Chameleons are just about the coolest animal on this planet. They have super powers and can make themselves invisible and look in two directions at once! They have ballistic tongues that project with incredible speed and impact to catch prey; usually unsuspecting insects and worms but occasionally small lizards and birds. Many of the larger species of Chameleons have prehensile tails and their unusual tong like feet (zygodactylous) are well adapted to climbing in an arboreal habitat.
The Chameleon is in the clade of old world lizards. There are 180 species of Chameleon and 60 species live only in Madagascar. The majority of the other species live in Africa, Southern Europe and Southern Asia. Their habitat ranges from rain forest to desert.
Their color changing skin cells are called chromatophores. It was previously thought that Chameleons changed their color for camouflage, but scientists now believe that this is their means of communication and showing “emotion.” Males defend their territory from other males through color change and attract a female with a display of colors. If the female is wiling to mate, her chromatophores respond with a show of colors. (If I were not a jeweler, I would wish to be a biologist, researching and interperting the language of Chameleon color change in various situations.)
I am fascinated by all reptiles but Chameleons are the most intriguing. Handling a captive bred Chameleons is remarkable but finding one in the wild is even more so. In 2011, John and I traveled to Zimbabwe where we had a close encounter of the best Chameleon kind.
I don’t know why it has taken me so long to design a Chameleon Charm, but I have just created two versions; a Jackson Chameleon and a Panther Chameleon