Panther chameleon

Panther Chameleon – Furcifer Pardalis

The Panther Chameleon whose scientific name is Furcifer Pardalis is a large species of chameleon commonly found in Northern and Eastern Madagascar (Tropical Zoology 18 Georges Cuvier) as well as Mauritius and Reunion islands. Panther Chameleons can grow up to 20 inches in length, 17 on average for males but females are smaller about half the size of the males. They are becoming more and more common as pets these days. However, like most chameleons Panther Chameleons have certain requirements (Chameleon Paradise).

Panther ChameleonPanther chameleons are recognisable for their distinctive spotted markings thus the name. Their scientific name however actually means forked (furcifer) and spotted (pardalis). Forked refers to their feet while spotted refers to their markings.

Their actual colorations depend on the area or locales where they’re found (Lizards: A Natural History of Some Uncommon Creatures p.71). They’re mostly red when found in Antsiranana, Sambava, Maroantsetra and Tamatave while they’re mostly blue at Nosy Be, Ankify, and Ambanja (The Panther chameleon: colour variation, natural history, conservation, and captive management).  The Panther Chameleons range of colouring’s is truly amazing and this obviously makes it one of the most popular chameleons on the planet to keep in captivity.



1) Tropical Zoology  
2) Chameleon Paradise 
3) Lizards: A Natural History of Some Uncommon Creatures p.71 ISBN 978-0-7603-2579-7.
4)The Panther chameleon: colour variation, natural history, conservation, and captive management.
Krieger Publishing Company. pp. 54, 62–63. ISBN 978-1-57524-194-4.


1) Main image supplied by Dan (CowYeow)
2) Sub images supplied by Roger Sargent

Namaqua Desert Chameleon

Chamaeleo Namaquensis or Namaqua Desert Chameleon

Chamaeleo Namaquensis or the Namaqua desert chameleon is a special type of chameleon able to live in the inhospitable desert regions of Namibia, South Africa and Angola. It is the only species of chameleon able to live in such a habitat. (Mercury) Unlike most chameleons, it is a terrestrial type meaning it spends much of its time on the ground.

Chamaeleo Namaquensis is usually grey or brown. It has dark triangles beneath the dorsal crest and red or yellow stripes on the throat. It has a large head and unlike arboreal type chameleons has a short tail (
ARKive). Its body is adapted to handle the desert heat. It is able to dig in the sand or use the burrows of other animals to cool itself. It can also straighten its legs to lift its body from the hot sand like other desert lizards.
namaqua chameleon 1


Namaqua Chameleon










This species has a wide distribution and abundant population in the deserts and semi-deserts of Namibia, Angola and South Africa. It has a status of Least Concern in the IUCN Redlist. There are currently no major threats except for its capture for the pet trade. Trade however is regulated because Chamaeleo Namaquensis is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Appendix (CITES Appendix II). They are able to reproduce quickly as they mate three times a year. The females can lay up to 22 eggs per clutch which hatch after 100 days. They can reach sexual maturity in five to seven months.



1) Mercury NIE –
2) ARKive –
3) IUCN Redlist –
4) CITES Appendix II –



1) Main image supplied by Caroline Granycome
2) Sub images supplied by CowYeow


Flapneck Chameleon

Chamaeleo Dilepis – Flap-necked Chameleon

Chamaeleo Dilepis otherwise known as the Common African Flap-necked Chameleon or simply Flap-necked Chameleon is as the name implies, one of the more common chameleon species. It has a very wide distribution within Central and South Africa and widely exported as pets.

Chamaeleo Dilepis’ name comes from the large, movable flaps on its neck over the bony protrusion at the back of its head called the casque. When threatened, these flaps are raised the same way as frilled lizards. They can grow up to 38 centimeters and are often light-green, yellow or brown with a dark stripe on the sides of the body. They also have two crests on the upper and lower surfaces of the body. Consistent with the sexual dimorphism of chameleons, males are smaller, have larger flaps, taller casques and small spurs on their hind legs (ARKive).

Chamaeleo Dilepis has a Least Concern status in the IUCN Redlist because of its abundant population and wide range and distribution. The can be found in Central and South Africa from Cameroon to Somalia down to South Africa (IUCN Redlist). Though the population is abundant, trade of this species is regulated as it is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II).

flapneck chameleon Chameleons are very territorial and live solitary lives except when mating. This species is no different. When kept as pets, they should have a well-ventilated, well humidified enclosure with a minimum dimension of 2 x 2 x 3 feet (Jabberwock Reptiles). The enclosure should have climbing areas in the form of branches, logs and plants and the temperature should not exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Regular misting should be performed as a source of water. This species can last up to four years in captivity when well taken care of (Encyclopedia of LIfe).


1) ARKive –
2) IUCN Redlist –
3) CITES –
4) Jabberwock Reptiles –
5) Encyclopedia of Life –


1) Main image supplied by CowYeow
2) Sub images supplied by CowYeow

Graceful Chameleon

Chamaeleo Gracilis – Graceful Chameleon

Graceful ChameleonThe Graceful Chameleon or chamaeleo gracilis is one of several popular pet chameleon species. It can grow up to 15 inches but is 12 inches on average. It is a sturdy species that can last eight to ten years with proper care (Reptilecity/TheRadZoo). Its size, longevity and population makes it a popular pet.

The graceful chameleon is often green, yellow and brown in colour with a green band on the side of its body and several spots. Its head has a small bony prominence at the back of the head or casque. The males of the species have bright yellow-orange skin on the throat (ARKive).

Chamaeleo Gracilis is native to sub-Saharan Africa. They range from countries like Senegal up to Sudan and Ethiopia down to Angola and West Tanzania (ARKive). They occupy diverse habitats from dry and humid forests, savannah, bushes as well as the edges of plantations. Due to its large range and population, it is not listed in the IUCN Redlist of endangered species but is listed in CITES Appendix II (ARKive). It is highly exported as pets and as ingredients of traditional medicine but with a minimum annual quota.

Like most chameleons, Chamaeleo Gracilis is very territorial and lives life in solitary except during mating season. They are best kept alone in large enclosures. For this fairly large species, a high enclosure equal to a 70 gallon tank is best (Animal World) and should be equipped with plants, natural or artificial for it to climb on. Also, like most chameleons, hydration consists of regular spraying of its surroundings as well as high humidity of its environment.











1) Animal World –
2) ARKive –
3) Reptilecity –
4) TheRadZoo –
5) CITES Appendix II –


1) Main image supplied by Martin D.Parr
2) Sub images supplied by Martin D.Parr

yeman or veiled chameleon

Chamaeleo Chamaeleo calyptratus OR Veiled or Yemen Chameleon

The Yemen Chameleon otherwise known as the Veiled Chameleon or chamaeleo calyptratus is what can be considered a beginner’s species. They are known for being easier to care for due to the ruggedness of their native habitat. However, the term beginner should never be taken lightly when it comes to caring for chameleons. They are just easier to care for than other species.

This species of chameleon is found in the mountains of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen (Biotropics) which explains their more sturdy nature, less susceptible to slight temperature and humidity variations unlike their more tropical counterparts. They have a wide range and distribution and a sizeable population (due to a shorter reproductive cycle), but they are currently listed in CITES Appendix II which regulates the importation for this species but most trade comes from specimens bred in captivity.

The Yemen Chameleon is a large species, making it a sought after pet amongst lizard enthusiasts. Male chameleons can grow to as much as 24 inches from head to tail but average growth is up to 18 inches with the females being generally smaller. Their distinguishing feature is a large casque or a helmet-like ridge on their heads. The males are often bright pastel green colour with black and yellow stripes while female colours are not as vibrant. Male chameleons also have spurs on their hind legs not present in females. Yemen chameleons also last longer up to eight years for males (Smithsonian National Zoological Park).

yeman chameleon 1



1) Boitropics – Chamaeleo calyptratus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON, 1851
CITES Appendix II 
3) Smithsonian National Zoological Park


1) Main image supplied by Andrew Dunbar
2) Sub images supplied by Andrew Dunbar   

Parsons Chameleon

Calumma Parsonii – Parsons Chameleon

The Parson’s Chameleon, scientific name Calumma Parsonii is a very large species of chameleon first described by English physicist James Parsons in 1768. They can grow up to 27 inches in length, from head to tail, the size of a regular house cat ( They have a large triangular head, orange eyes and two warty protrusions near the tip of their mouth and mostly green in appearance.

Calumma Parsonii is a species of chameleon endemic to the forests of Eastern and Northern Madagascar. Their habitat ranges from the Eastern coast up to the elevated primary rain forests of the island 7000 feet up (ADCHAM). They thrive in humid environments with plenty of water and can live in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Parsons Chameleon


There are two species of Parsons Chameleon. The larger Calumma parsonii parsonii that can grow up to 27 inches and the smaller Calumma parsonii cristifer which can reach up to 18.5 inches and has a characteristic dorsal crest. These chameleons have a life expectancy of up to twenty years.

Their size, longevity and unique appearance makes them highly sought after as pets and as many as 10,000 specimens were taken from the island to the USA between 1988 and 1994 (USFWS Lemmis Database/ with a very high mortality rate due to negligence during transport and later because of lack of information for proper care.  Calumma Parsonii are now listed as NT (Near threatened) status by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES Appendix II) making importation of the animals illegal since 1994.

Captive Parsonii

Calumma Parsonii otherwise known as the Parsons Chameleon are highly sought after pets by lizard lovers. They are arguably the largest species of chameleon in the world growing up to 68 cm from head to tail in close contention with the Malagasy Giant Chameleon.

Most specimens age greenish in colour with a triangular head, orange eyes, pale lips and two protrusions near the mouth. (

However, they are currently listed (CITES Appendix II) as near threatened due to excessive importation and smuggling outside their native Madagascar thus importation into the United States has become illegal since 1994. Over 10000 chameleons were imported to the US between 1988 and 1994 but resulted in a high mortality rate.

For those who wish to own Calumma Parsonii, they can still be acquired from lizard enthusiasts who successfully bred the surviving lizards before the importation ban or through illegal imports. Breeders carefully choose their customers due to the extreme care required in keeping the animals. Calumma Parsonii require a large open space with high humidity, a diet of insects and sometimes other small animals. They cost from 2,000 USD and higher ( and may require a nearby veterinarian specializing in herpetology. Properly cared for, they have a life expectancy of up to 20 years and a reproductive cycle of two years.


1)Parson’s chameleon fact file
3)Chameleon Import Data USFWS Lemmis Database
4)Parson’s Giant chameleon CITES Appendix II



1) Main image supplied by Roger Sargent
2) Sub image supplied by Roger Sargent

Brookesia Perarmata or Antsingy Leaf Chameleon

Brookesia Perarmata – Antsingy Leaf or Armoured Chameleon

Brookesia Perarmata or the Antsingy Leaf Chameleon is the largest of the Brookesia genus of chameleons which can grow up to eleven centimeters. It is also one of the most endangered species of chameleons because of its very limited range. It is endemic to Madagascar and can only be found in the northern part of the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar’s Melaky Region (ARKive).

Brookesia Perarmata is one of the more exotic looking chameleons. It is mostly dark brown with a limited ability to change color. It appears similar to an armored dragon with thorny spines all over its body. The head has a lighter shade of brown with two rounded crests behind the eyes. As a ground dwelling species, its tail is shorter and stumped (Encyclopedia of Life).


Brookesia Perarmata 3

This chameleon dwells on the forest floor among the dead leaves which it uses for camouflage and climbs up low plant branches when it’s time to sleep.

Because of its very limited range, it is listed in Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Appendix I (CITES Appendix I) and the IUCN Redlist as endangered meaning that exportation and trade of this species is illegal. If possible, it can be acquired from captive bred specimens of other lizard enthusiasts.


Brookesia Perarmata

“These tiny armoured chameleons hold great beauty, like delicate dragons. A challenge and a feast to get up close with my macro lens. Although it was a grey, cloudy day with lots of rain – we were soaking wet – I managed to take some really great photos of this chameleon”.

Read more about these brilliant animals on the amazing Schaapmans’ Wildlife Spotting website. Antsingy Leaf Chameleon




1) ARKive –
2) Encyclopedia of Life –
3) CITES –
4) IUCN Redlist –



1) Main image supplied by Schaapmans
2) Sub images supplied by Schaapmans

Brookesia Minima or Pygmy Leaf Chameleon

Brookesia Minima or Pygmy Leaf Chameleon

Dwarf Chameleon, also known as Brookesia Minima, is the smallest specie among chameleons of the stump tailed diminutive chameleons (The Reptile Database, 2008). Native to the rain forests of Nosy Be Island, an island northwest off the coast of Madagascar, Brookesia Minima is also rarely found in the Manongarvio Reserve to the northwest of Madagascar. This chameleon is comfortable dwelling in leaf litter of rain forests, especially where there is a layer of dead leaves up to 10 centimeters deep. The minute leaf chameleon is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species(CITES) which essentially means that trade of this particular species must be controlled carefully such that it’s compatible with the species’ survival (CITES, 2007). The cylindrical body of the world’s smallest chameleon is camouflaged in various shades of grey, brown or green with a flattened head and has large scales forming triangular plates above its eyes with a visibly striped pattern prevailing throughout the body. Two series of granular protrusions can be seen on the back of this chameleon. Brookesia Minima are the smallest species of chameleons with a maximum length of only 3.4 centimetres.   
Brookesia Minima or Pygmy Leaf Chameleon

The females are generally larger and can grow up to 3.4 centimetres. It has been noted that the males have a longer tail compared to their body and can grow only 2.8 centimeters in body length (Nečas, 2004). As this specie is not clearly noticeable by naked eyes, only the locals of Madagascar islands are able to identify the Brookesia Minima easily. These territorial chameleons can be made to adapt to a different environment by creating artificial conditions in captivity.

They should be kept in a substrate of littered leaves or soil so that they can be comfortable and feel like their natural habitat. Even though this Chameleon makes a very good pet, only a few of them have been kept in captivity as they are difficult to capture and transport to other parts of the world from their natural rain forest habitat.


1) Nečas, P. and Schmidt, W. (2004) Stump-tailed chameleons. Miniature Dragons of the Rainforest. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt.
2) The Reptile Database (February, 2008)
3) CITES (July, 2007)


1) Main image supplied by Loïc de Collasson
2) Sub images supplied by Loïc de Collasson

How does a Chameleons tongue work ?

Panther Chameleon tongue
ll chameleons are predominantly insectivores.  There are  however many Chameleons will actively eat fruit, plant leaves and other vegetation as part of their diet.

With a speed of 13.4 miles per hour (Bijal P. Trivedi, “Catapults” Give Chameleon Tongues Superspeed, Study Saysthat can surpass even some of the fastest bikers in the world with ease, the tongue features a sticky substance that makes hunting or preying times easy and deadly. Modern research suggests that the reason behind a Chameleon’s ability to throw the tongue with ultra-fast speed lies primarily in its biological structure.

That is, structurally, like a motion that resembles arrow launch from a bow, the tongue is propelled by elastic collagen tissue structured in the middle of accelerator muscle and tongue bone or hyoid bone, acting as a catapult.

 The speed at which the Chameleon shoots its tongue is not the only striking thing about the Chameleon’s tongue. Interestingly, a Chameleon has the ability to project its tongue to a distance close to one and half times its body length. Even more surprising is the fact that certain less-researched smaller variants of the lizard can throw their tongues to distances as long as twice their body length!

A Chameleon can typically shoot its tongue out reaching its target in as little as 0.007 seconds. (Chameleon, Wikipedia).
Closely resembling a club (Tongue Mechanics,, the tip of a Chameleon’s tongue contains saliva of sticky  nature, which help adhere the front part of the tongue to the prey in target, when a strike is performed by the lizard. Coiled inside the mouth neatly when not in use (The Incredible Projectile Tongue of the Chameleon, Scribol), the tongue works with the help of circular as well as longitudinal muscles. When it comes to pulling the tongue back in its place, the retractor muscle known as hyoglossus shows its magic of following the tongue projection with precision and accuracy.

Almost every single aspect about the Chameleon’s tongue is extremely interesting especially its ability to project its tongue with such high speeds even when its body temperature remains considerably low, which is not the case with other similar ectothermic animals.



1) Trivedi, Bijal. “Catapults Give Chameleon Tongues Superspeed, Study Says.” National Geographic News. National Geographic Society, 19 May, 2004.Web
2) “Chameleon.” 
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 26 April, 2014. Web.
3) “Tongue Mechanics.” 
Reptilis. Reptilis. Web.
4)  Sarus, Emmy. “The Incredible Projectile Tongue of the Chameleon.” 
Scribol. Scribol, 11 October 2010. Web.


1) Main image supplied by Scott Cromwell

Chameleons Eyes

How do Chameleons eyes work

Another surprising fact about Chameleons are the uniqueness of structure and ability of its eyes.  Chameleons have eyes that move and view independently of each other.   That is to say that the creature can move one eye to one direction, and the other eye to a totally different direction at the same time.  This kind of ability provides it with approximately 360-degree vision (Ask Nature).  

The eyes of the Chameleons are actually made up from one large cone shaped eye lid.   It covers virtually the whole eye, leaving a tiny hole to expose the pupil.   Having an eyelid for protection of the pupils, the Chameleon can watch a predator coming its way, and at the same time, examine its surroundings for the best escape routes.   Being one of the most visually-oriented lizards (Chameleon vision, Wikipedia), the creature primarily utilizes its eye-abilities during predator avoidance and prey capture.

One of the primary striking features of the Chameleon eye is the presence of the negative lens.  However, note that although the lens is negative or concave, the cornea is actually positive.  The combination of both gives this creature an unparalleled eye sight.  In fact, the Chameleon eyes are considered to have the highest image magnification among many other vertebrate’s eyes.  Their eyes focus extremely quickly, effectively zooming in on their prey for a much better look and due to the shape of the lens in their eyes, Chameleons can see a large and clear image and this obviously helps when targeting its next meal.  When the Chameleon spots a cricket, locust or meal worm (which can be as much as 10 meters away) it turns its head to face the prey.   The Chameleon will then point both eyes directly at the target, switching to stereoscopic or binocular vision.   The Chameleon uses its binocular vision to increase depth perception and helps the Chameleon to aim with pin point accuracy.

Further to this, Chameleons are known to see in the ultraviolet range too (Devi Stuart-Fox, University of Melbourne), an ability that is quite unique in the animal world! Having lived in the world for more than 80 million years (Chameleons, NWF), the creature has always been an interesting topic among scientists.  Moreover, studies find that Chameleons have the ability to switch between synchronous and uncoupled saccadic eye movements.  That is something totally unique, and not witnessed in case of any other vertebrate in the world.



1) “EYES GIVE 360˚ VISION: CHAMELEON.” Ask Nature.  Ask Nature.  Web.  1 May 2014
2) “Chameleon vision.” 
Wikipedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 20 April 2014.  Web.  1 May 2014.
3) MacKenzie, Debora.  “Chameleons’ colourful flashes are social signals.” 
New Scientist Reed Business Information Ltd. 29 January 2008.  Web.  1 May 2014.
4) Bishop, Gerry.  “Chameleons.” NWF.  National Wildlife Federation.  Web.  1 May 2014.


1) Main image supplied by Scott Cromwell