The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Raccoon
Story Of The Cobego
Story Of The Gazelle
Story Of The Chameleon
Story Of The Fossa
Story Of The Walrus
Story Of The Mole
Story Of The Pangolin
Story Of The Opossum
Story Of The Caffre Cat
Read More Articles About: The Story Of Wild Animals
Story Of The Chameleon
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
There is a popular belief that the chameleon lives entirely upon air.
The reason for this belief was found in the facts that the chameleon is a very sluggish creature and goes so long without eating that people who had observed it were led to think, first, that it could not move fast enough to catch insects, which would naturally be its food, and secondly, never having seen it eat they imagined it never did.
The chameleon does not live upon air alone, but principally upon flies and small insects, but nature has equipped it with a peculiar tongue especially adapted to catching its food. The chameleon's tongue is a hollow tube capable of being extended to a, great length with lightning like rapidity. At the end is a fleshy knob which has a cup-like cavity in its outer surface, and this is always covered with a sticky secretion. When the chameleon has selected a fly for its prey, it rolls its strange-looking eyeballs, and then its tongue darts out to twice the length of its body and is redrawn like a flash with the fly on the end of it. It rarely misses its aim.
The chameleon is a member of the lizard family, and is pleasing to the sight.
It has long been famous for its power of changing color a property, however, which has been greatly exaggerated, as I shall show. The usual color of the chameleon when in its wild state is green, from which it passes through the shades of violet, blue and yellow, of which the green consists.
In this country, however, it rarely retains the bright green hue, the color fading into, yellowish gray. The cause of the difference of color in the two lacteal folds of the body is the manner in which the light acts upon the animal. The side turned toward the light is always of a darker color. This holds good with reference to the direct and diffused light of the sun and moon as well as to artificial light.
Notwithstanding the strictly symmetrical construction of the chameleon as to its two halves, the eyes move independently of each other, and convey different impressions to their different centers of perception; the consequence is, that when the animal is agitated, its movements appear like those of two animals glued together. Each half wishes to move its own way, and there is no concordance of action. The chameleon, moreover, may be asleep on one side and awake on the other. When cautiously approaching my specimen at night with a candle, so as not to awake the whole animal by the shaking of the room, the eye turned toward the flame would open and begin to move. and the corresponding side to change color, whereas the other side would remain for several seconds longer in its torpid and changeable state, with its eye shut.
It seems probable that the change of color may be directly owing to the greater or less rapidity of the circulation, which may turn the chameleon from green to yellow, just as in ourselves an emotion of the mind can tinge the cheek with scarlet, or leave it pallid and death-like.
The common chameleon is sixteen to eighteen inches long, the tail being nearly as long as the body.