Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Reptiles & amphibians

Mediterranean chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon)

Description

The Mediterranean chameleon is a medium-sized lizard that can grow to a total length (SVL+tail length) of 30 cm. The Mediterranean chameleon is able to change its skin colour, so it can appear as different variations of green, grey or brown with stripes and spots, depending on behavioural, thermoregulatory, social, antipredator, and foraging factors/actions. There are two lines running down each side of the body, which are usually lighter than other areas, these lines are then broken by approximately four to five dark spotted stripes. Each of its five toes has a sharp claw which helps the chameleon move over surfaces. Chameleons have a prehensile tail which acts like a fifth limb in order to aid movement and stability. The eyelids are fused together to produce a turret-like structure, this allows chameleon to be able to move its eyes independently of each other. The Mediterranean chameleon has a tongue which can be extended to up to twice its body length in order to capture prey as well as a mouth full of rudimentary un-socketed teeth.

Habitat

The Mediterranean chameleon is an arboreal species, and only travels on the ground in order to find a mate or lay its eggs. It can be found in a number of habitats, but prefers riverine vegetation, olive groves and vineyards. Habitat shifts have been observed, where juveniles will inhabit low grasses, whilst adults remain in trees. This shift may be driven by cannibalistic tendencies in the adults.

Diet

Its diet mainly consists of flying arthropods. Cannibalism is also possible. Some chameleons in xeric habitats have also been found to use plant matter in their diet.

Protection status

This species is listed as “Least Concern” by IUCN Red List.

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