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Trioceros jacksonii

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A chameleon species of the family Chamaeleonidae that is endemic to East Africa, and is characterized from other common household chameleon pets by its typically green skin coloring, lightly colored mottling, body length ranging from 23 to 33 cm, and three horn-like structures on the head of males


The chameleons are reptiles belonging to the family Chamaeleonidae. They are characterized mainly by their ability to camouflage or to change colour, long tongue, stereoscopic vision, independently mobile eyes, zygodactylous feet, and swaying gait. There are species of chameleons that are taken as a household pet. One of them is the species, Trioceros jacksonii. It is commonly called as Jackson's chameleon. The genus name is based on the three horn-like structures on its head (i.e. tri-, meaning three) resembling those of the ceratopsid dinosaur genus Triceratops. The specific name was derived from the name of Frederick John Jackson who was an ornithologist and the first Governor of Kenya. The species was first described in 1896 by George Albert Boulenger, a zoologist.1

The males range from 23 to 38 cm in length whereas the females range from 15 to 25 cm in length. The males have three hornlike structures on the head, i.e. one rostrally and the other two preocularly. The females in general lack these horns. Both males and females have typically a bright green skin coloring but may change depending on mood, health, and temperature. They have a saw-tooth like structures on the dorsal ridge. Gular crest is lacking. The typical lifespan is about five to ten years.

Scientific classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Iguania
  • Clade: Acrodonta
  • Family: Chamaeleonidae
  • Genus: Trioceros
  • Species: T. jacksonii [Boulenger, 1896]

Common name(s):

  • Jackson's cham(a)eleon
  • Jackson's horned cham(a)eleon
  • Kikuyu three-horned cham(a)eleon

See also:

1 Boulenger, G. A. (1896). "Description of a new Chameleon from Uganda". Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Sixth Series. 17: 376.