Pet chameleons are everywhere, and if you’re considering getting one of your own, you should learn more about the different types of chameleons in Florida. This is to ensure you choose the best kind of pet chameleon for you.
There are four main species that can be found throughout Florida, and they all have their own unique characteristics and benefits.
These may attract some buyers and scare off others, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with them before making a purchase! Here’s what you need to know about the types of chameleons in Florida.
1. Veiled Chameleon
The veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) is one of five different types of chameleons in Florida. The veiled chameleon has distinctive, greenish-blue colors, meaning it blends into its surrounding environment rather easily.
This is a defensive mechanism against predators and something you must keep in mind if you choose to own one as a pet.
Since they’re usually found alongside other types of wildlife, they enjoy open spaces such as gardens or meadows. Majorly places where they can bask under sunlight.
If you want your veiled chameleon, it’s worth knowing how much they cost. On average, expect to pay somewhere between $200 and $250 for an adult animal. Their diet includes mealworms, crickets, waxworms, and various plants.
Veiled chameleons have lived up to 20 years with proper care. They require a habitat temperature between 72 degrees Fahrenheit during daytime hours and 68 degrees Fahrenheit at night. You should also provide them with UVB lighting during both day and night time hours.
2. The Panther Chameleon
Panther chameleons are native to Madagascar but are also common throughout Florida. They have distinctive black-and-white coloration. They can grow up to 24 inches long.
While they are often found in captivity worldwide, it’s illegal to keep panther chameleons as pets in Florida without a license. Panther chameleons are also difficult for beginners because they require live food—bugs like crickets—and won’t eat commercial diets that are made for lizards.
For these reasons, panther chameleons are rarely seen as exotic pet choices here.
There are many types of chameleons in Florida other than panthers. Many have similar care requirements to one. Some species might even be able to get along well if kept together under certain conditions.
3. Malagasy Giant Chameleon
The Malagasy giant chameleon is quite a large species and is sometimes found in Madagascar. They can grow up to 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) long with a tail measuring over 50 cm (20 inches). Their limbs and head are also larger than their body, adding to their distinct look.
However, their eyesight is not as great as other chameleon species, but they compensate for it with a keen sense of smell. Their diet includes small insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, and spiders.
There are no subspecies of Malagasy Giant Chameleons recognized at present. This is definitely not the last of the types of chameleons in Florida. Read on!
4. Jackson Chameleon
As a member of the iguana family, Jackson chameleons are native to south and east Africa. However, they’re also very common in captivity. These creatures have smooth skin, ranging between brown and greenish-yellow with dots and stripes.
Unlike most chameleon species, Jackson chameleons have no control over their color change; they can range from pale gray to bright blue. They are known for changing colors depending on moods or emotions—like if they’re scared or angry.
They feed on insects like crickets and flies. Jackson chameleons are a distinct species out of the types of chameleons in Florida.
5. Crested Chameleon
Crested chameleons are one of many different types of chameleons in Florida and simultaneously exist worldwide today. This particular type is endemic to Madagascar, but it has been introduced into other areas as well.
The crested chameleon has an interesting physical appearance because it has a crest above its eyes that looks like a mohawk hairstyle on humans.
The crested chameleon (Chamaeleo cristatus) is a species native to Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. It is one of two chameleon species with a fringe-like crest extending from its head to its tail (the other being the Veiled Chameleon). This crest helps it blend in with trees while hunting.
Interestingly, It is also known as MacDowell’s Chameleon or Veiled Chameleon. Crested chameleons are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day when sufficient light is present. They often live up to 12 years old, although 6-7 years old is more common among captive specimens.
Going further, they feed on insects, small invertebrates, small lizards, and fruit. Females lay 10-30 eggs at a time. These chameleons are territorial animals and will defend their territory against intruders, including humans.
These reptiles have been known to attack people who invade their territory by biting them with their strong jaws.
6. Carpet Chameleon
The carpet chameleon (Furcifer lateralis), also known as the lesser Malagasy chameleon, is a species of chameleon native to Madagascar. This species has also been introduced to Hawaii and Mauritius.
The coloration of F. lateralis varies geographically; it tends to be greener and more brightly colored in drier regions than in humid ones. This is due to its greater need for hydration.
Additionally, it feeds on insects and other small invertebrates, such as crickets and flies. Also, it eats plant matter, including leaves, seeds, flowers, fruit, bark, and fallen fruit (particularly figs).
Unlike most other chameleons, which are mainly arboreal, carpet chameleons often climb down from trees onto bushes or other lower-growing vegetation.
Furthermore, they reproduce by laying eggs in nests dug into the soil. Their eggs take around three months to hatch, and young carpet chameleons take around six months to mature. They can live up to 12 years old if properly cared for but usually only live 5-7 years.
7. Senegal Chameleon
The Senegal chameleon is one of only two species native to Africa that has been bred and sold. It’s also known as Jackson’s chameleon, although several subspecies exist. These lizards can grow up to 12 inches long, but they’re typically 8-10 inches when fully grown.
Males are more colorful than females but can change colors at different times. They’re popular among hobbyists due to their small size and low price tag.
However, they require much care and attention if you want them to live for more than a year or so. Plus, when fully grown, they reproduce every few months, which means you could have dozens of baby chameleons on your hands within a couple of years!
That being said, it’s important to be prepared before purchasing these little guys. For example, You’ll need an enclosure large enough for each adult chameleon to move around comfortably.
They don’t need much room per se, but they like to climb around and explore their environment. A tank with plenty of branches will allow your pet some freedom while still giving him or her some security from predators. Still not wowed yet by the types of chameleons in Florida? Let’s surge!
8. Mellers Chameleon
There are two species that make their home in Florida: The Jackson’s chameleon and Meller’s chameleon. The Jackson species has been seen around Tampa, Jacksonville, and Orlando. It is a bit smaller than its cousin and a little less aggressive.
However, it still can’t be handled safely by humans due to its dewlap or throat fan, which extends out when it gets agitated.
Meller’s chameleon is more reclusive than other species of chameleon. Also, they have been found on a golf course near Daytona Beach and in citrus groves between Ocala and Leesburg.
They feed on insects and small reptiles, such as lizards. They do not grow much larger than 4 inches long. Both species are protected under state law and cannot be kept as pets without a permit from FWC.
Interestingly, they reproduce through parthenogenesis, producing eggs without mating with a male. This leads to all-female offspring who carry only 50 percent of their mother’s genes.
Therefore, it makes them genetically inferior to offspring produced through sexual reproduction. We aren’t done with our list of different types of chameleons in Florida.
9. Four-Horned Chameleon
The four-horned chameleon (Trioceros quadricornis) is named for its unusual-looking crest, which looks like four horns sticking out from its forehead. Chameleon species can be found in Africa, ranging from Sierra Leone to Tanzania and southern Kenya.
The crested chameleon is easily distinguishable because it is predominantly green with red scales covering its back, neck, and head area.
It can inflate its body to make itself look even more intimidating than it already is. This is a way to appear larger and more threatening when feeling threatened by predators or other animals. They feed on insects, lizards, and sometimes fruit.
They are known to live up to 20 years in captivity, but their life expectancy in their natural habitat is unknown. They reproduce well in captivity, and females lay eggs once every two months.
10. Namaqua Chameleon
The next on our list of different types of chameleons in Florida is the Namaqua chameleon. They are also called pygmy chameleons, dwarf chameleons, and miniature chameleons. Their total length is about 6 inches (15.2 cm), and their tail accounts for about half of that length.
Moving on, a female Namaqua chameleon weighs around 17 grams or 0.6 ounces; males are a bit lighter at 14 grams or 0.5 ounces.
Namaqua chameleons usually have brightly colored skin with bright orange-yellow on their front limbs, head, and upper body. They reproduce by laying eggs that hatch after two months; the babies can eat small insects immediately.
That being said, the adults eat crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and other soft-bodied insects and leaves from plants such as hibiscus and passionflower. The Namaqua chameleon can live up to 10 years in captivity if it is well cared for.
11. Short-horned Chameleon
Calumma brevicorne, commonly known as short-horned Chameleon, is a chameleon species. It is endemic to northern Madagascar, including Nosy Be (Andoany) and other islands. Its habitat has declined rapidly because of slash-and-burn agriculture, logging for sawn timber, and settlement clearing.
However, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as vulnerable. It was formerly considered a subspecies of C. parsonii. Recent DNA analysis suggests that C. b. peyrierasi may be closer to Calumma nasutum than either taxon is to C.
12. Cameroon Sailfin
Next up on the list of the types of chameleons in Florida is the Cameroon sailfin chameleon. It is a species native to Africa, specifically southern Cameroon and northern Gabon.
The chameleon can be easily distinguished from other species by its long arms and more elongated body.
Like most chameleons, it can change color quickly; it tends toward red when agitated. They have thick skin that makes them vulnerable to predators like larger birds or other reptiles. Also, they make great pets due to their hardy nature.
Although not usually sold as such, they are relatively easy to care for if certain precautions are followed (such as extra humidity). They reach around 8 in length as adults with distinctive eyes on long stalks. This helps them look above leaves and branches.
13. Dwarf Chameleon
And how can we forget the world’s smallest chameleon in our list of types of chameleons in Florida? This adorable lizard is native to Florida and neighboring islands. It only grows to be around an inch-and-half, making it one of America’s smallest lizards.
In captivity, though, they can grow up to two inches long. This species has a lifespan ranging from five months to six years. The younger B. minima chameleons have blue bellies, but their color morphs into greenish or brownish hues as they age.
Again, they enjoy eating fruit flies and other small insects commonly found within their habitat.
14. Madagascar Giant Leaf Chameleon
Our list of the types of chameleons in Florida is not complete without the Rhampholeon Scelidotherium. There are two separate species known as Madagascar giant leaf chameleons, both of which inhabit rainforests and other remote areas across most of Madagascar. These adorable lizards boast several traits that make them unique.
For starters, they have incredibly large eyes that allow them to see their prey from great distances. They can also change their skin coloration to hide from predators and communicate with one another.
Even more unique is how they reproduce: female butterflies are fertilized by male flies directly onto their eggs!
Both species are believed to be relatively rare in captivity at this time, although captive populations are increasing rapidly due to new breeding techniques. So what do you think about these fascinating creatures?
If you’re an animal lover or just find chameleons fascinating, you’ll be happy to hear that there are many different types of chameleons in Florida. And a few of them live right here in Tampa Bay.
Regarding reptiles, it’s hard to beat the chameleon regarding unique physical traits and interesting behaviors.
Chameleons are great pets to have, but they can be difficult to take care of. If you’re considering adopting or buying one, several species of chameleons are popular in Florida and might be a good fit for your household.
These include the veiled chameleon, Jackson’s chameleon, and the pygmy chameleon. They can be distinguished based on their characteristics and habitats in the wild. Read this guide to learn more about these unique reptiles!