Chameleons belong to a specialized lizards’ clade. There are more than 200 species in it, and many of them can change their color. The word chameleon itself originated from Greek words with meanings “lion” and “on the ground”. These animals have specific toes, extensive and quickly extrudable tongues and little horns on the brows. The tale of many of the species is prehensile, they climb very well. These lizards prefer to live in warm areas in different parts of the world: in Africa, southern Europe, Middle East, in some US states, on several islands. Many chameleons’ species can become extinct because of the loss of habitats. Some people even keep chameleons as pets.
Many chameleons can change color of their skin in a very diverse palette. This ability is related with the particular layer of the skin containing pigments and guanine crystals under this layer. When relaxed, most of the chameleons are green. When the space between these crystals changes, light is reflected in a different way; thus the color is changed. This phenomenon can have several purposes from social signals and camouflage to reactions on temperature.
These bright lizards may be of quite various size, rating from 15 mm (0,59 inches) to 68,5 cm (27 inches). Their heads or faces can be ornamented with crests or some kind of horns or protrusions. Some chameleons possess a crest of little spikes from the neck to the tail. For a lot of species it’s typical that males have more remarkable ornaments than females. Their feet look like tongs, because chameleons’ five toes with sharp claws are divided into two groups; this allows climbing any branches. Eyes of the chameleons can move independently and look in two different directions simultaneously but focus when watching a prey. In comparison to other reptiles, they have quite good eyesight and can see in ultraviolet light, too. Though these animals don’t have visible ears, they are not deaf.
Chameleon’s main food is insects. To catch them the lizards use their long tongues which can reach two lengths of their bodies excluding tail and even more and which can be projected at the same distance. In addition, the animals are able use their tongues even when it is cold and their bodies need thermoregulation. These lizards can also eat plants and other animals, even lizards or birds depending on the species. As for their reproduction, some chameleons lay eggs, and there some that gestate eggs inside.