Nellie - Namaqua Chameleon - Chamaeleo namaquensis

Nellie is a Namaqua Chameleon, one of the largest chameleons in Africa. They can grow up to 25 cm in length. Compared to other chameleons their tail is much shorter, which is an adaptation to the terrestrial habitat compared to other chameleon species that live in trees.


Namaqua Chameleons live in the desert regions of Namibia, South Africa, and southern Angola. They live in sandy deserts and gravel plains, and also occur in shrubland. Especially young animals are often found climbing in small vegetation.


The species is usually grey or brown coloured with sometimes lighter patches or yellow and red parts. This allows thermoregulation when the dark parts absorb heat more efficiently in the morning. These dark parts get lighter during the day to reflect light during the heat. 

The species breeds throughout the year. Eggs remain inside the mother for about 40 days. After that period eggs are buried under loose gravel and in a layer of moist sand for about 100 days before they hatch.

She catches her food with her very long sticky tongue which is twice as long as her body length. Crickets, beetles and other insects but also other reptiles such as lizards and even smaller chameleons are their favourite food. They obtain most of their water through drinking dew and licking fog from surfaces, but also obtain moisture from food. Uniquely they can also take up moisture through their skin through capillary action