Known for their bizarre appearance and unique abilities, chameleons are undoubtedly one of the most interesting creatures in the animal kingdom. You probably know they can change their skin color but do you know where chameleons live or how many chameleon species there are? If you want to learn more about these amazing animals including some chameleon facts for kids or if you consider getting yourself a chameleon pet, it’s highly recommended to check out this post with 25 Cool Chameleon Facts You’ll Want To Know.
Chameleon habitat ranges greatly from rain forests and mountains to savanna and deserts, but all chameleons live in warm (tropical or subtropical) areas.
While chameleons can be found in many parts of the world including southern Europe, Southeast Asia, Hawaii, California, and Florida, almost half of the world's 200 chameleon species live in Madagascar.
Most chameleon species are egg-layers, but some deliver live young in clear, cocoon-like sacs.
The English word “chameleon” is derived from the Latin word “chamaeleón” which translates as “the lion of the ground.”
With an adult size of up to 70 cm (27 in), the Parson’s chameleon is considered the largest chameleon species in the world.
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The world´s smallest chameleon, the leaf chameleon, measures just about 1.6 cm (0.5 in), and it can sit comfortably on the head of a match. It is also one of the smallest vertebrates ever discovered.
Boasting the most distinctive eyes of any reptile, chameleons have large eyes with a 360-degree arc of vision and can see two directions at once.
Chameleons also have a very distinctive tongue. Up to 2 times longer than their body, the tongue can be rapidly projected to capture prey.
Chameleons generally eat insects, but larger species, such as the common chameleon, may also eat other lizards and even birds.
Chameleons are loners. In fact, most of the time, females don't want males to even come near them. During the rare moments when the female is willing to be touched, the male will approach for mating.
Chameleons do no parenting, so the young are on their own as soon as they are born or hatched.
Like snakes, chameleons do not have an outer or a middle ear, so there is neither an ear opening nor an eardrum. However, chameleons are not deaf; they can pick up sound frequencies in the range of 200–600 Hz.
Contrary to popular belief, when a chameleon changes its skin color, the animal usually is not trying to camouflage itself by blending into the environment. More often, it does that to control its body temperature, to communicate with other chameleons, or to express emotions.
Scientists have found out that chameleon's saliva is about 400 times thicker than that of humans.
Found in the dry mountainous regions of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the veiled chameleon has a distinctive growth on its head called a casque. The casque acts like a water collector - droplets of moisture roll down it and right into the chameleon's open mouth.
Chameleons can be quite territorial. Therefore, if you consider keeping a chameleon as a pet, get just one.
The oldest known chameleon is Anqingosaurus Brevicephalus, which used to live in the Middle Paleocene era (about 58.7–61.7 million years ago) in modern China.
Chameleons usually live 2 to 3 years in the wild. In captivity, they have been known to live up to 10 years.
Some chameleons can change completely from one color to another in less than 20 seconds.
Chameleons are able to project their tongue at extremely high performance, reaching their prey in as little as 0.07 seconds; they can launch their tongue at speeds exceeding 41 g (g-force).
Chameleons are known for their unique abilities to hide and camouflage, but unfortunately, that cannot save them from the slash-and-burn agricultural techniques that have been destroying their habitats. Consequently, 9 chameleon species are now critically endangered, 37 are endangered, and 20 are vulnerable.
Unlike many other lizards such as anoles and geckos, chameleons cannot reproduce their tails.
Chameleons can see in both visible and ultraviolet light. Chameleons exposed to ultraviolet light show increased social behavior and activity levels.
The incubation period for egg-laying chameleon species is usually several months, but the eggs of the rare Parson's chameleon are believed to take up to 2 years to hatch.
Chameleons are notable for their bizarre walk - they sway back and forth while walking. Some experts guess that the weird behavior might help chameleons imitate swaying tree leaves, thus further camouflaging themselves; however, this theory has not been scientifically proved yet.
Photos: 25. Hans Stieglitz, Namaqua Chamäleon-01, CC BY-SA 3.0, 24. LyWashu, Madagascar-Chameleon, CC BY-SA 3.0, 23. Willem Augustyn via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 21. JialiangGao www.peace-on-earth.org, Calumma Parsonii Ste Marie Madagascar, CC BY-SA 4.0, 20. Frank Glaw, Jörn Köhler, Ted M. Townsend, Miguel Vences, Brookesia micra on a match head, CC BY 2.5, 18. Jugendpresse Deutschland via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 17. Benny Trapp, BennyTrapp Chamaeleo chamaeleon Samos Griechenland, CC BY 3.0, 15. MyAngelG via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 14. Teza Harinaivo Ramiandrisoa via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 12. Benjamint444, Jackson’s Chameleon444, CC BY-SA 3.0, 11. William Warby via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 10. Steve Wilson – over 4 million views Thanks !! from Chester, UK, Parson’s Chameleon, CC BY 2.0, 8. David Udvardy, Kinyongia xenorhina, male, CC BY-SA 3.0, 7. Max Pixel (public domain), 6. Yves Picq, Cameleon 2677a, CC BY-SA 3.0, 5. No machine-readable author provided. Ridard assumed (based on copyright claims)., Chameleon 2006-01, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2. Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net)., Parson’s Chameleon in Chester Zoo 3, CC BY-SA 4.0