Chameleons are gorgeous gorgeous lizards that are best known for their ability to camouflage, i.e., their unique ability to change their color to same as what they are sitting on, making them so difficult to spot. This ability of theirs makes it hard to spot them both by their prey and predators. They are very different types of lizards due to large eyes and coiled tails, being found in both the jungle and the desert. In fact, many people around the world also love to keep them as their pet. Here are some colorful facts about chameleons
- Chameleons vary greatly in body size and structure, and their size can vary from 15 to 30 millimeters – in the smallest species found, the Brookesia micra – up to about 70 centimeters.
- Chameleons pretend to be dead when in danger. They wear a blank stare and simply fall to the ground when they are attacked by enemies. They only move again when they feel safe.
- The tongue of a chameleon can become one and a half to twice as long as its body.
- A cool fact is that chameleons can move their eyes independently. As a result, they recognize enemies much earlier and can also look out for prey better.
- It is a well known feature that Chameleons adopt the color of their surroundings to camouflage themselves. This way, the enemies find it hard to spot a green chameleon on a green leaf, but their color also depends on their mood.
- Although, it’s not a unanimous belief, chameleons can change their color incredibly quickly, i.e., within 20 seconds. They usually change their color from brown to green.
- When a chameleon is angry, their behavior literally defines “get on their nerves” in the truest sense of the word. When looking for a mating partner, chameleons shimmer in the most colorful colors to impress the female chameleons. Also, when a chameleon is sick, their skin becomes pale.
So, how do chameleons change color?
- They can produce this phenomenon because they are born with special cells that have pigments. These cells lie in layers under the outer skin of the chameleon and are called chromatophores, which are activated by a message from the brain. In the upper layers, they have cells for yellow and red color. And underneath that lies a layer that reflects the blue portion in the sunlight.
Once activated, the color changing pigments “blend” like a paint. In addition to the chromatophores, melanin also helps the chameleons in this process by producing browning through fibers that spread like spider webs through the layers of pigment cells.
- Generally, chameleon males are much more ornate than females. That is, they have more facial protrusions and projections, such as crests, in their heads.
- There are about 80 different species of these reptiles already cataloged, but it is estimated that there are more than 160. Today, many species of chameleon are considered endangered and their numbers have declined, probably due to changes in their natural habitat such as pollution and deforestation.
- These animals are inhabitants of Asia and parts of Europe and North America, but they are predominantly found in Africa continent, more precisely on the island of Madagascar, where most species of chameleons are found.
- Almost half of the world’s chameleon species live on the island of Madagascar, Africa, with 59 of them only there. In southern Sahara, besides Portugal, Spain, Sri Lanka and India, there are also some species, as well as in Hawaii and some parts of Florida and California.
- Chameleons can generally eat anything. Some species of chameleon are known to have a more carnivorous diet (feeding on insects, worms, small reptiles and snails) and others are vegetarian.
- One of their trademarks is the way they hurl their tongues, quickly to catch some insects.
- Did you know about the fact that chameleon eyes have a 360 degree viewing arc and can see in two directions at the same time? In this way, the chameleons have the most distinctive eyes of any reptile.
- Another interesting fact about chameleons is that their eyes can rotate separately and focus to observe two different objects simultaneously, which allows the eyes to move independently of each other, being an excellent advantage to watch the predators.
- The tongue of a chameleon, also called “ballistic”, is approximately 1.5 to 2 times the size of its body, and can move 26 times per second the length of the chameleon. With quick reflexes, the chameleon can reach and quickly capture its prey. This also happens because of the tongue’s shape, which has a type of muscular bulb at the tip and acts as a suction cup suction cup, making hunting easier.
- Despite their very clear vision, the chameleons are not able to hear very well. Like snakes, these reptiles do not have an outer ear, opening, or eardrum. They can detect sound frequencies in the 200-600 Hz range.
- Chameleons are able to see in visible and ultraviolet light. When exposed to ultraviolet light, they show increased social behavior and activity levels, and are more susceptible to heat, reproduction, and food. This is because this light has a positive effect on the pineal gland.