10 Cool Chameleon Facts

Chameleon Tail Facts

Chameleons are fascinating creatures. The more you know about them, the truer that statement becomes.

For example, more than 135 species of chameleons live in trees and bushes around the world. Some have prehensile tails that coil around branches to maintain balance and help them climb, while others do not. However, one fact shared by all chameleons is that their tails do grow back when broken off.

Zygodactylous Toes

While most lizards have five toes, the chameleon's five toes are "zygodactylous" which means they are fused into opposed sets of two and three so they can grab branches.

Ability to Change Color

Chameleons are known for their ability to change colors. They can't turn just any color, but each species has a unique color range. A number of conditions can set off a change in color, including:

  • Health (Color remains pale when sick)
  • Light
  • Mating
  • Mood
  • Temperature
  • Feeling threatened

Chameleon Eyes

Chameleons have bulging eyes that can move in two different directions at the same time. This gives them a 360 degree view and the ability to focus on two different things at once.

Long Tongues

A chameleon's tongue is long and has a bulbous, sticky tip used to snatch prey and pull it into its strong jaws.

Poor Hearing

Chameleons have two very small holes that serve as ears. The ears are so small that they aren't visible to the naked eye. As a result, these lizards have very poor hearing, but they do hear some tones and feel vibrations.

Body Temperature

Chameleons are "ectotherms." This means their body temperature is controlled by their environment. This is one of the reasons they are difficult to keep as pets. They absorb heat from the sun or a heat lamp. Without the correct temperature, they don't hunt for or digest their food.

Chameleon Diet

Insects like crickets, locusts and mantids are staples of a chameleon's diet. Larger chameleons beef up their diets by eating other lizards and even small birds.


Chameleons live nine to 10 years and are a long-term commitment for pet owners.

Chameleon Care Facts

Chameleons are not recommended for inexperienced lizard owners. They are one of the most difficult lizards to keep due to their exacting temperature and humidity needs. If you've never owned or cared for a lizard, you may want to consider a gecko, bearded dragon or an ackie first. If your heart is set on a chameleon, those that require the least effort include:

  • Veiled chameleon
  • Jackson's chameleon
  • Panther chameleon
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10 Cool Chameleon Facts