Veiled Chameleon (Calyptratus) Habitat
by Rob Lane

Yemen is located on the south-western edge of the Arabian Peninsula.
Topographical variations in Yemen create five major regions, the coastal plain (or Tihamah), the western highlands, the central mountains, the eastern highlands, and finally, the eastern and northeastern desert regions. These five regions give rise to a wide range of climatic conditions, three of which provide a home for the Veiled Chameleon


In the intense heat of the coastal area, moisture evaporates from the Red Sea and is trapped by the mountain range running from Ta'izz in the South through Dhamar and San'a. The result is a hot and humid coastal plain with little or no rain.

As the moisture climbs the mountains in the form of clouds the temperature drops. This leads to heavy rainfall on the Western slopes. This rain and the cooler temperature support lush vegetation and a large insect population. It is on these humid fertile areas that the Veiled Chameleon thrives.

Most of the rain is deposited before reaching the top of the mountain region, making the plateau much drier and less humid. Also the temperatures are cooler with frost sometimes occurring in the winter months.

In Western Yemen the three main areas Veiled Chameleons can be found are:

i) Coastal Plains


The narrow coastal plains of Western Yemen, bordering the Red Sea are primarily hot with little or no rainfall (less than 50mm annually), and are prone to sandstorms. Temperatures often exceed 100 F (38 C) with high humidity.
In these semi-desert conditions Calyptratus can be found next to the main watercourses (Waddi's) of which there are many. Although many of the Waddi's dry out during the hotter months the damp soil along the edges makes the


Picture above is a typical waddi in Western Yemen

growth of vegetation still possible. The vegetation in turn supports a viable insect population that sustains Calyptratus. Often the Coastal Plains can go several years without rainfall. In these areas, Calyptratus have been seen to consume vegetation regularly. This unusual trait in chameleons is thought to provide extra fluids for the animal in this arid environment.

Historical temperatures at Al Hudaydah are shown below to illustrate the typical temperatures experienced in this region.

Al Hudaydah

Average Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
80 81 83 86 91 93 94 93 92 89 84 81

Average High Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
82 83 86 89 93 95 95 95 94 91 86 83

Average Low Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
78 78 80 83 88 90 92 90 90 87 81 78

Highest Recorded Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
90 90 91 102 102 104 101 102 100 100 100 90

Lowest Recorded Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
50 43 50 48 56 57 66 65 60 57 49 28

ii) Western Slopes

On the Western and Southern slopes of the vast mountain range of the southern Arabian Peninsula Calyptratus thrives. Because of the favourable conditions, not too hot, humid and abundant rain fall, (often exceeding 1000mm annually) much of this area has been cultivated with grains, fruit trees and vegetables. This in turn hosts a large insect population and is home to the fabled locust plagues. In this region Calyptratus is abundant.
Most of the Chameleons found in the pet trade in the UK and USA originate from this area

Ta'izz is a typical town on the Western Slopes. Its historical temperatures give an insight into suitable conditions in which to keep Calyptratus.

Ta'izz

Average Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
63 67 72 76 78 80 80 78 76 76 71 67

Average High Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
74 81 83 89 87 91 90 87 83 83 80 73

Average Low Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
52 53 61 62 69 68 70 68 69 68 62 61

Highest Recorded Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
81 87 89 94 95 97 102 93 90 90 84 82

Lowest Recorded Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
44 44 56 57 63 63 63 61 62 62 57 57

iii) Highland Plateau

The Highland Plateau is cool and
relatively dry (200-400mm rain annually) with less humidity than the previous two regions..
In the upper highlands, night-time temperatures can drop to below freezing. On these cold nights Calyptratus has been seen to overnight in fissures in the ground and the centre of thick bushes.

San'a is a typical highland town where Calyptratus can be found.

San'a

Average Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
62 65 68 69 72 75 76 74 73 66 62 60

Average High Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
72 74 76 76 80 83 83 81 80 75 72 71

Average Low Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
51 55 60 61 65 67 68 67 65 56 51 50

Highest Recorded Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
84 84 88 89 91 90 91 91 91 93 85 84

Lowest Recorded Temperature (°F)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
34 37 46 48 45 52 48 45 48 39 34 32

 

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