Chameleons are fascinating for many reasons. Not only do they snatch their meals with an almost invisible snap of the tongue, but they are truly a coat of many colors. Their colors change for camouflage, aggression and courtship. Also, half of their species comes from one of the world’s most fascinating places, the island of Madagascar.
Among the beauty of Madagascar's rain forest is the Minor’s chameleon. Contrary to most chameleons, female Minor’s are brighter in color than the male, especially when carrying fertilized eggs. Females display such vibrancy as black and yellow bands as well as blue, violet and red colorations across the chest and head, whereas males come in a variety of black, brown and orange. They are native solely to Madagascar, and they are on the endangered species list due to habitat loss. However colonies living around the security of coffee plantations appear to be stable.
Panther chameleons vary greatly in color patterns depending on their region. Males from one region may have emerald or turquoise bodies, while males from another may be bright pink. These are often referred to as “the pink panther.” Females tend to be brown or pale green, however like most female chameleons their colors become more vivid after breeding. They are popular with reptile keepers, and before trade restrictions 15,000 a year were being taken from their home. Their population is now considered stable.
Brown Leaf Chameleon
Unlike most of their tree dwelling cousins, brown leaf chameleons spend most of their time on the ground searching for prey among fallen and dying leaves. Since they are experts at disguise, like fallen foliage their colors include brown, beige and dark red. When threatened they use their remarkable camouflage to their advantage. They roll to their side, tuck in their legs and stay completely still, giving their predator the impression of a dead leaf.
Labord’s chameleons live in more arid regions, and have a fascinating life span. They typically live only one year, and eight to nine months of that year is spent inside an egg nested underground waiting for the wet season. As the rains begin in November, an entire population is hatched at once. They reach sexual maturity at approximately 8 weeks old and begin to breed. Four to five months later as the dry season approaches, they begin to die, leaving the next generation safely developing underground. On the endangered species list, they are considered vulnerable due to agricultural mining.
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