About animals

25 interesting facts about chameleons that you did not know


Amazing chameleons created by nature are truly interesting and unique creations. Not many creatures on Earth possess such highly developed abilities for mimicry, and these cold-blooded creatures stand out especially clearly against their background. Of course, their ability to disguise themselves and blend in with the environment is sometimes overestimated, but the result of their evolution does not become less surprising.

Chameleon Facts

  • All of their species prefer to lead a woody lifestyle, masking themselves among branches and leaves.
  • From the point of view of biology, chameleons are lizards (interesting facts about lizards).
  • The smallest chameleons do not exceed 3 centimeters in length, and the largest grow up to 50-60 centimeters.
  • During sleep, chameleons cannot control camouflage and discoloration of the skin.
  • Many chameleons have horns on their heads, but only males. Females lack them.
  • In total, there are about 150 different species of these chameleons in the world. Almost half of them are not found anywhere in the world, except in Madagascar.
  • The amazingly elastic chameleon tongue can extend to a length exceeding the length of its own body.
  • The eyelids of the chameleons are fused, and they are constantly closed, but in them nature provided a hole for the pupil (interesting facts about the eyes).
  • A chameleon is able to throw out its tongue to catch an insect in one twentieth of a second.
  • When his tongue “shoots out” and then comes back, the chameleon closes his eyes to protect his eyes from the damage that fluttering prey can do.
  • A chameleon can completely change the skin color in 20-30 seconds, but it depends on many factors.
  • They have very good eyesight, but weak hearing.
  • At night, chameleons turn pale and become noticeable to predators, so in the dark they prefer to sleep somewhere in a safe place.
  • The change in the color of his skin is affected not only by the surrounding area, but also by many other things - humidity, fear, satiety, lightness and thirst.

  • Chameleons can rotate with both eyes in different directions, independently of each other.
  • In small species of chameleons, the tongue is longer in relation to the body than in large ones.
  • Some chameleons are able to see both in the usual visual spectrum and in the ultraviolet.
  • Heat directly affects their activity. In the light, chameleons become much more active (interesting facts about the Sun).
  • The only chameleon that is not really one is the American one. This is an ordinary lizard, which, however, also knows how to change the color of its skin.
  • Having become ill, a chameleon can turn completely black.
  • Due to the unusual structure of the eyes, chameleons can see everything around in a radius of 360 degrees.
  • They are able to make out small midges at a distance of 10 meters.
  • Some species of chameleons live on average a little more than one year, but there are those that can live for 20 years.
  • From the ancient Greek language the word "chameleon" is translated as "earth lion".
  • In the wild, chameleons usually live in small groups of 4-6 individuals, and unlike lizards who prefer a solitary existence.
  • At one time, the female chameleon can lay up to 30-40 eggs.
  • Excited or frightened chameleons swell and increase in size.
  • The hunting chameleon is completely motionless. This helps him to merge with the environment.
  • Scientists believe that the main function of chameleons changing their skin color is to communicate with their own kind, rather than disguise.
  • The most ancient fossil remains of chameleons are more than 100 million years old.

You can meet them mainly in Madagascar

They can be found anywhere: on the Hawaiian archipelago, the California coast, Florida swamps, the humid jungle of Asia and the sunny forests of southern Europe. However, most of the nearly 200 species of these creatures inhabit Madagascar.

Smallest view

Deciduous chameleon on a match

Surprisingly, the smallest chameleon can easily fit on a match head. Its dimensions are no more than one and a half centimeters. Representatives of this species, deciduous chameleons, are also the smallest vertebrates.

Lonely travelers

Male and female during mating season

All chameleons are single and do not want to see relatives, regardless of gender. Of course, the mating period is an exception, but even at this time the male needs to make every possible effort to allow the female to touch herself.

It’s not all true that myth

The most common myth about them is a change in skin color for the sake of disguise. The reasons for this are completely different: adjustment of body temperature, demonstration of emotions and communication with other representatives of one's kind (which, although rare, do happen).

Do not get close!

That's who loves personal space

Chameleons are extremely scrupulous in matters of personal space and carefully protect their territory from uninvited guests. Therefore, owners of these reptiles are strongly advised to start only one individual.

Camouflage Masters

Chameleon at the zoo

Chameleons are unsurpassed masters of camouflage, but this does not save them from extinction. The reason for this is the expansion of agricultural land and deforestation. Currently, 10 species of these reptiles are threatened with extinction, 38 are close to this, and 20 species may disappear in the coming year.

See the world more widely

Chameleon catching a cicada

Chameleons see the world in an extended spectrum: their eyes are sensitive to both visible radiation and ultraviolet. Under the influence of UV rays, they become more active and are more likely to socialize.

Fact No. 1: something remains incomprehensible ...

The famous wave-like gait

It still remains a mystery why chameleons swing back and forth while moving. Some researchers believe that this is a way to disguise themselves as swaying leaves in the wind.

These reptiles are mysterious and funny, and watching them can become a bit of relaxation. Therefore, without hesitation, get yourself such an unusual pet (if you still haven't done it).

How many species of chameleons live on Earth

There are 193 species with a wide habitat. Madagascar is considered the birthplace, now lizards are found in Africa, Southern Europe, in the USA (Hawaii, Florida, California), India, Sri Lanka, the Middle East, Mauritius. The main part is adapted for living in trees; it descends to the ground only for courtship games or for very attractive prey. But there are those who live in deserts and steppes, tropical forests and mountainous areas, dig burrows or seek refuge in fallen leaves.

IMPORTANT! Due to the expansion of agricultural land and deforestation of 10 species under threat of extinction, about 40 are close to obtaining such a status.

What is the unusual appearance

The appearance of the chameleons is unusual.

  • The head is decorated with crests, horns of various shapes, fan-shaped growths and hoods. Sometimes they stretch all over the spine. In females, education is of an embryonic nature.
  • The toes have grown together in pairs, which makes them look like claws.
  • The tail in an inactive state (not used for climbing) is twisted in a spiral.

REFERENCE! Body length from 1.3 to 75 cm with tail. Life expectancy in the wild is 3-4 years, at home up to 10 years. Small varieties live no more than 5 months, large up to 15 years.


The basis of the diet is insects, small snakes and lizards (except for poisonous and stinging). Protein foods alternate with soft vegetables, fruits, and berries.

The natural enemies are large snakes, predatory animals and birds.. In danger, the chameleons inflate, hiss loudly and "put on" a menacing color. Phlegmatic, at first glance, if necessary, they quickly run and jump along the branches.

How to breed

A predominantly solitary lifestyle is conducted, occasionally harems of several females are found. Reproduction occurs twice a year. In the mating season, the males fiercely fight.

INTERESTING! Oviparous bury 15-60 eggs in the sand, the people living on the tree are suspended.

Conditionally viviparous eggs are laid in the womb until offspring are born. Incubation lasts from 2 to 24 months.

“Changes the skin like a chameleon” - And what do we know about their skin?

Often the color change is fully or partially associated with the need for camouflage.

IMPORTANT! In fact, a change of color is a way of communicating with relatives, a demonstration of emotions and a reaction to external (lighting, temperature, humidity) and internal (hunger, fear, irritation) factors.

Available color variations depend on the habitat. Minimum reincarnation time is 15 seconds.

Color Change News

The University of Geneva studied in detail the mechanisms of color change. They are caused by a change in the spatial structure of iridophore nanocrystals with pigments in all skin layers.

Level organization allows you to quickly switch from effective disguise to impressive demonstrations of emotions and intentions. Chameleons can create bright structural shades without the use of pigments through optical interference (iridophores reflect light waves of a certain length). At the same time, passive heat protection is maintained. Large crystals reflect infrared radiation, which allows you to comfortably exist in a hot climate.

The system for changing the color of the skin is a complex multifunctional invention of evolution. But for now it’s not completely known how the nanostructures are ordered at the cellular and molecular levels and how lizards control these processes.

IMPORTANT! In a dream, control over color is lost, they turn pale and become noticeable to predators.

Vision and other features

Chameleons have big complex eyes. The eyelids fused, but there were holes for the pupil.

REFERENCE! Israeli neuroscientists have proven that reptile vision is not chaotic. Although the eyes move independently 180 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees vertically.

Hemisphere control has a fine-tuning that allows you to track 2 goals.

The eyes located on the sides see the big picture..

  • One is watching potential prey.
  • Another tracks the environment.

IMPORTANT! At the time of the attack, both look at the victim, the distance to which is determined very clearly.

Lizards perfectly distinguish close objects. Some are able to see in the ultraviolet spectrum, which facilitates the search for relatives and prey in the dark.

The hunting method used is unique. Animals are motionless for a long time or slowly creep up.

REFERENCE! At the right time, the tongue “shoots” at a tremendous speed over a distance of up to 1.5 body lengths and reaches the target in 0.08 seconds.

Grabbing and holding prey helps the suction cup at the end. If the victim is large, then the capture is made by mouth. In the inoperative state, the “weapon” is held inside by means of a bone process in the oral cavity.