Chameleons are relatively small lizards, best known for their unique physical adaptations. There are approximately 100 types of chameleons, which range in size from 2-inch species to 2-foot-long creatures. Chameleons are carnivorous reptiles that are found principally in trees, where they hunt for various insects. These slow-moving but supreme hunters rely on a number of interesting adaptations for survival.
Chameleons are capable of changing color. These color changes assist the reptile to camouflage itself in the presence of potential predators. Chameleons tend to move very slowly. They remain perfectly still and blend into the surrounding vegetation, making it hard for predators to spot them. Color changes also help the chameleon regulate its body temperature, as darker body colors absorb heat and lighter colors reflect, and thus repel, heat. These reptiles are reliant on the ambient or environmental temperature for warmth. Chameleons communicate with each other through subtle color changes.
The remarkable tongue of a chameleon can extend one and a half times the length of its body. The ability to shoot its tongue over such a distance and with amazing accuracy allows the chameleon to reach food not in its immediate vicinity. Chameleons do not need to leave the security of tree branches to find water on the ground. These fascinating lizards are able to obtain sufficient water by licking rain and dew drops off leaves.
Chameleons possess globular, independent eyes that are capable of scanning an area of 360 degrees. The ability to scan the surrounding area without having to move its head allows the chameleon to remain still and camouflaged while still being able to locate prey and keep a look out for potential predators. Each eye can also focus independently and the lizard is capable of viewing two separate images.
Feet and Tail
The majority of chameleon species use their long prehensile tails to grip onto branches. Chameleons use their tails as a fifth foot to anchor them and prevent them from falling as they traverse through the tree canopy. These reptiles curl their tail up when it is not used to balance or grip onto a branch. A chameleon’s feet are equally designed to hold onto branches.