How to Tell Whether a Veiled Chameleon Is Male or Female

Written by alexa green
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How to Tell Whether a Veiled Chameleon Is Male or Female
Hardy and colourful veiled chameleons are popular pets. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

The veiled chameleon -- Chamaeleo calyptratus -- is a tree-dwelling lizard found in mountainous areas in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. With a U-shaped head crest, bands of gold, green and blue around its green body, and a 1 1/2-foot tongue, the veiled chameleon is distinctive. Because it can withstand greater temperature and humidity extremes than many other reptiles, it's one of the most popular animals in the exotic pet trade. Determining the sex of a veiled chameleon can be done from afar, but the most accurate method requires handling of the chameleon.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Yardstick or tape measure

Show MoreHide


    Inspection Without Handling

  1. 1

    Examine the colours of the chameleon's body. Males are green with turquoise, yellow, orange, green and/or black bands. Females are also green but mottled in appearance, with tan, orange, white and, sometimes, yellow blotches.

  2. 2

    Examine the casque -- or crest -- on its head. A mature male's casque may exceed 2 inches tall (sometimes reaching more than 3 inches in height). A female's is smaller. This examination is easiest to do when multiple chameleons are compared together.

  3. 3

    Compare body types. Males are skinny while females are shorter in length but stockier.

    Inspection While Handling

  1. 1

    Examine its hind feet. Males have tarsal spurs -- small bulges of skin just above the heels of each foot. Females lack tarsal spurs. This inspection can be done on a chameleon of any age.

  2. 2

    Lay a yardstick or tape measure on a flat surface.

  3. 3

    Place the chameleon's head at the beginning end of the tape measure or yardstick and measure it to the tip of its tail. Mature males are 17 to 24 inches in length while females are 10 to 14 inches.

Tips and warnings

  • Although veiled chameleons can breed at five months of age, they are not fully grown at that point. Use caution when determining the sex by body length, unless you know that the animal is mature.
  • The presence or absence of tarsal spurs is the most accurate determination of the sex since the spurs are present at hatching.

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