There is only one species of chameleons found in the Indian subcontinent, scientifically known as Chamaeleo zeylanicus. The term 'chameleon' is a combination of two Greek words, 'Chamai', meaning 'on the ground/earth' and Leon, meaning 'lion'. Thus, 'chameleon' means 'earth lion'. The foot structure, eyes and tongue of all the chameleons are the same. Read on to get more information on the Indian chameleon:
The body of the chameleon lizard is covered with granular scales and
measures upto 37 cm in length. Its feet are split into two main fingers,
each of them attached with sharp claws that help in climbing trees. The
upper and lower eyelids of a chameleon are joined and there is a small
pinhole through which the pupil can be seen. The chameleon can focus
each of the two eyes in different direction and observe two different
One of the most interesting features of an Indian Chameleon is its
extremely long tongue, which at times may exceed its body length also.
The tongue is sticky at the end, which helps the reptile in catching
prey. The moment the tongue of a chameleon hits a prey, it forms a small
suction cup and draws the prey into the mouth. Chameleons do not have
ears and vomeronasal organ.
Ability of Changing Color
All the chameleons have the ability to change color whenever they are
subject to changes in stimuli, like a change in light, temperature or
emotion. For example, when angered, they are likely to become darker in
The breeding season of the chameleon lizard falls around the month of
October. Ten to thirty eggs are laid at a time and the gestation period
is 3 to 6 weeks. Before laying eggs, the female chameleon digs a hole in
the ground, between 4 to 12 inches deep, and deposits her eggs in that
hole. The eggs hatch after a period of 3 months.
Chameleon lizard survives on a diet of locusts, mantids, crickets, and
Chameleons are seen inhabiting almost all the parts of south India and
west of the Ganges. However, they are rarely seen in areas that receive
heavy rainfall. Chameleons are mostly arboreal and are found in trees or
on smaller bushes.