Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Usually found amongst the branches of trees and bushes, the flap-necked chameleon will occasionally descend to the ground in order to seek out new feeding grounds or a mate (6) (7). Like other chameleon species, the flap-necked chameleon has a number of special adaptations for hunting. Its eyes are located on cone-shaped turrets, which can move independently, allowing it to look in two different directions simultaneously, while searching for its insect prey. Once spotted, prey is caught by means of the flap-necked chameleon's remarkable, extensile tongue. The contraction of special muscles within the tongue rapidly propels it towards the prey, which is snared by a combination of the tongue's sticky mucous coating and a vacuum created by muscles in the tip (8). When threatened, the flap-necked chameleon presents a dramatic display, rocking from side-to-side, while raising its neck flaps, expanding its throat pouch and gaping its mouth (3) (4). Female flap-necked chameleons are larger than the males and outcompete them for the most favourable areas within their habitat, where prey is most abundant (7). The short mating season is the only time when females will allow males to approach them without conflict. After mating, the female once again becomes aggressive to males, turning black and butting heads with any that approach (6). After a gestation period of around one month (6), the female digs a hole in which the eggs are buried (2). While clutch sizes of up to 60 eggs have been recorded in captivity, in the wild, clutch size may be significantly smaller (2). Hatching takes place around 9 months later (4), with the young reaching sexual maturity after 9 to 12 months (2).
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Description

The flap-necked chameleon's common name derives from the large, movable flaps that protrude from either side of the upper surface of its neck (2) (3). Normally these flaps lie flat, over a bony protuberance at the back of the head called a “casque” (2), but during threat displays to deter rivals or predators, they can be raised and angled at 90 degrees to the head (2) (3). Males can be distinguished from females by their taller casques, larger flaps and by the small spurs which protrude from the hind legs of some subspecies. At rest, the flap-necked chameleon's body colouration is usually light green, brown or yellow, with a light or dark stripe extending across the flanks. The flap-necked chameleon's body is diffusely marked with numerous dark spots, which become bright yellow or orange when it is excited or ready to mate (2). Two low crests formed from large conical scales run down the centre of the upper and lower surfaces of the body (2), with the lower crest beginning at the throat and continuing unbroken over the belly (4).
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is widely distributed throughout southern and eastern Africa. It has been described as ranging from as far west as Cameroon (Welch 1982), east to Kenya, southern Ethiopia and Somalia, and south through Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola into Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa (Tilbury 2010). Possible records of this species from West Africa (as C. quilensis) may be referable to the recently-described C. necasi (J-F. Trape pers. comm. 2012). There are limited records of the species occurring in Rwanda and Burundi (Spawls et al.2002), however, this could be attributed to low recorder effort rather than genuine scarcity of the species in the area. The species has recently been confirmed on Lolui island in Uganda (S. Spawls pers. comm. 2010).

It occurs through most of southern Somalia, and in the Toghdeer region of the north as well as adjacent Ogaden in Ethiopia (Lanza 1990). There is a record of this species from Djibouti (Schtti 1989), but this author did not specify the basis for this (Ineich 2001) and its occurrence in this country is consequently in need of confirmation.
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Continent: Africa
Distribution: Congo, Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi (Shire Highlands), Namibia, Nigeria, Republic of South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda (see note), Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire; except in the north), Zambia, Burundi, Uganda, E Zaire, Tanzania (Pemba Island), Mozambique, Central African Republic ?, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe  
Type locality: Congo 
Type locality: Pemba Island [martensi]  ruspolii: Ethiopia, NW Somalia;
Type locality: Ogaden, Somaliland.
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Range

One of the most widely distributed chameleon species (2) (5), the flap-necked chameleon is found throughout almost all of southern and central Africa, with the northern limits of its range extending from Nigeria and Cameroon in the west to Somalia and Ethiopia in the east (1).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species inhabits coastal forest, both moist and dry savannah, woodland and bushy grasslands, it has also been found in rural and suburban areas (Patterson 1987, Spawls et al.2002, Largen and Spawls 2010, Tolley and Burger 2007). The species is arboreal, however it can often be observed crossing the ground (Tilbury 2010). The bulk of the diet consists of grasshoppers, beetles and other edible invertebrates; large individuals may eat vertebrate prey, such asgeckos and other chameleons (Tilbury 2010). This species is commonly preyed upon by the boomslang (Dispholidus typus) and the twig snake (Thelotornis kirtlandi; Tilbury 2010) as well as a variety of birds and mammals. In southern Africa, mating usually takes place in November/December and gestation lasts about four months (Tilbury 2010). Females lay between 10-40 oval eggs, which take about 10-12 months to hatch (Tilbury 2010). Growth is rapid and sexual maturity is reached within one year of hatching (Tilbury 2010).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The flap-necked chameleon occupies forest, bush and grassland savannah (6).
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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 4 years (captivity)
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Chamaeleo dilepis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 2 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CTTCGTTGACTTCTTTCAACAAACCACAAAGACATCGGCACCATGTATTTTTTATTTGGGTTAGCCGCAGGACTTGTAGGA---GCCACCTCAAGCCTGTTAATACGTACAAAACTTAGCCAGCCTGGATTTTCCCTCGGAGAC---GACCATGCTTATAACGTCTTAATTACCCTTCACGGACTTACCATAATTTTCTTTATAGTAATACCAATTATAATTGGTGGATTTGGAAATTGACTTGTACCCCTAATA---CTTGGAGCACCTGACATAGCTTTTCCACGTATAAATAATATAAGTTTTTGACTTCTCCCACCATCATTCATATTACTATTAGCATCATCAAAAACTGGAACTGGAGTCGGAACAGGATGAACCATCTATCCCCCACTATCAGGAAATATAGCACACTCAGGCCCATCCATAGACCTA---GCAATTTTTTCACTTCATCTAGCAGGAATCTCATCAATTCTTGCTTCAATCAACTTTATTACAACAAGCATTAACATAAAACCACACCACATAGTACTCTACAATTTACCTTTATTTGTATGATCAGTTATATTAACTGCAATTCTACTAATCTTAGCCTTACCAGTATTAGCCGCA---GCTATCACAATACTCCTAACCGATCGAAACTTAAACACAGCATTCTTTGATCCTGTGGGGGGCGGAGATCCAATTCTATTTCAACACCTATTCTGATTCTTTGGTCACCCAGAGGTATATATTCTCATTTTACCAGGATTTGGAATTATCTCACACATCATTACACACTATTCATGCAAAAAA---GAACCATTTGGCTACATAAGCATAGTATGAGCCATATTAGCAATCACAATTCTAGGATTTATAGTCTGAGCCCACCACATATTTACTGTAGGGCTTGATATTGACACACGAGCTTACTTCTCGGCAGCAACAATAACCATTGCTGTACCAACTGGAATTAAAGTATTTAGCTGA---ACAGCAACAATCTTTGGAGGA---AAAATCAACTGAGAACCTCCTATACTGTGAGCCCTTGGATTTATATACCTATTTACTATTGGGGGTCTCACAGGAATTACACTTTCAAACTCCACCCTAGATGTTCTACTTCACGACACCTATTATGTTGTAGCTCATTTCCACTATGTA---CTATCAATAGGAGCAGTATTCGCAATTATAGCAGGTACTGTCTACTGATTTCCACTAATTTCAGGGTACGCACTAAACAAAAAATTAGCATACTCACAATTTACTATTATATTCATTGGGGTTAATATTACCTTCTTCCCACAACATATACTAGGACTAGCAGGAATACCACGA---CGATATTCAGACTTTCCAGACGCCTATGCA---GTATGAAATAATATTTCATCAACAGGAGCACTAATTTCAATATTAGGCGCACTAATAATGATTATAATCTTATGAGAAGCTATAGCCAAAAAACGAAAAATC------TCACGAACACTATCCGATACAACA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Chamaeleo dilepis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
Tolley, K.

Reviewer/s
Bowles, P.

Contributor/s
Anderson, C.V., De Silva, R., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Milligan, H.T., Powney, G., Sears, J., Spawls, S., Tilbury, C., Trape, J.-F., Wearn, O.R., Wilson, P., Wren, S. & Zamin, T.

Justification
Chamaeleo dilepis has been assessed as Least Concern owing to its wide distribution, relatively high local abundance, and its tolerance of an anthropogenic environment. Although collected for the pet trade, there are currently no known or observed effects of removal for the pet trade on natural populations. Careful attention should be paid to detect early warning signs for declines in the population. There are gaps in our knowledge on the population biology and taxonomy of this species and refinement of this knowledge would assist in future assessments.

History
  • 2013
    Least Concern (LC)
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Status

Listed on Appendix II of CITES (1).
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Population

Population
Although this species appears to be abundant locally, there is no quantitative information on population abundances or trends, and no population studies have been conducted. It is widespread and somewhat adaptable and as such is probably not undergoing any population declines at present.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
This species is collected for the international pet trade, with the greatest demand coming from the USA. Between 1977 and 2011, more than 111,000 individuals were exported for the pet trade. To date, there are no known or observed effects of removal for the pet trade on natural populations. However, because population sizes are not known, there are no estimates of survival or rates of population increase, and the taxonomy regarding the status of sub-species is uncertain, careful attention should be paid for any warning signs of declines. It is the third most heavily exported chameleon species on the globe. Careful attention should be paid to country exports to ensure that these are not detrimental to local populations.
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The flap-necked chameleon is one of the most extensively exported chameleon species with almost 50,000 individuals exported between 1977 and 2001. The greatest demand for these chameleons comes from the U.S.A. pet trade (5).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is listed under Appendix II of CITES (CITES 2007). There are no other species-specific conservation measures in place for this species, however, in places its distribution coincides with protected areas. No further conservation measures are required at this time. There is uncertainty about the status of subspecies, so that research is needed to clarify the taxonomy of the species.
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Conservation

The flap-necked chameleon is listed on Appendix II of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and any international trade in this species is therefore strictly controlled and regulated by annual maximum export quotas (1). Despite its popularity in the pet trade, at the present time this species appears to be widespread and common (6). Nevertheless, without proper monitoring of the effects of harvesting for the pet trade, the flap-necked chameleon's population is at risk of undergoing a significant, but undetected, population decline (5).
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Wikipedia

Flap-necked chameleon

The flap-necked chameleon, Chamaeleo dilepis, is native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is a large chameleon, reaching 35 cm (14 in). Colouring ranges through various shades of green, yellow, and brown. There is usually a pale stripe on the lower flanks and one to three pale patches higher on the flanks. These chameleons lay 25 to 50 eggs in a hole dug in soil, which is covered over again by the female. Food includes grasshoppers, butterflies and flies. This chameleon is kept as a pet.

Subspecies[edit]

  • Flap-necked chameleon, C. d. dilepis
  • Idjwi Island flap-necked chameleon, C. d. idjwiensis
  • Isabelline flap-necked chameleon, C. d. isabellinus
  • Pemba Island flap-necked chameleon, C. d. martensi
  • Peters' flap-necked chameleon, C. d. petersii

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carpenter, A. I. and S. Sprawls. Chamaeleo dilepis. 2012 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 26 May 2013.
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