Veiled chameleons live in forests, valleys and mountainous plateaus of Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia. Although they mainly feed on insects, especially green ones, they also eat plants. They rely on leaves to stay hydrated during dry seasons. Veiled chameleons have average lifespans of five years for females and eight years for males.
Veiled Chameleon (juvenile)
Scientific & Common Names
The scientific name of the veiled chameleon is Chamaeleo calyptratus. Other common names for this species are Cone-headed chameleon and Yemen chameleon.
Veiled chameleons are brightly colored in general, although males have more vivid coloring than females. Typical colors include green mixed with orange, white, tan or yellow tones. They also have bands of color on their body, ranging from bright gold to black, and can change color to blend in with their surroundings. The other noticeable characteristic of veiled chameleons is the casque, or ridge, on top of their heads. Adult males grow to be between 17 to 24 inches long, while females measure 10 to 14 inches in length.
Veiled chameleons reach reproductive maturity when they are four or five months old and breed a few times a year. Females lay between 35 to 85 eggs per clutch in a nest of sand.
Veiled chameleons use their sticky tongue, which is more than 1 1/2 times their body length, to catch prey. Males are solitary reptiles that only seek out other members of their species in order to breed. Otherwise, males and females do not tolerate each other’s presence. Females sometimes live near each other, although they do not get along during breeding season. Veiled chameleons are also highly territorial and become aggressive toward each other to protect their territory. When threatened by other animals or humans, they curl up and become darker in color.
Veiled chameleons have been in their present range in Yemen and Saudi Arabia for years. They have also been introduced to Hawaii and other parts of the United States due to the pet trade.
Veiled chameleons have a status of Least Concern because there are no major threats affecting their population. They are part of the pet trade, but most are bred in captivity instead of being captured in the wild. Also, the demand for them as pets has declined. Habitat loss is a concern, although this species is highly adaptive.