richbentley82's picture

Chameleon seen in West Cyprus

Observed: 7th May 2011 By: richbentley82

Observed in mountainous woodlands West Cyprus.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


the naturalist man's picture

Mediterranean chameleon

I assume these photos are in time sequence, i.e. the one on the left was taken before you picked it up for the photo on the right.

Also I suspect the photos were taken between 11am and 3pm and the chameleon was not happy about being picked up!.

"Ah!" says Watson "how on earth can you deduce that!"

"Elementary" retorts Holmes.

Actually it is, chameleons do not change colour to suit their backgrounds, or at least that is not the main reason. They change colour to absorb/reflect the most light/heat and to indicate their mood. Therefore, when on the ground the animal is pale indicating it is some time around noon-early afternoon when the sun is at its hottest and the chameleon is trying to reflect heat by paling the skin. However, if annoyed they will go darker in colouration.

Hence, the first photo is its natural state trying to reflect the mid-day sun and when picked up it became annoyed and darkened its skin.

As for species, Masked Marvel is right there is only one species and the nominate sub-species, C.C.camaeleon is the one found on Cyprus. Also the lack of bumps, horns etc. on the head. I've added an identification just to correct the spelling of the scientific name, you missed the 'a' out of chamaeleon in the scientific name.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'

Masked Marvel's picture

Hello Graham Thanks for

Hello Graham

Thanks for spotting the spelling! I didn't check my Cyprus reptile book last night. But I had a look this morning and it gives the sub-species as C.c.recticrista...(also found in Syria and Palestine). This is under review pending further genetic work.

richbentley82's picture

Hi Graham, You are correct!

Hi Graham,

You are correct! We were driving down a dirt track from the mountain peak to the coast when we came across this little fellow crossing. I got a couple of snaps before my cousin (pictured) picked it up and carried it to the other side of the road.

The time of day was around late morning - noon and the sun was already approaching its hottest.

We may have annoyed it by picking it up but the other option was to try and dodge it in a 2 ton 4x4....needless to say we didn't take any chances!

Thanks for the comments.


the naturalist man's picture


I've never been to Cyprus and don't have any books on the islands herpetofauna, I went by a process of elimination as I thought I'd read C.c.recticrista was endemic to Israel and Palestine. It makes some sense as they would be the nearest populations to Cyprus.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'

Masked Marvel's picture

There is a definite east/west

There is a definite east/west split in the European and North African subspecies which occurs somewhere in Tunisia/Morocco. C.c.chamaeleon occurs west of this (the Spanish/Portuguese populations) and C.c.recticrista from the eastern Mediterranean including Cyprus, Turkey and Greece. It's worth noting that some authors think that the Cypriot chameleons may be an ancient introduction from Israel, but again no agreement on this...

Masked Marvel's picture

an online copy of one of the

an online copy of one of the books is available here.