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As was mentioned above, chameleons have a very limited sense of smell. Their Jacobson's organ, located in the mouth of most reptiles, (used to "smell" particles picked up by the tongue) is virtually non-functioning.


literature cited (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9)Link will open in a new window.


(the tail)

A chameleons tail is descried as PREHENSILE, or adapted for gripping or climbing, and that it is. it is almost like a fifth arm/leg, extremely strong, and generally longer than the head and body. The only drawback is it is not regenerative as with the anoles or

 (the feet)

Another amazing feature of chameleons is their feet, described as forceps like they have five toes on each foot, fused together in opposing groups of two and three forming pincers. They have three toes inward on the front feet and two toes inward on the rear (known as ZYGODACTYLOUS). These feet have sharp claws and extremely strong grips.


Experts consider the areas most sensitive to touch to be the corners of the mouth, along the spinal column, and the tip of the tail.


literature cited (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9)Link will open in a new window.


not really a "sense" but requires use of the senses

Pacing or scratching at the front of a cage by  the chameleon is... they are asking to get out. They are uncomfortable for some reason (lighting, temperature, humidity)... maybe they just want to go on a "walkabout". You should let them out and check those conditions important to them. If it is an all glass enclosure this could also be related to a lack of good air circulation. Another drawback to glass cages is chameleons do not understand reflections and stress easily when they see  their own and  perceive it as "another chameleon" ( talk about being afraid of your own shadow ).

Head bobbing is used to claim territory. If the cham sees another cham in the area they may start bobbing their head. This is also practiced before mating. The colors are a good indicator of reason, vivid colors are shown if it is being done as a part of mating.

Gaping mouth with dark colors and hissing... beware of "watchcham"  they're angry about something.

Gaping mouth with pale colors is a sign of over heating. coo the cage and cham with a good misting and adjust lighting if necessary.

Closing the eyes for long periods of time during the day... SIGN OF ILLNESS. Get this cham checked out by a good herp vet before it is too late. See ARAVLink will open in a new window. Website if you don't know one

Bright vivid colors without dark spots... contentment or excitement.

Pale colors, tail coiled, jaw resting... relaxed cham - sleeping 


literature cited (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11)Link will open in a new window.

Chameleons disclose talent for weightlifting

Hunting other lizards: Changing color in 10 seconds is not their only trick

Adam Lusher
The Sunday Telegraph
The chameleon's repertoire of tricks does not stop at changing color, scientists have discovered. It has now also been classified as the only animal in the world with the high-speed reflexes needed to twist its tongue into a deadly suction pad capable of catching prey that an ordinary reptile could never hope to hold.

A chameleon weighing 43 grams can perform feats equivalent to a man picking up a nine kilogram sack of potatoes with his tongue.

This hitherto secret maneuver, over in the blink of an eye, gives chameleons a considerable advantage over other reptiles that rely merely on a sticky tongue to ensnare their prey.

The secret was discovered after researchers at Northern Arizona University became suspicious when relatively large lizards disappeared from a cage they shared with chameleons.

"We realized the chameleons must have been picking off the other lizards in the cage," said Jay Meyers, one of the research team.

"It shouldn't have been happening. How could something with just a sticky tongue catch something so large?

"We decided to get a high-speed video camera and find out."

The camera, shooting at 250 frames a second, caught the chameleons contorting the tips of their tongues milliseconds before impact. The tip would then form a suction seal around the target, exerting such force that the prey was helpless to resist being dragged into the chameleon's mouth.

"It was an amazing display of control and speed," Meyers said. "The seal looks a bit like a baseball glove, with the prey as the ball. Once the seal is formed it acts a bit like the suction cup at the tip of a child's toy arrow and pulls the prey back. The whole thing happens really quickly. It only takes about half a second for the chameleon to shoot its tongue out almost six inches, form a seal around the prey and drag it back to its mouth."

Meyers, who worked with Anthony Herrel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, believes that the maneuver involves a pair of muscles on either side of the chameleon's tongue working to roll the tip inwards.

It seems vital to the hunting success of all the species of chameleons (Chamaeleo) they studied.

When small cuts were made in the nerves controlling the muscles making the suction pad, the chameleons' tongues just knocked harmlessly against their prey instead of grabbing it.

Fortunately for the chameleons, their vital nerves grew back.

The hunting trick now seems likely to rank with the chameleon's ability to change color in the space of 10 seconds in response to their mood changes or the need for camouflage.

"It's pretty wild," said Meyers. "You don't even see any other living lizards doing anything close. This is a unique thing for lizards, and probably vertebrates in general. We have seen nothing else that does it. It's unknown elsewhere in the animal kingdom."

Source: http://www.nationalpost.comLink will open in a new window.


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