Species name Chamaeleo calyptratus
Nominate species Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus
Subspecies Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer
Common name Veiled chameleon
Local name Gurafah (Arabic)
Author Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus: DUMÈRIL & BIBRON 1851
Author Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer: PETERS 1869
Etymology Chamaeleo is derived from the Greek “Chamae” (small or crawling) and “Leo” (lion).
Calyptratus refers to the Greek “Kalyptos” (hidden or disappeared).

calcarifer” comes from the Latin “calcar“, the name means something like “with spores”

Taxonomic history 1851 – Chamaeleo calyptratus – DUMIRIL & BIBRON
1865 – 
Chamaeleo calyptratus – GRAY
1984 – 
Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus -HILLENIUS & GESPERETTI
1986 – 
Chamaeleo (chamaeleo) calyptratus calyptratus – KLAVER & BÖHME
1999 – 
Chamaeleo (chamaeleo) calyptratus – NECAS
2009 – 
Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus – TILBURY & TOLLEY

1869 – Chamaeleo calcaratus – PETERS
1870 – 
Chamaeleo calcarifer – PETERS
1971 – 
Chamaeleo (chamaeleo) calyptratus calcarifer – PETERS
1911 – 
Chamaeleon calcarifer – WERNER
1959 – 
Chamaeleo chamaeleon calcarifer – HILLENIUS
1966 – 
Chamaeleo chamaeleon calcarifer – MERTENS
1985 – 
Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer – HILLENIUS & GESPERETTI
1997 – 
Chamaeleo (chamaeleo) calyptratus calcarifer – KLAVER & BÖHME
2009 – 
Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer – TILBURY & TOLLEY

Systematics Chamaeleo calyptratus is related to species such as Ch. africanus, Ch. arabicus, Ch. calcaricens, Ch. zeylanicus and Ch. chamaeleon ssp.

Ch. calyptratus has two subspecies.:

nominate species Ch. capyptratus calyptratus

subspecies Ch. calyptratus calcarifer

Ch. calyptratus calcarifer was once thought to be a natural hybrid between Ch. calyptratus calyptratus and Ch. arabicus.

Typus Ch. calyptratus calyptratus: Syntypes: MHNP 6522 male, MHNP 6634 male and MHNP 6633 female.

Ch. calyptratus calcarifer: Syntypes: CAC140397 male, CAC134167 female, CAC135118 female.

Terra typica Ch. calyptratus calyptratus: région du Nil, Africa

Ch. calyptratus calcarifer: southern Arabian peninsula

Distribution Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus:

Introduced to Hawaii (Kraus & Duvall 2004) and Florida (Krysko et al. 2011).

Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer:

Southwestern Saudi Arabia (Asir province) (fide Fritz & Schütte 1987: 23).

It is believed that the original range is approx. 136,600 km2. (IUCN)

Macro-habitat Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus:

Montane subtropical acacia forest, farmland, plantations, vegetation on roadsides, in valleys of mountains.

Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer:

Wooded areas on the foothill and valleys of mountains.

Micro-habitat Trees, shrubs, secondary vegetation, agricultural vegetation
Perching height 0-20m. Babies in low vegetation, such as grass and bushes. Adults in Bushes and trees.
Daily activity Basking in the early morning and late afternoon

During the noon they stay in shade and halfshade hunting for prey.

Only dominant males expose themselves to the intense sun at noon

Population density high
Climate subtropical to tropical climate

Rain-Season: April to August

Dry-Season: September to March

Humidity Daytime: 20- 50% Depending on season

Nightime: 90-100% over the whole year

IUCN status Least concern due to its tolerance of a broad range of habitats.

The pet trade does affect wild populations as all animals in the trade have a captive origin

Conservation No conservation projects
Cites Cites Ap. II
Description Size:

Ch. calyptratus calyptratus:

Males around 54 cm (21”)

Females around 40cm (15”)

Ch. calyptratus calcarifer:

Males around 47cm (18”)
Females around 40cm (15”)

TL longer than SVL in both sexes.

Casque and crests:

Casque high

Parietal crest (convex) and lateral crest distinct

Thin occipital lobes present

Rostral crest distinct, each terminating isolated at the snout-tip

Supraorbital ridge continues posteriorly as short lateral crest

Gular and ventral crest distinct, consisting of come shaped tubercles which decrease in size posterior and reaching to the cloaca

Dorsal crest distinct, consists of a row of cone-shaped scales which decrease in size posteriorly.

Ch. Calyptratus calcarifer differs from the nominate form, by having a lower casque. The gular and ventral crest is smaller.

Visit the Species gallery for more pictures!

Scalation Homogeneous with granular scales
Color Ch. calyptratus calyptratus:

basic color varies in different shades of green, blue and yellow

4-5 vertically dark bands, if excited males show 3 yellow bars

Tail banded with 18-20 dark bands

Limbs also banded.

The eye turret has dark green radiating lines.

Ventral crest is white.

Gravid coloration of females:

Dark black coloration with vibrant yellow markings and turquoise/ yellow dots.

Ch. calyptratus calcarifer:

The sub species differs from the nominate species by not having as bright colors and markings.

Color-aberrations are possible in inbred animals of Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus

Sexual dimorphism Mature males larger than females

Casque height in males is higher, scales of dorsal- and tubercles of gular crest are more prominent in males.

Tarsal spur on each hind foot and a hemipenal bulge are present in males.

In rare occasions the tarsal spur is present in females too

Hemipenis Hemipenis is club-shaped and pedicel constitutes one-third of the entire hemipenis. “Sulcal lips” are strongly developed and partially decorated with rows of papillae.
Truncus is calyculate, ie. there are calyces. At the bottom of the root there are parallel grooves that gradually connect and close the elongated calyces that sit halfway up the pedicle and apex.
Apex ends with a pair of large semi-circular rotulae. Right in the middle, under these rotulae is an extremely serrated crest and underneath this crest are two pairs of less tight-fitting rotulae
All rotulae have denticulated margins.

Hemipenis at Ch. Calyptratus calcarifer is similar to that of Ch. calyptratus calyptratus, but distinguishes itself in that the two pairs of smaller rotulae are more prominent and the rear (asulcal) rotulae are more round. (Klaver & Böhme 1986)

Lungs has a small skin membrane at the top front of the lung

Two large septa, close to the main bronchi, devide the lung into it into three open chambers – the upper, middle and lower.

At the top and front of the lung there are also partly three small septa. The underside of the lung has seven finger-like pockets where some of them branch.

Karotype Unknown.
Aggression Aggressive
Parity oviparous
Breeding season July – August.
Gestation period Gestation period around 1 month.
Incubation period Incubation period 7-9 months
Hatching season Hatching period. March – April. After the first rain.
Clutch size Nature 15-45.
In captivity10-120 depending on the size of the female and feeding schedule

Eggs measure about 16 x 1mm and will increase in size during incubation.

Eggs are burried in 10-15cm depth.

Hatchlings size 65-84mm.
Sexual maturity 4-5 months, depending on the size.
Courting behavior Males: head nodding, flatten if the body, swing his tail and show bright colors.

None receptive females will turn dark and gape.

Receptive females will turn brighter and allow the male to mount her.

The male will massage the female’s tail with his hind legs and in some cases even bite her. Their cloacae will meet and mate for several minutes.

Female will be able to store sperm for a other clutch without mating again which will decrease the fertility rate of the eggs.

Encrypting behavior The basic camouflage of Ch. calyptratus lies in its colors that match the vegetation.
Feeding behavior/Diet Small insects up to 3cm

Mostly Flies, bees, wasps, beetles, moths, caterpillars, butterflies, snails, and grasshoppers

Larger Individuals can prey sometimes on small vertebrates

Additional digested items are pollen which stick to insects
and green leaves which are eaten to help digesting prey with low chitin content such as caterpillars.

Lifespan 8-9 months in nature.
Most animals only survive one Rain-Season, around 8-9 months, due to the harsh conditions in the dry-Season.
Captive requirements Single housed due interspecific aggression

Terrarium size:

For adults:

At least a netto volume 3x2x3 (LxBxH) of the total length + additional volume if soil is used.

Juveniles can be raised in 50x50x80

Terrarium Type:

Good ventilated highland terrarium with dense vegetation (Acacia, Schefflera, Ficus, Asparagus) and lots of vertical and horizontal branches. Living plants are important, as they provide shade from the sharp UV light and offer a place to hide in.


Rain season: 24-28°C at daytime

16-18°C at nighttime

Dry season: 19-23°C at daytime

12-15°C at nighttime

Basking-spot: 30°C

40-50% during the day
90-100% in the night.

Hydration (in general):

Fogger running for several hours each night.
90-100% humidity at nighttime combined with decreasing temperatures.

Hydration supplement, as a precaution:

Misting in the morning and evening for 1 minute (mister), depending on whether there are drainage in the bottom.

A dripper can be used in the morning and evening, as a hydration supplement.

In rainy season:

Misting the enclosure one time in the afternoon for 1 minute (heat lamps must turn off 30 minutes before misting and turn on 30 minutes after misting). (Health issues)

The lightning can be divided into three parts.
Heating spot, Visual light and UV light.

A heating spot bulb concentrates the heat somewhere and allows chameleons to find cooler areas. However, the heat lamp must be placed in a place where the animal cannot reach it, otherwise it may get burns.
The visual light stimulates the chameleon and helps maintain a healthy chameleon.
UVA characterizes the mating, activity and appetite.

UVB has an important role, as it allows the animal’s body to convert D2 vitamin, from the diet, to D3, and plays an important role in the absorption of calcium.

Artificial lightning can be achieved with several types of light sources.
Metal halides, Fluorescent lamps, Incandescent lamps, LED, Etc.

There must be a heating area where the animal can warm up the body.

Here, a spot bulb is recommended as it concentrates the heat somewhere and allows chameleons to find cooler areas. However, the heat lamp must be placed in a place where the animal cannot reach it, otherwise it may have burns.

An example of how to combine the lighting.

Lighting: 6500k T5/ fluorescent -tube

6% UVB T8/T8 fluorescent-tube

50w halogen spot for basking


Lightning for 12 hours per day.

Incubation Eggs are buried 10-15cm into the soil

Method 1

1.5 months 24-25°C

2 months to decrease temperature from 25 to15°C

2 months 14-15°C

2 months to increase temperature from 14°C to 24°C

until hatching 24-25°C

Incubation period depends on the temperatures.

Lower temperatures results in longer incubation period. Higher temperatures results in shorter incubation period, but smaller hatchlings.

Incubation eggs in a more natural way, by simulating seasons (see above), results in a incubation period of 7-9 months.

Temperature-fluctuations of 1-2°C (Day/Night) and

changing soil-humidity (rain/dry-season) increase

health of hatchlings.

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