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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 01-18-2002, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
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Chameleon info

Order: Squamata
Family: Chamaeleonidae
Genus: Chamaeleo
Species: Chamaeleo chamaeleon

Size: Head and body length is about 8-12 inches. Tail and tongue length can be as long as the head and body.

Habitat and Range: The chameleon lives in forests along the coast of North Africa extending to the Middle East and along the coast of southern Spain. It spends most of its day motionless in the trees waiting for prey.

Physical Characteristics: The chameleon is able to balance perfectly still by gripping a branch with its pincer-like claws. It also holds on by wrapping its long, grasping tail around the branch. The tail remains coiled up when not in use. The chameleon has unique eyes that can rove and swivel. They can focus together like humans or they can focus separately to observe two different objects simultaneously. The chameleon’s tongue is as long as its body and is sticky with a club-shaped mucus-covered tip. Chameleons are known for their ability to change color to match their environment as a defense against predators. Color changes occur when the color cell becomes larger or smaller, regulating the amount of multicolored reflection each layer of pigment produces.

Diet and eating habits: The chameleon’s diet consists of spiders and insects. Without moving its body, the chameleon uses its roving eyes to locate prey. Once the chameleon spots its prey, it flicks out its sticky tongue and catches the insect.

Reproduction: Chameleon’s lead a solitary existence and only seek out other chameleons during breeding season, which is in the late summer. The female’s eggs are fertilized inside her body. When she is ready to lay her eggs, the female finds a warm spot at the base of a tree and deposits up to 30 eggs there. She covers them with soil and returns to the treetops, leaving the eggs to develop unattended. The young chameleons feed on the yolk sac of the egg until they are ready to hatch. In the spring, the young hatch by breaking through the shell using their egg tooth.


Status: The chameleon is not considered an endangered species; however, their numbers are greatly reduced during cold summers.



References: Wildlife Fact File; 0160200051 Packet 5
Columbus Zoo

Stephanie

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