Species of the week

Flap-neck chamelon, one of the most charismatic reptile species

Scientific name: Chamaeleo dilepis

Common name: Flap -neck chamelon, flattened neck chameleon

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Diet: mainly invertebrates (arthropods)

Average lifetime: 5-8 years

Size: can reach 43cm

IUCN category: Least Concern

The origin of the flap- necked or flattened neck chameleon names, is from the movable flaps that protrude from both sides of the upper surface of the neck. When they feel threatened, they exhibit it to move away rivals or predators.They have a flattened body with a white spot on its side. When resting, the chameleon coloration is usually light green, brown or yellow.

Males can be distinguished from females by their taller head, larger flaps and by the small spurs which protrude from the hind legs of some subspecies.


Mating season occurs in early summer and this is the only period in which females allow the approach of males without conflict. After mating, the gestation lasts about one month and females dig holes where eggs will be buried. They can lay between 25 to 60 eggs and the hatching can take around 9 months. Juveniles reach sexual maturity after 9 to 12 months.



This species occurs in coastal forests, woodlands, shrubs, savannahs and semi-desert areas. They feed on arthropods, and have special adaptations for hunting: the eyes in cone-shaped move independently so that it can look in two different directions at the same time, and the tongue can achieve the same length of its body in 3 hundredths of a second, when it comes to capture a prey.They are preyed upon by boomslang and twig snakes.


It is widely distributed and can be found in almost all central and southern Africa.


They are collected for international trade of animals, and the demand comes mainly from the United States.

Conservation measures

Currently thy are not under any specific conservation measure as they present a wide distribution.


A chameleon changes its color using layers of specialized cells called chromatophores, which are under their transparent skin. These chromatophores, comprise a mixture of pigmented light-reflecting and melanin cells, and the reptile can handle it as an artist.


  • Arkive
  • Safari bookings
  • IUCN Red List
  • Wikipedia
  • Farooq, H. Morgado, F. Soares, A. (2014). Anfíbios e Répteis de Pemba, edições Afrontamento Porto
  • Alexander, G. Marais, J. (2007). A guide to reptiles of Southern Africa