Yemen ChameleonChamaeleon calaptratus
The Yemen chameleon is a large arboreal chameleon distinguishable by its large casque on top of the head. The male Yemen can obtain a total length of up to 23 inches and the female up to 17 inches. Being arboreal Yemen's are not heavily bodied appearing thin from a front profile but almost round from the side. The colour of the sexes is quite different with the females being light green whilst males are a slightly darker green with veins of black and prominent thick yellow stripes going vertically through the body. Both sexes will darken if their environment is not the correct temperature. Females will develop orange spots when expecting eggs.
Yemen chameleons are found in the vegetated areas that stretch over the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula.
The Yemen chameleon feeds mainly on insects, commercially produced black and brown crickets, locust, mealworm and wax-worm. Crickets and locust should be the main livefood offered w hilst mealworm and wax-worm can be offered for variety. The Yemen chameleon will also take some vegetation such as watercress and rocket. Other vegetation can be offered but they seem to prefer soft leaves. All insects fed to your chameleon should be gut loaded with the appropriate food and a suitable vitamin powder should be used 3 times a week.
Yemen Chameleons will not readily drink from static water, they much prefer to drink droplets of water from leaves and branches so they must be sprayed every morning for between fifteen to twenty seconds at a time. Occasionally Yemens will drink from a dripper system attached to the roof or from a moving waterfall but not all Yemens will do this so it is not advisable to solely rely on these. A way to tell if your Chameleon is dehydrated is if the eyes are sunken in, the eye should totally fill the socket and this must be looked at on a daily basis.
Yemen chameleons are arboreal so a tall vivarium is required; the smallest size suitable is 24 x 24 x 36. It is important that the vivarium has suitable ventilation as the air can become stagnant when the vivarium is being sprayed daily. Without ventilation the chameleon can develop respiratory problems.
Yemen chameleons require a daytime a ir temperature of 85 - 90oF with a basking area of 100-110oF. This is best achieved with the use of a guarded spot bulb or a mercury vapour lamp. A ceramic heater can be used but as they give off no light the chameleon may be reluctant to bask below it. Heatmats are of no use to these chameleons. All lights must be turned off at night and the vivarium can be allowed to drop as low as 55oF. Remember all spot bulbs and ceramic heaters must be securely guarded.
Yemen chameleons require U.V.B lighting weather it be a U.V.B. tube, compact U.V.B lamp or a mercury vapour lamp. U.V.B is essential for your chameleons bone growth and general health. If this lighting is not available it could be extremely detrimental to the animals health, resulting in weak or deformed bones and ultimately death. These lights need to be on for between 10 and 12 hours a day. It is essential lights are turned off at night so the animal gets a day/night photo period.
WARNING: These lights should be within 12 inches of the animals basking areas as this is the maximum range of the U.V.B. output. All tubes and compact lamps must be changed at least every 10 months, preferably sooner so the animal receives sufficient levels of U.V.B.
Beech chip is a suitable substrate as it is dust and mite free. Sand can also be used but it has to be sand that has been specially developed for reptiles as other sands can cause gut impactions resulting in death if eaten. Any substrate used must be dry, clean and changed on a regular basis.
Yemen chameleons require plenty of branches to climb on as these animals dislike being on the floor. The branches should be strong enough to hold an adult chameleon and secured in place so there is no chance of them moving or falling. The branches should cross the vivarium so the chameleon can get close to the basking area and U.V.B tube. Your chameleon also needs some green plants, preferably artificial to give it somewhere to hide. This is not as important with adults but is essential with youngsters.
Yemen chameleons should not encounter many problems provided heating, lighting and feeding is correct. There are some issues to be aware of; de-hydration can be a problem especially with hatchlings so a morning spraying regime must be strictly adhered to. Keepers must be aware of the date the U.V.B. bulb was last changed so there will be no problems with metabolic bone disease. Female Yemens have to be mated on their first ovulation otherwise there is a high possibility they will die egg-bound. For this reason it is unwise to have a young female unless you plan to breed her as soon as she is mature. Finally do not house sub -adult or adult male chameleons together as they will fight and could kill each other.