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

Chamaeleo (Chamaeleo) gracilis

Graceful Chameleon Chamaeleo granulosus, Chamaeleo burchelli, Chamaeleo simoni, Chamaeleon etiennei
see a species list of Chamaeleo
Hallowell 1842 Medium Eggs

The graceful chameleon is widely distributed and abundant throughout sub-Saharan and equatorial Africa where it inhabits dry and humid forests as well as savanna habitats. Aggressive toward conspecifics but timid toward keepers, C. gracilis may reach lengths of 12-16 inches. Similar in appearance to C. dilepis, C. gracilis sports a low casque and a head that is flat or even slightly concave. The casque extends past the back of the head by only a few millimeters. The occipital lobes are absent or greatly reduced. Pronounced lateral crests are apparent on the head. Scalation is homogeneous except for the enlarged, conical scales that form a small dorsal crest and slightly more pronounced gular and ventral crests. Basic coloration is a green, yellow and/or light brown. A stripe may appear on the ventral portion of the flanks and extend from the axilla (armpits) to the groin. A series of dark, vertical bands may appear on the body and tail, particularly under conditions of stress. The body may be covered with small dark spots which may be yellow to orange in receptive females. Rays or dark bands extend out from the center of the eye. The interstitial gular skin is orange or red and may be evident during threat or other displays. Males are slightly smaller than females and have a slightly higher casque. Males of the nominate form, C. gracilis gracilis, exhibit a hemipenal bulge (broader tail base) and tarsal spurs. However, males of C. gracilis etiennei lack spurs.

One to 2 clutches are laid per year with 20-40 eggs in a clutch. The young achieve sexual maturity in 4-5 months. Like C. dilepis, C. gracilis is one of the most abundant, inexpensive and commonly imported chameleons. They are often bought by inexperienced keepers on impulse. However, WC specimens almost invariably carry heavy parasite loads. The combination of uninformed keepers, heavy parasite loads and a reticence to seek veterinary care until an animal is seriously ill result in the early deaths of the vast majority of imported animals. It is for this reason these reasons that we recommend that only experienced keepers attempt to maintain this species.

Contributed by E. Pollak

Bartlett, R. D. and Bartlett, P. 1995. Chameleons: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual. Barron's Educations Series, Hauppuage, NY
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Klaver, C. & W. Boehme. 1997. Chamaeleonidae. Das Tierreich, 112: i-xiv' 1 - 85. Verlag Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin, New York.
Le Berre, F. 1994. The New Chameleon Handbook. Barron's Educational Series.
Martin, J., 1992. Masters of Disguise: A Natural History of Chameleons. Facts On File, Inc., New York, NY.
Necas, P. 1999. Chameleons: Nature's Hidden Jewels. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, FL.
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Schmidt, W., Tamm, K. and Wallikewitz, 1994b. Chameleons, Volume II: Care and Breeding. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, NJ.

Spawls, S., Howell, K., Drewes, R., and Ashe, J. 2002. A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, New York.

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