Chameloen Essay, Research Paper
The Chameleon The Chameleon is a lizard that changes color. It has a short neck that does not permit the head to turn . The Chameleon’s eyes are large and turreted, which means that a Chameleon can look backward and forward at the same time. On the Chameleon’s feet, front and back, the toes are divided into two sets, two toes on one side and three on the other side of each foot. One set is pointed directly forward and the other set backward. The Chameleon has a yellow mouth. It’s trunk is thin and flat from side to side like the body. The tongue, head, body, and tail are all about 8-12 inches long on a regular Chameleon. The shortest Chameleon is about 1 inch long and the longest is about 3 feet long. The Chameleon lives in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the American continents. There are over 25 species alone on the island of Madagascar. They live in many temperature zones ranging from the tropical to the temperate climates. These reptiles inhabit trees and the leaves on the rain forest floor. Chameleons eat all insects and spiders. Sometimes they chase beetles and small lizards and grab them with their powerful jaws and don’t let go until they die. The Parson Chameleon eats small vertebrates. The Chameleon thinks any carnivore smaller than a lion and bigger than a gerbil is considered an edible meal. Once the Chameleon spots its prey it flicks out its tongue to catch it. The Chameleon’s predators are snakes, birds, and other lizards, but some large Chameleons have been known to eat birds. To protect itself the Chameleon tries to hide from predators. When there is no place to hide, it changes colors to help stay hidden from predators. The Chameleon is in the reptile family. They are cold-blooded. Its scientific name is Chameleonidae. The only related species is the Anole and the most common species is Chameleon Vulgoris. There are over 100 total species. The Chameleon uses its body parts for life long survival. The Chameleon’s tongue is the weird and fastest part of itsbody. The tongue easily captures insects with the tip, the only sticky part on the tongue. The tail can be curled around a branch like an extra hand and in a triangle shape, can stay coiled up when it is not in use. When scared, this lizard puffs up its chest in a threatening display. The eyes can focus together like a human, or separatly to observe two different objects. Some Chameleons, like the male Jackson Chameleon, have three horns that are used in fighting for territory. The skin has rows of scales called “crests”. When the head rises noticeably above the neck, it’s said to have a casque, a helmet made of armor. Chameleons can hunt and spy predators without moving their head or body because their eyes can rotate independently like gun turrets. The Chameleon can change color in a few seconds. The p.2most common reason they change color is to hide from predators. They change color to match the backround, so predators can’t see them and also to indicate their mood. Chameleons can change to any color, but some lack red and others lack green. The Chameleon, like humans, is diurnal which means sleeping during the night and active during the day. During mating season the males fight over territory. If the Chameleon is forced to bite, it clamps its jaw as hard as it can and refuses to let go. When the Chameleon faces a predator such as a viper, wasps, scorpions, and other hazardous species it learns to strike on a pressure-point. After the prey is dead, it chews off the dangerous part and spits it out. If a tasty treat hides under rocks or in a bush, the Chameleon will turn over stones or shake branches to flush it out. If a large predator comes, such as a falcon or a wild cat, it quickly inflates its body to scare off its predators.
The Chameleon is a loner except during breeding season in the late summer. The females lay 20-30 eggs at time during the spring and summer. The male Chameleon mates by climbing on a female’s back and rides around. The female leaves the eggs develop unattended, but the eggs are tough and leathery and hatch during late summer and early fall. In contrast, the Jackson Chameleon gives birth to its offspring like humans. The Chameleon is not an endangered species, but the population is greatly reduced in the summer. The life span is not p.3known, but one Chameleon almost lived 10 years in captivity. Sometimes too many species are collected and die off prematurely. The Chameleon has perfect balance because it has an external eardrum. The Chameleon is almost deaf, but can hear bass tones. Many Chameleons can out run a person for short distances. Unlike other lizards, Chameleons shed their skin more often when they are younger than older. The new skin pushes the old skin off the body. During shedding, the skin can block vision and impede hunting when the eyelids and snout peels. To get the old skin off fast, the Chameleon rubs its eyes against its back to strip off and eat the dead skin. The skin can change color do to its layered contrasted pigment. If you ever have a pet Chameleon you should keep it in a terrarium with dry soil, sand, or moss on the bottom. The Chameleon needs live food like meal worms, crickets, cockroaches, flies, and grasshoppers. You can find this food at a pet store. You don’t need a water dish; they lap up water that you can sprinkle on plants. The Chameleon would make a good pet, but often doesn’t live very long in captivity. p.4 Silveman, Goldie, Amazing Animal Stories, Seattle, Washington, Turman Publishing Co., 1981. Martin, James, Chameleons, New York, New York, Crown Publishers, 1991. Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia, 1992 ed., “Lizards”, Gibbons, J. Whitfield. Encarda, 1994 ed., “Chameleon”, Microsoft Corp. Mattison, Chris, Lizards of the World, New York, New York, Fact on File, 1989. Martin, James, Masters of Disguise, New York, New York, Facts on File, 1992. Zim, Herbart, Reptiles and Amphibians, New York, New York, Golden Press, 1956. “Common Chameleon”, Wildlife Fact File, 1991.