We searched for the smallest pet that can be loyal and entertaining to you! Yes, we definitely found one. Chameleons can be a great pet from the ‘reptilia’ class. Being a reptile its adaptability to environment changes are versatile. So, there are so many factors interesting to know before adopting them.
Chameleons, unique for adapted climbing and visual hunting, are classified as “old world” lizards. The first chameleons evolved shortly after the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. They are known for their ability to change colour of their skin according to the environment. They belong to the class ‘Reptilia’ and family ‘Chamaeleonid’. There are around 200 species of chameleons found all over the world. In India, chameleons are generally brown or green or banded with these two shades. They are harmless creatures feeding on insects, snails, small lizards and birds around them.
Scientific details of an African chameleon:
Scientific names: Trioceros melleri
Average life span: 12 years
Size: 5–20 inches
Weight: 0.2–1 kg
Reproduction type: Oviparous (laying eggs).
Some of the most striking features of chameleons are:
- They change their skin colours
Chameleons are famous for their ability to change colours of their skin. They use colour change for a variety of reasons, including camouflage and social signalling, as well as response to temperature and other environmental factors. To other chameleons, a chameleon’s physiological condition and intentions are communicated through colour changes. Chameleons exhibit brighter colours while expressing aggression toward others.
Chameleons are ectothermic, they change colour to regulate their body temperatures, either by absorbing light and heat (to increase their temperature) or by reflecting light and heat (to stabilise or drop their temperature).
Chameleons have pigment-containing organelles inside their epidermis. The epidermis contains on its surface a lattice of Guanine nanocrystals, which absorb the wavelengths of light. As the lattice gets excited, the skin reflects the larger wavelength, i.e. green and blue, in their relaxed mood. But when they are in an excited mood, the skin reflects the shorter wavelengths (red, orange or yellow).
- They have a long, prehensile tail and sticky feet
Most chameleons are arboreal, spending most of their time in trees. They have specialised sticky feet that allow them to grip the branch strongly. They use their tail to grip branches and stabilise themselves while they move.
3. They have a distinctive vision
They move their both eyes independently, giving them a wide field of vision and allowing them to focus on two different objects at the same time. The animal has stereoscopic vision, this means while catching prey their eyes have a binocular vision for perceiving distance and depth. The most mysterious thing about chameleons is their ability to see light in the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum. Presumably, their UV sense allows chameleons to better target their prey.
4.They are carnivores in feeding habits
In their natural habitat, chameleons have a varied diet that may include crickets, grasshoppers, flies, moths, beetles, spiders and other small insects. Some larger species of chameleons may also eat small lizards or birds. Some chameleons have long and sticky tongues—that is two or three times their body’s length. They shoot out their sticky tongues to capture prey from a distance of three times their body length. Their hunting style is usually to sit and wait for their prey to reach within their range to capture it by shooting out their sticky tongues.
Chameleons have unique dietary requirements and may refuse to eat if their food is not provided in the correct way. In captivity, it’s important to provide a varied diet that includes gut-loaded insects (insects that have been fed a nutritious diet), as well as supplements to ensure that the chameleon is getting all the necessary nutrients. It’s also important to note that chameleons should not be fed insects caught in the wild. Instead, it’s best to purchase insects from a reputable source or to breed them yourself to ensure that they are safe and nutritious for your chameleon.
- The length, height and weight
The size and weight of chameleons vary greatly depending on the species. On average, chameleons range in length from 5 to 20 inches (12–50 cm) and weigh between 0.5 and 2.2 pounds (0.2–1 kg). The male chameleons are typically larger than the females, and their size also varies based on their habitat and diet. Gaining the tiniest creature title in chameleons is the Brookesia micra, which grows only about half an inch in length, i.e. half the size of your thumbnail. The largest-size species is the ‘Parsons’ (Calumma parsonii), which grows up to two-feet in length.
- They have horns
Genus ‘Trioceros’ of chameleon found in parts of Africa have horns on their head. Trioceros melleri is a giant one-horned that is the largest species on the African mainland. West Usambara two-horned chameleon are native to the West Usambara Mountains of Tanzania. This species is estimated to be one of the most heavily exported chameleons from East Africa for the international pet trade. Trioceros deremensis is three-horned chameleon found in the Afrotemperate rain forest patches of Nguru mountains and Udzungwa mountain ranges of Africa.