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Meet the Different Chameleon Species, Safari Uganda

jackson-chameleonChameleons fall in the class of reptiles and it is specie of the lizard and it belongs to the iguana suborder. Chameleons are very colorful lizards because they have the ability to change from one color to another like green, brown, blue, red, pink, multi colors or any other color.  Chameleons do Camouflage mainly to reflect the kind of mood they are in at that moment, the change in color is a signal to others for instance, the darker colors mean it’s angry or cold and its trying to warm up its body by absorbing more heat , then the light colors in the females may be used to attract males. This therefore means, its not true that they change colors to for protection purpose from the predators because they are very fast animals capable of running 21 miles per hour therefore can easily escape from most of their predators with ease.

The sizes

Chameleons are sub divide into 2 subfamilies, nine different genera and about 171 species which include the Parson’s chameleon, the Oustalet’s chameleon, the pygmy leaf chameleon, the Jackson’s/ 3 horned chameleon commonly seen in around Mt. Rwenzori region in Uganda and many more species. They have ability to live both in the desert and in the forest areas.

Most of these chameleons are in different sizes and the largest of them all is the Parson’s chameleon and it grows as big as 27 inches which is about 69.5 centimeters long. There is also the Madagascan or Oustalet’s chameleon which grows as large as 23 inches which is 60 cm long.  Meanwhile, the tinniest chameleon is the leaf chameleon which grows up to only 0.5 inches thus making it to the list of the smallest vertebrates on earth.

What is unique about chameleons

The very first unique distinction is the fact that they can change from one color to another.

Throughout the chameleons’ lives, they keep growing which is not the same with the rest of the animals.

The chameleon’s eyes can rotate around in the eye socket that it can easily look in the opposite direction with ease therefore; it has a 360 degree vision arc. Each eye can look in a different direction at the same time, they can enlarge them to see clearly an object just like zooming is done in cameras, they can also see clearly an ultraviolet light.

They also shed of their skins when they get old like snakes but the difference is that they shade it off in bits and pieces while snakes shed the whole thing off at once.

Where and how chameleons are commonly live

Chameleons are seen almost all over the world because they can live in both the deserts and in the tropical regions with rain forests. There are plenty of them in Madagascar, Asia’s rain forests, in Africa, Spain and Portugal as well as so many other places in the world with the savannas or semi-deserts kind of vegetation.  They love hiding on trees or tree branches and bushes but there some species that spend most of their time on the ground like the horned leaf chameleon which lives on the ground amidst dead leaves on the floor of forests.

Many of them used their prehensile tail, wrap around the tree branches and with the help of the hands and larges toes on their feet, they can easily cling to tree branches.

In regards to their social behavior, Chameleons are solitary animals to an extent that the females hate it when the males come near them. it is rare that the females let the males touch them and that is when they are ready to mate. This is why they have to change color because a brightly colored male has better chances of convincing a female to mate with him than one with a dull color.

What they feed on.

Chameleons feed on different stuff ranging from insects to birds. They are able to catch prey by creeping really slowly and the moment their prey is within reach, they shoot out that cup tongue and it sticks onto the prey and then draws the tongue back into the mouth with the prey on it. A chameleon’s tongue is twice as long as its whole body when it is stretched out to grab a prey. Their food is digested by the very strong stomach acids inside their stomach.

Their food includes ants, butterflies, snails, lizards, caterpillars, amphibians, snails. Some species also feed on plants materials like tender shoots, lettuce, leaves, tomatoes, bananas, apples, wax worms. There are species that feed on wasps, on flies, grasshoppers, earthworms, among others.

They swallow up water off leaves using their tongues but they sometimes inhale it since it very important in the growth and the health of Chameleon.

Reproduction among Chameleons

Chameleons’ reproduction style is very different from other reptiles because there are some that give birth to their little ones alive for example the Jackson’s chameleon. Usually they give birth to between 8- 30 offspring each time after 4-6 months of gestation. It is true that they are eggs from the very beginning but they are incubated by the mother without shell and from inside her body rather than laying them and incubating them from the nest.

There are however some species that just lay eggs and incubate them for 4 – 24 months therefore the time depends on the species. All the size of an adult female determines the number of eggs she lays which means small chameleons usually lay2-4 eggs while the larger ones lay 80 – 100 eggs at once.

The common character here is the fact that regardless of the species, chameleons mature at 1-2 years old with exception of the Madagascan chameleon which is named as that vertebrate with the shortest life span in the whole world. Madagascan chameleons can’t be alive for 1 or 2 whole years that long therefore once the eggs are hatched in November, they are adults in January and they are ready to lay eggs by February. After a period of 3 months, the entire population of adult will have perished.

Conservation status of Chameleon

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red mentioned that all the different species are endangered. Some species are in danger of being extinct for example the tiger chameleon, the Elandsberg dwarf chameleon, the Namoroka leaf chameleon and also those Decary’s leaf chameleons among others.

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