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Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)

The most common variety of chameleon available for purchase as a pet is the veiled chameleon. This chameleon comes from Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia. Its popularity is due to the facts that it is beautifully colored, rather hardy, fairly large and prolific even under captive conditions.

Its hardiness is due to the fact that they are found in a variety of natural habitats that vary in temperature and humidity.

The term "pet" is used loosely with veiled chameleons as they do not like being played with nor do they care for handling, and may be aggressive. In fact, handling or playing with your chameleon can stress the reptile so much that it may cause illness or even death. Most veiled chameleons will bite when provoked. Handling your chameleon should only be done when they need to be moved out of their cage for cleaning, or if they need to be taken to the vet. In general, they are display animals rather than pets that are to be "played with."

Besides their ability to change color, the appearance of the veiled chameleon is quite attractive for a reptile. They can be spotted, banded and strikingly colored. Their colors will vary from very pale to almost black, and every color in between. The color of a chameleon is a good indicator of its overall condition. A chameleon that is dark and drab may be stressed by something in its environment, sick or too cold. They have a large cranial casque (fin-shaped shield) that is more predominant on the males than the females. This casque is a tiny swelling as a hatchling, but grows to two inches in height as an adult.

Veiled chameleons have prehensile tails. This means that they can use their tail as another "hand" for grasping limbs and changing position.

Temperament

The veiled chameleon is not a playful pet. It prefers not to be picked up and handled. Doing so may stress it so much that it may kill it. Your pet chameleon will be somewhat more of an observation pet. They tend to be aggressive and will hiss if you get too close or startle them. Upon startling them you may notice that they also change colors, becoming darker as they feel threatened, while some may display bright, threatening colors. When they are relaxing and comfortable in their habitat they will assume the colors of their surroundings, becoming camouflaged to capture prey. They tend not to eat when stressed.

The veiled chameleon prefers to be solitary and is very territorial. Introducing another chameleon to its cage will cause them to display at each other. This causes them to expend a large amount of energy. The stress of another chameleon can cause them to stop eating and drinking. Keep this reaction in mind when you place your pet in its environment. If you purchase an enclosure with glass sides it may see its reflection and become stressed.

Size

Veiled chameleons grow to an average length of approximately 21 inches, with females being somewhat smaller.

Source: www.dogbreedinfo.com

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