Wednesday 15 May
Sahel chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus)
Sahel chameleon fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Sahel chameleon description
The Sahel chameleon is one of the most common species of chameleon in Africa. While this species’ usual colouration is green, with two thin, horizontal yellow bands running across the flanks, like other chameleons, it can rapidly change colour, becoming various shades of grey or yellow (2). The eyes are located on cone-shaped turrets that can swivel round independently in all directions and the head extends to the rear into a raised, bony protuberance known as a “casque”. Chameleons are remarkably well-adapted for tree climbing, with long prehensile tails and toes that are fused into opposing pads, providing a secure, pincer-like grip when moving along thin branches (2) (3)
- Also known as
- African chameleon.
- Length: 30 – 40 cm (2)
- International Reptile Conservation Foundation:
- Carrying developing young or eggs.
- Capable of grasping.
- CITES (June, 2008)
- AdCham.com (December, 2008)
- Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptile and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Dimaki, M., Hundsdörfer, A.K. and Fritz, U. (2008) Eastern Mediterranean chameleons (Chamaeleo chamaeleon, Chamaeleoafricanus) are distinct. Amphibia-Reptilia, 29: 535 - 540.
- Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
- Carpenter, A.I., Rowcliffe, J.M. and Watkinson, A.R. (2004) The dynamics of global trade in chameleons. Biological Conservation, 120: 291 - 301.
- Böhme, W. (2000) When does a foreign species deserve a “permit of residence”? Nonindigenous species (NIS): examples of varying exoticness and varying immigration age, taken from herpetology. Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 12: 326 - 328.
- The Hellenic Ornithological Society (December, 2008)
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Sahel chameleon biology
In common with other chameleon species, the Sahel chameleon feeds on large insects, which it catches using its remarkable, extensile tongue. The contraction of special muscles within the tongue rapidly propels it towards the prey, which is snared by a combination of the tongue’s sticky mucous coating and a vacuum created by muscles in the tip (3).
The colour changing abilities of chameleons are well known, and serve multiple purposes, including social displays and indicating breeding condition (3). In this species, gravid females utilize their body colour to indicate that they are not receptive to mating, thereby preventing unwanted attention from breeding males (5).
In captivity, the Sahel chameleon lays up to 70 eggs in a single clutch, and buries them in an underground nest. However, fewer eggs are typically laid in the wild. Once the eggs hatch, the juvenile chameleons take between 12 and 16 months to reach sexual maturity (2).Top
Sahel chameleon range
Mainly distributed throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahel chameleon can be found from Mali eastwards to the Horn of Africa, southwards along the west coast from Cameroon to Gabon, and northwards along the east coast from Somalia to Egypt (1). Interestingly, a population also exists in southern Greece that was introduced from Egypt (4).Top
Sahel chameleon habitat
The Sahel chameleon mainly inhabits dry forests and savannah (2).Top
Sahel chameleon status
Listed on Appendix II of CITES (1).Top
Sahel chameleon threats
While the main threat to the Sahel chameleon has been overexploitation for the international pet trade, it has never been one of the major exported species and therefore does not appear to be particularly at risk (1) (6). The small, introduced population in southern Greece is currently threatened by tourist development, but as it is non-native to the country, there is some controversy over whether it should be targeted for conservation action (7).Top
Sahel chameleon conservation
The Sahel chameleon is listed on Appendix II of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and any international trade in this species is therefore strictly controlled and regulated by annual maximum export quotas (1).
The Hellenic Ornithological Society is running an ongoing project to help protect and conserve the introduced population of the Sahel chameleon in Greece, using volunteers to research and monitor this species, as well as to protect the nests (8).Top
Find out more
To learn more about reptile conservation visit:
Authenticated (23/02/2009) by Edward I. Pollak, Ph.D. Department of Psychology, West Chester University of Pennsylvania.Top
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.