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18 Fun and Interesting Chameleon Facts

Chameleons are among the most popular lizards on the planet, even among those unfamiliar with the lizard. Their name is an expression that refers to someone who can change their appearance or character depending on the circumstance.

18 Fun Chameleon Facts

These fascinating reptiles are fascinating because of more than their ability to change colors.

There are many kinds of Chameleons All over the World

There are more than 150 different species of Chameleons across the globe. They are often referred to by the name of “old world” Lizards as they can be located on regions of African, Asian, and European continents. The majority of them are found in Africa and in the Middle East, with the island of Madagascar is home to more than 50 % of all chameleons in the world.

Some species are indigenous to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the lands of regions of the Indian Ocean region. Common or Mediterranean Chameleon is located in southern Europe and includes Cypress, Crete, Portugal, Spain, and around the Mediterranean and areas of southwest Asia including Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

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Only a handful of species of Chameleons are Pets

There’s a variety of chameleon species majority of the chameleons available in the pet trade are of three species. Three species are represented: panther chameleon, veiled chameleon along with The Jackson’s Chameleon are the ones that are the most frequently owned as pets.

The American Chameleon Isn’t a Chameleon

While the name of American chameleon often refers to it it isn’t actually an empathetic member of the family of chameleons. This lizard is a relative of the Iguana rather. It gets its name due to its ability to change color similar to chameleons.

Chameleons Exist for a Long time

The Chameleons have been believed to exist from the Paleocene period (56 until 66 million ago). But, some scientists believe they might exist as early to earlier in the Cretaceous phase (100 million of years ago).

Chameleons are Arboreal

Chameleons live in bushes and trees. Their habitats range from forests to mountains and grasslands and deserts. While the majority are found in trees, some have been known to live close to the ground, in tall grass-like formations in piles of branches and leaves that fall from trees or in the dunes.

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Chameleons are “Ground Lions”

A title, “Chameleon,” is derived from old Greek as well as Latin and is a reference to “ground the lion” as well as “lion in the earth.” Since chameleons reside in trees and are found in trees, it is thought maybe the name is referring to their elaborate crests that are shaped like manes around the heads of a few species.

Chameleons have Special Tails

While not all chameleons have this feature, a lot of them possess long prehensile tails. The tails wrap around branches, allowing them to stay balanced while climbing trees. In contrast to other lizards, a Chameleon’s tail doesn’t regenerate if it is broken off.

Chameleons Are Zygodactylous Toes

Zygodactylous feet are fused into opposing sets of three and two. Their front feet are equipped with two toes that are fused on the outside, and three interiors, while the rear feet are fused together on the inside, and 3 on the outside. Toes function as the human thumb enables them to grip branches more securely while they walk around their natural habitats.

Chameleons Change Colors

Chameleons are able to change their color to match their surroundings however this capability varies among species. While it is believed that they will match their skin colour to match their surroundings, they are able to achieve this under certain conditions and are unable to match complex patterns or colors like the ones found on printed clothing. Every species has its individual color range that they are able to cycle through. Chameleons can change their colors for many reasons, which include:

  • Poor health
  • Pregnancy
  • Exposure to light, humid and temperature variations
  • Behavior-related reasons, like mating and when they fear being threatened

The colors of the skin of a chameleon are determined by an amino acid known as Guanine. It is formed in crystals. When a chameleon’s actions lead to crystals moving or closer together, light wavelengths that bounce off crystals result in the color changes we observe.

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Male and Female Chameleons are Different

Male chameleons usually have spikes, horns and crests over their heads, whereas females don’t. Males also prefer to flaunt more vividly colored patterns, which typically happens during mating time to impress females. The majority of pet chameleons appear to be males due to the fact that they are more elaborate in their body.

Chameleons can see almost 360 degrees. Vision

The eyes of a chameleon can be moved in two distinct directions, independently of each other. This lets them be able to see over a 360 degree area all around them. This also lets them focus their attention focused on two things at once. Their vision is so sharp that they can spot insects up to 20 feet away. Apart from their impressive visual range they also can detect ultraviolet spectrum of light.

Chameleons Use Tongues to hunt

The tongues of chameleons are extremely long that they can quickly eject out of their jaws to capture prey. Their tongues move so quickly that they are able to strike insects within 0.07 seconds. Their tongue’s acceleration was measured at around 41 grams in force.

Scientists have discovered that the smaller the species more compact, the higher the speed and the greater the force of the tongue’s acceleration. The length of their tongue varies according to species, but it can be approximately double the length of their bodies. The tongues are slimy, bulbous, and sticky tips, which create a “suction cup” effect on insects caught upon it. The chameleon then pulls the insects trapped in their jaws.

Chameleons have tiny Ears

Chameleons are tiny creatures with tiny holes on both sides of the heads that act as the “ears.” The ears are so tiny that they’re difficult to be seen by your naked eyes. Therefore, they cannot hear very well, and depend on sensing specific tones and vibrations for discerning their surroundings, in addition to their superb vision.

Chameleons come in Many Sizes

The most eminent chameleon species is the Parson’s chameleon which can grow to just over 2 feet in size. One species with the lowest chameleon size can be the small Brookesia Micra, also known as a leaf chameleon that can grow to as large as one-half inch.

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Chameleons are Ectothermic

Ectotherms are living creatures that are controlled by their body temperature by the environment around them. They require heat to their bodies using external sources like an electric heater if they are kept in a terrarium or the sunlight in their native habitat. If an ectotherm is too cold, they will become weak, slow to hunt and will not be able to take in food.

Chameleons are mostly Omnivores

The food a chameleon eats includes insects, such as crickets mantids and locusts as well as stick bugs snails, worms, and grasshoppers. Greater chameleon species have been observed to consume smaller birds as well as other lizards. Chameleons are also known to eat leaves, fruits, berries and even plant matter. Certain species of chameleons are carnivores only or insectivores. others are herbivores.

Chameleons might not like handling

They aren’t considered a dangerous reptiles, but they attack and hiss if they feel threatened. Certain Chameleons are not fans of being treated with humans, and feel very stressed. However, there are pet chameleons who are not concerned by human contact. If a chameleon is screaming and retreating into its enclosure shouldn’t be handled although their bites aren’t poisonous but they can be painful and should be avoided.

Chameleons are a Long-Term Investment

The lifespan of chameleons is 9-10 years when they are kept captive. It’s unknown their lifespan when they are in their natural habitat. However, it’s thought to be around 2 to three years. But the Madagascan Chameleon is the world’s short duration for vertebrate species, living only around three months in all.

Harrison Jones
Harrison Jones
Harrison has been a freelance financial reporter for the past 6 years. He knows the major trends in the financial world. Jones’ experience and useful tips help people manage their budgets wisely.


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