Chamaeleo (Chamaeleo) chamaeleon
Scientific name Common name(s) alternate scientific names described by year size brood

Chamaeleo (Chamaeleo) chamaeleon

Common or European or Mediterranean Chameleon Lacerta chamaeleon, Chamaeleon mntabilis, Chamaeleon vulgaris, Chamaeleon fasciatus, Chamaeleon chamaeleon
see a species list of Chamaeleo
Linnaeus 1758 Medium Eggs
Habitat and Climate. In Spain and Portugal they inhabit coastal regions, often found in tamarisks. In N. Africa, diverse biotypes including semi desert areas, prairies, eucalyptus forests and oases and often near bodies of water. There is a wide variation in the amount of yearly rainfall, humid rature due to the wide geographic range that they inhabit. articles: Malta: An article by Vincent Attard; Spain: Protected since 1973.e captive hatched seem to be quite tolerant. However, handling of captive hatched animals still results in hissing and puffing up but rarely biting. If given the opportunity, they will "run" away. Their reaction to cons

Care rating. Due to their ability to live in such a wide range of elevations and environments, these chameleons do not seem to be one of the most difficult to keep in captivity. However, given the dearth of information on their captive husbandry they should be kept only by experienced keepers.

Description. Squamation is mostly homogeneous with some larger plate-like scales on the face. There is a row of conical scales that form a small crest on the back and a small gular crest. The parietal crest is moderately raised with the highest elevation being towards the back. They have small occipital lobes. There are possible scale organs around the eyes (L. Raw, personal communication). Adults may grow to 11" total length but European specimens are about 8" (M. Persson, unpublished observation). SVL is approximately 4"-6" inches and adults weigh 38 to 58 grams. Life expectancy is reported to be as high as 6 years. C. chamaeleon reaches sexual maturity at about one year of age. Males have the typical hemipenal bulges, a very slightly higher casque and are slightly slimmer. The color range includes shades of green, gray, yellow, orange and brown. They usually have two broken longitudinal white/light stripes along the sides, one starting just above the shoulder and one starting just below the shoulder. They can have a somewhat complicated pattern at times consisting of a series of v-shapes along the spine interspersed with spots and splotches. Females show receptive coloration that includes a dotted pattern. According to Cuadrado (2000), all copulation attempts by males are violently rejected when the female shows a black body with yellow spots.

Temperature and humidity. Adults do well when kept between 78 to 88ºF. during the daytime with a drop to 68ºF at night. They can withstand quite high temperatures (into the 90's F) for short periods of time. Hatchlings should be kept more moderately than adults (high 70's F) since they can over-heat and dehydrate more quickly due to their small body size. Persson (unpublished observation) suggests that they should have a cooling down period at 50-59ºF for 8 weeks if you want to breed them. The gut must be emptied for at least a week before starting to drop the temperature and water, in the must be provided by syringe or bowl during the cool-down period.

Humidity. Humidity is not critical. They seem to be able to withstand both dry and humid conditions well (personal observation) but as with all chameleons, proper hydration must be provided in the form of dripping and misting.

Reproduction, Breeding and Incubation C. chamaeleon lays eggs 45 to 60 days after mating. Mating occurs from mid July to mid September in the northern hemisphere. They usually lay only one clutch per year. The clutch is laid sometime from the end of September to the first of November. Hatching occurs after incubating on moist vermiculite at 72 to 74ºF. for 200 to 290 days. (For instance, in one clutch the first hatched at 253 days and the last at 294. In a second clutch, the first hatched at 260 days and the last at 282 days.) In the author's experience, a clutch can consist of 6 to 20 eggs but according to P. Necas (1999), 3 to 66 eggs may be laid per clutch. Hatchlings are 2 to 3 inches long (total length).

Necas (1999) reports that at a constant temperature of 28ºC (83ºF) all hatchlings were female. According to M. Persson (unpublished observation) incubation at 27 to 29ºC (81 to 84ºF) produced 38 female hatchling and only 2 males. The present writer found that the ratio of males to females was about 50/50 when incubated at 72-74ºF. The possibility of temperature-dependent sexual differentiation remains a tantalizing, albeit as yet unproven, possibility as this phenomenon has yet to be conclusively demonstrated among the Chamaeleonidae.

Food and water. These chameleons can learn to drink from a dish but spraying the cage once or twice a day is the preferred method of providing water. They will readily drink if you mist their faces gently with warm water (personal observation). The food consists of insects that are dusted with vitamins, minerals, calcium and D3 on a regular schedule. Hatchlings should be fed everyday but adults need only be fed three times a week. The frequency of supplementation should be decreased as the chameleons grow to adulthood.

Lighting and caging. Full spectrum lighting, including adequate UVB must be provided. A basking light may be included. They should be housed separately but may be kept in pairs if close and prolonged observation indicates that their interactions are not stressful to one or both. Branches of a suitable size for them to grip easily should be provided. Plants should be used to provide places to hide. Whether real or artificial the plants should be well washed to remove any residue. If the plant's soil contains vermiculite, remove about an inch of it and replace with sand or cover the surface of the soil with pebbles that are too big to ingest. Females should be provided with an appropriate place to lay eggs. The present author has always provided a container in their cages to give them a place to start digging and show that they are ready to lay the eggs. The female can then be moved to a larger container where the eggs will be laid. No substrate should be used in the cage as it has been known to cause problems in males when some of the substrate was retracted back into the body with the hemipenes and impaction and infection resulted. Some substrates can contain toxins. Some can be ingested and cause intestinal impaction. A dish of water may be added to the cage. The water should be changed daily. Hatchlings should be caged and raised individually, similar to the manner previously described for adults but without a basking light.

Contributed by Lynda Horgan

Cuadrado, M. 2000. Body Colors Indicate the Reproductive Status of Female Common Chameleons: Experimental Evidence for the Intersex Communication Function. Ethology 106, 79-91.
Klaver, C. & W. Boehme. 1997. Chamaeleonidae. Das Tierreich, 112: i-xiv' 1 - 85. Verlag Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin, New York.
Necas, P. 1999. Chameleons: Nature's Hidden Jewels. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, FL.??

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