Shopping List: What You Need to Buy for Your New Jackson’s Chameleon

For your convenience, we have put together a list of the chameleon supplies that ReptiFiles personally recommends for the health of your new pet, as well as your own peace of mind. In other words, we’ve basically done the shopping for you! ?

Jackson’s chameleons are difficult, high-maintenance pets that require some expensive equipment to keep them alive. If you are not prepared to purchase everything required for the health and wellbeing of a chameleon, this is not the pet for you.

Click the link for each item to see which specific products we recommend. And just so you know, this page does contain some affiliate links, but using them won’t cost you a penny extra.

Approximate investment without chameleon purchase: $440-480 USD
Keep in mind that these supplies should be purchased and set up BEFORE you get the chameleon. This will save you a lot of stress, and does your new pet a big favor too.

We also recommend finding an experienced reptile veterinarian in your area. It’s always better to do a little bit of research when nothing’s wrong than to find yourself in a panic when your pet gets sick. Start here: Finding the Reptile Vet of Your Dreams

The Jackson's Chameleon Starter Kit

Contributed by Stan Szeto

How to Select and Buy a Jackson’s Chameleon

An average Jackson’s chameleon costs about $50-$100, depending on age and where you’re buying it.
T. j. xantholophus is the most common Jackson’s chameleon available in the US. Wild exports from Hawaii have been made illegal in an effort to control the invasive population by discouraging enterprising people from establishing more wild populations for selling. However, illegal wild-caught Hawaiian exports are still common in pet stores. I strongly advise buying directly from a breeder if at all possible.
It is best to buy a chameleon that is at least 5 months old and CBB, as younger chameleons are (although cute) extremely fragile and less likely to survive than their older counterparts. WC (wild-caught) chameleons are frequently full of parasites and less likely to thrive as pets.

Buying In-Person

If you are buying a Jackson’s chameleon in-person, you are most likely at a pet store or reptile expo. In this setting, you have the luxury of examining the animal up close, so use this opportunity to give it a thorough look-over:

  • Is it alert, watching you and its surroundings?
  • Is it actively moving about its enclosure?
  • Do the ribs, spine, or hip bones seem to protrude? (bad)
  • Are the eyes clear and free of swelling?
  • Are the eyes sunken at all? (bad)
  • Are the lips clean and free of swelling?
  • Are the arm and leg bones straight?
  • Does it have a firm grip during handling?
  • Does it seem clumsy? (bad)
  • Is the tail strong and able to curl around branches/your finger?
  • Is the tail blackened anywhere? (bad)

If you’re at a pet store, look at the enclosure:

  • Do they use solid or loose substrate?
  • Is there both a heat source and UVB?
  • Does the enclosure have lots of climbing space?
  • Is the substrate clean?
  • If there’s glass, is it clean? Clean enclosures usually mean an animal is well cared-for.

If you’re buying from a small independent pet shop, ask where they source their Jackson’s chameleons and whether they can give you the name of the breeder. If they don’t know, ask if you can get that information from the manager. If they are still unwilling to tell you, it’s best to walk away.
Don’t forget to also ask the age of the chameleon. If they don’t know, and the chameleon seems very young, it’s best not to buy it.

Buying from a Breeder

Whenever possible, buy from a breeder who specializes in chameleons, not a big-box reptile distributor (Underground Reptiles, Backwater Reptiles, BHB Reptiles, etc.). The narrower their focus, the more likely you are to receive a healthy, high quality animal. Some questions to ask yourself as you evaluate the breeder:

  • Do they provide plenty of information in the listings for each available animal?
  • Do they offer a live-arrival guarantee?
  • Do they offer a health guarantee?
  • Do they have a DOA (dead-on-arrival) policy?
  • Do they have a good reputation in the reptile community?

Some questions to ask about the chameleon:

  • How does s/he like to drink water?
  • Have they had any past health issues?
  • Did the mother/father have any recurring health issues?
  • (If female) Has she ever been with a male?

Of course, buying directly from a breeder often means that you have to pay more, but it’s worth the extra money. Also, buying online means that you will have to pay for overnight shipping — usually about $50.

Jackson’s Chameleon Care Guide:

  1. Introduction to Jackson’s Chameleons
  2. Jackson’s Chameleon Subspecies
  3. Shopping List (YOU ARE HERE)
  4. Enclosure Size Guidelines
  5. Lighting & Temperature Requirements
  6. Humidity & Water Needs
  7. Enclosure Drainage Designs
  8. Environmental Enrichment: Decorating the Enclosure
  9. Feeding Your Chameleon
  10. Taming & Handling Tips
  11. Common Illnesses & Other Health Info
  12. Additional Resources