Scientific Name: (Chamaeleo calyptratus)
The Veiled Chameleon is one of about 80 species of chameleon and is generally shy in nature. They are light green in colour when a hatchling but when they mature their colours can include gold, blue, greens, yellow, orange and black. The casque on top of their head is only small at first but then grows to up to 5cm once mature. There is sexual dimorphism which means males look differently to the females. Males are larger in size with a length sometimes reaching up to 60cm including their tail. Males also have larger casques and are more striking in colour. Females usually only reach a length of 35cm and are more heavily set. They are a solitary animal and males can be very territorial and so aggressive towards one another. These lizards are a well-adapted arboreal species, when moving they do so in a rocking fashion similar to a leaf in the wind. This allows them to go unnoticed by predators and prey alike.
These lizards are native to Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia. They are arboreal which means they live in trees but can be found in a range of habitats, they inhabit dry plateaus, mountains to wet river valleys. They prefer temperatures in the range of 24 to 35 degrees and can be found in elevations up to 914 metres.
The veiled chameleon is an insectivore. In times of drought or in dry seasons they can consume leaves as a source of water. They have a long, sticky tongue that projects out to capture their prey. They can sit and wait for long periods of time, moving only their eyes to watch their prey. Once the prey is close enough, its tongue is projected out and the insect is taken by the tongue back into its mouth. When they move they do so in a rocking motion to further camouflage themselves with the surrounding leaves.
After a successful mating females Veiled Chameleons change colour within 20 hours. About 25 days later the females lay their eggs. Their clutch size ranges from 35 – 85 eggs which are white and oval which they bury for incubation. Sexual maturity is between 4 and 5 months and they can breed up to 3 times a year. The longevity of a male is up to 8 years and only 5 years for a female
Conservation Status: Least Concern
The Veiled Chameleon is not listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to being the most commonly bred and available species of its genus in the pet trade. Due to the pet trade, this species is now reported to be established in Florida and a feral population is also present in Hawaii.
Like many species there is concern for the long-term survival of this chameleon species due to extensive habitat loss and commercial exploitation.