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20 May 2010, 12:05
Staff at the award-winning wildlife attraction are hoping the pair of veiled chameleons will hit it off when they are finally introduced to each other later this week.
The aquarium has been looking after a male called Vernon for more than three years. Recently they were given a female – who has been nicknamed Veronica – and now they’re hoping the two will form the basis of a captive breeding programme.
Blue Reef’s Jenna MacFarlane said: “Vernon has been living happily on his own for the last few years but he is now at his absolute prime.
“Veronica is a young female and we have high hopes that they will prove compatible. Chameleons are naturally a little on the shy side and spend much of their time motionless and perfectly camouflaged but we’re hoping her arrival will spur Vernon into action.
"We'll take it slowly and start introducing them gradually to each other over the next few weeks to see how they get on,” she added.
Female veiled chameleons can produce up to three clutches of eggs a year with each clutch containing anywhere from 20 up to 70 eggs.
Native to Yemen and south Saudi Arabia, the veiled chameleon has eyes that move independently and can swivel almost 180 degrees as well as a gripping prehensile tail.
Their tongues are up to 1.5 times as long as their bodies and used to catch insects. They change colour both for camouflage and to attract a mate.
Chameleons come in a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from a tiny 1.5cms long species found in Malawi to the giant Parson’s chameleon which can reach lengths in excess of 60cms.
Regardless of size all chameleons share several common traits including their feet which are divided into two toes, their long tongues and their bizarre eyes which can operate independently and effectively provide them with virtual 360 degree vision around their body.