English Name: Indian Chameleon
Scientific Name: Chamaeleo zeylanics
Family : Chamaeleonidae
Tamil Name: Pachai onthi
Description: It is an arboreal lizard with a conical casque on top of the head. Its eyes are located on a scaled lid and can be rotated. The eyes are capable of independent movement and of binocular vision. Its tongue is highly extendible and is sticky and hence can be used for catching prey from a distance.
Habitat: The Chameleon is arboreal and prefers wooded areas but is uncommon in heavy rainfall areas. In semi arid regions it is found on hedges and shrubs.
Habit: A diurnal lizard whose movements are deliberate and slow. The color of the animals provides camouflage among the leaves. When necessary, the chameleon can increase its striking range by supporting itself on its hind legs and tail and reaching out with its body. The digits of the legs are present in two opposed sets, two directed away and three towards the body. Tail is prehensile. The ability of the Chameleon to change its color instantly is not true. Basically the color is green to which patterns of yellow and black are added in the form of bands and spots. The ability to change color with the background is limited to shades of green and yellow. The change of color is due to the emotional state of the animal and also its environment
Food: The feeding habit is unique. The tongue is long with a club shaped tip. In capturing prey, the eyes first focus on the prey, and once aligned the tongue is shot out and retracted with the prey. The whole action is rapid. The food is predominately insects
Life cycle: Chameleon lays close to 22-33 eggs in a clutch. Eggs are laid on the ground. Incubation is approximately nine months. Both male and female are territorial during the breeding season. Females are intolerant of other Chameleons approach except during breeding season when they are ready to mate.
Role in the Environment: Chameleons are beautiful and find an important place in the biodiversity of the scrubland ecosystem.
Photo source: Dr. J. Subramanean