Veiled Chameleon

Citron Crested Cockatoo

Scientific Name: Chameleo calyptratus
Wild Status: Least Concern

About Me:

Veiled chameleons are native to Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia, and reside in an amazing variety of different habitats. They can be found in the dry plateaus, mountains, and river valleys. They are arboreal, preferring to live in trees, bushes, or shrubs.

Chameleons are specialized tree-living lizards that catch insect prey. Their bodies are flattened from side to side, and more or less leaf-shaped. They remain still and concealed for long periods of time and wait for their prey to come near. When they move, they do so slowly, and rock their bodies from side to side like a leaf in the wind.

They have eyes that can move independently and look in two directions at once, as well as swivel nearly 180 degrees. They are therefore able to look in any direction, and even follow moving objects, without turning their heads or shifting body position. When a prey animal is spotted, both eyes will focus on the insect in order to perceive depth.

Hands and Tail:
Chameleons are highly arboreal (tree-living). They have grasping hands that work much like human hands. Three fingers are fused together and face toward the inside. They also have a prehensile tail that they use as a fifth appendage.

Colour Changes:
Chameleons are famous for their ability to change colour. The colour change serves only partly for camouflage. Although chameleons at rest tend to assume colours similar to their surroundings, colour change is most often used to signify emotional state. Many chameleons are some shade of green or brown at rest, but can become far more brightly coloured when frightened, courting, or defending a territory against another chameleon. Veiled chameleons when startled or threatened may darken in colour and "play possum."

Fun Facts:
They are probably best known for their long, sticky tongues that they use to catch prey. The tongue can be more than 1.5 times the length of their body. They "shoot" their prey with a tongue that can be projected in the blink of an eye.

Wild chameleons are sold for rituals and souvenirs. For example, some believe that throwing a live chameleon into a fire will bring good luck. The growing demand by tourists for chameleon “souvenirs” puts pressure on chameleon populations.

Like those of many other animals, wild chameleon populations are experiencing pressures from commercial exploitation and extensive habitat loss. Chameleon populations are particularly sensitive to the problems associated with habitat loss because many chameleon populations have evolved in small, often isolated pockets and are unable to relocate.