Jackson’s Chameleon, Part of God’s Yard Art!

by | Jul 3, 2020

It’s a sunny day in Paauilo so I throw on my bikini, grab a book, notepad, pen and beach bag, making a bee line for Terrace #1 behind our hale, the perfect place to lounge and soak up some rays. Of course, Lehua and Wally follow me to enjoy a roll in the soft grass. Soon, Lehua is barking and trying to climb up one of my Triple Blooming Pink Hibiscus that line the terrace flower bed. I didn’t think much about it, except that it was annoying. Pat finally appeared on our lanai, wondering what all the commotion was about.

Even though their pace is usually slow and methodical, they can take off when the need arises.

It finally dawned on me that she must be after some poor, defenseless critter, so I took a look. Sure enough, after close inspection, there was a nice looking Jackson’s Chameleon hanging on for dear life as high as the limb would allow. At that point, she was a bright green But, by the time Pat threw a leash over the railing, and I got Lehua sufficiently tied up to an ohia post, Ms Jackie had changed her garb from green to brown…a much better massacred! And how do I know she is a she? Males have three horns on their heads.

Saving Jackie is one small attempt to keep our little eco system thriving. Hey, Mother’s Day was only two days ago, and she did look a little full through the middle. Happy Mother’s Day, Jackie!

My first encounter with a Jackson’s chameleon

I hadn’t been on the island long, and I was visiting my high school girlfriend at her home in Waimea. She had a great backyard with lots of trees and various tropical vegetation. She called me over to a particular bush and pointed. It took me a minute to actually see the lizard she was pointing too. She explained it was a Jackson’s Chameleon and that they were often hard to find. This little guy, or gal, was a juvenile, maybe 6 inches in length. I was so intrigued and never forgot this introduction. Now, I often see one meandering across the road, creeping across the top of our gate, or, in the last instance, hanging on and hoping that its predator can’t reach her.

NOTE – Even though their pace is usually slow and methodical, they can take off when the need arises. And, although they don’t bite, the hissing sound they make, with mouth wide open, is enough to leave them be.

jackson’s chameleon factoids

  • Also identified as Chamaelo Jacksonii, Trioceros Jacksonii, and Kikuyui Three-Horned Chameleon
  • Named in honor of the famous English naturalist, Sir Frederick John Jackson
  • Arrived in Kaneohe, Hawaii in 1972 from Kenya and Tanzania
  • Now free range on Maui, Oahu, the Big Island and most recently Kauai
  • Thrives in the forest, but are considered predators to Hawaii’s insects, spiders and snails
  • Small to medium sized lizard of 9” to 15” from head to tail, with body length about 5”
  • Illegal to transfer the chameleon between neighbor islands

For further information on the Jackson’s Chameleon, check out this website:

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