These pet chameleons are somehow docile.
8. Spectral Pygmy Chameleon
The scientific name for Spectral Pygmy Chameleons is Rhampholeon spectrum. Other common names include the Western Pygmy Chameleon and Cameroon Stunt Tail Chameleon.
Apart from their small bodies, Spectral Pygmy Chameleons have an overall base coloration that is uniform with varying shades of brown, grey, and black. They also display dark lateral stripes running down their flanks.
Spectral Pygmy Chameleons are native to mainland African countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and the Central African Republic.
The average size of most Spectral Pygmy Chameleons is 3.5 to 4 inches for males and 2.5 to 4 inches for females.
A Spectral Pygmy Chameleon can live up to 3 or 5 years.
At times Spectral Pygmy Chameleons display docile temperament with some little intraspecific aggression. They don’t do well in social groups, instead, they prefer to be kept in sexed or singular pairs.
9. Carpet Chameleon
Furcifer lateralis is the scientific name for the Carpet Chameleon species. They are extremely hardy and active chameleons that can fit to be great reptile pets.
Generally, Carpet Chameleons are smaller species with a variety of colors. The males are usually green while the females come in a wider range of colors which may include bands of green, blue, red, yellow, orange, or white. They also have stripes and rosettes that are visible after they have warmed up in mid-day sun.
Carpet Chameleons are native to the jungles of Madagascar.
Carpet Chameleons can grow to a length of 6.5 to 10 inches.
This small species of pet chameleons has a short lifespan which varies from 2 to 3 years under good care.
Besides their vibrant colors and pattern, Carpet Chameleons are shy, friendly pet reptiles for beginners and professional keepers. Due to their shyness, they need extra space to hide and feel safe. They don’t like being handled frequently because they feel unnecessary stress. Males are territorial, that is why they should be kept in separate cages.
10. Parson’s Chameleon
Parson’s Chameleon species is scientifically called Calumma parsonii and is considered the heaviest of the true chameleon species. On average a Parson’s Chameleon can weigh more than 700 grams. Additionally, this species is extremely rare and that is why it is costly.
Male Parson’s Chameleons are turquoise or green while females appear green, brown, or yellow. Males have double warty ridges that run from the eyes to the noises.
Native to northeast Madagascar.
Parson’s Chameleon can grow to a length of about 18 to 28 inches.
The average lifespan of Parson’s Chameleons ranges from 12 to 15 years or more.
Parson’s Chameleons can be notoriously picky when it comes to their diet. They are also inactive and somewhat hardy.
11. Spiny Chameleon
Named after their spiny crests on their backs, Spiny Chameleons are also part of pet reptiles. They are known as Crocodile Chameleons or Warty Chameleons, in addition to their scientific name, Furcifer verrucosus.
Spiny Chameleons have spiny ridges and casques along their faces, flanks, and backs. They are gray or brown although white streaks can also be spotted on their bodies. Females are usually paler while males have some tinges of green color.
The Spiny Chameleon originated in Madagascar.
Females can grow up to 8 inches while males can reach 22 inches in length. These cameleons can live from 3 to 10 years depending on the environment.
Spiny Chameleons display a significant sexual dimorphism.
12. Jewelled Chameleon
Jeweled Chameleons belong to the family Chamaeleonidae. Their scientific name is Furcifer campani. They are diurnal and solitary in their natural habitat.
Jeweled Chameleons are known for their striking appearance. They usually have some shade of green color, beautiful bright-colored spots, and lateral striping.
Jeweled Chameleons are endemic to Madagascar and they can grow up to 5.5 inches in length.
With proper care, Jeweled Chameleons can live up to 12 years in captivity.
Jeweled Chameleons are solitary and territorial. They will fight off any intruders coming to their territories. When they feel threatened these pet reptiles change colors quickly.
13. Minor’s Chameleon (Lesser)
Minor’s or Lesser Chameleons are scientifically called Furcifer minor. They belong to the family of Chamaeleonidae and live in dry arboreal habitats in the wild. This species of lizards can make great pet reptiles to most keepers.
Unlike many chameleon species, female Minor’s Chameleons are more colorful. They have an alternating greenish-black color with yellow bands including yellow speckling that highlight darker areas. The lower jaw on females is covered in red while the chest and sides have blue-violet and red-black spots.
Males have shades of black, brown, white, and reddish-orange patterns. The most striking feature of male Minor’s Chameleons is the rostral appendage at the snout.
Minor’s chameleon is endemic to Madagascar.
Male can grow up to 10 inches while females can reach 8 inches in length. Minor’s Chameleons can live up to 5 years in captivity.
The Minor or Lesser Chameleons prefer a solitary lifestyle. They are often aggressive towards their own kind.
14. Angel’s Chameleon (Furcifer Angeli)
Angele’s Chameleon species is scientifically known as Furcifer Angeli. Females are considerably smaller than males.
The males appear dirty orange colored with some bluish-grey banding and burgundy red markings. Females, however, have pink to orange colors with black banding. Also, females’ noses are slightly longer than males’. Both have white lips, dorsal crests, and white lateral stripes.
The Angel’s chameleon is native to Madagascar.
Angel’s Chameleon can grow to a size of 13 inches for males and 11 inches for females. When taken good care of, Angel’s Chameleons can live up to 10 years.
Angel’s Chameleons are solitary species of pet chameleons. They can also become aggressive when other chameleons get into their territory.
Chameleons are some of the best reptile pets for most keepers. They are available in different species, colors, and physical characteristics. Most of those highlighted above are suitable for both beginner and experienced hobbyists. In addition, they are easy to maintain and acquire since most are affordable.