71 Facts About Chameleon Types That Are Absolutely Unforgettable! | Kidadl


71 Facts About Chameleon Types That Are Absolutely Unforgettable!

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We come across a lot of wild creatures regularly, one of the most fascinating ones among them are the chameleons.

These creatures are sort of adept hunters who use their tongues, which are twice the length of their bodies, and are distinctive in capturing the prey from an impressive distance. Another feature distinguishable from other creatures is their amazing eyes which can move in different directions.

They can also 'hone in' on an object or the prey like a telephoto lens. This feature is really cool in them but it also makes them different from other kinds of lizards. Chameleons are among the reptiles which are a part of the Iguania suborder.

Additionally, while it is true that these lizards are one of those few creatures who can change their skin color, like many other myths and misconceptions attached to well-known pieces of trivia, they do not change their skin colors to match their surroundings. This feature is also an ability they are known for. Perhaps, every sort of chameleon can change its skin color to some extent, whereas there are varieties that can change their colors more dramatically than the others. Most species of the chameleon are native to Africa, Asia, and Europe, and the regions of Madagascar.

Apart from changing colors, a chameleon is capable of many other 'tricks' as well. Thus, this creature is one of the world's most talented reptiles. The horns are very common in a chameleon. But they are not actual horns mostly. They're mainly the protuberances that are covered with scales. Additionally, they have the capability of shooting out their tongues at alarming speeds, the capability of using their tails as an extra limb and have the capability of looking into two different directions at once. Impressive enough, right? After reading about types of chameleons whom you can keep as pets, also check out the chameleon diet and chameleon changing color.

Species Of Chameleons

Chameleons mostly live in the rainforests and deserts of Africa. Their skin colors help to blend in with the habitats. Usually, the color of the chameleons that live in or hang out in the trees is green and those that live in the deserts have a brown skin color. There are different types of chameleons present. Their lifespan varies from 2-10 years.

Often, chameleons change their color to match up with the temperature. Chameleons can turn their skin color darker to help them keep warm as darker colors absorb more heat. Also, this color or shade changing helps them in communicating with other chameleons, like they change their body color in bright shades to attract their potential mates or to warn their enemies. With ever-changing colors, vivid patterns, and spiky backs like the Stegosaurus, these creatures are one of the most photogenic reptiles. There are over 202 species as of June 2015, that are included in the Chamaeleonidae family in which this immense group of Old World Lizards has surprising diversions.

Different types of chameleons are categorized into four genera:

Bradypodion falls under dwarf chameleons.

Brookesia are lead chameleons.

Chamaeleo are common chameleons.

Rhampholeon are pygmy chameleons.

But among these Calumma and Furcifer have wide recognitions as additional genera. They have a home that is shared by nearly two-thirds of chameleon species that are native to Madagascar. But there are other animals who have thrived in the process of shade-shifting to all types of environments, which includes the deserts too.

Difference In Appearance Between Chameleon Species

One of the oldest recognized chameleons is the Anqingosaurus brevicephalus which was found approximately 60 million years ago in China. Various studies have pointed out that maybe they originated around 100 million years ago in Africa. The different types of chameleons have different looks. They may vary in shape or color. The largest species of chameleon is the Parson's chameleon.

The smallest-sized chameleon species is the Brookesia nana which is only about 0.5 in (13.5 mm), whereas the Oustalet’s chameleons, also referred to as the Malagasy, are the longest identified chameleon at almost 27 in (68.5 cm) in length. Both of them are from Madagascar. The chameleon species vary in their weight too. Like the Parson’s chameleon which is the heaviest and can weigh up to 2 lb (700 g).

These chameleons have the longest lifespan of about ten years. The pygmy chameleon has the same size as the caterpillar. The panther chameleon and the Madagascar chameleons are the most brightly colored chameleons. They are mainly pink, red, blue and yellow colors.

The different species vary in colors. Some colors are bright and some are dark. Like the panther chameleon which has the brightest colors. Whereas the Swift dwarf chameleon changes its color so that it can easily hide from predators. It is the most popular species found. The namaqua chameleon changes its color from black to gray when they absorb and release heat. In that way, they control their body temperatures. The Drakensberg dwarf chameleon is usually light brown in color and some of them have a bright blue-green color.  The Knysna dwarf chameleon has skin color which varies from green to blue and, yellow, and violet markings. The Cape dwarf chameleon is green in color with orangish shades. The male chameleons are mostly brighter than the females.

Wild Vs Captive Chameleons

The chameleons consist of a lot of differences, the following are the main differences between wild-caught and captive-bred chameleons:

Captive-bred chameleons do not bear any parasites or diseases generally but wild-caught chameleons suffer health issues due to their transport activities as they might bring in parasites or diseases present in the wild surroundings.

Wild-caught chameleons bring in new genetic material as an increase in their pet population process.

Wild-caught chameleons are stronger than the captive-bred but only if their population is small and inbred.

The wild-caught chameleons are extracted from the wild surroundings and are transported to other different countries where they can trade until they are sold to other pet enthusiasts or breeders. But, consistently these chameleons can get their health compromised by having parasites or diseases from their time in the wild, although these parasites and diseases do not have any identified distinctions. This is also the reason that makes them less desirable for pet enthusiasts than captive-bred chameleons. The captive-bred chameleons are usually kept away from wild chameleons so that they are prevented from contracting any sort of disease or intestinal parasites.

There can be a benefit for breeders to have wild-caught species as these represent and introduce new blood of the captive-bred chameleons to their own species, but during the inbreeding process of this specimen's family, they might get caught or may suffer from some genetic diseases.

Types Of Chameleons That Make Great Pets

There are different species of chameleons from which you can select one as your pet. Some of the most popular pet chameleon species are as follows:

Veiled chameleons are the most popular ones. It is the best choice for beginners. A veiled chameleon does not need too much care and is managed easily unlike the others. We are attracted to a veiled chameleon mostly because of its very beautiful colors. The bodies of the veiled chameleons are usually yellow, bright green, or brown in color and are covered with colored bands. They are known for their vibrant colors and these species like the others can easily change their color according to their surroundings.

A veiled chameleon can easily regulate its body temperatures according to its surroundings and its requirements. They are usually found in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They have a lifespan of up to five years.

The three-horned chameleon species is native to East Africa and in Hawaii, where it is found nowadays. They have characteristic horns and their length is also about 13-17 in (35-45) cm. They live up to eight years which is long comparatively. These three-horned chameleons are easily available in the market for purchase and people enjoy taking care of and watching them.

Meller’s chameleon is a native of the mountains of East Africa. These species are the most gorgeous of all. They are mostly bright yellow or bright green in color, and they have white stripes on their body. A Meller’s chameleon has the capability to show its stress or discomfort by changing its body colors. They turn dull and even sometimes form black spots on their body when they are afraid. They take time to adapt themselves for captivity and they also need special attention. The Meller’s chameleon species which you frequently find, are mainly wild imports.

Another popular pet chameleon, the panther chameleon, is well known. It has various colors and has a unique personality. The panther chameleons have a comparatively short lifespan of a maximum of five years. They have a very hard body structure. There are plenty of colors and patterns in these panther chameleons. The male panther chameleon has the widest range of colors. But these chameleons change their color according to the rival faced and the female panther chameleons change their color to soft hues when they are ready to breed.

The smallest breed of chameleon is the pygmy chameleon, which is native to central East Africa. These species grow up to an average length of 3-3.5 in (8-9 cm). They have a lifespan of three to five years. These are very popular as pet chameleons because of their variety in species. There are about 19 different pygmy chameleons species. These species of chameleon vary in colors. They are usually in shades of gray and brown. These pygmy chameleons are not bright in color and have a short curly tail which helps them to make grip on the trees while climbing. The pygmy chameleons are also known as the African leaf chameleons.

Jackson’s chameleon is the one with three horns of brown color on its heads. Out of them, two are located on the top and the third on the nose. The male Jackson’s chameleon has horns but the female doesn't. These chameleons are of vibrant colors and they change to a yellow or blue color when they defend their territory and they turn black when they are under stress. Sometimes you'll find Jackson’s chameleons even puffing up and hissing, but they can be easily handled. They have a lifespan of a maximum of 10 years.

Dwarf Fischer’s chameleon is also referred to as the West Usambara two-horned chameleon. It is found in different hues of green like lime green or dark greenish-brown. Fischer’s chameleon is native to Kenya and Tanzania. They are easily identifiable because of their tubercles i.e., the two horns on their nose. The two-horned chameleon does not need any specific requirements. These species are shy in nature and they love lush green surroundings like the rainforests.

The carpet chameleon, commonly known as the jewel chameleon, originated from the island of Madagascar. They are found in deserts, rainforests, and even in mountains. These carpet chameleon species are found in a variety of colors ranging between yellow, orange, red, green, blue, or purple and they have dark patterns on their bodies. Carpet chameleons can easily be taken care of. They enjoy the company of humans. The carpet chameleons also have a short lifespan. These species are very funny and you'll enjoy watching them. A female carpet chameleon has the widest variety of unique colors and is unmatched mostly.

A flap-necked chameleon is a highly traded species all over the world. These species are popular beginner chameleons that are usually found in sub-Saharan Africa. A flap-necked chameleon has a manageable size and doesn't require too much care. They are highly adaptable species and require high humidity environments. They are also found in forests, grasslands, woodlands, and savannahs. Flap necked chameleons are available in bright green colors mostly, but some of them have brown and orange patterns in them. These species of chameleon are considered great pets.

The Senegal chameleon has a shy temperament and is smaller in size. They originated from west Africa. Their colors vary according to their surroundings, though most of the time they are neon green and yellow in color. These species require special care and a large amount of humidity. Though the Senegal chameleon is a calm species they are not very tolerant. The wild Senegal chameleon is found in abundance but they should be avoided as they can get severely stressed and have parasites in their bodies. These species can easily be distinguished from their small neck flap. Senegal Chameleons do the best if they are kept alone after they reach maturity.

The four-horned chameleon is also called the Eisentraut's chameleon, has a large crest as well as a sailfin. They have four horns but are smaller in size, unlike Jackson’s chameleons. The four-horned chameleon is originally from west-central African mountainous rainforests. These species of chameleon are greenish-yellow in color and have lighter markings of blue or purple on them. These four-horned chameleons are adapted to moist and cool weather. These are hardy species and are easy to keep if all their requirements are fulfilled. The four-horned chameleon needs high humidity and low temperatures as it is a highly sensitive species.

The Oustalet’s chameleon commonly referred to as the Malagasy giant chameleon is originally from Madagascar. They are usually inactive, and you'll find it hardly moving unless it is very necessary. These species are amongst the largest chameleons in the world and have a length of about 2 ft (0.6 m). They require more space for survival. This pet chameleon is considered a bad choice for beginners. Oustalet’s chameleons are easily distinguishable as they have a large ridge that runs to the eyes from the snout, and triangular spines that are present on their back.

Adult male Ambilobe Panther Chameleon

What To Know Before Getting A Chameleon

Many people are attracted to the beautiful colors of a chameleon making them very popular to have as pets. But before you get a pet chameleon there are some facts that you should consider. Firstly, as chameleons live in trees, branches, foliage, etc., they require cages that have ample space and trees where are they can climb and also have privacy.

They always need special care as they often get sick and get stressed very easily. These cold-blooded species need to be kept properly as their body temperature is controlled by the surrounding environment. They need proper humidity in their environment. Their habitat humidity level should be between 65-80%. For the pets to maintain their temperatures, the humidity level is maintained with the aid of an automatic fogger, mister, or drip system.

If you keep your chameleon in a room which has a lower temperature than their natural habitat, then their bodies might turn too cold, which will affect their movements. You'll also need to keep your pet hydrated. You can do so by sprinkling water regularly in the cage or by providing a fine mist for some time.

We know that temperaments vary for different animals. Similarly, chameleons show a natural trait i.e., they are very easily stressed out. They get confused when they are put under captivity or in any unfamiliar environment or are kept around new people. Thus, if you want to pet a chameleon, you should buy one which is already bred in captivity.

Most chameleons love solitude. They are not social creatures, thus they get aggressive or stressed out when they are not given enough space and are not left alone. They do not like sharing space so it is advisable to keep them in a room with no roommate. You should always keep in mind that their cages should be almost similar to their natural habitat. They should have sufficient food and water and be supplied with insects like crickets or worms.

Difference Between Chameleons, Iguanas And Lizards

When you think of a pet reptile, the first names that come to your mind are either chameleons, iguanas, or lizards. You mostly get confused by seeing them, but they have got various differences like in size, color, look, etc.

These popular species of chameleons and the species of lizards are basically the same. The former is from the family Chamaeleonidae and are known lizard families that have the ability to change colors, whereas the latter is from the order Squamata. Their appearances are different from each other. These reptiles have long bodies and tails, stereoscopic eyes, and long tongues.

But there are many prominent differences between the iguana and chameleon. The iguanas are larger in size than the chameleons and the former has a spiny crest on their back, whereas for the latter it is present on the head. The former is herbivorous whereas the chameleon is omnivorous. Both of them live on trees, but the iguanas can live on land also. Both of them have different arrangements of their toes. The chameleons have two toes outside faced and three inside which are highly adapted for hanging, whereas in iguanas all the five toes face forward.

Chameleons change their body colors according to their surroundings. They usually have very bright body colors like pink, red, orange, yellow, even green-blue, and sometimes turquoise. These species turn blue-green when they are excited whereas iguanas are usually bright green in color. A very few iguanas are found which are either lavender, blue, pink, or black in color. Chameleons have great eyesight and are able to see different pictures at a time as they can move their eyes independently. Both of them have made adaptations that help to survive in the same habitat. But for someone who wants to have a pet reptile, an iguana is a good option as it feeds on plants and flowers, not on live food like the chameleons, who are carnivores.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for chameleon types then why not take a look at are chameleons good pets, or chameleon facts.

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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