Identification Three-Horned Chameleon

There are five species of three-horned chameleons in the world, four inhabit Tanzania.

Five species are following

Trioceros Deremensis

Trioceros Deremensis @ East Usambara Mountains

It is a chameleon inhabiting East Usambara Mountains in Tanga Region in northeastern Tanzania.

Trioceros Jacksonii

iNaturalist © Elliot Kinsey

Inhabit Tanzania and Kenya. It is classified into 3 subspecies including nominotypical subspecies.

  • Trioceros Jacksonii Jacksonii: nominotypical subspecie . Kenya
  • Trioceros Jacksonii Merumontanus: subspecie. Mt. Meru, Tanzania
  • Trioceros Jacksonii Xantholophus: subspecie. Mt. Kenya and Hawaii(exported and made wild)

Trioceros Werneri

Trioceros Werneri @ Mafinga

Inhabit the southern part of central Tanzania (Iringa Plateau, Morogoro Mountain).

Trioceros Fuelleborni

Trioceros Fuelleborni @ Mbeya

Inhabit the mountains of Mbeya, southern Tanzania.

Trioceros johnstoni

iNaturalist © Joachim Louis

Inhabit the western part of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda

Before moving to the explanation of how to distinguish, we will introduce the common information of Three-horned Chameleon.

Characteristics of Three-Horned Chameleon

Triangle chameleons mainly inhabit forests with altitudes over 1000m and nearby villages. Basically, it is a foggy terrain, but in the dry season it often does not rain for a month.

All three-horned chameleons are included in the genus “Trioceros”, but not all species belonging to this genus are horned.

A few years ago, all species belonged to the genus “Chamaeleo”, but recently they were divided into “Trioceros”.


The easiest way to identify is the habitat area. There is no overlap in each habitat area.

How to identify other than the habitat area is as follows.

The first chameleon that can be identified is Deremensis. The face is big and the three horns are far each other, so it’s not so cool. (* Subjectivity of the manager) There are also a little flap .

Next, you can divide into two groups if there is a flap. Werneri and Fuelleborni have flaps. Jacksonii and Johnstoni don’t have.

Werneri and Fuelleborni are identified by the length of the horns and the size of the scale (skin particles). Werneri has a longer horns (about 2cm) and a larger scale. Fulleborni has shorter horns (about 1cm) and a finer scale.

Jacksonii and Johnstoni can be identified by the presence or absence of a dorsal crest. Jacksonii has a crest with some gaps, but Johnstoni does not. * Johnstoni has a wavy back, but not a spike. Johnstoni is also colorful with yellow skin.

For the Jacksonii subspecies, we can only identify by size and location.

Compare by Size

The following is roughly in descending order by size

Deremensis 20-30cm 35cm
Jacksonii Xantholophus 15-25cm 38cm
Johnstoni 15-25cm 30cm
Jacksonii Jacksonii 22 cm ?
Werneri 16-22cm 24cm
Fuelleborn 20cm 22cm
Jacksonii Merumontanus 16-18cm ?

Oviparous or Ovoviviparous (number of eggs)

Oviparous;Deremensis(11-32), Johnstoni(14-20)

Ovoviviparous:Fuelleborni(15), Jacksonii(7-28) , Werneri(15-23)

Ovoviviparous is born with thin and soft shell , and immediately begin to break and move by themselves.

Existence of horns for female

Speciefemale horn
Deremensis no horn
Jacksonii Jacksonii short 1 or 3 horn
Jacksonii Xantholophus no horn
Jacksonii Merumontanus short 1 horn
Johnstoni no horn
Werneri shorter than male 1 or 3 horn
Fuelleborn very short 1 horn

Endangered Status

All species are “least concern” and are not endangered.

In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that there is almost no danger of extinction because you can find several of these chameleons in a single search and it can live not only in forests, but also in rural areas.

Habitat temperature

Below is the temperature of the habitat. Please refer to when rearing.

Deremensis(altitude: 1000m)

Cold Season :min 13℃、max 25℃
Warm Seson :min 17 ℃、max 34 ℃

Johnstoni(altitude: 1800m)

寒い時期 : min 12 ℃ 、 max 23 ℃
暖かい時期: min 14 ℃ 、 max 26 ℃

Werneri, Fuelleborni, Jacksonii(altitude: 2000m)

寒い時期 : min 7 ℃ 、 max 20 ℃
暖かい時期: min 13 ℃ 、 max 25 ℃

This is how to identify the Three-horned Chameleons.