LIFE SPAN Over 10 years in expert care; unknown in the wilderness YOUNG Gestation: For live young, 4 to 6 months, depending upon species Incubation: For egg-laying species, 4 to 24 months Number of young: Small chameleons lay 2 to 4 eggs, large varieties lay 80 to 100 eggs. Those that give birth to live young produce 8 to 30 young. Maturity: 1 to 2 years old, depending upon species SIZE Longest: Madagascan (or Oustalet's) chameleon reaches 23 inches (60 centimeters) Shortest: Pygmy leaf chameleon is 0.9 inches (2.54 centimeters) long

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chameleon, (family Chamaeleonidae), any of a group of primarily arboreal (tree-dwelling) Old World lizards best known for their ability to change body colour. Other characteristics of chameleons include zygodactylous feet (with toes fused into opposed bundles of two and three), acrodont dentition (with the teeth attached to the edge of the jaw), eyes that move independently, atrophied venom glands that produce harmless trace amounts of venom, and a long, slender projectile tongue. The name has also been applied to the false chameleon, or anole, a New World lizard of the genus Anolis (family Iguanidae).


The egg of the rare Parson’s chameleon is believed to take up to two years to hatch.

A chameleon’s tongue can be shot out to an extraordinary length: in some types, the tongue is longer than the body.

Chameleons seem to prefer running water to still water.

The name chameleon means earth lion and comes from the Greek words “chamai” (on the ground, on the earth) and “leon” (lion).

Chameleons shed their skin in pieces. How often they shed depends on how quickly they grow.

Four genera of true chameleons have been described: Bradypodion, Brookesia, Chamaeleo, and Rhampholeon. Two additional genera (Calumma and Furcifer) are recognized by some researchers. More than 150 species are currently known, and additional ones remain to be named. About half of the species occur only in Madagascar, whereas others occur mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Two species occur in Asia; one is native to southern India and Sri Lanka (Chamaeleo zeylanicus), and the other (the European chameleon, C. chamaeleon) is found from the Middle East to southern Spain. The most familiar chameleons belong to the genus Chamaeleo, and these have prehensile tails that wrap in a coil-like fashion around limbs to maintain balance. In contrast, most species of pigmy chameleons in the genera Brookesia (Madagascar) and Rhampholeon (Africa) have short stubby tails that are not prehensile; however, pigmy chameleons in Bradypodion have longer tails that are prehensile.