Jackson’s Chameleon

Jackson’s Chameleon (Chamaeleo jacksonii)

Regulatory Status:

Injurious Wildlife (Exhibit 5, Chapter 13-124). It is illegal to transport these animals between islands or to commercially export to the mainland. Penalties can include a fine of up to $200,000 and a possible prison sentence. The HDOA has an amnesty program allowing a person to turn in an illegal animal without prosecution.

Prevention and Control Categories: 


Report this species if seen on Kaua’i or Lana’i!



Jackson’s chameleons are a popular pet that can escape the cage and establish feral populations in Hawaiʻi. They are bright emerald green fading to a yellowish color on their undersides. Males are generally 10-12” long with a long, prehensile tail accounting for half of their length, and with three horns protruding from their forehead. Females are generally a little shorter and never grow horns. Jackson’s chameleons are solitary creatures which spend most of their time in trees. Chameleons move with a distinctive slow rocking motion.


Chameleons’ thrive in a variety of forest environments and are yet another predator of Hawaiʻi’s native insects, spiders, and snails, making them an unwelcome guest in the State. Chameleons are also a potential prey base for the Brown tree snake and other snakes, which increases the likelihood of this alien species establishing populations if ever introduced. 


Introduced from Kenya & Tanzania to Hawai’i in 1972, this popular pet was intentionally released in Kāneʻohe and now has established free ranging populations on the islands of Hawaiʻi, Maui, and Oʻahu (It is not necessary to report sightings on these islands). They have not become established on Kauaʻi or Lana’i- report any sightings on these 2 islands!


What you can do:

If you see this species on Kaua’i or Lana’i, call 643-PEST and/or visit 643pest.org.


In the case of any unusual reptile sighting on any island, report to 643pest!






Look-alike Species

Veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus): This species is typically larger than a Jackson chameleon (Up to 4x larger!).  They also have a large casque (shark fin-like shield) on their head, as compared to the three horns of a male Jackson. The Veiled chameleon is often more colorful than the Jackson’s chameleon.  THIS SPECIES IS ALSO A PEST!

Veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)




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