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Updated: Oct 3, 2022

After snakes, now a chameleon species threatens to become a problem in the canary islands.The government of the Canary Islands is warning about the increase of Yemen chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus).

For some years now there has been a snake problem on the beach and in the mountains of Gran Canaria. The Californian chain snake first appeared in 1998, and now another invasive threat seems to have arrived.

The Minister for Ecological Change, Climate Change and Territorial Planning, José Antonio Valbuena, points out that this is a species that is also highly adaptable to different habitats and that it has a high reproduction rate. Especially in the municipality of Arucas, there is already a critical population of these animals.

The current development with the Yemen chameleon is "cause for concern", he said. For the first time, "this species was discovered in the wild in 2017, and since then the population has grown, according to sightings by local residents".

Since September 2019, a control and eradication program has been underway as part of REDEXOS (Network for the Detection and Intervention of Invasive Exotic Species in the Canary Islands).

As we are still in the first stage of invasion, "control of the population is still possible", says Valbuena, if you are a resident and discover such an animal, the authorities ask you to notify them.

Since 2019, the Yemen chameleon has been listed as an invasive exotic species. This means that the possession, trade or even transport of the animals is prohibited. The animal actually originates from Yemen or Saudi Arabia, where it lives on high plateaus of mountainous regions above 2,800 metres or in forests as well as in fields in lower areas. On Gran Canaria, these animals currently inhabit mainly the forests.


Text: Chris Ernst | Photo: Editorial Network Montefuego Media Services / Gobierno de Canarias

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