How to Tell Whether a Veiled Chameleon Is Male or Female

By Alexa Green

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.

Inspection Without Handling

Examine the colors 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.

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 two or more chameleons are compared with each other.

Compare body types. Males are longer and skinny, while females have shorter body length and are stockier.

Inspection While Handling

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.

Lay a yardstick or tape measure on a flat surface.

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