Border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia: The veiled chameleon occupies high, dry plateaus and is found near the border of Yemen and Saudi Arabia along the foot of the escarpment and local wadis (inland river valley), to an elevation of almost 3,000 feet.
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )
Distribution: Yemen, SW Saudi Arabia (up to 2500 m). Introduced to USA (Florida) calyptratus: Yemen calcarifer: SW Saudi Arabia, Yemen (?)
Type locality: Bembatuka [= Bombetoka] (in error for Arabian Peninsula; probably near Aden, Yemen).
The veiled chameleon is characterized as an aggressive, brightly colored chameleon. They have a casque found on top of their heads, which is a tiny swelling when a hatchling, but grows to two inches in height. They typically have bold bands circling their body primarily of bright gold, green and blue mixed with yellow, orange or black. They also have very long cones on their gular crest. There is sexual dimorphism.
Males have a larger body and casque (head crest or helmet) when mature. They are born with tarsal spurs which makes sexing them very easy. Male body length can reach between 17 to 24 inches from head to the tip of the tail. Pastel green as hatchlings, mature males will develop a pattern of several colors such as turquoise, yellow, orange, green and black. They are also usually thin in appearance. Females have a smaller head and casque, and reach their full growth between 10 to 14 inches, within their first year. The female's casque is smaller than the males, but they are heavy bodied. Mature females are shades of green mottled with shades of tan, orange, white, and sometimes yellow (Crabtree, 1999).
Habitat and Ecology
Veiled chameleons are arboreal lizards, meaning they prefer to live high up in trees or lower near the ground in bushes and shrubs. They can live in dry areas and are found on plateaus of mountainous regions, forests and valleys of southern Saudi Arabia and Yemen. They are one of the few species of chameleons which can tolerate wide temperate ranges, though they prefer to live in a temperature range of 75 to 95 degrees F.
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; mountains
The veiled chameleon is an insectivore. They have the ability to capture prey by projecting their sticky tongue. Their tongues are also used for smell and taste. They have also been observed as having a preference for certain prey types. Green insects seem to be a favorite. However, they are one of the few chameleons that also enjoy the taste of plants. They adapted to eating leaves of plants as a source of water during the dry seasons (Crabtree, 1999).
Life History and Behavior
The lifespan of a veiled chameleon is usually five years for females and up to eight years for males (Crabtree, 1999). They reach sexual maturity within 4 to 5 months (8-12 inches). During the breeding season, females turn from their usual light green to a blackish-green with blue and yellow spots on their bodies within 18 hours of a successful mating. Egg laying will occur between 20 - 30 days after mating. Their typical clutch size is 35 - 85 eggs, and breeding may occur up to three times a year.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Chamaeleo calyptratus
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.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Chamaeleo calyptratus
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2011Least Concern
Wild chameleon populations are experiencing growing pressures on a variety of fronts, causing some environmentalists to sound alarms concerning the long-term survival of these animals. It is yet to be seen whether these chameleons will be able to withstand large-scale commercial exploitation and extensive habitat loss.
Growing human populations in their native habitat causes increasing competition for economic resources. Land is consumed to house growing human populations. Land previously considered sacred is cleared, burned, mined or logged to exploit natural
resource for its current economic value. Chameleon populations are ultra-sensitive to the problems associated with habitat loss.
Due to their slow-moving nature, and their inability to relocate quickly, chameleons have evolved in small, often isolated pockets. To these small, isolated populations, habitat loss can prove to be disastrous. Chameleons are exploited by the locals in their native habitat, and by foreigners. Locally, they are sold live to be used for a variety of purposes. Some natives believe that throwing a live chameleon into a fire will bring them good luck. Chameleon parts are sometimes sold to be used in magic rituals. Growing demand by tourists for chameleon body parts (which are sold a souvenirs) adds yet another demand for chameleons in the local markets (Fry, 1997).
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: no special status
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Live and dead chameleons are sold for rituals and souvenirs.
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2010)|
The veiled chameleon, Chamaeleo calyptratus, is a large species of chameleon found in the mountain regions of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. It is also sometimes referred to as the Yemen chameleon.
The male veiled chameleon is primarily green in color and tends to be marked with stripes and spots of yellow, brown, and blue. Depending on the animal's emotional state, this green will range from a bright lime green to a red olive drab. When veiled chameleons are stressed, they often display strong coloration, including bright yellow and sometimes even black. Surroundings only partly contribute to a chameleon's "decision" to change color. Nonbreeding females and juvenile chameleons are generally a uniform green color with some white markings. Breeding and gravid females are a very dark green with blue and yellow spots. The prominence of these markings is dependent on several factors, including health, mood, and temperature of the lizard.
Male chameleons of the species have small spurs or heels on the backs their rear feet, while females do not. This spur is present on males from hatching, and can grow larger with maturity. Adult males are relatively large for reptiles. They can reach an overall length of 24 inches (60 cm). Most specimens usually grow to between 14 and 18 in (35–45 cm). Females are smaller, with the average overall length being just under 12 in (30 cm). Males and females both have a decorative growth called a "casque" on their heads.
Like most chameleons, the veiled chameleon is a specialized tree dweller. It has a flattened body meant to mimic a leaf, and feet specially designed for grasping limbs and branches. Its prehensile tail acts as a fifth appendage and aids in climbing. Its eyes work independently of one another, allowing the chameleon to look in front of and behind itself at the same time. Its long tongue, contrary to popular belief, is not sticky, but instead has a muscular structure on the end which physically grips to capture insect prey. The veiled chameleon is an ambush predator, and is capable of lying still for very long times, waiting for an unsuspecting locust or other prey to wander by.
Veiled chameleons are omnivores. While their main diets consist of insects, they will occasionally consume the leaves, blossoms, and fruit of various plants. This is especially true in times of drought. Like all chameleons, veiled chameleons prefer to drink water in drops on leaves. They do not always recognize standing water, and may dehydrate if that is their only source.
Female veiled chameleons can produce up to three clutches of eggs a year, beginning as early as four to six months of age. Each clutch may contain 20–80 eggs. The eggs are dissimilar to chicken eggs. They retain sperm, which is why they lay so many clutches. Egg-laying sand must be provided for mature females in an incubated bucket or similar, with about 8-10 inches of organic garden soil, or they can die of egg binding.
Veiled chameleons are often kept in captivity because they are hardy when compared to other chameleon species often offered for sale; however, all chameleons require specialized care and should not be considered a beginner's reptile. Like most Old World chameleons, they must be kept individually in a screened enclosure, and provided with a basking light, and a source of ultraviolet (UVB/UVA) light. Veiled chameleons have a reputation of being more aggressive and territorial than many other chameleon species, particularly in captivity. Many experienced owners report more mellow temperaments with careful training and taming.
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