Veiled Chameleon

Chamaeleo calyptratus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON, 1851

Synonym: Yemen Chameleon


German: Jemenchamäleon


Conservation status

EC Regulation No 338/97, Annex B
CITES Appendix II

Price category

Chamaeleo calyptratus is relatively easy to breed, which has resulted in prices starting at 30 euros for young animals.

Difficulty level

Low to middle. Despite the relative easy maintanance, one must keep in mind that this is a chameleon. Also, the veiled chameleon makes special demands on the air and light quality and is easier to stress than other lizards. Juveniles should be at least one months of age before buying, because transportation and change of environment is not well tolerated by younger specimens.



Male Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)The veiled chameleon is one of the most popular representatives of this lizard family, which certainly has many reasons. The most important is probably the rather simple husbandry for chameleons. Chamaeleo calyptratus is considered as a species which is easy to keep and breed.
The veiled chameleon is found in different habitats. The vegetation in the area of distribution may be very abundant in regions with high rainfall or rather sparse in the arid plateaus. These animals have no preferred habitat. They live on bushes, on the ground as well as on succulents. To sleep, however, they search for higher places.
Yemen chameleons have a leaf green ground color. Male specimens usually have additional black-colored flanks that are interspersed with three to five yellow stripes. Females also have those yellow stripes in a slightly weaker expression, but also a whole range of other skin colours may occur. The more "excited" the animals are, the brighter the colors get.

Female Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)Chamaeleo calyptratus is one of the larger chamaeleon species. Male specimens can reach over 62 cm body length. Females remain significantly smaller with about 45 cm. There are also some specimens that despite ideal husbandry conditions never achieve a total length of 20 cm. Half of the total length is accounted for the tail.

A hybridization with Chamaeleo arabicus is possible.

Female Yemen Chameleons can reach an age of three and males can reach an age up to five years (BRUINS).

Gender Differences

Skull of the Veiled ChameleonThe most obvious distinguishing feature is the heel spur on the hind legs of the male animals. This spur is already present in hatchlings. Furthermore, the males are bigger than the females, and much more massive. The helmet on the head is more pronounced in males than in females and can reach a height of 8 cm. KOBER (2001) mentions a further feature, which is also present in young specimens: they have two yellow horizontal stripes on the flanks, which are discontinuous. The front spot on the bottom stripe of females is nearly as long or longer than the overlying upperarm of the foreleg, while in males this spot is half as long or even shorter than the upper arm of the foreleg.

Group of female chameleonsDistribution

The geographic range of Yemen Chameleons stretches across the southern parts of the Arabian Peninsula (Asir province in Saudi Arabia to the region of Aden in Yemen). Especially in the region Ta’izz / Ibb in Southern Yemen, this species can frequently be found.



  • Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON, 1851
  • Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer PETERS, 1871

Husbandry in the terrarium


Because of the size of these animals, the terrarium must be scaled appropriately. KOBER (2001) gives a size of at least one third cubic meter for a female and twice of this the size for a male. In addition, make sure to provide adequate ventilation. as As a rule of thumb, SCHMIDT (1996) gives that the ventilation is ideal if the terrarium dries completely in two hours after it has been sprinkled.

Skin of the Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)In principle, one animal is kept per terrarium. Because of their aggressive behavior, males are never socialized with other males. If anything, a short-term socialization with 1-2 females comes into question. However, the terrarium must then be structured in a way that at any times the animals can avoid eye contact with the other cohabitants.
It is also possible to keep Chamaeleo calyptratus free in a room (Kober 2001, DOST, 2000). DOST points out, however, that the humidity in the room is much lower than in the terrarium, so it can lead to serious diseases such as renal gout. This risk can be reduced by serving enough liquid with a pipette every two days. According to Schmidt (1996), this species is due to its robustness and insensitivity to temperature fluctuations especially well suited for maintaining in conservatories and greenhouses.


Very bright light sources such as HQI lamps are recommended. The light sources must be placed so that the animals can not burn themselves. In summer the terrarium has to be illuminated for 14 hours and in winter for 11 hours. It is advisable to install several spots, if you keep a couple of animals in one terrarium, so there is no conflict about the basking areas.

Male Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)Temperature

SCHMIDT (1996) recommends a temperature of 26-28 °C during daytime in the summer and 16-20 °C at night. In winter the temperature has to be reduced at 18-20 °C during the day and 12-14 °C at night. In addition, with a local basking spotlight you have to offer higher temperatures up to 35-38 °C, so that the animals can specifically warm up.


Depending on the region in the distribution area, there is a subtropical to tropical climate. In the area around Ta'izz / Ibb rainfalls up to 2000 mm per year are not uncommon. The highest rainfall occurs in the summer during the rainy season. In winter it is rather dry, though even in the driest month there is an average of 50 mm of rain. Accordingly, the humidity should vary between 60-80%.


Suitable substrates are sand, clay, paper or bark mulch. SCHMIDT (1996) recommends to leave the plants in their pots so you do not always soak the entire floor during watering. The best greening are tree-like plants such as Ficus species or citrus (KOBER 2001). Furthermore, finger-thick branches are integrated as climbing option.


Eye of the Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)The basic food of Chamaeleo calyptratus consists of insects like crickets and grasshoppers. Generally, everything is accepted, which can be overcome. This includes vertebrates such as for example mice. In the beginning, the relatively small juveniles are best fed with drosophila or micro crickets. From the veiled chameleon is known that they also take vegetable food. Thus, it is described that they eat tomatoes, apples, strawberries, tangerines and leaves for example. KOBER (2001) mentiones leaves of Kalanchoe species, which are readily accepted.
In this species juveniles and gravid females should be fed daily the best, while other adult specimens are fed 2-3 times a week. The drinking water is mainly taken from the leaves why you should sprinkle the terrarium 1-2 times daily. A pointedly watering with a pipette is also possible. Despite everything, you should also place a bowl of fresh drinking water in the branches. KOBER (2001) solely waters juveniles through frequent spraying, because they can even drown in shallow water of 2 mm depth. SCHMIDT (1996) also recommends dishes with calcium in the form of pieces of cuttlebone or seashell grit. KOBER (2001) powders the feeding insects with a 1:1 mixture of Vitakalk® and calcium lactate.


Chamaeleo calyptratusFor breeding, it is best to transfer the female in the terrarium of the male. If the male is ready to mate, it immediately starts with the display behavior. It flattens the body and presents the full broadside in order to appear as big as possible. Even the colors seem more intense. If the female is also ready to mate, it does not change much in the behavior. It continues to move normally. After it has been catched up by the male, it raises its tail, so that it can be fertilized. A female that is not ready to mate, changes its color to brown or black. In addition, it runs away and fights back, if it is overtaken by the male. According to KOBER (2001), females that want to mate can also be distinguished by turquoise colors seen in the upper back, which are otherwise not there. Mating takes 3-30 minutes and happens several times daily for up to four days (SCHMIDT 1996). Depending on the author, the gestation period lasts 20-30 days (SCHMIDT 1996) up to 30-50 days (Kober 2001). Approx. one week before the females lay their eggs, they stop the ingestion. At least now, you have to offer an egg-laying vessel, which is about 20 cm high filled with moist soil. DOST (2000) recommends to warm the nesting place by using a heating pad , because the females have the tendency to holding back the eggs on the cool ground and it comes to egg-binding. At a distance of 90 to 120 days, female Yemen Chameleons can produce 3 to 4 clutches a year. The clutch sizes vary between 12-85 eggs (SCHMIDT 1996), and 25-100 eggs (KOBER 2001), the average is 30 to 40 (SCHMIDT 1996)
Tail of the Veiled ChameleonFor incubation, we find the following information in the literature: SCHMIDT (1996) recommends constant temperatures between 25 to 30 °C. Depending on the temperature, the juveniles hatch in between 120 to 280 days. KOBER (2001) mentions that the juveniles hatch after six months at an incubation temperature of 28 °C. At a temperature of 30 °C or higher, almost exclusively male will hatch. DOST (2000) recommends an incubation with fluctuating temperatures of 22 to 28 °C. Under these conditions, the juveniles hatch after 200 days. BRUINS indicates a constant incubation temperature of 26 °C. The eggs are incubated in vermiculite, which is mixed in a 1:1 ratio with water. Under these conditions, the animals hatch after 160 to 170 days. BRUINS recommends to keep the substrate more moist after 12 weeks in order to simulate a rainy season.
The young chamaeleons have a length between 55 to 75 mm at hatching and can reach 35 to 40 cm after a year. KOBER (2001) tells about a male, which was already 30 cm long after five months. Initially, you can keep the juveniles together in a well structured terrarium. Later, they must be raised separately. KOBER (2001) indicates that males begin to show an aggressive behavior at an age of four months, and until then there is no need to keep them seperately. Sexual maturity is reached with about four to six months (DOST 200).


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