Chameleons are among the most amazing and extraordinary representatives of the animal world. The Yemen Chameleon is one of the largest and most striking species. It is these representatives of this species of reptiles that are often started by lovers of exotic animals since they are distinguished by high-stress resistance and good adaptability to new conditions of detention. However, these amazing animals require the creation of certain living conditions, so before you start such an extraordinary animal, it is worth studying the features of its maintenance.
Origin of the Species
Yemen Chameleons are representatives of chordate reptiles, belong to the order of scaly, suborder of lizards, are allocated to the Chameleon family, the genus, and species of real Chameleons.
Chameleons are among the oldest reptiles on earth. Zoologists researchers described finds, which, in their opinion, are already about a hundred million years old. The oldest remains of a Yemen Chameleon have been found in Europe. They indicate that these reptiles existed on earth more than 25 million years ago. In addition, the remains of reptiles have been found in Asia and Africa. They indicate that in ancient times the habitat of these representatives of the animal world was much wider, and the 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 was later singled out as a separate species.
This lizard got its name due to its habitat – the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula of Yemen.
Appearance and Features
This subspecies of Chameleons is considered the largest and incredibly beautiful. The body length of adults reaches 45-55 centimeters. Females are about a third smaller in size. A distinctive feature of the Yemen Chameleon is a rather large crest. From a distance, the crest resembles a helmet covering the head of a lizard. It reaches a height of up to ten centimeters.
Juveniles have a rich, bright green color. Reptiles tend to change color. Adults change color if they experience a feeling of stress, females during pregnancy, males during mating relations 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 claim that color depends on social status. Lizards that grew alone have a paler hue than individuals that grew in a collective.
The limbs of animals are thin and long, perfectly adapted for climbing trees and grasping branches. The tail is rather long, thicker at the base, thinning towards the tip. Chameleons often curl it up when they sit motionless on tree branches. The tail is very important, it serves as a support, is involved in maintaining balance.
Chameleons have amazing eye structures. They can rotate 360 degrees, providing a full view around. Vision is designed in such a way that with the help of the eyes, you can accurately determine the distance to a potential victim. The tongue of Yemen Chameleons is long and thin. Its length is about 20-23 centimeters. The tongue has a sticky surface that allows it to grip and hold prey. There is a kind of suction cup on the tip of the tongue that attracts insects and prevents them from escaping.
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 Yemen Сhameleon feels comfortable in dry regions, in mountainous areas.
It can easily be found where the vegetation is very scarce, or, conversely, in the tropics or subtropics. This territory of the globe is characterized by very diverse climatic conditions. The most numerous populations are located on the plateaus that are located between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. This part of the continent is deserted and lacks a variety of vegetation, but Chameleons choose coastal areas in which they feel as comfortable as possible.
Later, Chameleons were introduced 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 bushes. However, with a large variety, he chooses the most favorite types of vegetation from the available species. These include acacia, succulent, and cactus plants and shrubs of the Euphorbia family. Lizards often settle close to human settlements, choosing gardens and park thickets.
The Yemen Chameleon, upon reaching puberty, should be kept in a terrarium separately from the rest of the individuals. This is done to reduce the likelihood of stress and conflict. Two males in one place cannot live, they are too selfish and do not accept competition.
It is necessary to observe the conditions of detention close to natural. And here many factors play a role:
- the size of the terrarium;
- a place to rest.
For reptiles to feel good, a vertical terrarium is needed, preferably with a mesh instead of one of the walls or with a ventilated wall. The glass version will not work for a Chameleon. Stagnant air will collect in it, which will lead to various respiratory diseases. The size of the terrarium should be as large as possible, as some individuals can grow up to 60 cm in length. Ideally, a container is at least 80 cm high and 40 cm wide. For a female, you can choose a smaller house, but in a large one, she will feel more confident and comfortable.
The inside of the house should be decorated with branches and various plants, where the pet can hide from prying eyes and rest. But the whole structure must be extremely reliable, the Chameleon, could not damage his skin or paws. The ideal option would be to use ficus or dracaena. It is better not to put artificial plants – dust will collect on them, and the pet will be of little use from them. But fresh flowers will additionally regulate the temperature and humidity in the terrarium.
Do not use the primer. It often contains excess moisture, small bugs, and a curious Chameleon can accidentally swallow it. A reptile rug is ideal, but regular sheets of paper can also be used and will need to be removed several times a month.
The Chameleon regulates its body temperature depending on the environmental conditions. In the terrarium, it should be constantly at least 27 degrees, in the place of heating – +32 degrees. Thus, a war zone and a cool area will be created, and the pet will choose the place where it is more comfortable at the moment.
Food and Water
The basis of the diet is small insects or other animals. To catch their prey, they have to hunt. To do this, reptiles climb a secluded branch of bushes 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 to notice a Chameleon in the foliage, almost impossible. When the prey approaches 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 grab it with their entire mouth. What is included in the diet of Yemen Chameleons:
- Small lizards;
- Small rodents;
- Vegetable food.
Surprisingly, it is the Yemen Chameleons that are herbivores. They eat ripe fruits, as well as juicy leaves and young shoots of various vegetation. When kept in artificial conditions, reptiles happily eat pears, apples, zucchini, peppers, leaves of clover, dandelion, and other vegetation.
To replenish 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 fluid. A prerequisite is to ensure the supply of calcium and vitamins necessary for the proper functioning of Yemen Chameleons.
Features of Character and Lifestyle
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 need to hide under the stones or other shelters in extreme heat. They go hunting to search for food during the daytime. For these purposes, thick, long branches are chosen. Choosing a place and position for hunting, he tries as much as possible to get close to the stem or trunk at a distance of at least three meters. In the dark and during the day’s rest, they climb the thin branches of trees and shrubs.
Males tend to be aggressive towards other individuals that appear in their territory. Instinct motivates them to defend their territory. Yemen Chameleons seek to scare their potential enemy, forcing him to voluntarily leave the foreign territory. Opponents swell, hiss menacingly, fall flat on a hard, level surface, open their mouths, nod their heads, fold and unfold their tails. In the process of confrontation, reptiles slowly swing their bodies from side to side and change color. If such attempts to scare the enemy are not crowned with success, then you have to resort to a fight. In the process of fighting, reptiles inflict serious injury and mutilation on a friend. In rare cases, such collisions can be fatal. This happens when the weaker enemy has no way to retreat. From the age of four months, males can show aggression towards each other. Individuals of the female sex are distinguished by a humble disposition and do not show aggression towards their comrades.
Reptiles mature at the age of one year. If you add a partner to them at this time, you can get offspring. When a female sits in the male’s terrarium, he becomes active and begins to care for her. But the owner needs to be careful not to develop aggressiveness. If the female likes the male, then she will allow herself to take care of herself and mate. The mating act can be repeated several times until the female’s color changes, indicating that she is pregnant. From that time on, the male shouldn’t touch her. She becomes very aggressive.
After a month, the female begins to look for a place or burrow for laying eggs. At this time, you need to place a container with fiber or other contents in the terrarium, which will allow you to dig a hole and will not crumble. The container should be of sufficient size for the female and eggs – at least 30×30 cm. After five months, small Chameleons will begin to appear. Unfertilized eggs can gradually be harvested.
If you create all the conditions for a pet’s comfortable life, he will delight the owner with his exotic look and give offspring. And small reptiles can be presented to friends or sold to a pet store.