How Many Types of Chameleons Are There?

How Many Types of Chameleons Are There?
Photo by Amy Humphries

You’ve heard about chameleons—they’re lizards with extraordinary change powers.

Did you know there are several chameleons, including veiled chameleons, Jackson’s chameleons, and more? How many types of Chameleons are there? There are about 220 other chameleon species, ranging from rainforests to deserts. 

Despite their differences, however, all of these lizards have specific characteristics in common. For example, they can change color and have long, narrow tongues to catch prey.

In this guide, you’ll learn more about the many chameleon types and what makes them unique compared to other reptiles.

How Many Species of Chameleons Are There?

How many types of Chameleons are there? There are approximately 220 other species of chameleons, most native to Madagascar and a few to Africa.

New species are still being discovered as well. Therefore, when researching a pet chameleon, you must find out what specific species you’re getting. 

Not all chameleons are suitable for captivity, and not all will get along in an aquarium or habitat, so research your choice before buying one.

One of the main characteristics determining how many different types there are is color – some only change colors.

In contrast, others can be green, blue, or orange depending on moods, gender, activity level, and even temperature! There’s also size which generally determines if they’re found more in Africa or Madagascar. 

And then there’s personality type: some have extremely outgoing personalities, while others prefer solitude. The first thing to know about how many types of chameleons there are is that every time you encounter one, it’s likely an entirely new species!

The Life Cycle of a Chameleon

A typical chameleon will reach sexual maturity at around one and a half to three years old, but variations between species exist.

The life cycle of a chameleon is not unlike that of other reptiles. From hatching to laying eggs, for example, can take anywhere from one month to five months—but once an egg hatches, it’s usually just a few weeks until that newborn grows into an adult chameleon.

Likewise, from birth to adulthood takes roughly six months—but we’re guessing your baby probably won’t be walking around on two feet by its first birthday.

So what do you need to know about how long a chameleon lives? Not too much! Though they’re slow-moving creatures, they do have excellent lifespans.

On average, these lizards can live up to 10–20 years in captivity. But how many types of chameleons are there? 

And how many types of chameleons are there? Again, it all depends on how you define kind or species. For example, if you want to count every color variant as a separate type (which doesn’t make sense), there are hundreds of different kinds of chameleons.

What is the Biggest Breed of Chameleons?

The giant chameleon breed is in the Nami Mountains near Yemen. This chameleon, commonly referred to as Panther of Yemen, is also the largest of its species. It’s one of the few reptiles that can drink water through their skin and not just from a water source.

It weighs about 1 kilogram or about 2 lbs. and measures about 25-30 cm, or 10 inches in length. Male chameleons have spikes at their front paws, but females do not; both male and female chameleons have horns. 

The throat of a chameleon is most easily identified by its color, which usually ranges from blue to yellow to red. All chameleons have eyes that move independently, giving them a 360-degree view of their surroundings. 

Evolution of Chameleons

Did you know that chameleons can change their skin color to blend in with their surroundings? And not only can they change colors, but some species can also switch patterns, textures, and even their body shape! It’s an incredibly unique adaptation that helps these reptiles hide from predators. 

But why don’t we hear more about how fantastic chameleons are when we discuss evolution? So let’s talk about one of nature’s most fascinating reptiles and why they’ve survived so long in many different environments. Chameleons are found primarily in Madagascar, Africa, and southern Europe.

They’ve been around for nearly 150 million years and have seen many changes. The earliest ancestors of modern-day chameleons were small lizards called pygopodids that lived during the late Triassic period (200-250 million years ago). 

Most of them were insectivores, eating insects like grasshoppers and spiders. These early lizards had movable eyelids, which helped them see better while hunting insects in trees.

Wild Chameleon Issues

How many types of chameleons are there? Deforestation, habitat destruction, and overhunting have threatened wild chameleon populations. As a result, some species are endangered or extinct in their natural habitats.

The United Nations has adopted several resolutions to promote conservation efforts for wild chameleon populations. 

For example, General Assembly Resolution A/RES/63/122 calls on member nations to support international initiatives for wild chameleon conservation.

Furthermore, countries that share ecosystems with wild chameleons are encouraged to create national strategies for saving their habitats and populations.

These global initiatives help ensure long-term protection for these fascinating reptiles and maintain healthy and functional ecosystems worldwide. 

In addition to UN regulations, some local governments have created legislation protecting certain types of chameleons.

For example, in 2005, Kenya passed legislation preventing individuals from hunting and capturing common Kenyan chameleon species such as Kirk’s dwarf chameleon. Penalties include imprisonment or fines up to $10,000.

Which Species Are Best as Pets

The most common chameleon pets are Veiled Chameleons and Jackson’s Chameleons. Different species have different temperaments and activity levels.

For example, African-veiled chameleons are best suited for intermediate hobbyists since they require more time out of their enclosure.

In addition, you’ll need a larger enclosure for a veiled adult chameleon than one for a juvenile or baby. Lastly, providing proper heat gradients inside their terrarium can be challenging since these temperature changes determine where your chameleon will roam during the day.

On the other hand, Jackson’s chameleons are relatively easy to care for and don’t require special lighting; therefore, they make great starter pets!

How Many Have Chameleon Species Been Identified?

How many Types of Chameleons are there? On average, around ten new chameleon species are identified yearly. This includes both new species and subspecies.

However, due to their exceptional range and number, it is difficult to determine how many types of chameleons exist.

However, according to Herpetologist James A. Campbell, who has been studying these reptiles for over 30 years, hundreds if not thousands or more types and subtypes are waiting to be found.

Although most people only see a small handful of them throughout their lives, how many chameleon species can you identify from memory alone? Two?

Three at most? If you’re interested in learning more about these different animals, I recommend checking out Herpetologist James A. Campbell’s comprehensive guide in Reptiles Magazine.


Like all chameleons, they have an incredibly unique ability: they can change their skin color from green to brown depending on their mood and environment!

Many people get them as pets; watching them change color is excellent! But what about how many types of Chameleons are there? I hope the article helped. 

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