The Veiled chameleon is a species of large chameleon that lives in the Arabian Peninsula. They are named for the triangular protrusion on their heads, which is known as a casque. Both sexes have a casque which grows larger as the chameleon matures. Newly hatched young are pastel green in color and develop stripes as they grow. Adult females are green with white, orange, yellow, or tan mottling. Adult males are brighter with more defined bands of yellow or blue and some mottling. The coloration of these reptiles can be affected by several factors, including social status. Females for instance change color across their reproductive cycles. Chameleons also tend to change to a much darker color when stressed.
Veiled chameleons are found in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They live in a number of habitat types in their native range, including plateaus, mountains, trees and bushes, and valleys. They prefer warmer temperatures and require areas with vegetation.
Veiled chameleons are arboreal, living in trees and other large plants. When moving along branches they sway from side to side to look like a leaf. When these chameleons hunt their prey, they freeze and wait for prey to approach them. The eyes of chameleons can rotate 180 degrees and move independently of each other. This means that they can look in any direction without moving their head. Veiled chameleons are shy in nature and lead a solitary life. Males are very territorial and are very aggressive with each other. They constantly patrol and defend their territories. Veiled chameleons use their coloration to establish dominance and communicate with one another. Brighter colored individuals are more dominant than duller colored chameleons. When feeling threatened Veiled chameleons coil themselves in a tight fetal position, and become darker in color. Only when they feel safe, chameleons will uncoil themselves and come back to their normal state again. These reptiles are not very vocal, however, if to touch them quiet grunting or purring can be felt. They make this sound when they feel threatened. They may also hiss to warn predators to stay away from them.
Veiled chameleons breed more than once a year. Males display for females during courtship, performing behaviors such as "head rolls" and "chin rubs" and females change color when they are ready to breed. Females lay up to three clutches each year and can delay the implantation of the eggs. After a month after mating the females will lay large clutches of up to 85 eggs and bury them in the sand. The eggs are white in color with a tough skin. Incubation time depends on temperature and it may last 150-190 days. Once the eggs hatch, the young are completely independent. They become reproductively mature at around four to five months of age.
There are no major threats to Veiled chameleons at present. They are the most common chameleons in the pet trade and exports from Arabia have declined in recent years and these animals are mostly bred in captivity. However, they are still collected from the wild and sold as souvenirs to tourists. These reptiles also suffer locally from road kills.
According to IUCN, the Veiled chameleon is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.