8 curiosities about chameleons

Known primarily for their ability to change color, chameleons are among the most fascinating species among reptiles. They are very different types of lizards due to their large eyes and curled tails, and are found in both the jungle and the desert.

These animals may inhabit Asia and parts of Europe and North America, but it is on the African continent, more precisely on the island of Madagascar, where most species of chameleons are found. There are about 80 different species of these reptiles already cataloged, but it is estimated that there are over 160.

Chameleons can usually eat everything, as some species are known to have a more carnivorous diet (feeding on insects, worms, small reptiles and snails) and others are vegetarian. Speaking of food, one of their trademarks is the way they hurl their tongues, fast to catch an insect.

Today many chameleon species are considered endangered and their numbers have declined, probably due to changes in their natural habitat such as pollution and deforestation. Want to know a bit more about these reptiles? Check out eight more curiosities about them.

1 - Species

Nearly half of the world's chameleon species live on the island of Madagascar in Africa, with 59 of them just there. In southern Sahara, in addition to Portugal, Spain, Sri Lanka and India, there are also some species, as well as Hawaii and some parts of Florida and California.

2 - Color Change

Although not unanimous, most chameleon species can change the color of your skin. Usually, they change from brown to green, but some can change their look to many other colors, creating an incredible look quickly - so much so that a change can take place in about 20 seconds.

They can produce this phenomenon because they are born with special cells that have pigments. These cells are layered under the chameleon's outer skin and are called chromatophores, which are activated by a brain message.

Once activated, these pigments “blend” like a painting. In addition to chromatopharms, melanin also assists chameleons in this process by producing darkening through fibers that spread like cobwebs through the layers of pigment cells.

And if you still think chameleons change color to camouflage themselves, be aware that some studies have shown that chameleons change color according to light, temperature or even your mood, and may also be a way of communicating with your peers. .

3 - 360 ° look

Did you know that chameleon eyes have a 360 degree arc of vision and can see in two directions at once? Thus, chameleons have the most distinctive eyes of any reptile. Their upper and lower eyelids are joined together, forming a circular device with just enough opening for the pupil to do its job.

The eyes can rotate separately and focus to observe two different objects simultaneously, allowing the eyes to move independently of each other, which is an excellent advantage to be aware of predators. This one can literally keep an eye on the fish and the other on the cat.

4 - Sizes

Chameleons vary greatly in body size and structure, and their size can range from 15 to 30 millimeters - in the smallest species found, the Brookesia micra - up to about 70 centimeters (as is the case of the Malagasy chameleon).

5 - Fast Trigger Tongue

According to research, the chameleon's tongue (called “ballistics”) is approximately 1.5 to 2 times the size of its body, being able to move 26 times per second the length of the animal. They described it this way because the animals' muscle power varies according to their size and type, that is, their relative velocity.

With all that speed, the chameleon can quickly reach and capture its prey. This is also due to the shape of the tongue, which has a type of muscle bulb at the tip and acts as a small suction cup that makes hunting easier.

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6 - Vain Males

Generally, chameleon males are much more ornate than females. That is, they have more facial protrusions and projections, like ridges, on their heads.

7 - Little hearing

Despite their keen eyesight, chameleons are not able to hear very well. Like snakes, these reptiles do not have an outer ear, opening or eardrum. However, chameleons are not totally deaf. They can detect sound frequencies in the 200-600 Hz range.

8 - Ultraviolet Vision

Chameleons are able to see in visible light and ultraviolet light. When exposed to ultraviolet light, they show increased social behavior and activity levels, and are more likely to warm, reproduce, and feed. This is because this light has a positive effect on the pineal gland.