Reptiles - Amphibians Articles
Chameleons and Pygmy Leaf ChameleonsPanther ChameleonPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild
Chameleons are famous for their incredible ability to change color.
One of the most distinguishing features of the Chameleon is its remarkable color changing ability. These lizards change color for a variety of different reasons. it could simply be a change in mood, or it can be due to the conditions of their habitat. Environment factors, such as temperature and lighting, can impact a color change.
Chameleon lizards belong to the family Chamaeleonidae. This family consists of approximately 160 species found in 2 subfamilies. The subfamily Chamaeleoninae consists of 3 genera, and the tiny Leaf Chameleons in the subfamily Brookesiinae has 3 genera. They are found in Europe, Spain and Portugal; across southern Asia through much of India to Shri Lanka; and in all of Africa, especially Madagascar. They have also been introduced into the United States, in Hawaii, California, and Florida.
They have highly ridged, laterally compressed bodies and large heads. They are insectivores with sticky long tongues which they can accurately project at insect prey. All Chameleons are arboreal, meaning they live in trees. The opposing digits of their feet are fused in groups of two or three which they use, along with their prehensile tail to move from branch to branch. They move slowly and methodically.
The chameleons eyes are cone shapes protruding from their head, with a small opening at the end for the pupil. The eyes move independently from each other and rotate in all directions. The Leaf Chameleons are some of the tiniest species, with the Dwarf Chameleon or Pygmy Leaf Chameleon Brookesia minimathe thought to be the smallest, reaching only 1 1/3 inches (3.4 cm). Some chameleon species are egglayers while others are livebearers.Â There are a few species of Chameleon that are commonly available in the United States, as well as others that are occasional available. The pet chameleons commonly available include the Veiled Chameleon, Jackson's Chameleon, Panther Chameleons, and Rampholeon Chameleon. For information on the different types of lizards in the Chamaeleonidae group, see the families and taxonomy of these types of lizards: Lizard Families - Chameleons and Leaf Chameleons