A veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) is a large, green lizard that is able to change colors. Also known as a true chameleon, a veiled chameleon is a tree dweller noted for its long tongue and large head crest, which grows as the lizard ages. Native to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the chameleon grows up to 24 inches (about 63 centimeters) long and has a life span of five to eight years.
The lizards are generally solitary creatures capable of living in a host of environments. The chameleons are found on plateaus and mountains, as well as in river valleys and they make their homes in trees, shrubs, or bushes. The chameleons live in warm climates that are 75 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (about 24 to 35 degrees Celsius), and can be found at elevations as high as 3,000 feet (about 914 meters).
Male veiled chameleons typically grow bigger than females. Males generally are between 17 and 24 inches (about 43 to 61 centimeters) long, while females reach lengths of between 10 and 14 inches (about 25 to 35.5 centimeters). Males also are more slender, but have a slightly larger head crest than females.
Chameleons are known for their ability to change different colors. The lizards possess the ability to turn colors in order to blend into their environment. Generally green most of the time, the chameleons will turn bright colors when they become excited or scared. Also, the chameleons become vivid in color when they are seeking a mate. When the chameleons are trying to hide from potential predators, the lizards typically become darker in color.
A veiled chameleon has specialized eyes that allow it to see in two directions simultaneously. Capable of seeing far distances, the chameleon also possesses the optical ability to move each eye in any direction. This allows the creature to view its environment without moving its head.
Noted for its slowness, the veiled chameleon uses its quick and sticky tongue to feed. The tongue of the creature can be longer than its body. The tongue of the chameleon is also extremely strong, as it is capable of grabbing objects that weigh up to half of its own weight. The diet of the chameleon consists of insects, flowers, plants, and fruit.
At four or five months of age, the veiled chameleon is sexually mature. Typically, chameleons breed three times a year. After successful breeding, a female will change colors within a day. After mating, a female will lay up to 85 eggs in the sand within a month.