Yemeni chameleon

Chameleons are one of the most amazing and unusual representatives of the animal world. The Yemeni chameleon is one of the largest and most colorful species. It is these representatives of this species of reptiles that lovers of exotic animals often give birth to, as they are highly stress-resistant and adapt well to new conditions of detention. However, these amazing animals require the creation of certain living conditions, so before you get such an unusual animal, you should study the features of its maintenance.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Yemeni chameleon

Photo: Yemeni chameleon

Yemeni chameleons are representatives of chordate reptiles, they belong to the squamous order, the suborder of lizards, they are classified in the chameleon family, the genus and species of real chameleons.

Chameleons are one of the most ancient reptiles on earth. Zoologists and researchers described finds that, in their opinion, are already about a hundred million years old. The most ancient remains of the Yemeni chameleon were discovered in Europe. They indicate that these reptiles existed on earth more than 25 million years ago.

Video: Yemeni chameleon

In addition, the remains of reptiles were found in Asia and Africa. They indicate that in ancient times the habitat of these representatives of the animal world was much wider, and animals were distributed on different continents. Zoologists suggest that modern Madagascar was home to many species of chameleon.

Earlier, the ancient inhabitants of Yemen assumed that ordinary chameleons lived on their territory, which were later separated into a separate species.

This lizard got its name due to its habitat – the southern part Arabian Peninsula Yemen. This is the first subspecies that has been successfully bred in Russia at home in terrariums. Since the 80s, this subspecies has become the most popular and sought after among breeders of exotic animals.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Yemeni Chameleon

Photo: Yemeni chameleon female

This subspecies of chameleons is considered the largest and incredibly beautiful. The body length of adults reaches 45-55 centimeters. These reptiles have pronounced sexual dimorphism. Females are about a third smaller in size.

A distinctive feature of the Yemeni chameleon is a rather large crest, for which it is called veil, or helmet bearers. From afar, the crest really resembles a helmet covering the head of a lizard. It reaches a height of up to ten centimeters.

Young individuals have a rich, bright green color. Reptiles tend to change color. Adults change color if they experience a feeling of stress, females during pregnancy, or males during mating when females approach. Green can change to brown, blue, white, dark brown. As they grow older, the color of the lizards changes. Stripes of bright yellow or orange appear on the body of animals.

Interesting fact. Zoologists say that color depends on social status. Lizards that grew up alone have a paler hue than individuals that grew up in a group.

The limbs of animals are thin and long, perfectly adapted for crawling through trees and grasping branches. The tail is rather long, thicker at the base, becoming thinner towards the tip. Chameleons often roll it into a ball when they sit motionless on tree branches. The tail is very important, it performs the function of support, is involved in maintaining and maintaining balance.

Chameleons have an amazing eye structure. They are able to rotate 360 ​​degrees, providing a complete view around. Vision is arranged in such a way that with the help of the eyes you can accurately determine the distance to a potential victim.

The language of the Yemeni chameleons is long and thin. Its length is about 20-23 centimeters. The tongue has a sticky surface that allows it to grab and hold prey. The tip of the tongue has a kind of suction cup that attracts insects and prevents them from escaping.

Where does the Yemeni chameleon live?

Photo: Adult Yemeni chameleon

Photo: Adult Yemeni chameleon

This representative of chordate reptiles lives in natural conditions exclusively on the Yemen Peninsula, the island of Madagascar, in Saudi Arabia. Lizards prefer moist forests, low shrubs and thickets of various types of vegetation. However, zoologists say that the Yemeni chameleon also feels comfortable in dry regions, in mountainous areas.

It can easily be found where the vegetation is very sparse, or, conversely, in the tropics or subtropics. This area of ​​the globe is characterized by very diverse climatic conditions. The most numerous populations are located on the plateaus, which are located between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. This part of the continent is deserted and lacks a variety of vegetation, however, chameleons choose coastal areas in which they feel as comfortable as possible.

Later, mammals were brought to Florida and the Hawaiian Islands, where they took root well and quickly acclimatized.

Lizards love to spend a lot of time on the branches of trees and shrubs. However, with a large variety, he chooses the most liked types of vegetation from the available species. These include acacia, succulent and cactus plants and shrubs of the Euphorbiaceae family. Lizards often settle near human settlements, choosing gardens and park thickets.

What does the Yemeni chameleon eat?

Photo: Yemeni male chameleon

Photo: Yemeni male chameleon

Basic diet for reptiles – small insects, or other living creatures. To catch prey, they have to hunt. To do this, reptiles climb onto a secluded branch of shrubs or trees, and freeze for a long time, waiting for the right moment. At the moment of waiting, the body of the lizard is completely immobilized, only the eyeballs rotate.

At such a moment, it is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to notice a chameleon in the foliage. When the prey approaches at a sufficiently close distance, it throws out its tongue with a suction cup at the end and captures the prey. If they come across large prey, they capture it with their whole mouth.

Interesting fact. The Yemeni chameleon is the only representative of this species that, after reaching puberty, almost completely switches to feeding on vegetation.

What is included in the diet of Yemeni chameleons:

  • Butterflies;
  • Grasshoppers;
  • Spiders;
  • Small lizards;
  • Millipedes;
  • Crickets;
  • Beetles;
  • Small rodents;
  • Food of plant origin.

Surprisingly, it is the Yemeni chameleons that are herbivores. They eat ripe fruits, as well as succulent leaves and young shoots of various vegetation. When kept in artificial conditions, reptiles are happy to eat pears, apples, zucchini, peppers, clover leaves, dandelion, and other vegetation.

To fill the body’s need for fluid, reptiles lick drops of morning dew from vegetation. That is why it is very important when keeping a reptile in artificial conditions, it is necessary to irrigate the terrarium and all surfaces with water to provide the lizards with a source of liquid. A prerequisite is to ensure the supply of calcium and vitamins necessary for the full life of the Yemeni chameleons.

Character and lifestyle features

Photo: Yemeni chameleon

Photo: Yemeni chameleon

Reptiles tend to spend most of their time on bushes or trees. They descend to the surface of the earth if they want to change their habitat or if they need to take cover in extreme heat under stones or other shelters. They go hunting for food during daylight hours. For these purposes, choose thick, long branches. When choosing a place and position for hunting, it tries as much as possible to get close to the stem or trunk at a distance of at least three meters. At night and during daytime rest, they climb onto thin branches of trees and shrubs.

Male individuals tend to show aggression towards other individuals that appear on their territory. The natural instinct motivates them to protect and defend their territory. Yemeni chameleons seek to scare their potential enemy, forcing him to voluntarily leave foreign territory. Opponents swell, hiss menacingly, fall flat on a hard, even surface, open their mouths, nod their heads, turn and unfold their tails.

In the process of confrontation, reptiles slowly shake their bodies from side to side and change color. If such attempts to scare the enemy are not successful, then you have to resort to a fight. In the process of fighting, reptiles cause serious injuries and injuries to a friend. In rare cases, such collisions can be fatal.

This happens when there is no way for a weaker enemy to retreat. Starting from the age of four months, males can show aggression towards each other. Females are submissive and do not show aggression towards their comrades-in-arms.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Yemeni chameleon animal

Photo: Animal Yemeni chameleon

The period of puberty in Yemeni chameleons occurs upon reaching one to two years of age. The period of marriage depends on climatic conditions and in most cases falls on the period from April to September. With the onset of the mating season, each male tries to attract the attention of the female he likes. To do this, he nods his head, slowly swings his whole body, turns and unfolds his tail. During this period, males tend to change color to bright and saturated.

The female, who is ready to create a pair, is covered on her back with a turquoise color. The male that she likes, she calls with an open mouth. The one she does not like, she desperately drives away.

Individuals mate for 15-30 minutes several times a day for 3-5 days. Then the couple breaks up, and the male leaves to look for another pair to enter into a marriage relationship. In some cases, the period of marriage is delayed up to 10-15 days.

Pregnancy of females lasts from 30 to 45 days. During this period of time, females have turquoise or yellow spots on a dark green or black background on their bodies. At the end of the gestation period, the female makes a long, tunnel-shaped burrow into which she lays several dozen eggs and carefully closes the entrance to the burrow. The incubation period lasts 150-200 days.

The sex of hatched chameleons depends on the ambient temperature. If the temperature is about 28 degrees, then predominantly female individuals will hatch from the eggs, and if the temperature reaches 30 degrees, then predominantly male individuals will appear. All babies are born at the same time. Their body length is 5-7 centimeters. The average life expectancy in natural conditions is 4-7 years.

Natural enemies of Yemeni chameleons

Photo: Adult Yemeni Chameleon

Photo: Adult Yemeni Chameleon

When staying in Under natural conditions, Yemeni chameleons have quite a few enemies. They become prey more than = large, strong and cunning predators.

Enemies of lizards:

  • Snakes;
  • Large predatory mammals;
  • Larger reptiles, lizards;
  • Feathered predators – crows, herons.

The peculiarity of the chameleon is that instead of hiding and running away, from nature he is endowed with the ability to try to scare a possible adversary. That is why, when a deadly enemy approaches, the lizard swells, hisses, which gives it away even more.

Zoologists call the enemies of Yemeni chameleons parasitic worms. When they start in the body of a lizard, they multiply quite quickly, which leads to a weakening and exhaustion of the body. In some cases, the number of parasites is so great that they literally eat the lizard alive.

It is worth noting that lizards are very sensitive to lack of fluid, beriberi, lack of calcium. When dehydrated, the eyes of Yemeni chameleons are constantly closed during the daytime.

Man has made a significant contribution to the reduction in the number of reptiles. This is due to the development of more and more new territories, the destruction and destruction of their natural habitat. Deforestation and expansion of agricultural land leads to a decrease in the number of these representatives of flora and fauna.

Population and species status

Photo: Yemeni Chameleon female

Photo: Yemeni chameleon female

Despite the fact that chameleons, like no other, know how to camouflage and hide, they cannot be guaranteed to be protected from complete extinction. At the moment, not only the helmet-bearing species of chameleon is endangered, but also other subspecies. They find it increasingly difficult to survive in natural conditions. Numerous diseases, the destruction of eggs and young individuals, human activities, predators – all these are the reasons for the reduction in their population.

Yemen chameleons are successfully bred at home in a terrarium, provided that optimal conditions and the required amount of food supply are created. It is this subspecies of lizards that is most in demand among breeders of exotic animals.

Zoologists say that the bulk of the individuals that exist today are kept in national parks, zoos, and not in natural conditions. The researchers confidently declare that this species has not completely disappeared due to the ability to quickly adapt to new conditions of detention, tolerate acclimatization well and eat plant foods. This allows you to breed them almost everywhere.

Protection of Yemeni chameleons

Photo: Red Book Yemen Chameleon

Photo: Yemeni chameleon Red Book

For protection purposes, Yemeni or helmeted chameleons are listed in the international Red Book as a species on the verge of extinction. This subspecies is not the only one threatened with extinction. All species of chameleons without exception are listed in the Red Book, moreover, almost two dozen of them are also at risk of completely disappearing in the near future.

To prevent this, lizards are successfully bred in terrariums in national parks. In the region where they live in natural conditions, illegal trapping and trade in these reptiles are officially prohibited. When reproducing and keeping in artificial conditions, reptiles are provided with all the necessary conditions – the level of illumination, temperature, as well as the prevention of beriberi, rickets, parasite infestation.

Zoologists make a lot of efforts to create optimal conditions, prevent and treat diseases of reptiles . However, if you do not take into account the veiled chameleons, which are kept in artificial conditions, the proportion of lizards living in natural, natural conditions is negligible.

Chameleons are recognized as one of the most striking, mysterious and unusual creatures on planet Earth. Only they are characterized by such an extraordinary ability to change color depending on social status, or psychological state. However, these amazing reptiles may soon disappear from the face of the earth due to human impact and other factors.

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