Pascal is our resident Yemen Chameleon. He is certainly a very interesting little guy, if you can spot him!
How much weirdness can you handle in one animal? Chameleons have it all:
- Chameleons are a very unique branch of the lizard group of reptiles.
- There are around 160 species of chameleon.
- Chameleons live in warm varied habitats from rainforests through to deserts.
- Almost half of the world's chameleon species are native to Madagascar, they are also found in Africa, and southern Europe to as far as Sri Lanka in Asia and have been introduced to Hawaii, California and Florida.
- Special color pigment cells under the skin called chromatophores allow some chameleon species to change their skin color
- Chameleon change color for camouflage but this is not always the main reason. Some show darker colors when angry, or when trying to scare others. Males show light multi-colored patterns when vying for female attention. Desert varieties change to black when its cooler to absorb heat, then a light grey to reflect heat.
- Chameleons have amazing eyes. The bulging upper and lower eyelids are joined and the pupil peaks out from a pinhole sized gap.
- The chameleons' eyes can rotate and focus separately on 180-degree arcs, so they can see two different objects at the same time. This gives them a full 360-degree field of vision.
- Chameleons actual eyesight is great they can see small insects 5-10 meters away. They can also see in both visible and ultraviolet light.
- Chameleons feed by ballistically projecting their tongues often over twice the length of their body to catch prey, forming a suction cup as it hits its target.
- The chameleons tongue can reach its prey in just 0.07 split seconds, with the projectile acceleration reaching over 41 g's of force.
- Chameleons usually eat large insects such as locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, and stick insects, some bigger species also eat other lizards and young birds.
- Chameleons are not deaf but they do not actually have ear openings.
- Many species of chameleon have horn-like bumps or crests on their heads.
- Species of chameleon can be as small as 15 mm (0.59 in) or as large as 69 cm (27 in).