10 Facts You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Chameleons

 10 Facts You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Chameleons

What Are Chameleons Most Famous For?


We have broken down 10 things we think you’ve always wanted to know about chameleons. These facts explain everything ranging from their eyes to their color change. 

1. Color Change


One thing chameleons are most famous for is changing their colors whether it is a subtle change or drastic. Many people have thought that they change to blend in with their environment. This is not entirely accurate. 


Chameleon color change comes from their mood, temperature, and light. If they want to look more intimidating, they may darken their coloring. They will also look more vibrant if they want to attract a mate. 


Chameleons will also look more vibrant to cool off. Lighter colors reflect the sun’s rays a lot better than darker colors. If they want to warm up, they will darken their complexion. 

2. How They Effortlessly Change Color

The reason chameleons are able to change their color in the first place is because they have special cells that are almost like crystals. These cells are called iridophores. Iridophores refract light. The crystals can compress or separate depending on their mood. 

When a chameleon feels nervous or really excited the cells will expand and this is when you can see more vibrant colors. They are able to reflect more colors. If they are relaxed, the cells are closer together and you will see that the colors may not be as vibrant and they will blend in more with their environment. 



Chameleon cells are able to absorb and reflect all the colors of the spectrum too. For example, if a panther chameleon has mostly red coloring on their skin, that color red can slowly darken or become extremely vibrant. They can literally change to any shade of red because of these cells. 

3. 360 Degree Vision


Chameleons are able to see in two different directions at the same time. When you look closely, you will notice that one eye can look up while the other eye is looking down. 


This eye-sight gives them the ability to hunt for food without needing to move and to hide from becoming prey. Their eyes also help them with depth perception.

4. Little Feet


Another thing that makes chameleons so special are their little tong-like feet. Their feet are made up of two pads. One side has two digits that are fused together. The other only has three. 


Their toes are like this so they can clamp onto vines. They also walk with their legs under their bodies. So the little clamps help keep their center of gravity right at their feet. 

5. Size Variety


There are chameleons that can be only and inch long once they are done growing. The largest chameleons are around 25-27 inches long. Other species of chameleons will be somewhere in between these lengths. 

6. 5 limbs?


Chameleons only have four legs, but their tail acts like a fifth limb. Most chameleon species can support their bodyweight with their tail. 


Unfortunately, if they lose their tail it will not grow back. This can be a huge problem for a chameleon because their tails help them stay balanced when moving from branch to branch.

7. Their Tongues


Chameleons can stretch out their tongues to be 2 times the length of their body. Smaller chameleons have much larger tongues than their bodies. They can catch their prey in less than half a second. 


At the end of their tongues, they have a small mass in the shape of a ball. The ball is actually a muscle that can form a suction cup. For extra insurance, they have incredibly sticky tongues. 

8. Males vs. Females

Male chameleons live longer than females and are a lot more colorful. They use their vibrant colors to attract females. Males are also going to have larger crests on their heads and look more decorative. 

Females only live for a few years and are dull in color. Laying eggs are also hard on their bodies. 

9. Poor Hearing


Chameleons do not have ear structures or eardrums. However, they can still detect sounds because they have microscopic holes near their eyes. These little holes don’t allow much room to let in sound. They really depend on their other senses to survive and they probably have the worst hearing of all reptiles. 


They mostly pick up vibrations or hear really low tones. They can hear other chameleons when they make low growling sounds. This is usually how they communicate with sound. 

10. Where are they from?


About half of the species of chameleons are from Madagascar. There are also around 180 different types of chameleons. Not all of them are kept in captivity. Other species are from Africa, some parts of southern Europe, Asia, and North America. There are actually different species that have been found in Florida. 


There are only a couple of species that don’t live in the trees. They actually live on the ground and look like leaves. 

Wrapping Up


Chameleons can come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. Their ability to blend with with environment comes from little crystal like cells in their skin. Their range of eye-sight makes up for their lack of hearing. Overall, these reptiles are extremely unique and not like any other reptile. 

Jade Messieh

Proud bearded dragon, tortoise, crested gecko, and green tree python mom. I've always been passionate about animals and hope to help other reptile & amphibian enthusiasts along their journey!

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