Different species of veiled chams?

bryantt

Member
Hi all

I was wondering if anyone would be able to educate me further on veiled chams.

I have read on the forum that there are subspecies of veiled chams, I would love to know in more detail as I care for a veiled.

I have tried the internet for more details but cant seems to find any beneficial articles etc. Im trying the pin point what species I have, I want to know what makes them different, are there adjustments needed to their husbandry requirements and so on?

Thanks in advance
 

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
Here is the slightly edited text of a post I recently made on this topic elsewhere:

The veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) was originally described in 1851 by Duméril & Bibron in a chapter titled “Caméléonines ou Chélopodes” of Duméril & Duméril’s edited volume “Catalogue méthodique de la collection des reptiles du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris”. In 1869, Peters described a new species, Chamaeleo calcaratus in an article in the journal “Monatsberichte der Koniglich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin”. Peters corrected the name in 1870 to Chamaeleo calcarifer in the same journal. In 1959, Chamaeleo calcarifer was reclassified as a subspecies of Chamaeleo chamaeleon by Hillenius. It wasn’t until 1984 that this taxon was reclassified as a subspecies of Chamaeleo calyptratus by Hillenius & Gasperetti in their Fauna of Saudi Arabia, resulting in the two subspecies that are recognized today: Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus and Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer.

Aside from introduced populations in the US, the nominate subspecies, Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus, occurs only in western/southwestern Yemen (Schmidt, 2001; Necas, 2004; Tilbury, 2010; Glaw, 2015). Here, they live in the rain belt of the country, along the western slopes of the mountains of the western highlands, between 500 and 2850m asl (Schmidt, 2001; Tilbury, 2010). Included in this distribution is a broad, high elevation valley where the species is common (Necas, 2004), but the species does not occur in the low-lying coastal plains (Tilbury, 2010). This area experience heavy rainfall as coastal clouds are pushed up in elevation by the wind. In fact, this area can receive as much as 2,000mm of rainfall a year (Schmidt, 2001; Necas, 2004). By contrast, Miami receives on average 1,570mm of rainfall a year. The vegetation in this part of Yemen is lush and even during the driest month, there is around 50mm of rainfall. Now, they do also live in the central high plains, which is much drier, but in this area they are mainly restricted to wadis, where water is available year round and there is sufficient moisture to allow vegetation to grow (Schmidt, 2001).

The subspecies, Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer, on the other hand, has only been found in southwest Saudi Arabia (Schmidt, 2001; Necas, 2004; Tilbury, 2010; Glaw, 2015). Here, they are found on the western foothill slopes of the Asir mountains up to about 1200m asl, down into the Tihama coastal plain (Tilbury, 2010).

The taxonomic validity of the subspecies Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer has been the subject of debate for years. Hillenius (1966) hypothesized that the type specimen may be a hybrid between Chamaeleo calyptratus and Chamaeleo arabicus. It was then shown via captive breeding in Germany that these two species can in fact interbreed, and that the resulting offspring closely resemble that of what is described as Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer (Schmidt, 2001; Necas, 2004; Tilbury, 2010). This has caused some authors to suggest that these animals may not represent a valid subspecies (e.g., Klaver & Böhme, 1997; Schmidt, 2001; Necas, 2004). Pending DNA analysis of the type specimen and specimens from wild populations, however, the taxon is still considered a valid subspecies (Tilbury, 2010; Glaw, 2015).

Morphologically, the subspecies Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer differs from the nominate subspecies by a lower casque, with males lacking the marked sexual dimorphism in casque size exhibited by the nominate form. Further, the males of this subspecies tend to not be as colorful as males of the nominate form (Tilbury, 2010). Previously, some captive specimens had been pictured in herpetoculture literature claiming to represent specimens of the subspecies Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer. Notably, Bartlett & Bartlett (1995) and Bartlett & Bartlett (2001) published two different photographs of the same brown chameleon reported to be Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer. Unfortunately, examination of these photographs reveal that they actually are of a young Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus with MBD, as evident by the bowed legs showing clear fractures. Annis (in de Vosjoli & Ferguson, 1995), on the other hand, published a black and white photograph from the aforementioned Hillenius & Gasperetti (1984) of a true example of Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus photographed in the field. More recently, color photographs of this subspecies in the wild are published in Tilbury (2010). Images found in these latter two sources clearly show that those previously published in other sources of captive specimens were not true Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer.

In fact, all the examples of Chamaeleo calyptratus in captivity in the US are in fact specimens of Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus. This is evident by the fact that none match Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer morphologically. CITES Trade Database statistics support this fact by showing that Saudi Arabia (where Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer is found) has never exported the species (UNEP-WCMC 2016). Chamaeleo calyptratus founder populations, on the other hand, originated from exports from Yemen (where Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus is found) in the 80s and 90s (UNEP-WCMC 2016).

So, despite claims to the contrary by some individuals, there are no Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer currently kept in captivity in the US and photos usually posted purporting to represent this subspecies do not match the subspecies morphological in any way. All captive specimens photographed and posted that I'm aware of represent Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus, just like every other veiled chameleon in the trade.

Hope that helps!

Chris
 

Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
As usual, a stellar answer Chris! I think people forget that "morphs" they might see advertised are not species or subspecies.
 

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
jens gentle chameleons
https://www.facebook.com/Jensgentlechams

says she has Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer that where imported in the 80's
she sells them for 150 each
Yeah, that is who I wrote that post in response to originally. Despite what she claims, she does not have Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer. They are "just" Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus, just like all the other Veiled Chameleons in captivity in the US. The animals she claims are Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer do not resemble the subspecies in any way, shape, or form.

Chris
 

Virgil1972

Avid Member
Yeah, that is who I wrote that post in response to originally. Despite what she claims, she does not have Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer. They are "just" Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus, just like all the other Veiled Chameleons in captivity in the US. The animals she claims are Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer do not resemble the subspecies in any way, shape, or form.

Chris
How'd she take that?
 

alphakenc

Chameleon Enthusiast
Ha I think is more like too old to compromise.Age has nothing to do with knowledge as far as alphakenc concern:rolleyes:
 

Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
She claimed I was too young to know what I was talking about and blocked me.

Chris
Well, I'm a lot older than you and I don't see any calcarifer either! They are pretty easy to distinguish especially fired up like the chams in her photos. Pretty calyptratus that happen to have smaller casques.
 
Lol looked at her page for two seconds and my head already hurts What's wrong with the way the forum suggestions? It's quicker and way easier the using soapy water, which if not rinsed thoroughly can poison the Cham even more.
 

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Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
Ha, yep. It was definitely grasping at straws. At any rate, if anyone does any research, its quite obvious that the animals in captivity in the US are the nominate form, and hopefully the info I posted above is helpful and informative!

Chris
 

jajeanpierre

Chameleon Enthusiast
Here is the slightly edited text of a post I recently made on this topic elsewhere:

Aside from introduced populations in the US, the nominate subspecies, Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus, occurs only in western/southwestern Yemen (Schmidt, 2001; Necas, 2004; Tilbury, 2010; Glaw, 2015). Here, they live in the rain belt of the country, along the western slopes of the mountains of the western highlands, between 500 and 2850m asl (Schmidt, 2001; Tilbury, 2010). Included in this distribution is a broad, high elevation valley where the species is common (Necas, 2004), but the species does not occur in the low-lying coastal plains (Tilbury, 2010). This area experience heavy rainfall as coastal clouds are pushed up in elevation by the wind. In fact, this area can receive as much as 2,000mm of rainfall a year (Schmidt, 2001; Necas, 2004). By contrast, Miami receives on average 1,570mm of rainfall a year. The vegetation in this part of Yemen is lush and even during the driest month, there is around 50mm of rainfall. Now, they do also live in the central high plains, which is much drier, but in this area they are mainly restricted to wadis, where water is available year round and there is sufficient moisture to allow vegetation to grow (Schmidt, 2001).

The subspecies, Chamaeleo calyptratus calcarifer, on the other hand, has only been found in southwest Saudi Arabia (Schmidt, 2001; Necas, 2004; Tilbury, 2010; Glaw, 2015). Here, they are found on the western foothill slopes of the Asir mountains up to about 1200m asl, down into the Tihama coastal plain (Tilbury, 2010).

Hi Chris,

Although I've never been to Yemen I have explored much of the south western parts of Saudi Arabia almost to the Yemen border. At the time I was there Westerners who ventured across the border were almost guaranteed to be kidnapped by a local tribe, treated very well as guests and used as a bartering tool to get things like a school built for their tribe. The staff of all Western Embassies to Saudi Arabia were kept busy negotiating the release of numerous kidnap victims who were likely never in any real danger, although you never know when you add in a bit of qat to the mix. Qat is a plant chewed by many in the area that produces effects similar to amphetamines.

Where did you find a place in Yemen that received 2000mm of rain?

Lush is just not a word I would apply to the vegetation in the south west of Saudi Arabia or Yemen. Wadis by definition are dried river beds. Deep rooted trees tap into the underground water supply, creating cooler more humid micro climates for other plants to grow. There is no flowing water except in the rains (or from sewage effluent) and when it does rain, it tends to be big rainfalls all at once.

The IUCN Red List distribution map for C.c.calyptratus:
http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=176306

Here is a video of a veiled found along a road between Ibb and Yarim in Yemen. Ibb is a city that is in the middle of the southern range of C.c. calyptratus pretty much equidistant to the south, east and west boudaries of the range. Yarim is 22km (14 miles) northwest of Ibb, so right in the middle of the southern range.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoBLF1FKB9w

At the end of the video, the camera pans across the road and you get a pretty good idea of just how dry and devoid of vegetation the area is. That is typical vegetation in that part of the Arabian Peninsula. The haze you see is dust.
 

leedragon

Avid Member
to me that facebook page seem like someone who is presenting chameleons as the can be handled like cats or lapdogs to the public.
 
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