The veiled chameleon, (Binomial name Chameleo calyptratus) is an interesting and fascinating animal. But how much do you know about these unique creatures? Here are 35 selected facts you need to know about the veiled chameleon today.
1. Yemen chameleon
The veiled chameleon is a species of chameleon that originated from the Arabian Peninsula, particularly in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
This is why some zoologists refer to it as the Yemen Chameleon. They are spread widely across the deserts, valleys, high plateaus of the mountainous regions. They can live in elevations as high as 3000 feet above sea level.
2. Class Reptilia (reptiles)
The veiled chameleon belongs to Class Reptilia (reptiles) which means it is a relation of crocodiles; Order Squamata (scaled reptiles) which makes it a relation of snakes, lizards, and Iguanas. It belongs to the suborder Iguania, which means the animal that the chameleon is most related to outside of its own species is the Iguana.
3. First documented by French Zoologists
The veiled chameleon was Documented by Andre Marie Constant Dumeril and Aguste Henri Andre Dumeril in 1851.
4. Veiled chameleons are arboreal
Like a lot of the other members of its species, they live in trees. They have strong legs (relative to size) and claws for climbing trees and shrubs as well as a long prehensile tail. They often use this tail as a fifth leg when they are climbing. It prefers warm temperatures of between 75°F to 95°F.
5. Conserve status
The conservation status of the veiled chameleon is Least Concern. (See more: conservation status – What does it mean?) That means veiled chameleons are very much plentiful in the wild and in captivity, and their numbers are on the level that it should be.
6. Good to pet
The veiled chameleon is the most common species of chameleon in the pet trade. Because it is easy to breed and it is prolific in egg production. It is also the most adaptable as it can tolerate a wide range of conditions.
7. Why do we call it veiled chameleon?
It is called the veiled chameleon because of protrusions above both of its eyes which covers the animal’s eyes like a veil.
8. Male veiled chameleons are primarily green with scales.
They change colors according to their moods and emotional states. They have spots of brown, orange, white, purple and sometimes yellow. Female veiled are also green but with white spots.
However male chameleons are more colorful than females. Zoologists have found the female veiled chameleons become more colorful than usual during mating season, to attract males, and also when they are pregnant. A breeding or pregnant female chameleon is usually dark green with yellow and blue spots.
9. The veiled chameleon is also called the cone-headed chameleon
Because of a distinctive feature by which you can differentiate between it and other species of chameleons, a protruding horned ridge of about three inches that runs vertically across the chameleon’s head called a Casque.
10. The veiled chameleon’s casque
The casque is made of muscle and fat and supported by bone. It begins to appear as the animal matures and it is often distinctive by the time the animal is eight months old. The casque performs many functions for the veiled chameleon. Here are some of the functions of the Casque which have been observed in chameleons in captivity.
Since the animal evolved in a fairly arid area where rainfall is low, the casque is used as a bowl to conserve water. Chameleon owners have reported that pets often use it to catch water during mistings. The waterfalls on the casque and then drips into the animal’s mouth.
Zoologists have also observed that since the casque is colorful, males use them to attract females. It has been observed that the larger a male chameleon’s casque is the easier for it to attract a mate. The casque is also used in territorial displays to frighten off intruders especially other chameleons.
The casque is not only present in male chameleons, female veiled chameleons also have casques but it is not as big or prominent as the male’s casque. It is one of the ways that zoologists use to distinguish between male and female veiled chameleon.
Image Credit: Taiwan Chameleon
11. Only male veiled chameleons have tarsal spurs
The veiled chameleon has a tiny tarsal spur behind the hind leg. It appears immediately the chameleon is born. Thus you can tell the gender of the chameleon no matter how young it is. It is the easiest way to tell the gender of the veiled chameleon.
12. Male veiled chameleons are bigger
An adult male veiled chameleon can reach 2 feet from head to tail, making it one of the biggest chameleon species in the world. On the other hand, an adult female veiled chameleon can only grow to about 18 inches from head to tail.
The difference in size will usually emerge after six months. This is why one of the ways by which chameleon care experts can tell if a chameleon is male or female is by its size. The male veiled chameleon weighs between 0.1 to 0.2 kg, while females weigh between 0.09 kg to 0.12 kg. (See more: Pros and Cons of Own Female or Male Chameleons)
13. Male veiled chameleons live longer
Apart from the fact that male veiled chameleons are bigger in size than females, they also live longer. Male veiled chameleons can live for as long as 8 to 10 years, female veiled chameleons only live for about 5 years.
14. The chameleon is one of the few animals that have 180-degree vision
This allows it to keep its eyes on any impending danger or predator more easily. Their eyes can also move independently of each other which allows the animal to see in front of it and behind it at the same time.
15. The veiled chameleon’s color
The veiled chameleon’s color is not only dependent on the sex of the creature or its mood it is also dependent on location. Zoologists have observed that chameleons in the wild have brighter colors than chameleons in captivity. It has also been proven that chameleons raised in captivity had duller colors than those in the wild.
16. The veiled chameleon’s tongue
Apart from the tails, veiled chameleons have a long prehensile tongue which they use to catch their prey. Veiled chameleons do not have strong jaws to strangulate prey or venom to kill its prey. The tongue is their only weapon of catching prey.
Veiled chameleons display strong coloration when they are stressed or they sense that they are under attack. The chameleon may turn bright yellow, sometimes black.
Veiled chameleons are known to shed their skins when they are stressed. Some have been known to have large portions of their skin flake off simply because they were moved to a new location, or they were introduced to the presence of another chameleon.
Some chameleons can shed their whole skin in bits and pieces in as little as 4 minutes, while other chameleons can take four or five days to shed their entire skin.
Chameleon care experts notice that when the veiled chameleons want to shed, white spots appear on the animals. These white spots then metasize into white patches of skin flaking off the chameleon’s body. Once the shedding is complete, the white spots disappear.
It is difficult to determine how often a chameleon sheds its skin. However, zoologists say that the younger the chameleon, the more frequent it is likely to shed its skin. This is because the young chameleons are still rapidly growing while the rate of growth of the older chameleons have slowed somewhat. (See more: Why is my chameleon shedding? (Caring Guide) )
Image Credit: Taiwan Chameleon
The changing ability of the chameleon is for camouflage. The veiled chameleon’s green color is to enable it to merge with the trees, bushes, and shrubs that it lives among. When threatened they move their bodies back and forth, so that the predator thinks they are leaves swaying in the wind.
There are a lot of animals prey on chameleons; snakes, scorpions, lizards, even other species of chameleons prey on them.
Male Veiled chameleons are so territorial and aggressive that seeing their own reflection in a mirror can trigger stress reactions, and thus pet owners who use glass cages are warned to cover their screens so that the chameleons cannot see their own reflections.
Their aggression notwithstanding, veiled chameleons are capable of recognizing their owners. It has been proven that like dogs, they recognize their owners and turn bright when they see their caregivers. When people other than their owners touch them, they turn dark and attempt to attack them or just curl into a fetal ball.
Chameleons have also been known to climb onto their owner’s hands or even shoulders like they are climbing trees at the sight of threats. They then attempt to change color to match the owner’s clothes or complexion as they would do on a tree.
22. Veiled chameleons cannot pass the mirror test
The mirror test is a test that is used to determine whether an animal can recognize itself in a mirror, which is therefore used to determine whether that animal is capable of self-awareness. When a veiled chameleon sees its own reflection, it thinks it is another intruding chameleon; it will either begin to hiss or try to find somewhere to hide.
Some chameleon owners have reported that veiled chameleons have surprisingly strong jaws and have been known to bite other chameleons and even their owners.
Chameleons are neither venomous nor carry any known diseases, so their bite is only a minor inconvenience for humans, it does not have any long-term effects. (See more: Don’t Worry about Chameleons’ Bite!)
Chameleons do not have a clear or distinct sound that they make. However, they make inaudible purring or grunting sounds which they can be felt if touched. Chameleons also reportedly hiss when they are attacked or intimidated.
They also hiss to warn predators away or to warn people that they don’t know to stay away. Many owners have reported that when a chameleon starts to hiss, it is a sign that it is about to bite.
In captivity, hatchling veiled chameleons (chameleons which are younger than 8 months and have therefore not reached breeding age) can stay in smaller terrariums measuring about 18 inches long by 18 inches wide by 2 feet tall.
It is advisable to plant shrubs and plants that have climbing branches of around 2 feet long by 2 feet wide by 3feet tall. Once the veiled chameleons are eight months old and sexually active, they must be moved into the bigger enclosure. (See more: Best Terrarium size for a Veiled Chameleon)
Image Credit: Taiwan Chameleon
Breeding and Reproduction
Veiled chameleons become sexually mature at eight months old. Chameleons breed three times a year. The female lays up to 85 eggs and buries them in the sand for incubation. Veiled chameleon eggs are white in color, oval in shape and have tough skin. The gestation period for the veiled chameleon is between twenty to thirty days. (See more: 7 Things You Need to Know About Baby Chameleons )
27. Egg binding
Egg binding is a real medical condition that affects female veiled chameleons. When the female chameleon is unable to or unwilling to lay eggs, the eggs stay in her womb and use up the nutrients that the animal is supposed to use.
The eggs may also press on the chameleon’s lungs and make it unable to breathe and putting it at the risk of death by suffocation. The chameleon owner can prevent this by providing a bowl of sand in which the chameleon can lay its eggs and cover it.
The veiled chameleon cannot drink from a bowl of water, it will only drink water that drips into its mouth from leaves. Putting a bowl of water in the chameleon’s cage only increases the risk of it falling into the water and drowning. This is why chameleon care experts always say that the pet owner should spray his/her chameleon cage with water every day. (See more: Can Chameleons Drink Tap Water? (Drinking System))
Chameleons are omnivores, they eat both plant and animal matter. Top on the list of the veiled chameleon’s diet includes crickets, locusts, cockroaches, grasshoppers and praying mantises. They also eat fruits and leaves. Hatchlings (baby veiled chameleons) are very voracious pets requiring feeding twice a day. However, once they reach maturity, they do not require so much feeding.
The veiled chameleon ambushes its prey. It can stay still for several hours while waiting for the unsuspecting grasshopper, praying mantis or cricket to pass.
30. Hybrid cage
The best kind of enclosure to keep pet veiled chameleons in captivity is in a hybrid cage. A hybrid cage is a cage that is made of both glass and screen. Hybrid cages vary depending on the preference of the pet owner. Some cages are equal parts glass and screen, some are more screen than glass, and some are more glass than a screen.
Image Credit: Taiwan Chameleon
31. Live together?
The veiled chameleon is a very shy and territorial animal. It is one of the most territorial members of the chameleon species. When a veiled chameleon feels threatened, it darkens its body colors and curls into a fetal ball. Also, male veiled chameleons are more aggressive than females and therefore vets and chameleon care experts often advice that two male veiled chameleons should never be kept together under any circumstances.
Female veiled chameleons can tolerate each other if they live together. The chameleon keeper should only keep two veiled chameleons of different sexes together during mating season. (See more: Can You Put Two Chameleons Together?)
32. Cage size
The cage of an adult male veiled chameleon must be at least 3 feet tall. An adult male requires a space of at least 2 feet wide by 2 feet long, by 4 feet tall. So as long as you have a space that is at least 6 feet wide, 6 feet long and 5 feet tall, you can house two chameleons with ease.
An adult female on the other hand only requires a space of at least 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide by 3 feet tall. (See more: Best Terrarium size for a Veiled Chameleon)
33. Heat source
The veiled chameleon needs in its terrarium a heat source. Chameleons need to bask and regulate their body temperatures. A veiled chameleon is unique that their bodies more often than not cannot regulate itself with a heat source that the animal is not familiar with.
That is why some artificial heat sources like heat rocks, heat tapes, and ceramic heat emitters might not work for your chameleon.
Image Credit: Taiwan Chameleon
Veiled Chameleons in Popular Culture
34. The Veiled Chameleon is the logo of SUSE Linux.
35. Espio, one of the Ninja Warrior characters in the video game, Sonic the Hedgehog, is a veiled chameleon.
Most veiled chameleon keepers keep these beautiful and exotic animals for the purpose of being able to watch them and be pleased by their aesthetics.
Hope you find this post interesting and helpful. If you find anything wrong or outdated, please leave your comment below. I’ll update it as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading.
Veiled Chameleons article retrieved from www.animalspot.com/veiledchameleons
Male vs female chameleon- which is right for you? Article retrieved from www.canvaschameleons.com
Can Chameleons recognize themselves? article retrieved from www.chameleonforums.com
Veiled Chameleon Care Sheet, article retrieved from www.reptilesmagazine.com
Veiled Chameleon, the Wikipedia article retrieved from www.wikipedia.com