Medium to large lizard, largest Egyptian specimen with a SVL of 190 mm (total length of 340 mm). Occipital flap absent, casque low; body scales small, granular, more or less uniform. Limbs rather long; a tarsal spur present in males. Basic color green with small dark spots with a ventral white line from throat to vent. Color highly variable according to season and disposition. In breeding males color can be light sky-blue, with green and yellow bands. Sick or injured animals can be brown or gray.
Distribution in Egypt
Nile Delta and Valley. Most widespread in the northern parts of the Delta, between Alexandria and Damietta, south to El Mansoura. One road casualty was found in Wadi El Natrun. Distribution in the Nile Valley is not well known. Recorded from Wadi Haifa, Dabarosa (both in Sudan), El Deir, and Krosko (Anderson 1898, Flower 1933, Smith et al. 1998), localities now inundated by the waters of Lake Nasser. A record of several C. chamaeleon from near the Saqqara Pyramid (Meininger and Atta 1994) is probably referable to C. africanus. The species is also known from a small island in the Nile opposite El Saff . C. africanus is likely to be widespread in the Nile Valley, but is under-documented due to its cryptic coloration and habits. Anderson (1898) speculated that the origin of the population of C. africanus in lower Egypt might be due to introduction by human agency. However, the mention by the same author of old reports of "Chameleons" being common in and around Cairo orchards (most likely of this species) in the 14fh and 15th century A.D., and the sporadic occurrence of the species along the Nile Valley (which links northern and southern populations), in addition to the morphological differences between Egyptian and sub-Saharan populations, all indicate that the species' northern extension is a natural one.
Egypt, Sudan, west along the Sahelian belt to Mali. A small population recently discovered in Greece (Bohme et al. 1998) was probably introduced from Egypt, possibly in historical times, or perhaps in more recent years.
Distribution: Mauritania, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Egypt, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Benin, Sudan, Greece Type locality (restricted): Africa (fide MERTENS 1966: 6)
It inhabits cultivated areas, where it is found in orchards, often near or at the margin of wetland. Seens to prefer short dense trees and reeds. However, near El Saff it has been observed high on large mango trees near the Nile.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Chamaeleo africanus
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 africanus
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
Status in Egypt
Fairly common in the northern Delta. On 8 September 1991 seven fresh casualties were found along a 20-km stretch of road near Rosetta. Fairly large numbers are collected for the pet trade. Chameleons are popular pet animals in trade. The impact of collection on this species is probably not significant yet, but numbers collected appear to be larger than in the past. In Egypt it is Vulnerable.
The African chameleon or Sahel chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus) is a species of chameleon native to the Sahel and Nile Valley, although it has been introduced to Greece. An average size may be around 34 cm (13 in) long, including its tail.
Chamaeleo africanus is found in much of the Sahel, from Mali and Mauritania to Sudan. Its range also extends north along the Nile to Egypt, but it may have been introduced there. From Egypt, the species has been brought to the Peloponnese. It lives in dry savanna.
The African chameleon is a slow-moving, laterally flattened species growing to a maximum length of 46 cm (18 in). It has bulbous eyes which can move independently of each other and a prehensile tail. It is very similar in appearance to the common chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) but has no flaps at the back of its head and is rather larger. It is often green with many black spots, but like other chameleons, is capable of changing its colour. It has a large bony casque on its head. It has long limbs, and the male has tarsal spurs.
The African chameleon is usually found on the lower branches of trees, on shrubs and on reeds (Phragmites). It grasps its support with its four-toed feet, a pair of toes on either side of the branch, and its tail, and remains stationary or advances slowly and stealthily. It feeds mainly on insects which it catches by suddenly extending its sticky-tipped tongue. It may also eat small lizards or fledgling birds. The female descends to the ground to breed and lays a clutch of up to seventy eggs in an underground nest. These take about three months to hatch and the young chameleons take a year or more to reach maturity.
- "Sahel chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus)". Reptiles. arkive.org. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- "Chamaeleo africanus". EOL. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- "Chamaeleo africanus Laurenti, 1768". reptile-database. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- "Chamaeleo africanus Laurenti 1768". lifedesk. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- "African Chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus)". Library. wildlife-archipelago. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- Arnold, E. Nicholas; Ovenden, Denys W. (2002). Field Guide: Reptiles & Amphibians of Britain & Europe. Collins & Co. p. 120. ISBN 9780002199643.
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