Chameleons are reptiles, which means they are cold blooded and have scaly skin. The Chameleon is a lizard, which means he has a elongated body with four legs and a tail.
Chameleons have a unique foot structure that gives them excellent mobility when walking on a branch but lousy mobility when walking on a flat surface. The appendage at the end of the Chameleon's limb features fused toes so that the animal has the appearance of only two or three tong-like fingers. Chameleons move slowly. You might say they do a good sloth impersonation. It is believed that to their prey, the Chameleon looks like a dried leaf moving in the breeze. With that sort of camouflage, changing color seems unnecessary.
Speaking of changing color, the Chameleon does change color. Apparently the color change is effected by both the environment and the animal's state of mind. If sitting in bright light, the Chameleon is likely to become darker. A Chameleon at rest is usually wearing his lightest hue. When ready to mate, both male and female sport distinct coloration.
Very solitary and territorial, the Chameleons only get together at breeding time. Males appear at the edge of a receptive female's territory and do battle. These contests involve hissing, inflated body posturing, pushing, shoving, biting and head butting. The vanquished male turns black and retreats.
Some Chameleon Facts
- more than 85 species
- range in size from less than an inch to two and a half feet long
- they have a sticky tongue that is longer than their body. The tongue is used to catch prey similar to a frog.
- most have prehensile tails which are kept coiled when not in use
- their two eyes are situated on turrets that allow them to see in all directions, each eye independently
- they do not seem to have keen hearing. There is no external auditory membrane.
- diet: bugs, small birds, mammals and reptiles
- the designated sleeping area is adorned with spit to mark the spot
- some species lay eggs (the young are born with an egg tooth), some species live birth. The size of the clutch varies from 14 to 120
Keeping Chameleons as pets is challenging. They require a vast assortment of food, mostly insects. A monotonous diet often leads to refusal to eat. Chameleons don't drink from a water dish but from moisture off of leaves, thus, frequent misting is necessary. In addition, the temperature requirements of many species require daily variations to mimic their natural habitat. Even when given very attentive care, a captive Chameleon rarely lives longer than two years.
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