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Chameleon Facts

Size 0.9-24 inches (2.5-60 cm)
Speed Unknown
Weight 3.5 ounces to 4.4 pounds (100-2,000 grams)
Lifespan 4-8 years
Food Insects
Predators Snakes, birds
Habitat Africa, India, Mediterranean Sea
Class Reptiles
Order Scaled reptiles
Suborder Iguania
Family Chamaeleonidae
Scientific name Chamaeleonidae
Characteristics Grasping tail, long tongue, changes its color

Main Characteristics

Chameleons are reptiles. They are closely related to iguanas. They have a prehensile tail, a long tongue and the ability to move their eyes independently and change the color of their skin.

Chameleon Chameleon - Photo: Cathy Keifer/Shutterstock


There are more than 200 species of chameleons. They can look very different. Some wear a "helmet" or "horns," while others have a long nose, or none at all.


The Smallest Chameleon

The smallest chameleon is called Brookesia nana. It is 0.85 inches (21.6 mm) long. It is also the smallest reptile in the world.

The Largest Chameleon

The largest are the Malagasy giant chameleon and the Parson's chameleon. They grow up to 27 inches (68.5 cm) long.

Chameleon Chameleon - Photo: Cathy Keifer/Shutterstock


Most chameleons live in Africa. Their prefer bushes, trees and the foliage and herb layer.

Anatomy and Appearance


Chameleons can move their eyes independently of each other. This enables them to detect enemies much faster and to look out for prey more effectively.



Chameleons like to stick out their tongue ... only to catch insects of course. When the chameleon has focused on an insect it lets its tongue shoot out like a rubber band. It accelerates to 96 km/h in a hundredth of a second. The insect sticks to it and is being caught like a fish on a fishing line. The tongue of the chameleon can be 1.5 to 2 times as long as its body.

Senses and Abilities

How Does the Chameleon Change Its Colors?

Chameleons have specific cells layers which are located under their transparent outer skin. The upper layers contain the cells for yellow and red. The cells in the lower layers reflect the blue color components in the sunlight. They can be enlarged and minimized. So if a chameleon is more red in color, then it enlarges the red cells.

Why Does the Chameleon Change Its Color?

Even nowadays people claim that chameleons take on the color of their environment for camouflage. Of course this makes it more difficult for their enemies to detect a green chameleon on a green leaf. But the color entirely depends on their mood. If they are angry, they may change their color to black. Chameleons in love take on the brightest colors to impress the ladies. You can also recognize a sick chameleon – the color of its skin is rather pale.

Chameleon Chameleon - Photo:Photo: MattiaATH/Shutterstock


How Do Chameleons Move?

If you watch a chameleon, you will notice that it moves forward rather jerkily or in a swaying manner. It wants to imitate a leaf in the wind.

Enemies and Threats

Do Chameleons Have Enemies?

Adult chameleons have snakes and birds as enemies. Ants love to eat their eggs and young. In the wild, the animals live two to three years.

What Do Chameleons Do When Feeling Threatened?

Chameleons pretend to be dead when in danger. They freeze and simply let themselves fall to the ground when touched by an enemy. They only get moving again when they feel safe.

Chameleon Chameleon - Photo: Dan70/Shutterstock

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