Amazing facts and information about the chameleons
The taxonomy of chameleons
• Kingdom: Animalia
• Subkingdom: Bilateria
• Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia
• Phylum: Chordata
• Subphylum: Vertebrata
• Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
• Superclass: Tetrapoda
• Class: Reptilia
• Order: Squamata
• Suborder: Iguania
• Family: Chamaeleonidae
• Subfamilies: Brookesiinae, Chamaeleoninae
• Genera & species: Within the two subfamilies are nine genera and 171 species. A few examples — Calumma parsonii (Parson’s chameleon), Furcifer oustaleti (Oustalet’s chameleon), Brookesia minima (pygmy leaf chameleon), Chameleo jacksonii (Jackson’s chameleon)
Chameleons are a distinctive and highly specialized clade of old world lizards that comes in a range of colors, and many of its species have the ability to change colors.
The word, “Chameleon” comes from the Greek words, “chamai” and “leon”, meaning “earth lion”, and they come from the lizard family.
There are thought to be more than 160 different chameleon species that range from just an inch to more than a couple of feet in size.
Chameleons continue to grow throughout their lives.
The tiny pygmy leaf chameleon, found in the jungles of Madagascar, is the smallest species of chameleon with some males measuring less than 3 cm long and the largest is the Parsons chameleon which can grow up to 27 inches according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
Of the more than 160 different species of chameleons, only a few are in immediate danger of becoming extinct. But most are threatened in some way or another.
The biggest threat comes when the chameleons’ habitat is destroyed. More and more people are cutting down forests for wood and for land to grow crops.
And when the forests go, so go the chameleons and the other wild creatures that depend on them.
Double trouble comes when the chameleons are captured and sold around the world as pets.
Many die before they even reach people’s homes.
And most of the rest die soon afterward.
Most species, the larger ones in particular, also have a tail that can grasp or hold on to something.
- 1 Amazing facts and information about the chameleons
- 1.1 The taxonomy of chameleons
- 1.2 Different chameleon species
- 1.2.1 1. Carpet Chameleon (Furcifer lateralis)
- 1.2.2 2. Fischer’s Chameleon (Kinyongia fischeri)
- 1.2.3 3. Flap-Necked Chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis)
- 1.2.4 4. Four-Horned Chameleon
- 1.2.5 5. Jackson’s Chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii)
- 1.2.6 6. Meller’s Chameleon
- 1.2.7 7. Oustalet’s Chameleon (Furcifer oustaleti)
- 1.2.8 8.Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis)
- 1.2.9 9. Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)
- 1.2.10 10. Graceful Chameleon
- 1.2.11 11. Parson’s Chameleon
- 1.2.12 12. Pygmy Chameleon
- 1.2.13 13. Senegal Chameleon (Chamaeleo senegalensis)
- 1.3 Chameleons as pets
- 1.4 Chameleon Eyes
- 1.5 Chameleon tongue
- 1.6 Chameleon’s feet
- 1.7 Chameleon changing color
- 1.8 What food do chameleons eat and their habitat
- 1.9 Baby chameleons
- 1.10 How to care for your chameleon
- 1.11 Related
Different chameleon species
Out of more than 160 different species of chameleons, only a few are readily available as pets.
Not all will make ideal pets so before you decide which type you want your need to spend time and effort to do your due diligence and to research what are the requirements to keep at pet chameleon.
To help with your research below are the general descriptions of some of the more common chameleons kept as pets.
1. Carpet Chameleon (Furcifer lateralis)
The carpet chameleon is a very popular species of chameleon found in Madagascar. They are a smaller species averaging a length of 5-8″, and is a good size for any pet keeper.
Their colors are usually green and yellow with a shade of blue around the eyes and feet. They have a short lifespan and only live for 2 to 3 years. They are active and hardy chameleons that do well as pets.
2. Fischer’s Chameleon (Kinyongia fischeri)
The Fischer’s is a unique type of chameleon that can be found in Kenya and Tanzania. They have two horns and not usually sold in pet stores.
These moderately sized lizards can grow to be 15 inches long and live up to 3 years. With experienced care, these chameleons can do well.
3. Flap-Necked Chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis)
Flap-necked chameleons originate in eastern and southern Africa. They got their common name “flap-neck” because of their large flaps that extend from both sides of the upper neck that extends when they trying to scare off predators.
When resting, their body displays colors of light green, brown or yellow, with a light stripe extending across the body. They can grow to around 13 inches long and live around 2 to 3 years.
They are hardy lizards, do well in captivity, and can make nice pets.
4. Four-Horned Chameleon
The four-horned chameleon can be found naturally in Cameroon. They live for around 5 years and can grow to be 14 inches long.
They are attractive chameleons that tend to do well in captivity if you can provide a suitable habitat with very high humidity.
5. Jackson’s Chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii)
The Jackson’s chameleons is a great chameleon for a beginner. At rest, they have shades of green color (light to dark) but when they are aggressive they bring out their darker colors that can range from black to blue.
In the wild, Jackson’s chameleons can be found in East Africa. They were also introduced to Hawaii where wild specimens can now be found. They can grow to be around 13 inches long and can live up to 8 years.
6. Meller’s Chameleon
The Meller’s chameleon can be found naturally in East Africa. They can reach lengths of up 24 inches in length and can live up to 12 years. It’s been said that the “Meller’s Chameleon is the largest of the chameleons not native to Madagascar” – National Geographic .
They are aggressive and are not a good choice if it is your first chameleon.
7. Oustalet’s Chameleon (Furcifer oustaleti)
The Oustalet’s chameleons can be found naturally in Madagascar.
They are large reptiles that can grow up to 30 inches long and can live up to 12 years.
These lizards can be good pets if you want a larger chameleon.
8.Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis)
Panther chameleons are from the northern part of Madagascar and is one of the most colorful chameleon species.
Their colors can vary from green, red, yellow, orange, and blue. Males are larger than females and can grow up to about 20 inches long.
They have a normal lifespan of about 5 to 7 years. They are attractive, tend to do well around people, and are a good choice for a pet.
9. Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)
In the wild, veiled chameleons are found in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Males can grow to be 24 inches long and they can live up to 5 years.
They need daytime cage temperatures around 80* F and a relative humidity of 70%. Veiled chameleons will eat some plant matter in addition to insects.
They are popular pets and can make a good first chameleon. Their colors consist of light green, yellow, and a dark red/brown outline around some areas of the body.
When upset, they will show dark black spots around their entire body to appear as a threat.
10. Graceful Chameleon
The Graceful chameleon thrives throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia. Their colors are often green, yellow, or brown, with a light stripe on its side.
The Graceful chameleon’s average length is 12″, but they can sometimes reach up to 15″ in length. The Graceful chameleon thrives throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia.
11. Parson’s Chameleon
The Parson’s chameleon is the largest chameleon species in the world being able to reach 27″ in length.
The Parson’s chameleon is a very hard chameleon to come around by as they are not sold in pet stores or by many local chameleon breeders.
12. Pygmy Chameleon
The Pygmy chameleon is one of the smallest pet chameleon species sold today.
They range between 1-3″ in length, Pygmy chameleons remains very small.
Their lifespan can live between 1-3 years.
You can keep more than one Pygmy chameleons in an enclosure. It is said that you can keep 1 male and 2 females in one enclosure without any problems which are not safe to do with any other chameleon species.
13. Senegal Chameleon (Chamaeleo senegalensis)
The Senegal chameleon is another popular type of chameleon species that is owned by pet owners across the world. Native to West Africa, they are smaller than most chameleon species, averaging only 6-8″ in length.
Chameleons as pets
Though chameleons can be a good pet, you should also know that it is difficult to maintain and beginner reptile owners should not start with this animal. But, for those who are willing to put the time and effort to research about this species will really find them to be a rewarding “pet”.
When you are purchasing your chameleon, even if it’s the first time or the nth time, it is always best to choose captive-bred chameleons; they are delicate enough but without the stress associated with the wild-caught one.
Chameleons don’t like being handled and their specific needs must be meet or else they will be stress. Though it is not necessarily needed to interact with your chameleon, it can be a lot of fun if you do so.
Hand feeding your chameleon is a good starting point and a way to interact with it, though each chameleon has its own personality, and some like being handled more than others.
Chameleons have the most distinctive eyes of any reptile and are independently mobile with only a pinhole large enough for the pupil to see through. But in aiming at its’ prey, they focus forward in coordination, giving it a 3D vision and sharp stereoscopic vision and depth perception.
Chameleons have very good eyesight for reptiles that let them see small insects from a long (5–10 m) distance. The upper and lower eyelids are joined, with only a pinhole large enough for the pupil to see through.
Each eye can pivot and focus independently, allowing the chameleon to observe two different objects simultaneously. This gives them a full 360-degree arc of vision around their bodies.
The tongue of a chameleon is 1.5 – 2 times the length of its body excluding the tail, which is rapidly thrusting, reaching the prey in as little as 0.07 seconds, having been launched at accelerations exceeding 41g.
The chameleon tongue’s tip is a bulbous ball of muscle, and as it hits its prey it rapidly forms a small suction cup.
Chameleons are distinguished by their zygodactylous feet (having the toes of each foot arranged in pairs, with two toes in front and two behind); that are highly adapted for climbing and movement in trees (arboreal locomotion).
These specialized feet allow chameleons to grip tightly onto narrow or rough branches. Each toe is also equipped with a sharp claw to help grip on surfaces when climbing.
Chameleon changing color
Chameleon skin has a superficial layer which contains pigments, and under the layer are cells with guanine crystals. Chameleons change color by changing the space between the guanine crystals, which changes the wavelength of light reflected off the crystals which change the color of the chameleon’ skin.
Color change in chameleons has functions in social signaling and in reactions to temperature and other conditions such as emotions, as well as in camouflage which can occur in as little as 20 seconds.
Chameleons tend to show brighter colors when displaying aggressively to other chameleons, and darker colors when they submit or “give up”. The male chameleons are more dominant and more attractive to female chameleon the brighter his color is.
What food do chameleons eat and their habitat
They are found in warm habitats that range from rain forest to desert conditions like Africa, Madagascar, southern Europe, and across southern Asia as far as Sri Lanka. Almost half of the world’s chameleon species live on the island of Madagascar.
Chameleons have learned to adapt to a variety of different habitats and are commonly found in trees and shrubs in rainforests, savannahs, and mountainous forests though there are some species that prefer lower ground, and they can be found foraging for food amongst dead leaves on the forest floor.
Chameleons can go for long periods of time without eating. Unlike many other reptiles, chameleons can actually see in color.
When chameleons get tired, they can often be seen sleeping upside down! Chameleons are not active hunters and will sit perfectly still for hours while they wait for prey to appear.
Their diet consists mainly of small insects, but larger chameleons will also eat small birds and other lizards. Water is very important to chameleon growth and health. They either slurp water up using their tongues or they inhale it.
Most species of chameleons lay eggs, but some species like the Jackson’s chameleon actually give birth to live young. Young chameleons reach sexual maturity between 2 and 12 months – depending on the species.
Eggs are buried under the soil and can take as long as 8 months to hatch. The number of eggs a chameleon can lay depends on the size of the of the chameleon, small chameleon lays between two to four eggs while larger chameleons can lay 80 to 100 eggs.
How to care for your chameleon
Before you get your first chameleon pet, you need to prepare the perfect environment for his arrival like the cage and habitat, appropriate lighting and heat, and the correct foods and supplements to help ensure that your pet chameleon lives a long and healthy life.
Setting up and maintaining the cage (also called the terrarium)
The biggest cage with mesh ventilation you can provide is always the best but for starting out and a chameleon of less than 1 foot the cage should be at least 2’x3’x3’, for larger chameleons a minimum of 3’ x 3’x 4’ tall should be provided.
The cage should be placed in areas with low traffic, and barriers (e.g. lots of foliage in the cage) between the chameleon and household activity should also be provided.
You should keep the enclosure clean, removing uneaten prey items daily
You should provide a tree that will fit the cage with many branches and leaves, for climbing, hiding and resting. Ensure that the plants are not toxic, as the chameleon may sample the foliage. An artificial tree that is designed for reptiles can be used too.
Keep your chameleon enclosure clean.
Remove any dead things at the bottom or else parasites and bacteria will come. Remove your chameleon from the enclosure so it won’t be disturbed.
You also need to provide the following;
UVB fluorescent bulbs (290-320nm) that specifically states 5% or more UV-B spectrum. Be sure it is a regular light bulb, not a compact fluorescent. It helps to produce Vitamin D for absorbing calcium. You can also let your chameleon bask in the sun to get Vitamin D.
Basking bulb or heat lamps to create heat for the habitat, with light fixtures that hold the bulbs and prevent the chameleon from getting too close and possibly burned. The basking spot should be about 85-90 degrees F (29-33 degrees C).
Note: Jackson’s chameleons do well at lower temperatures, but panther and veiled chameleons prefer warmer temperatures.
A dripper (keep the location consistent so the chameleon knows where to find water), mister, or fogger to supply water and create humidity in the enclosure, the average humidity needs between the different species is 50-70%. Chameleons get their water from droplets on leaves – as a rule, they will not take water from a dish.
A thermometer and humidity gauge to monitor your pet’s habitat.
A food bowl that can be attached to a branch or the side of the cage for insects or greens.
Substrate for the bottom of the cage like newspaper, paper towels, or Eco-earth or shredded coconut husks
Food & Supplements
Chameleons are insectivores. You need to feed them with insects like crickets and mealworms that’s been feed with a nutritious diet and coated with a vitamin supplement.
Pinkie mice for larger chameleons but should only be fed to your pet occasionally and always try to use pre-killed mice.
Collard, mustard, turnip & dandelion greens, kale, or romaine lettuce if your chameleon likes to eat plant matter
A dripper, mister, or fogger to create droplets of water on leaves that your pet can drink.
A calcium and vitamin D3 supplement.
A reptile multivitamin.
Did you like “The Chameleons Species (FACTS AND INFORMATIONS)”? We would greatly appreciate if you would share this on Facebook and Tweet it.
Check our other popular posts:
- Puppy Training Tips
- How To Keep Cockatiel Bird As Pets
- Green Iguana Pet Care Sheet and Guide
- Traveling With Dogs
- Guinea Pig Breeds