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Chameleon

Flap-Necked Chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis), BotswanaChameleonChameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) in Wroclaw ZooOustalets Chameleon, Ambalavao, MadagascarA West Usambara Two-horned Chameleon, Tanzania
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Chameleon Facts

Kingdom:
Five groups that classify all living things
Animalia
Phylum:
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
Chordata
Class:
A group of animals within a pylum
Reptilia
Order:
A group of animals within a class
Squamata
Family:
A group of animals within an order
Chamaeleonidae
Scientific Name:
The name of the animal in science
Chamaeleonidae
Type:
The animal group that the species belongs to
Reptile
Diet:
What kind of foods the animal eats
Omnivore
Size (L):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
2.8cm - 68.5cm (1.1in - 27in)
Weight:
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
0.01kg - 2kg (0.02lbs - 4.4lbs)
Top Speed:
The fastest recorded speed of the animal
35km/h (21mph)
Lifespan:
How long the animal lives for
4 - 8 years
Lifestyle:
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable
Solitary
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Threatened
Colour:
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Green, Brown, Black, Yellow, Red, Tan
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Scales
Favourite Food:
The preferred food of this animal
Insects
Habitat:
The specific area where the animal lives
Tropical forests and desert
Average Clutch Size:
The average number of eggs laid at once
20
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from
Insects, Snails, Leaves
Predators:
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Snakes, Birds, Mammals
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to this animal
Exceptional vision and ability to change skin colour

Chameleon Location

Map of Chameleon Locations
Map of Africa

Chameleon

Can change color to pink, red, green, yellow, turquoise, and other colors!

The chameleon, scientific name Chamaeleonidae, is a species of lizard. There are over 160 species of chameleon spread across Madagascar, Spain, Africa, Asia and Portugal. They have large eyes, a curled tail, and some species can change the color of their skin to blend in with their surroundings as a defense mechanism from predators. Chameleons can change their skin to be pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, light blue, yellow and turquoise

The Chameleon’s Habitat

Chameleons are found throughout jungle and desert alike, in AfricaAsia and parts of Southern Europe and chameleons have also been introduced to parts of North America. Most chameleons live in trees or in bushes. Only a few species live on the ground under piles of leaves.

 

What Do Chameleons Look Like?

Chameleons have five toes on each of their four feet. These toes help them to climb trees so they can sit in the highest branches. A chameleon’s five toes work kind of like a human’s thumb and fingers. Chameleons also have a tail that can wrap around a tree branch helping them to climb without falling. This reptile has the ability to change the color of its scaly skin. Some chameleons can display bright reds and yellows while others can turn green, black, brown or gray. A chameleon’s color can change with its emotions. It can turn one color when it’s angry and another when its afraid. A chameleon’s range of colors depends a lot on its species. This reptile has a long tongue with a sticky surface used for catching its food. Also, it has eyes that can move in separate directions. This allows a chameleon to see all around it.

 

The Chameleon’s Diet

What Does a Chameleon Eat?

The chameleon is generally an omnivorous animal, although some chameleon species are known to have a more carnivorous diet, and other chameleon species prefer to be vegetarians. A chameleon will generally eat anything though including berries, leaves, fruits, insects, worms, snails and some of the larger chameleon species will also hunt small reptiles. A chameleon that eats insects uses its long, sticky tongue to grab the locusts, grasshoppers, snails and crickets they see. Since many chameleons move very slowly, their long tongue can get them something to eat without needing to chase it. Once the insect goes into a chameleon’s mouth, it is crushed by the reptile’s powerful jaws. Larger varieties of chameleons have been known to eat small birds.

Does a Chameleon Drink A Lot of Water?

A chameleon doesn’t drink a large amount of water but does need constant access to it. A chameleon living in a forest drinks drips of water off the leaves of trees after a rainstorm. Most chameleons look for dripping water instead of looking for a pool on the forest floor.

 

How Big Are Chameleons?

The size of a chameleon depends on its species. A Malagasy giant chameleon measures about 27 inches while the Leaf chameleon is only a half inch long. Both of these chameleons live in Madagascar. While some chameleon species weigh less than a pound, others can weigh two to four pounds. The Parson’s chameleon is about the size of a house cat!

 

How Long Do Chameleons Live?

In the wild, chameleons can live for about four to eight years. Chameleons that are cared for in a zoo can live up to ten years.

 

Predators of Chameleons

There are many animals that eat chameleons. In fact, the smaller a chameleon is, the more likely it is to be eaten by a larger animal. Some of the predators of chameleons include snakes, birds and sometimes monkeys. Though chameleons can blend in with their environment, they are near the bottom of the food chain. This means there are many animals above them on the food chain that can eat them.

 

A Chameleon’s Defense Against Predators

A chameleon’s ability to change color to match its environment is its way of protecting itself when a predator is nearby. If a chameleon is on a branch, its skin can turn a color that is very close to the color of the branch. Many predators may pass by without ever seeing the chameleon sitting quietly on the tree branch.

 

Do Chameleons Make Any Sounds?

Chameleons do make sound. Many species make a hissing sound if they are angry or feel threatened by something in their environment.

 

Body Language of a Chameleon

Chameleons communicate with one another by using their body language. For instance, a chameleon trying to protect its territory from an intruder is likely to turn sideways. This makes the chameleon look bigger and more threatening. A chameleon that feels threatened may open its mouth to try to scare another chameleon away.

 

Chameleon Reproduction

Most species of chameleons lay eggs while a few have live babies. A female chameleon digs a hole in the ground and lays her eggs inside it to keep them warm. Usually, a chameleon lays around 20 eggs, but it can be more or fewer depending on the species of the chameleon. It can take four months to a year for the eggs to hatch. The Jackson’s chameleon is one example of a species that has live babies. A Jackson’s chameleon can have from 8 to 30 live babies after being pregnant for about 6 months.

 

Chameleon Conservation Status

There are some species of chameleon that are endangered. A couple examples include the tiger chameleon and the Elandsberg dwarf chameleon. Chameleons can become endangered for many reasons such as loss of their habitat or pollution.

 

Do Chameleons Live in Groups?

Chameleons do not live in groups. They prefer to sit alone in the trees and in bushes. Chameleons do get together in order to mate, but otherwise they are known as solitary animals.

 

Do Chameleons Make Good Pets?

Although many types of chameleons are sold in pet shops, they don’t make the best pets. These reptiles require a certain environment to enjoy a healthy life. It’s hard to create an environment like that in an aquarium. Plus, they need a special diet to remain healthy.

 

Fun Facts About Chameleons

 

The Meaning Behind the Name

The word chameleon comes from the Greek words chamai which means on the earth and leon which means lion. So, the word chameleon means earth lion.

A Chameleon’s Eyesight

Chameleons have excellent eyesight. They can see up to 32 feet in front of them. This makes it even easier to spot crickets, snails and other types of prey. They also have complete 360 degree vision around their body! This special adaptation allows chameleons to hunt prey and spot predators more effectively.

A Chameleon’s Hearing

Though a chameleon has excellent eyesight, it can’t hear very well. Like snakes, they can hear sounds at certain frequencies, but depend on their eyesight to catch insects.

 

Do Chameleons Shed Their Skin?

Chameleons shed their skin like snakes and other reptiles. But, while a snake sheds its skin in one long piece, a chameleon sheds its skin in small sections. A chameleon may shed its skin once a month or once every few months, depending on its species. Along with shedding its skin naturally, a chameleon may shed because it is feeling stressed or it is sick.

 

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Chameleon Translations

български език
Хамелеони
Cesky
Chameleonovití
Dansk
Kamæleon
Deutsch
Chamäleons
English
Chameleon
Esperanto
Ĥameleono
Español
Chamaeleonidae
Suomi
Kameleontit
Français
Chamaeleonidae
עִבְרִית
זיקיות
Hrvatski
Kameleoni
Magyar
Kaméleonfélék
Italiano
Chamaeleonidae
日本語
カメレオン科
Nederlands
Kameleons
Norsk
Kameleoner
Polski
Kameleonowate
Português
Camaleão
Svenska
Kameleonter
Türkçe
Bukalemun
中文
變色龍

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First Published: 16th December 2009, Last Updated: 31st January 2020

Sources:
1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 16 Dec 2009]
2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 16 Dec 2009]
4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 16 Dec 2009]
5. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 16 Dec 2009]