Chamaeleo is a genus of chameleons found primarily in the mainland of sub-saharan Africa, but a few species are also present in northern Africa, southern Europe and southern Asia east to India and Sri Lanka.

Chamaelio calyptratus.jpg
Chamaeleo calyptratus, veiled chameleon
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Chamaeleonidae
Subfamily: Chamaeleoninae
Genus: Chamaeleo
Laurenti, 1768[1]
Chamaeleo dilepis, flap-necked chameleon



They are slow moving with independently movable eyes, the ability to change skin colouration, long tongue, usually a prehensile tail, and special leg adaptations for grasping vegetation. Males are generally larger and more colorful than females. Almost all species have a maximum snout-vent length (SVL) between 15 and 40 centimetres (5.9 and 15.7 in).


The vast majority are arboreal and typically found in trees or bushes, but a few species (notably the Namaqua Chameleon) are partially or largely terrestrial.


The genus includes only oviparous species.

In captivityEdit

With few exceptions, the chameleons most commonly seen in captivity are all members of Chamaeleo, notably the common, Senegal and veiled chameleons, but even they require special care.


Chamaeleo is the type genus of the family Chamaeleonidae.

All other genera of the subfamily Chamaeleoninae (Bradypodion, Calumma, Furcifer, Kinyongia, Nadzikambia and Trioceros) have at some point been included in the genus Chamaeleo, but are now regarded as separate by virtually all authorities.


14 species are recognized as being valid, and subspecies are recognized for some species.[2]

Nota bene: A binomial authority or trinomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species or subspecies was originally described in a genus other than Chamaeleo.


  1. ^ ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System).
  2. ^ The Reptile Database.

Further readingEdit

  • Branch, Bill. 2004. Field Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Third Revised edition, Second impression. Sanibel Island, Florida: Ralph Curtis Books. 399 pp. ISBN 0-88359-042-5. (Genus Chamaeleo, p. 227).
  • Laurenti JN. 1768. Specimen medicum, exhibens synopsin reptilium emendatam cum experimentis circa venena et antidota reptilium austriacorum. Vienna: "Joan. Thom. Nob. de Trattnern". 214 pp. + Plates I-V. (Chamaeleo, new genus, p. 45). (in Latin).
  • Spawls, S.; Drewes, R.; Ashe, J. (2002). A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa. Köln: Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-656470-1.

External linksEdit