Top 15 Types Of Chameleons: Best Pet Chameleons

Are you interested in owning a one-of-a-kind pet lizard?

No reptile is as fascinating to watch as the chameleon.

Their alien look, combined with strange movements, makes them a unique pet. They also live an unusual lifestyle and are known for their beautiful colors.

Most chameleon species are a hands-off species. This means they prefer not to be handled or interacted with. But some pet chameleons are so unusual, they grab your attention even while in their enclosure.

If you are trying to decide which chameleon will be best for you, continue reading! We will share the 15 best types of chameleons to keep as pets along with their appearance, care needs and price.

Types Of Chameleons

Types of Chameleons
Chameleons are some of the most interesting pet reptiles.

Chameleons are a diverse group of lizards. There are over 202 types of chameleons that can be found in Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Across their range, they can be found in tropical rainforests, savannas, and even deserts. They are specially adapted for climbing and ambushing prey with their long, sticky tongues.

In the wild, many are threatened by habitat loss and collection for the pet trade.

Chameleons are well known for their ability to change skin colors and patterns. However, the reasons for why they change color is still debated. Popular belief is that it evolved for camouflage. New research now suggests that they use their colors for communication.

Their eye-catching and unusual appearance makes them popular pets. However, they require excellent care and a specific setup to thrive. There are some species of chameleon more suited for beginners, but they are generally best for experienced owners only.

If kept by an experienced reptile owner, chameleons can make wonderful pets. Though they may not be the best lizards for beginners, chameleons can offer years of beauty and intrigue if kept properly.

No two chameleon species are alike. They differ in size, color, temperament, and behavior.

The care, husbandry and difficulty of keeping a pet Chameleon will vary widely.

Some do well with basic reptile care, while others will only flourish in extremely complicated setups that closely mimic their natural habitat.

You will want to consider the time, money, and effort you want to put into caring for a pet chameleon. Choosing the best species for you will lead to a healthier, happier pet and a more rewarding experience.

Rank Species Color Price Size Suitable For
1 Veiled Green and yellow $50 22 inches Beginner
2 Panther Green, blue, turquoise and yellow $200-300 20 inches Beginner
3 Jackson’s Green $40 12 inches Intermediate
4 Ambilobe Panther Blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange $300-500 8 inches Intermediate
5 Flap-Necked Green $50 12 inches Beginner
6 Side-Striped Brown $40 6.5 inches Expert
7 Parson’s Blue, white, yellow, green, and brown $500-1000 28 inches Intermediate
8 Carpet Black, white, blue, and green $100-300 8 inches Intermediate
9 Oustalet’s Brown and red $100 27 inches Intermediate
10 Pygmy Beige, gray, or tan $60 3.5 inches Advanced
11 Usambara Pygmy Beige or tan $60 3 inches Advanced
12 Senegal Green $30 8 inches Advanced
13 Four-Horned Green and brown $500 14 inches Expert
14 Meller’s Green and yellow $200 24 inches Advanced
15 Werner’s Brown and green $70 12 inches Advanced

1. Veiled Chameleon

Veiled chameleon
These lizards live high up trees in the mountains, valleys, and plateaus of the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Size: 22 inches.
  • Color: Green and yellow.
  • Price: $50.
  • Suitable For: Beginner.

The Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) sits at the top of our list as the best and most popular pet chameleon. This species is easy to breed in captivity and often costs less than $50.

Veiled species are an attractive and interesting species. Their name comes from the tall crest or “veil” on their heads. These crests are normally larger and more colorful on males.

Both males and females are mint green with light, mint-green or orange bars along the side. These colors will become more vivid and stand out the most when the lizard is agitated. When resting or relaxed, their color will fade to a uniform pale green.

Like most chameleons, this species is best left as a display pet. They do not enjoy being handled. Despite this, they do quite well as pets and are more forgiving of setup or husbandry mistakes than other types of chameleons.

2. Panther Chameleon

Panther Chameleon

  • Size: 20 inches.
  • Color: Green, blue, turquoise and yellow.
  • Price: $200-300.
  • Suitable For: Beginner.

The panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) is found in the tropical rainforests of northeastern Madagascar. These lizards are known for their friendly, outgoing personality and bright colors. Especially vibrant species can be sold for $500 or more.

Panthers are medium to large lizards that come in several shades of red, green, blue, and yellow. They can change colors, but this change takes place over the span of several minutes.

Males grow to 20 inches, while females tend to stay below 12 inches. These lizards have a single, rough horn on their nose, a small head crest, and are patterned with neon stripes and blotches.

Panther chameleons are one of the easier chameleon species to keep in captivity. However, they are quite the challenge for a beginner or first time reptile owner.

3. Jackson’s Chameleon

Jackson’s chameleon

  • Size: 12 inches.
  • Color: Green.
  • Price: $40.
  • Suitable For: Intermediate.

The Jackson’s chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii) is an easily-recognizable species from Kenya and Tanzania. They are less colorful than other chameleons but have a nice solid green body with lighter green and brown markings.

Adult Jackon’s grow to 13 inches and have a lifespan of 8 years. Males have three long horns on the front of their faces, giving them a unique and mythical look. These horns are not found on any other pet chameleon species.

Jackon’s would make a choice for a previous reptile owner looking for a starter chameleon. They are not a good match for someone new to owning lizards. They have a complicated insectivorous diet, dining on gut-loaded crickets, cockroaches, locusts, mealworms, and waxworms.

These lizards are widely bred in captivity and are often sold for less than $100.

4. Ambilobe Panther Chameleon

Ambilobe Panther

  • Size: 8 inches.
  • Color: Blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange.
  • Price: $300-500.
  • Suitable For: Intermediate.

The Ambilobe panther (Furcifer pardalis ssp.) is a subspecies of panther chameleon from the Ambilobe region of Madagascar. They are also known as the Sirama panther.

Ambilobe Panther Chameleons are the most popular subspecies of panther.

These lizards are a rainbow of colors, from red and turquoise to white, yellow-green, and orange. Their amazing colors, ease of handling, and simple care needs make them one of the most popular pet chameleons.

Males are larger than females and can reach 8 inches in size. They are also more colorful. Males use their bright and vivid colors to communicate with their rivals.

Ambilobe panthers are curious and more active than other species. Some individuals may even enjoy handling and seeking out interaction with their owners.

They are a good choice for any beginner interested in buying a chameleon. However, some beginners can struggle to maintain the correct humidity cycle they need.

5. Flap-Necked Chameleon

Flap-necked chameleon

  • Size: 12 inches.
  • Color: Green.
  • Price: $50.
  • Suitable For: Beginner.

Flap-necked chameleons (Chamaeleo dilepis) are found in forests, grasslands, and urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa. They are also widely bred in captivity and sold as pets.

Docile, adaptable, and medium-sized, flap-necks are one of the few chameleon species that can be handled. They are an excellent choice for first time owner.

These lizards are instantly recognizable. They have the characteristic curled tail, triangular head, and camera-like eyes. This species is overall yellow-green, with a light cream stripe on each side.

There are eight subspecies of flap-necked chameleons. The largest can reach 14 inches in size, but all of them can be kept in a 24” x 18” x 36” enclosure. Make sure to give your lizard a mix of branches, vines, plants, and logs to mimic its natural habitat and reduce stress.

6. Side-Striped Chameleon

  • Size: 6.5 inches.
  • Color: Brown.
  • Price: $40.
  • Suitable For: Expert.

Side-striped chameleons (Trioceros bitaeniatus) are native to the mountains of Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Zaire, and Kenya. These lizards live at high altitude so prefer high humidity, cool temperatures, and lots of vegetation cover.

As chameleons go, this species is not very colorful. Side-stripes are typically light green or mottled brown, with two horizontal, cream stripes along each side. If they are stressed, these colors will darken and they will develop dark patches on their backs.

The side-striped species is a small chameleon and will grow no longer than six inches from nose to tail.
One downside to Side-Stripes is that they are not very active and can sit in the same spot for several days. This can make it difficult to determine whether or not they are healthy. As a result, this species is best for someone who has kept lizards before.

7. Parson’s Chameleon

Parson’s Chameleon

  • Size: 28 inches.
  • Color: Blue, white, yellow, green, and brown.
  • Price: $500-1000.
  • Suitable For: Intermediate.

The Parson’s chameleon (Calumma parsonii) is a bright and colorful lizard species. It makes a popular pet Chameleon because of its color patterns and massive size. They are a contender for the largest species reaching 28 inches in length.

This species is also one of the longest-living chameleons with a lifespan of nearly 10 years.

Parson’s are a beautiful teal, with diagonal brown stripes, a white head, and red eyes. They are also excellent at changing color. They are able to turn almost entirely black and white under different temperature conditions.

This lizard takes well to handling and is less shy than most types of chameleons. However, they should not be handled often and need a densely-planted enclosure with plenty of cover to feel secure.

Parson’s are very difficult to breed in captivity. Because of the demand for this species and its exportation as a pet, they are now listed as a near threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

8. Carpet Chameleon

Carpet Chameleon

  • Size: 8 inches.
  • Color: Black, white, blue, and green.
  • Price: $100-300.
  • Suitable For: Intermediate.

The Carpet chameleon (Furcifer lateralis) is a species of chameleon native to the dense forests of Madagascar. They tend to be shy and wary of people. However, captive-bred individuals are usually more adaptable to interacting with their owners.

Carpets are named for the carpet-like patterns and markings on their body.

Individuals, especially females, are dotted with an assortment of spots, circles, blotches, and stripes. Females are dark green on the back, pale white on the belly, and reddish gold on the sides. They are usually more popular than males as they have more vivid colors and patterns.

Both males and females rarely grow longer than 10 inches, making them a manageable size.

Carpet chameleons are excellent pets that intermediate and advanced keepers can enjoy. They are not as big as Oustalet’s or Parson’s, but are larger than Senegal or pygmy chameleons.

9. Oustalet’s Chameleon

Oustalet’s Chameleon

  • Size: 27 inches.
  • Color: Brown and red.
  • Price: $100.
  • Suitable For: Intermediate.

The Oustalet’s chameleon (Furcifer oustaleti) is one of the most colorful and largest species from Madagascar. They live on the edges of jungles, forests, and villages.

In Florida Oustalet’s are considered an invasive species. They were likely introduced after being imported for the pet trade and released into the wild.

Oustalet’s can grow to 27 inches, though females are typically much smaller than males. Gray, brown, and green colors are common in this species. Red, white, and black bands are common too.

These gentle giants are recommended for experienced reptile owners with a lot of room. A single chameleon should be kept in a 3’ x 3’ x 6’ enclosure. They are widely available for sale from private reptile breeders.

10. Pygmy Chameleon

Pygmy Chameleon

  • Size: 27 inches.
  • Color: Brown and red.
  • Price: $100.
  • Suitable For: Intermediate.

Pygmies are found mostly in thickets, savannas, and forests at high altitudes in eastern Africa. They are also called African leaf chameleons because they look almost identical to a leaf.

Unlike other species, pygmies live close to the ground and not in trees. They often live under dense cover, using camouflage to hide from predators. To blend in, these lizards are naturally brown, gray, and green.

Pygmy chameleons are part of the genus Rhampholeon, which includes 19 species.

This genus includes some of the smallest chameleon species in the world. Most species only grow to 3 inches.

Their small size and docile temperaments make them appealing to beginners. However, they are delicate and sensitive to changes in their environment. Their small size and ability to live in pairs make them perfect for advanced keepers who want multiple pets.

11. Usambara Pygmy Chameleon

  • Size: 3 inches.
  • Color: Beige or tan.
  • Price: $60.
  • Suitable For: Advanced.

The Usambara pygmy (Rhampholeon temporalis) is a tiny species of chameleon found in Tanzania. They reach just 3.5 inches once fully grown.

These little chameleons are perfectly evolved for camouflaging among the leaves of a forest floor. They are dusty brown with a lighter belly and a single, slanted brown stripe from the back of their shoulder to the end of their ribcage. They are shaped and colored like dead leaves.

This species is endangered in its native habitat due to deforestation and habitat destruction.

However, there are breeders who are able to raise and sell pet Usambara pygmies.

Usambara pygmies are a good choice for advanced keepers who want multiple reptiles in one enclosure. They can be housed in either female-female or male-female pairs.

12. Senegal Chameleon

Senegal Chameleon

  • Size: 8 inches.
  • Color: Green.
  • Price: $30.
  • Suitable For: Advanced.

The Senegal chameleon (Chamaeleo senegalensis) is found in Mali, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Senegal. They come from drier, more arid scrublands and savannas than their tropical relatives. Because of this they do not need as much cover in their tank.

Senegals are olive, pale green, or light yellow, with subtle spots and stripes. They lack the flashy crest or horns found in types of chameleons like the four-horned or Jackon’s.

This species only grows to 8 inches, which makes them perfect for someone looking to keep a small chameleon.

As a pet, the Senegal is usually calm and docile, but is easily stressed when handled.

This species can be tricky for a beginner to keep healthy.

Senegal chameleons need space for climbing, high humidity, good air circulation, and precise temperatures. They also rarely drink from bowls, preferring instead to lick moisture off of leaves. With good care they have a lifespan of 5 years.

13. Four-Horned Chameleon

  • Size: 14 inches.
  • Color: Green and brown.
  • Price: $500.
  • Suitable For: Expert.

Four-horned chameleons (Trioceros quadricornis) are native to the high forests of Cameroon and Nigeria. Believe it or not, these chameleons do not always have four horns. They can have just two or as many as six!

Female four-horns have one or two small horns on the tips of their snouts. Males have larger, bonier horns and a spiny throat pouch. This species also has a crest on their heads and tails, making them look almost like a living dragon.

Though a popular pet chameleon species, most available for sale are collected illegally from their wild habitats. You should only buy and care for a captive bred four-horned chameleons.

The forests where this species lives can receive up to 400 inches of rain per year. Because of this, they need a precise humidity level that even experienced keepers can struggle to provide.

14. Meller’s Chameleon

Meller’s Chameleon

  • Size: 24 inches.
  • Color: Green and yellow.
  • Price: $200.
  • Suitable For: Advanced.

The Meller’s chameleon (Trioceros melleri) is a large, bold, and eye-catching species from the mountains of eastern Africa. This species is the largest native chameleon in Africa, not counting Madagascar. Adults can reach over 2 feet in length and weigh a pound or more.

Meller’s are also known as the giant one-horned chameleon.

Both males and females have a large, rounded horn on the tips of their noses.

Like other types of chameleons, Meller’s can change colors based on their mood or temperature. This species is banded yellow and bright green in its resting state. Displaying males and territorial adults can develop blues and yellows or black patches when stressed.

Meller’s chameleons need a large enclosure to stay healthy. A full-grown adult will need an enclosure at least 6 feet tall by 3 feet wide and long. The more space, the better when it comes to keeping them.

15. Werner’s Chameleon

  • Size: 12 inches.
  • Color: Brown and green.
  • Price: $70.
  • Suitable For: Advanced.

The Werner’s chameleon (Trioceros werneri) is a rare medium-sized species from the Udzungwa region of Tanzania’s Eastern Arc mountains.

Male Werner’s have three ridged horns on the front of their faces, while females only have one. These chameleons are usually brown and green with cream and black blotches on the sides. Some individuals may appear reddish or even maroon.

Werner’s need to be housed alone and should be handled only when necessary. This species is best for advanced keepers because of its sensitivity to temperature and humidity.

In general, hatchlings and juveniles are not sold until they mature and can handle the stress of changing owners. It is fairly hard to find them for sale as pets.

Summary

Not every type of Chameleon is recommended for a beginner. Chameleon species like Veiled, Jackson’s, Ambilobe Panthers and Flap-Necked are better for first time owners.

Most Chameleons are best suited to those who have experience in caring for reptiles.

Owning a pet chameleon takes a great deal of care, effort, and attention to detail. However, these colorful reptiles make rewarding and eye-catching reptiles for those willing to take on the challenge.

Do you think you are ready to buy one of these unique lizards? Make sure you do plenty of research to determine which species is best for you.

Which Chameleon on our list do you want? Let us know.

About Nigel Robert

Nigel Robert Nigel is a lifelong reptile lover and has kept pet lizards since childhood. His first was a pet Leo which was shortly followed by a Beardie named, Rocky. For the last 10 years he has kept over 20 different species but his favorite is his Banana Ball Python, Monty.

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