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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Species Fact Profile: Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptrus)

Veiled Chameleon

Chamaeleo calyptrus (Dumeril & Bibron, 1851)

Range: Southwestern Arabian Peninsula
Habitat: Woodlands, Mountain Valleys
Diet: Insects, Leaves
Social Grouping: Solitary, Territorial
Reproduction: Sexually mature at 4-5 months old.  Females may store sperm from previous matings.  Eggs are laid 20-30 days after mating, with a clutch consisting of 40-80 eggs, which hatch after 6-9 months.  Females may breed up to 3 times per year.
Lifespan: 5-8 Years
Conservation Status: IUCN Least Concern, CITES Appendix II

  • Males are 45-60 centimeters long from head to tail, females are 25-35 centimeters long; males also have a larger casque (helmet, or crest) than the females
  • Light green at birth, males develop patterns of several colors (blue, red, orange, yellow, green, and black), whereas females are green with light mottling
  • Adaptations include a prehensile tail aiding in climbing, torrent-eyes which can move (independently) 360 degrees, and mitten-like claws for gripping leaves
  • Ambush predators, relying on camouflage to resemble a flattened leaf; when prey is sighted, the chameleon captures it with its tongue
  • Despite popular belief, chameleons do not change color so much for camouflage as they do to communicate their moods, reproductive statuses to other chameleons
  • One of the few chameleon species known to eat plants, possibly using leaves to obtain moisture in their arid environment
  • Due to extreme, variable nature of the wild habitat, the veiled chameleon is considered one of the most adaptable, hardy chameleons, and is one of the most common species in captivity, both in zoos and in the pet trade

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