Chamaeleo (Trioceros) quadricornis

Scientific name Common name(s) alternate scientific names described by year size brood

Chamaeleo (Trioceros) quadricornis

Four-horned or Cameroon Bearded Chameleon none
see a species list of Chamaeleo
Tornier 1899 Medium Eggs

Mature individuals top out at an average total length of 10" to 15" (25 to 37 cm) for males, with females running 2" to 3" (5 to 7 cm) shorter but with a slightly stockier build. In captivity, a healthy quad can live for over 5 years. They are only moderately aggressive toward conspecifics and keepers.

C. quadricornis is native to a handful of semi-isolated upper montane cloud forest areas in Cameroon and possibly, Nigeria. There are also some reports of it occupying hilly savannah edge.

C. quadricornis possesses a high casque but lacks occipital lobes. Despite its name, males actually exhibit 3 pairs of small rostral horns but the posterior pair may be undeveloped. A row of conical scales forms a ventral crest, most pronounced in the gular region and becoming progressively smaller toward the cloaca. On the back and proximal 1/3 of the tail there is a sail-fin. It is for this reason that some pet shops may mis-label C. quadricornis as a "sail-fin chameleon" thereby confusing it with C. montium. While males sport horns and a high tail fin, some females occasionally develop rudimentary horn buds and possess at least partial tail fins. Body scalation is heterogeneous.

The primary body shading can vary from neon to dark forest green to even teal and powder blue or mixtures. The typical display pattern is generally bright to medium green with wave-like washes of dilute bluish white or parchment along the upper sides. The casque (top of the head) usually sports distinct robin's egg blue or burnt orange spotting surrounding a tan to burnt orange oblong central core. Claws may be a rich red color.

Environmental Requirements: The most important factors in successfully maintaining C. quadricornis in captivity involve meeting their water and humidity requirements. The area of Cameroon where C. quadricornis originates experiences 400 inches of rain a year. The ideal daytime temperatures are 72º to 76ºF (22 to 25ºC) accompanied by a relative humidity of 70% or higher. If you cannot provide such high humidity then it is very important to provide plenty of drinking water. As with most chameleons, they also prefer a distinct 5 to 10ºF (5ºC) night time temperature drop accompanied by an increase in the relative humidity. Thus the usual recommendation for chameleons, i.e., no nightlights or under-cage heating pads, is particularly important for this species. . They tolerate regular lows into the high 50'sºF with no apparent difficulty. Consistent lows (in the low 50's F or less) or consistent highs (above 85º F) are risky and should be avoided.

Housing Concerns: Most chameleons are solitary by nature and must be housed individually. Take this into consideration before you talk yourself into buying a pair. If choosing a first chameleon then a male is strongly recommended. Females may suffer from dystocia (egg-binding) and are, therefore, more difficult to maintain than are males. Ideally you should buy or make a screen cage. This ensures good ventilation, provides walls which the chameleon can understand and climb if necessary (though watch their grip as they can hurt their feet if the mesh is sharp edged or of unsuitable size). An added benefit of a screen cage is that you can place all the lights and drip and misting systems on the outside and you can easily mist the plant leaves without opening the cage.

Glass tanks are prone to heat retention and provide poor ventilation. The combination of high humidity, higher temperatures and poor ventilation means that a glass tank quickly becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and fungal growth that inevitably leads to infection and the slow decline of your chameleon. Additionally, glass sides tend to act as mirrors, giving the inhabitant the impression that another chameleon is nearby. For most species of chameleon, this is very stressful.

A cage size of at least 3' tall x 2' deep x 2' long will house most individual adult quads comfortably. Keeping live, potted plants in the cage is almost essential. Dwarf Schefflera is a good choice and we find that a hanging basket (such as Aeschynanthus lobbianus) suspended near the top of the cage is excellent for supporting the weight of an active, growing quad. Supplement the live plant(s) with clean (dead) sticks and branches so that the chameleon may travel all over the cage. Ensure that the branches vary in width so that the chameleon can exercise his/her feet properly. Quads do not generally eat leaves but even so it is probably best to avoid poisonous plants such as ivy (Hedera), philodendrons etc. Purchase and set up your housing at least several days prior to taking the animal home. Put a thermometer/hydrometer in the cage from the start so you can verify the temperature and humidity at any point in time.

Dehydration is one of the most common problems and usually indicates that your housing or hydration practices are inadequate and immediate steps should be taken to rectify the situation. If the eyes appear slightly sunken, place the individual on a large potted plant and place it in the shower. Using a gentle, cool mist approx. 65ºF) allow the the individual to be "rained on" for at least an hour. If you do not have a fine mist setting on your shower head you can bounce the spray off of the shower wall to create a finer mist. Sunken eyes may also indicate other problems and if they persist more than an hour or two after a shower, a vet's attention may be needed. Don't let an animal go more than a day or two with sunken eyes before contacting a vet with experience working with reptiles.

Lighting: UVB-producing fluorescent tubes such as Repti-Sun 510 R (Zoo-Med) are probably the best choice for the primary lighting. Quads are not much for basking but if ill or stressed, they will sometimes seek out a sunlit spot. Thus, a small wattage incandescant bulb is all that is required for basking. The UV tube is a poor substitute for natural unfiltered sunlight so if you have the opportunity to place your chameleon cage outside on sunny days then the chameleon will benefit greatly. In hot weather be sure that they have sufficient shade available to them in case they overheat. Sunlight coming through a window, is of little benefit because normal glass filters out the UV-B which they require.

Humidity Control/Drinking Water: Ideally, the cage and its flora should be heavily misted several times daily, more often in hot weather. All of our cages are plumbed into an automatic misting system which showers the interiors 4 times per day. This satisfies all drinking water needs and maintains a consistently high relative humidity. As the amount of water entering these cages exceeds evaporation rates, these cages are also plumbed with drains to prevent standing water from accumulating and becoming a health concern. Hand misting also works quite well and is a more practical option for most pet owners. Cage floor substrate is a matter of choice but we find that capillary matting (from your local garden center) works well and is easily removed, rinsed and replaced regularly.

If you rely on hand spraying (as opposed to an automatic mister, we would recommend putting a simple drip system (available at most larger pet shops or you can just use a plastic or paper cup with a pinhole in the bottom) in or on top of the cage. If you arrange the water to drip onto and run over the leaves of a plant the water flow will attract their attention and they will drink when they are thirsty. They may not drink every time or they may not drink when you are looking but always provide this drinking water at least once or twice a day in addition to the regular mistings.

Diet/Feeding Schedule: As varied a diet as possible is highly desirable. Small moths and butterflies seem to be quads' preferred prey items, but Zoophobas worms, woodlice and house flies are also usually readily consumed. Wax moth larvae may also be offered but wax-worms are very high in fat and should be offered only sparingly. The quantity of food needed varies by individual but particularly with female chameleons it is important not to overfeed as this can lead to dangerously large clutches of eggs. Crickets invariably make up the bulk of most captive chameleon's diet. It's important that you feed your crickets a good diet as it ultimately becomes the chameleon's food as well. We use chopped carrots and mixed leafy vegetables as the main diet. Don't supply additional water, let the vegetables be the crickets water source. This will result in less smelly cricket containers and longer-lived crickets. Quads are sensitive to excessive vitamin A so we prefer not to use any commercial vitamin supplements but rely on using well-fed feeder insects. We do very occasionally use a mineral supplement such as Miner-All (O). Remember to remove feces daily and generally keep your chameleon's cage clean!

C. quadricornis lays from 8-15 eggs in a clutch. Two-3 clutches may be laid per year. Detailed data on the size and timing of clutches from multiples females may be found here. The young reach sexual maturity at approximately 6 months. C. quadricornis

Contributed by Andy and Janette Beveridge

Bartlett, R. D. and Bartlett, P. 1995. Chameleons: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual. Barron's Educations Series, Hauppuage, NY
Davison, Linda J. 1997. Chameleons: Their Care and Breeding. Hancock House Publishers, Blaine, WA.
Klaver, C. & W. Boehme. 1997. Chamaeleonidae. Das Tierreich, 112: i-xiv' 1 - 85. Verlag Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin, New York.?
Le Berre, F. 1994. The New Chameleon Handbook. Barron's Educational Series.
Martin, J., 1992. Masters of Disguise: A Natural History of Chameleons. Facts On File, Inc., New York, NY.
Necas, P. 1999. Chameleons: Nature's Hidden Jewels. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, FL.

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