This week on Reptile Facts Friday, we’re super excited to introduce you to the 3 chameleon species we have here on permanent display at the Reptile Zoo! Before we get started on specific species though, here’s some fun general facts about all chameleons:
1)Chameleons have the longest tongues to body size in the animal kingdom! These dudes can have tongues up to 2x the length of their bodies.
2)Almost half of the chameleon species in the world are only found on the island of Madagascar!
3)Chameleons don’t actually change color to blend into their surroundings. Scientists have found that chameleons change color based on light, temperature, and mood changes. Some species (such as our own Meller’s Chameleons) even change color to “talk” to each other
4)Chameleons can see in 2 different directions at once and have 360 degree visibility. The only time a chameleon focuses on something with both eyes is when it is about to eat what it’s looking at.
5)Chameleons have prehensile tails just like monkeys. They use these tails to hold onto branches when climbing, and can actually hang from things just with their tails!
We’d like to start with our most flamboyant chameleons, the panther chameleons! We’re lucky enough here at the reptile zoo to have three lovely panther chameleons; Harvey, Pascal, and Guillermo! While all the same species, these lovely little guys are all different localities. Panther chameleons have different colors based on where in Madagascar they are found. Harvey is an Ambilobe chameleon, Pascal is a lovely Nosy Be, and Guillermo is Ampiskiana. Harvey in particular is a favorite of many employees at the zoo for his extraordinarily friendly behavior, preferring to climb on people than his awesome free range habitat. He got his name from an interesting week where half his face was red and the other half was a dark green, giving him a Two-Faced Harvey Dent appearance.
Next up is the Parsons Chameleon! Parson the Parson’s Chameleon (we get real creative with the names here) is a big handsome male, and an impressive example of one of the world’s largest and heaviest chameleons. These chameleons are a beautiful mint green, and when disturbed they can put on an impressive display of spots and stripes all across their bodies.
They are very hard to take care of, as their needs for space, ventilation, and water are all great. In the wild, these chameleons live in areas of Madagascar that can get up to 150 inches of rain a year, so if you visit there’s a good chance you’ll see one of our employees patiently misting down Parson to make sure he stays good and hydrated. He lives above our photo booth with Harvey the panther chameleon.
Lastly are some lovely chameleons you might already be familiar with, if you are faithful readers of the RZ blog. Our Meller’s chameleons make up the majority of our chameleons at the zoo; we currently have 7 on display in our brand shiny new Meller Manor exhibit.
People often have a hard time noticing these cute little dudes as they blend in so gosh darn well into the foliage we added to their home. We’ve started challenging kids and adults alike to try and find all 7, which is harder than it sounds. Meller’s chameleons are the only truly social chameleons in the world, which is why we can house so many together in such a lovely exhibit, which was sponsored by Brian Allen and ExoTerra. I learned a fun fact the hard way about these chameleons; they have the sharpest nails of any chameleon I’ve ever met. Last time I tried to hold one it looked like I got savaged by a very small cat.
That’s it for this week; we hope you guys learned some fun stuff about chameleons!