The veiled chameleon is a species of reptile belonging to the family Chamaeleonidae. This reptile is one of many species of chameleon, known for its ability to change color. Males
of the species are primarily green in color with yellow, brown or blue stripes but these colors may change according to the animal’s mood and stress level. Females of the species are typically all green in color with some white markings. When a female is gravid, however, her color darkens to a deep green and she develops blue or yellow spots – the vibrancy of these markings may vary depending on the lizard’s mood. Both sexes exhibit a large casque – a hard, helmet-like formation – on the top of the head.
Not only do male the female veiled chameleons exhibit a difference in color, but they are also very different in terms of size. The fact that males and females of the same species exhibit such obvious differences is referred to as sexual dimorphism. While females of the species typically grow only 10 to 14 inches (25 to 35.5 cm) in length and have a weight between 3.2 and 4.2 oz. (90 to 120 g), male veiled chameleons grow to 17 to 24 inches (43 to 61 cm) long and weigh between 3.5 and 7 oz. (100 to 200 g). Another difference in the sexes is the tarsal spur found on the back of the hind legs in males of the species – this spur is present at hatching but grows as the chameleon matures.
Like most chameleons, the veiled chameleon is an arboreal species so it spends most of its life in the trees. These reptiles can be found using their prehensile tails as a fifth appendage, aiding in its climb through the forest. Veiled chameleons also have rounded eyes that swivel back and forth – in fact, the chameleon is capable of looking both backwards and forwards at the same time. In contradiction to chameleon myth, however, the veiled chameleon does not have a sticky tongue. Rather, the long tongue of this species has a special muscular structure on the end that enables it to grab its prey. Using its tongue, the veiled chameleon snatches up unsuspecting insects as they pass by while the lizard lies patiently in wait.
The veiled chameleon is technically an omnivore, which means that it derives its sustenance from both vegetable- and meat-based food sources. For the most part, however, these chameleons are insectivores which means they primarily eat insects. If little food is available the veiled chameleon will eat leaves, blossoms and fruit. Another interesting fact about the veiled chameleon is that they do not drink standing water – they only recognize droplets of water on leaves as a water source. In captivity, a chameleon that is only offered standing water will likely dehydrate.