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

Chamaeleo (Chamaeleo) namaquensis

Namaqua chameleon Chamaeleo capensis, Chaemelio namaquensis, Chameleo tuberculiferus, Chamaeleon namaquensis, Chamaelo calcaratus
see a species list of Chamaeleo
Smith 1831 Medium Eggs

C. namaquensis is a stocky chameleon with a relatively large head and shortened tail. Total length reaches a maximum of 10-10.5 inches. Males are slightly smaller than females and may be distinguished by a broader tail base. Ventral and gular crests are absent, as are occipital lobes. The dorsal crest is composed of 12-14 spines, covered with enlarged scales. Basic body coloration is gray and bown with 4-6 lighter blotches along the flanks and darker triangular patterns below the dorsal crest. The throat make exhibit reddish or yellow striations.

C. namaquensis is indigenous to the deserts of Angola, Namibia and western South Africa where vegetation is rarely more than scattered clumps of low bushes. This is a habitat of extremes with little rainfall during most of the year although early morning humidity may reach 50%. Summer temperatures may be as high as 100ºF and drop to 50ºF at night. During the winter temperatures range from the low 70s to below freezing. Water is primarily from morning dew but also from their prey items and the consumption of plant material. Like many other desert species they are efficient at resorbing water. They excrete salt from nasal glands. Another adaptation to their harsh environment is their ability to dig holes in the sand which they utilize for thermoregulation. They may also use the borrows of other animals for this purpose. Interspecfic aggression is well developed in both males and females and group housing is not advisable. Having adapted to a largely terrestrial life style, these are said to be among the fastest runners of all the chameleons. The tail, no longer than the body, has lost at least some of its (presumably) ancestral prehensile ability.

Six - 22 eggs may be laid as often as three times/year in a sandy medium. Incubation is from 3-4 months and there are reports of females guarding the laying sites. Sexual maturity occurs as early as 5-7 months.

To survive in such a harsh environment, C. namaquensis has developed an ability to feed on poisonous scorpions and even small adders.

Contributed by E. Pollak

Klaver, C. & W. Boehme. 1997. Chamaeleonidae. Das Tierreich, 112: i-xiv' 1 - 85. Verlag Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin, New York.
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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