Types of Chameleon

There are many different types of Chameleon out there. They are a fascinating family of lizards with many unique and interesting features.

While chameleons require a little more care than many other species of lizards, they can be very rewarding and interesting pets.

In fact, there are many types of chameleon that thrive in captivity. With such a variety of different species out there, there is a chameleon for everybody.

What are Chameleons

Chameleons are essentially a family of lizards. Other common families of lizards include Geckos, Monitors and Iguanas.

There are over 200 different species of Chameleon lizards that are divided into 12 different genera.

The majority of Chameleons are native to Africa and Madagascar but they can also be found in the Middle East, India and parts of Southern Europe.

What do Chameleons look like

With so many different species, the different types of chameleons can have very different appearance. However, there are many common traits shared by many of these lizards.

Probably the most common trait associated with chameleons is their ability to change color. Some can drastically change their coloration while other types of chameleon can vaguely change their brightness.

Other common traits shared by different types of chameleon include their projectile tongue and prehensile tail. They also have a laterally compressed body.

Chameleons are also known for their ‘fork-shaped’ feet. This is known as zygodactylous feet.

Different types of Chameleon

There are over 200 different types of chameleon that can be found throughout Africa and Madagascar as well as parts of the Middle East and Southern Europe.

This is way too many species to name and describe in this article. Instead, we will discuss a select few species based on popularity and unique characteristics.

Panther Chameleon

Types of Chameleon - Panther Chameleon
Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Panther Chameleon is one of the most popular types of Chameleon in captivity due to the vibrant coloration of males.

The Genus that the Panther Chameleon belongs to is called Furcifer. This genus contains other species such as the Carpet Chameleon and the Rhinoceros Chameleon.

Females a generally a dull green, grey or tan coloration but males display a wide variety of vibrant colors.

They have large dome shaped eyes on the side of their heads as well as a casque on the top of their head which is most prominent in males.

These types of chameleon are native to the Northern parts of Madagascar where they are found in the coastal lowland regions.

Jacksons Chameleon

Types of Chameleon - Jacksons Chameleon
Patrick Randall, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

The Jacksons Chameleon is a stunning species of lizard that can be found in the mountainous region in and around Kenya.

These chameleons have a very unique appearance which makes them easy to identify and popular in captivity.

The genus that the Jacksons Chameleon belongs to is called Trioceros. This is a large genus of Chameleons with around 40 different species.

The Jacksons Chameleon has three horns that protrude from the front of its head. These horns are prominent in males while females either only have remnants of the rostral horn or lack any horns entirely.

They are native to the mountainous region of central Kenya. They are particularly common in the mountains near Nairobi.

Types of Chameleon – Pygmy Chameleon

Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Pygmy Chameleon isn’t actually a species of chameleon but is actually a term used to describe a group of tiny chameleons from the same genus.

Each chameleon in this genus is commonly referred to as a pygmy chameleon rather than their actual name which can cause a bit of confusion.

The genus that these types of chameleon belong to is called Rhampholeon and they are sometimes referred to as African Leaf Chameleons. There are 19 different recognised species.

With so many different species, appearances can greatly vary but the one thing they all have in common is their tiny size.

Most of these lizards are grey, brown or green in color which helps them blend into the leaf litter or low-lying bush.

Veiled Chameleon

Types of Chameleon - Veiled Chameleon
William Warby, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Flickr

The Veiled Chameleon is one of the most popular types of chameleon in captivity. This is largely due to their stunning appearance and easy-care requirements.

This lizard belongs to the Chamaeleo genus. Most species in this genus are native to sub-Saharan Africa but some can be found in Europe, the Middle East and India.

The Veiled Chameleon is a large lizard that can reach up to 2 foot in length. Their most defining feature is a large casque on the top of their head.

Its natural range is restricted to a small area in the South-West of the Arabian Peninsula where the climate is semi-arid and tropical. 

They can be found from Mecca in Saudi Arabia to the South-Western tip of Yemen.

Types of Chameleon – Carpet Chameleon

Carpet Chameleon
Bernard Dupont, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Flickr

The Carpet Chameleon is a colorful species of Chameleon is sometimes referred to as the White Lined Chameleon.

The genus that the Carpet Chameleon belongs to is called Furcifer. This is one of the largest genera of chameleons, containing over 20 species.

Most of these species are native to Madagascar, but there are a few exceptions. The lizards in this genus all have forked feet.

The Carpet Chameleon can grow to around 20-25cm in length. Males and females can easily be told apart by their coloration.

Males are typically more lime green in color while females will display a variety of different vibrant colors. These colors often come in the form of white, yellow, orange and red bands or blotches.

The Carpet Chameleon can be found in the Central-Eastern part of Madagascar. They have a stable population and can be found at altitudes of up to almost 2,000m.

Types of Chameleon – Fischer’s Chameleon

Josh More, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Flickr

The Fischer’s Chameleon is a unique looking chameleon. They are sometimes called the Western Usambara Two Horned Chameleon.

The genus that this lizard belongs to is called Kinyongia. Most of the lizards in this genus have some form of ‘horns’ on the front of their head.

Males have two ‘horns’ on their heads. One sticks out from the base of its neck while the other protrudes from the tip of its snout.

The Fischer’s Chameleon can be found in parts of Kenya and Tanzania. They live in mountainous rainforest environments such as the Nguru and Usambara Mountains.