Helmeted Chameleon – Profile, Facts & Care

Presumably, a search for an adult Helmeted chameleon would lead to a wild-caught one. Owing to the fact that it is not a common species, most breeders opt to keep a distance. Stakes are high that you might get an aggressive, easily stressed, and parasite-infected chameleon if you buy the untamed imports.

On that account, settle for well-bred baby Helmeted Chameleons from a dependable supplier. Also identified as von Höhnel and Trioceros Hoehnelii, they are strongly related to Jackson Chameleons. Typically the name came up as a credit to a renowned traveler, Ludwig von Höhnel.

Basically, most reptile lovers avoid them because of elevated stress levels and complicated care requirements. Altogether, these beautiful montane species from East Africa make ideal pets if you meet their sensitive vital requirements. In fact, with their exceptional personality, variable colors, and unique appeal, Helmeted Chameleons are indeed pleasing to the eye.

Are you curious to learn about this little-known pet chameleon? Please keep reading and grasp essential ideas on how to give them a better quality of life.


Unlike their cousins, the Jacksons, both male and female Helmeted Chameleons have a single horn on top of their noses. Other outstanding features include the throat crests and jagged back. Compared to others, these species classify as small to medium-sized.

From head to tail, an adult Helmeted measures about 10 inches and weighs 100-150 grams. In general, males are slightly bigger with a more extensive tail base, horn, and casque. When basking in the morning hours, you may notice them turn almost black to absorb heat energy.

Later, when they hide in the branches, the colors may change to golden yellow and lime green. Note that temperature changes and the health status of your pet may alter color variation. Mainly because of their natural tendency of living on trees, Helmeted Chameleons have tong-like feet that clutch on twigs and branches.

Also acting as an additional limb, a prehensile tail helps to balance them while climbing.  Another remarkable feature in Helmeted chameleons is the long sticky tongue.

Measuring almost double the body size, the tongue plays a significant role in enabling chameleons to catch their food.  In the mouth, you may notice a tiny set of teeth lightly attached on the jaw line. Whilst these feeble teeth help chameleons to grab food, they are usually weak to chew.


Almost all chameleon species that originate from East Africa are relatively territorial. Hence, your one-horned little friends are no different. Most likely, if you put Helmeted Chameleon males together, they turn black, puff up and hiss to one another.

You may pinpoint a dominant male because of its bright color patterns. These color variations instantly change when defeated by another male, especially when competing for a mate. Simultaneously, the new conqueror alters their skin color to a brighter shade.

During the mating season, the couple forms a uniquely strong bond throughout the gestation period of five months. Once the baby pops out, the love affair instantly comes to an end.


Barely do most chameleon species surpass their third year. However, Helmeted Chameleons are some of the lucky who can live up to eight years for males. On the other hand, females endure a shorter life of about five to six years. This happens because of the demanding nature of childbearing.

Pet owners must offer a nutritious diet to the females throughout the breeding season to keep them healthy and prolong their lives.  Other common ailments that cut short a chameleon life include Metabolic Bone Disease, stomatitis, and mouth rot.

General Care and Requirements

As previously warned, Helmeted Chameleons are not the easiest pet reptile to keep. One major challenge is that they require a larger cage than others. Also, with a larger-than-life territorial trait, you must learn to take care of them properly.

– Temperature

In their natural habitat, Helmeted chameleons live in areas that provide ideal sunlight to bask during the day. Therefore, install a warm side in the tank with 80F to 85F temperature levels. Then segregate a colder section of 70 °F to 75 °F for them to relax.

To achieve this temperature range, invest in a 60-75 watts bulb from a reliable supplier. For glass and bigger terrariums, you may require different heat lamps. In addition, experts recommend pet owners use digital thermometers for accuracy.

– Humidity

A reasonably high humidity works perfectly well for Helmeted chameleons. This calls for a complicated process to ensure that the enclosure meets the standards. One surest solution is to place live plants in the cage.

Not only do they help to enhance humidity levels, but they also a source of food for your pets. As a result, it is crucial to place non-toxic plants like hibiscus, golden pothos, rubber tree, dwarf umbrella tree, and weeping figs.

Even so, plants alone would not help you to attain the proper humidity levels. Instead, misting the cage at least twice a day goes a long way. Altogether, ensure that the pen has a humidity level of between 60% to 70% humidity. You can use a digital hydrometer to keep it in check.

– Cage Size

The first thing you need to keep in mind with Helmeted Chameleons is that they love climbing trees. So, a vertical cage measuring 4 by 3 by 4 inches would do them justice. More so, ensure that they are wide enough to maintain thermal gradient.

Remember to provide enough cover similar to their natural environment. Apart from live plants add perches for your pets to rest on and coconut fiber as bedding.

– Lighting

Even if chameleons require an optimal source of lighting, limit it 12 hours daily. As diurnal animals, they deserve an interrupted sleep with light off at night. Still, some pet’s expert’s advocate for red lights at night. In actual sense, this is actually unnecessary and detrimental to their health.

Most ideal is a 13 watt UVB bulb that provides the lighting your pet chameleons needs. Although invisible, UVB is critical in reptile’s lives as it aids calcium absorption from the food given. All in all, a time switch would be ideal and safe to use.

Food & Nutrition

Insufficient or less nutritious meals lead to a whole load of health complications to chameleons. It would be a shame to spend so much on a pet chameleon then starve them to death. Here are vital tips on how to meet your Helmeted Chameleon nutritional needs.

– Feeding

For healthy and robust Helmeted Chameleons you should offer them gut loaded insects twice a day. Most nutritious options are crickets, roaches, flies, locusts and bees. You can also add worms and caterpillars in the diet.

The main reason behind this diversification is because insects on their own are not nutritious enough for pet chameleons. For this reason, add appropriate vegetables like mustard greens, collards and kales. Remember to throw away the residue to keep flies away and prevent your pet from feeding on stale food.

– Supplements & Vitamins

You will never go wrong by adding supplements in your chameleon’s meals. Furthermore, for a creature that gets minimal exposure to natural light, this would be an ultimate alternative. At least light dust calcium D3 on every meal to strengthen the bones and help in normal body functions.

Most important, it keeps off a fatal condition known as Metabolic Bone Disease. Substitute with phosphorus and multivitamins once or twice a week.

– Hydration

Born in the mountainous wet parts of Eastern Africa, your one horn friend requires a steady supply of water. On that basis, create a replica of their natural habitat and motivate them to indulge.

A mister or dripper most definitely imitates raindrops in the wild. Such a sight would trigger natural instincts in the chameleons and prompt them to take a sip.

Luckily, chameleons also absorb water through the skin. Therefore, misting the cage once or twice in a day would help you pet’s hydration prerequisites. Most appropriate solution is to invest on automatic misters for ease of use even when out of the house.


Although most chameleons lay eggs, a few give live births. Helmeted Chameleons are among the counted ovoviviparous reptiles that carry their babies to term after a five months gestation period.

When kept in an optimum environment, this species brings forth eight to thirty little ones at a time. With gestations happening twice or thrice annually, be ready to cater for the expenses that come with it.

Nonetheless allow your pet chameleons to only breed when necessary. Then feed them well during the pregnancy and after. Finally give them ample time to rest from one pregnancy to the other. Bear in mind that Helmeted chameleons reach maturity from as early as nine months.

Wrap Up

It is high time reptile lovers get a chance to learn about this unpopular chameleon species. As a matter of fact, Helmeted chameleons are more like little jewels hidden beneath popular alternatives such as Panthers, Veiled and Jacksons.

Yet behind it all, they make beautiful and adorable little pets. While it might cost more in taking care of your Helmeted pet chameleon properly, the experience is worthwhile.

avatar William
William is a respected pet enthusiast with expertise in reptiles and birds. With extensive experience caring for these animals, he shares his knowledge through engaging and informative articles in various publications. He is an active member of pet-related organizations, volunteering regularly at shelters and promoting animal welfare and conservation. read more...

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