Climate Of The Natural Habitat Of The Mighty Yemen Chameleon
The Yemen Chameleon (Veiled Chameleon) is one of the most popular chameleon species in captivity today. Yet it is one of the mostly misunderstood and miss handled a Chameleons in captivity. Let us please finally understand it's climatic requirements to make them comfortable and thriving in captivity and not suffering...
The Yemen Chameleons are very hardy, so that they can survive even a completely wrong care which is actually provided by a vast majority of keepers and breeders, because their natural conditions are completely misunderstood or even faked, many care sheets recommend conditions, under which the Yemen Chameleons suffer to death.
The Yemen Chameleon is a montane species that lives in an environment which is colder than the environment of the undisputed montane species - Three Horned Jacksons Chameleon! They occupy altitudes usually around 6000 to 7000 feet high in the mountains of Hejaz. The centre of the distribution of the original population, that served the source for captive population nowadays and for all ferals, is an area around the cities od Ibb and Yarim in Yemen.
The climate there is a very specific and undergoes a very significant cycling during the year. The warmest month is the month of June, when the temperatures rise to the level of about 80° at noon (not more!) and fall down to maximum 70° at night while in the winter time, they can fall to freezing point at night and not exceed high 60s at the daytime.
The area where Yemen chameleons live is typical through uneven distribution of the rainfall during the year. There is the rainy season from April to September with a break in June and the dry season from October till March each year.
The implication of this natural cycles to captivity are as follows. The species is extremely adaptable and can cope with big differences in the climate; this is why they are so tolerable to our mistakes in captivity. The best way how to keep them is of course to simulate the differences of rhe oarameters in the seasons accordingly and reflect them in the temperature regime provided both for juvenile and adult animals as well as for the incubation of eggs.
There is one very important fact to add. It is the distribution of the air humidity during the day. As you can see on the attached charts, during the daytime, the humidity drops deep under 30% and during late night hours, it raises high above 70%. This is the normalized ambient air humidity there. Once the dew point is close to the temperature of the air during the night, the clouds automatically fall down and build fog that covers the entire environment and in that moment the air humidity is 100% and the Chamaeleon sits for hours and hours in very dense fog. I remember that starting around 10 PM, you cannot usually continue a night search because you do not see anything due to the milky fog, and you need to turn back to your car otherwise you risk that you lose the way and will need to wait until the morning to find it.
The Kareef climatic anomaly, caused by special summertime monsoon (June-September) forming a special eco zone called fog woodlands and fog shrublands, does not apply to Yemen Chameleons or only marginally. The Arabian sea influences the DHOFAR mountains in Omans and Southern Yemen and not HEJAZ mountains in Central and Norther Yemen.
Please, do not overheat the Yemen Chameleons, it is one of the main reasons, why they do not reach high age in captivity.
If simulating the rainy summertime, use the following temperatures:
If simulating the dry wintertime, use the following temperatures:
During whole year, use the following humidity regime with soft transitions:
Understanding natural conditions and natural history is the ultimate key for ethical captive naturalistic husbandry, that provides comfort to the Yemen Chameleons, which they deserve, according to Human Ethics, Animal Welfare principles, the law and common sense.
Please, let our noble fellows thrive and not suffer in our homes.