Identifying a Veiled Chameleon's Color and Mood

By Naomi Millburn

Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus) are arboreal creatures who come from the Middle East's Arabian Peninsula, specifically Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Within their geographic scope, these lizards are abundant in the wild. They are also common as exotic pets in households around the world. As with many types of chameleons, veileds can change coloration. What color a veiled chameleon sports says a few things about his mood and well-being.

Veiled Chameleons

Female veiled chameleons are usually markedly shorter than males, typically maturing to lengths of 10 to 14 inches. Males tend to grow to 17 to 24 inches. In terms of lifestyle, veiled chameleons are usually rather independent reptiles. The diet of veiled chameleons is made up mostly of bugs, particularly green ones. They also occasionally dine on blossoms and foliage of plants, a rarity within the chameleon world. This is especially prevalent at points of meager H20 availability.

Normal Coloration

The foundation color for veiled chameleons is green; on top of this are sometimes blotches and streaks in other colors such as brown, white, beige, black, yellow and orange. These other colors generally emerge as the creatures develop. Males tend to have more intense and vivid coloration in comparison to the fairer sex.

Identifying Relaxation

When these lizards are in calm relaxation mode, they usually simply blend in with the rest of their environment, in true inconspicuous chameleon style. This usually involves muted brown or green colors, and is a way of staying out of predators' fields of vision. If you can barely detect the presence of a veiled chameleon, there's a good chance he's taking it easy.

Identifying Fear

Veiled chameleons are typically meek and and timid animals. If you notice that a veiled chameleon instantly takes on a darker coloring, it often means that he is either shocked or in defensive mode. When a veiled chameleon gets darker, you also might noticing him rolling his body up into a small, compact and inconspicuous ball shape. Veiled chameleons usually wait it out in these positions and darker colors for as long as it takes for their threats to pass. If they still sense the presence of danger, they won't revert back to normal behavior and activity. They only do so once they feel totally safe.

Identifying Excitement and Stimulation

Veiled chameleons in moods of excitement or stimulation usually take on brighter and paler coloring. With veiled chameleons in excited moods, you might notice, as an example, quick shifts in color ranging from deep, dull green to practically neon green. If a veiled chameleon's coloring is muted and dark, he might be feeling placid and calm. If it swiftly turns neon green, it might mean the complete opposite, perhaps a reaction to a sighting of a specimen from the opposite sex -- mating time. This type of color change also is common in times of territorial behavior and protection. If an individual is trying to ward an intruder away from his personal turf, his body might just take on a much lighter colored and more noticeable look.

Identifying Things Other Than Mood

Apart from mood, a veiled chameleon's color can also communicate other types of things, including lighting and temperature. When they feel hot, they tend to darken in color. When they're in the cold, or in areas that are particularly dim, they usually lighten.

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