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Chameleons

Panther chameleon, Madagascar, 45 cm (17 in) long Chameleons are slow-moving lizards that can change colour to blend in with their background. They have grasping feet and flexible, prehensile tails to help them grip branches as they climb through the treetops. Their eyes can move in different directions and focus on different objects at the same time: they have a 360° field of vision. Most chameleons eat insects, but some larger species may also feed on other lizards or young birds. Having spotted its prey, a chameleon flicks out its extremely long, sticky tongue—in some kinds, measuring the length of their own body—to seize it. 


Hunting

Flap-necked chameleon, Africa, 35 cm (14 in) long{alt}Chameleon changing colour{more}Click to play videoChameleons sit motionless on a branch until an insect approaches. By changing colour to match the foliage around them, they can remain hidden from sight. When a chameleon spots its prey in the leaves, it creeps up on it very slowly, fixing it with its swivelling eyes. Then, when the moment is right, it flicks out its long, sticky tongue, fastens on to its insect victim and reels it back into its mouth—an action that takes only a fraction of a second.

There are 160 species of chameleon, nearly half of which live only on the island of Madagascar.

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