Species group: Chameleons
Other common names: Slender Chameleon
Scientific name: Chamaeleo gracilis
The Graceful Chameleon is native to the tropical rainforests of Central and eastern West Africa. They live amongst the leaves of trees and bushes and can be found basking on the larger leaves. The Graceful Chameleon population is large and geographically widespread, and the species is not on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List for Endangered Species.
Though not a common pet, the Graceful Chameleon is captured in large numbers in the wild and when available in specialist pet stores they are often quite cheap. They are insectivorous and if not stressed will eat a range of insects, invertebrates and mealworms.
Appearance / health:
Chamaeleo gracilis is medium sized, with the females growing up to 15 inches (37cm), though more typically they are about 10 inches in length. Like all chameleons they change color when stressed or when their emotion changes. But the base color is green with a darker lateral line. However, base colors can vary dramatically.
Behavior / temperament:
Graceful chameleons have a reputation for being aggressive and need to be housed singly out of sight of any other chameleons. They also do not appreciate being handled and get stressed readily. As a result they are typically considered a high-maintenance pet. However, if you are lucky enough to get them as hatchlings they become used to being handled and are very docile.
The Graceful Chameleon requires a large space and if kept in a tank this needs to be at least 50 gallons in volume and containing plenty of branches, vines and leaves for them to clamber on. Substratum should be a mix of sand and moss or sand and fibrous matter, which needs to be changed often. A better option is a large wire cage which allows for full ventilation.
Graceful Chameleons require a temperature of at least 72ºF (which can be lowered at night) and they are best if provided with a spotlamp trained on some of the leaves so that they can sit there and bask. They also require at least 10 hours of UVB exposure for optimal health, so an UV lamp is essential. Being rainforest animals Graceful Chameleons do not readily drink standing water and a drip water system should be fitted in their enclosure. The enclosure should be well supplied with wood, branches, twigs and vines (which can be artificial) for them to climb on and hide within.
They are relatively east to feed and will eat insects, woodlice and mealworms. It is recommended that their food is dusted with vitamins before being introduced. Crickets should be gut-loaded with calcium supplements to aid in their health.
When ready to breed the female Graceful Chameleon tends to show yellow spots on her flank. She will usually lay two clutches of up to 20 eggs in a year (in the presence or absence of a male). If there has been no contact with a male the eggs will be infertile. Fertilized eggs need an incubation temperature of 72ºC and usually hatch 6 months after laying. The young should be allowed to feed on their eggs until sated before moving. These are typically 1 1/2 inches long.
Written by Dyfed Lloyd Evans
hilarious way, lovely temperament, big bulging eyes, charming little walk, long tongues
health, intestinal parasites, strict temperature
peculiar jerky walk, coconut fibre substratum
True Chameleons differ from anoles, which are sometimes called chameleons, in several important ways. Chameleons are slow-moving, have eyes that move independently from each other, have very rough, scaly skin, and long tongues with which they shoot out from their mouths to catch their prey.
They are a bit difficult to keep because they have strict temperature and environment needs that must be kept stable for them to remain healthy. Chameleons like to be very warm and well-fed.
We enjoyed watching Mealy slowly sneak up on small bugs and shoot out his 8 inch tongue, which has a sticky end that catches and pulls the prey into its mouth. Chameleons move in a hilarious way, looking like they can never decide if they really want to take a step or not. They hesitate mid step, swaying forward and back again and then forward. Somehow they manage to move from one place to another, but it can be frustrating watching them. You just want to shout at them, do something! Go somewhere! But they make you smile, and often laugh with their charming little walk and their big bulging eyes that move all around and intently.
Mealy was hard to take care of. I often wanted to take him out of his terrarium and handle him, and he always wanted to stay in the warmth of the enclosure, hidden from view where he felt safe. I suppose I wanted more from him than he was able to give me, so he was not the right match for me. But I would recommend the chameleon for a lizard owner who did not expect too much in the way of entertainment value..
From thegunslinger Jul 23 2015 9:39PM
Graceful Chameleon, Comparison of Wild and Captive Specimens
These reptiles are native to the tropical rainforests of Central and eastern West Africa. I first came across them in Nigeria and subsequently learned that they are often caught in large quantities in the wild for export to Europe and the USA. As a result, though not common, where available they can be purchased quite cheaply.
But, because they are wild-caught, if buying as a pet you need to be aware that when you first get them they may well be infected with skin and intestinal parasites and they will almost certainly be dehydrated and very stressed. So you first need to take them to a vet or specialized herpetologist for a check up.
Unless you have had them from eggs, then these are not really pets for petting, they are pets for watching. The females can grow up to 40cm (16in) long, but typically they are 30cm long. They need lots of branches to climb on and they need a temperature of at least 22ºC and they will need a space for basking. A 50W bulb angled on to a cluster of leaves is ideal. Also, for optimum health they require a minimum of 10 hours' exposure to UVB every day (an UV lamp is ideal).
Though many keep them in glass tanks with a sand and moss or sand and coconut fibre substratum (the tank needs to be 200l [50 gallons] ideally). I would recommend a wire cage myself as this allows for air circulation from all directions and replicates more closely their forest homes. Also note that when watering them, they do not respond well to standing water. In their natural environment they drink the water that drips from leaves, so you will need to set up a drip water system above the substratum of the tank or cage.
The Graceful Chameleon has a reputation for aggression and they do not like even seeing other chameleons and the stress will often make them ill. They will eat a range of insects, including crickets, fruit flies, mealworms and woodlice. But do not feed them wild-caught insects because of the possibility of disease.
If thinking of breeding, the female will lay two clutches of up to 20 eggs a year and these will take up to 6 months, when incubated at 22ºC to hatch. The hatchlings need to be left in the eggs until they have eaten their fill of the egg and they will then be sated for up to two days. When first hatched they are about the lengths of the top two joints of your little fingers.
If you are lucky enough to have hatchlings, this is the time to get them used to being handled by people. The hatchlings are sociable and have no problems walking over your hands. This is the way they are typically trained in Nigeria. Eventually though they need to be separated and will require careful handling to prevent them from getting stressed.
If you are going to handle them, try and avoid picking them up and let them walk onto your hands on lift them up with the palm of your hand. If stressed they will change colour.
They are a fascinating animal to watch, with their strange gait and eyes that can move and watch independently. And their biggest trick is catching insects with their tongues. I have been lucky enough to watch them in and around their native habitats, but if buying as a pet treat them with respect, give them the care they need and just remember the stress they have suffered to get to you.
Oh, and I should comment that the graceful chameleon is not named because of its movements (every chameleon has a peculiar jerky walk that is great fun to watch), but due to a mistranslation of the Latin species name 'gracilis' — this means 'gracile' or 'slender', due to the much thinner body of the Gracile Chameleon compared with other chameleons.
I will admit that I am very ambivalent about this review. I have seen the Graceful Chameleon in its natural environment and it's a wonderful creature. Indeed, it is my wife's second-favourite species (after dogs). But would I buy it from an European or American seller. If I did not know that it was captive-bread, then probably not. Demand creates the conditions for capture and transport of wild-caught animals. Yet, these animals have already been taken from their homes... so I always hope that they will get understanding owners who will look after their needs.
For the specimens I have handle in Africa, grown and handled from eggs and hatchlings I would give a 4 rating. But for captured and exported specimens they would have to get a 3 rating. If you have reared by hand then they are used to humans and do not get stressed if infrequently handled by humans. Specimens captured in the wild and transported overseas need expert handling.
The photograph taken here is of a graceful chameleon crossing the road in Nigeria. It is out in the open and a bit stressed, hence the beautiful coloration. She was one of the village pets and was just coming into season..
From DLlE Sep 2 2012 2:44PM