The chameleon is a reptile. It belongs to the Chamaeleonidae family. There are more than 150 different species of chameleons .
Chameleons mainly live in Africa, particularly in Madagascar , but they are also widespread in Spain, Greece , India, and Asia Minor. A Chameleon’s size ranges from 3 cm for a dwarf chameleon , up to 65 cm for the giant chameleon of Madagascar. Their heads are triangular and, in some species, are topped by horn-like growth. Chameleons have long sticky retractable tongues,
which are used to catch insects.The eyes are covered with scales, except for the area around the iris. They can rotate independently from one another. As a result, the chameleon is able to focus on different images simultaneously. The chameleon is known for its ability to camouflage itself. The ability to change the color of its skin is a key element in the survival of the species and serves numerous functions. Chameleons change their color to adapt to the surrounding environment and they may also change color depending on the brightness of the sun and the temperature. The chameleon can also communicate its mood, to convey calm or fear, by changing its color. During the mating season a Chameleon sports more vivid colors. Finally, the chameleon changes color to blend in with the surrounding environment, making itself less visible to its prey while it hunts.
Chameleons are equipped with a long body and a prehensile tail that rolls up onto itself . Their eyes can rotate and move independently from one another , thus allowing the chameleon to see at three hundred and seventy degrees.
The most distinctive physical feature of the chameleon remains its ability to change the color of its skin to camouflage itself depending on the environment. This change can be induced by environmental stimuli , such as light and temperature, and also to reflect physiological and emotional states such as fear, irritation or the creature’s health.In addition to changing its color, the chameleon can also change the shape of its body, flattening it to resemble a leaf or becoming cylindrical like the branch of a tree.
Chameleons live mostly in trees, and feeds on insects, especially grasshoppers and crickets. A passive hunter, it remains motionless for hours awaiting its prey. Once the prey has been identified , the crafty lizard strikes quickly, capturing its target with its tongue. During mating, the female will communicate her intentions to the male via a change in skin color: if she is receptive, she will lighten the color of her skin , straighten her tail and allow the male to follow her. When a female is not receptive, she will instead assume a dark color, roll up her tail and often attack her suitor. Most species are oviparious , in other words, reproduce by laying eggs. The female puts them in a hole dug into the ground or under piles of leaves. Their offspring are independent from birth.Some species of chameleons , however, are ovoviviparous: the egg remains inside the mother until it hatches and the offspring emerges.The chameleon’s camouflage ability is often used as a metaphor for someone who lacks any solid values and routinely changes his opinion. According to the African Zulu tribe however, the chameleon represents eternal life. Zulu myth states that the chameleon was sent from heaven to announce to men their immortalità. It was overtaken however by the lizard, who came instead to announce man’s mortality. From that day on, man became mortal .