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Common Chameleon

Chamaeleo chamaeleon


15 - 20 cm without tail, often adopting shades of green, yellow and brown for camouflage. It doesn't always change colour in order to match its background, but stays well camouflaged nonetheless, as its irregular coloration patterns make it very difficult to spot among any kind of vegetation. It can be found on sand dunes, among pine trees, in fruit orchards and olive groves, in thick scrub, or wondering around on the ground. If threatened, the chameleon will flatten its body and open its mouth in order to appear bigger and threatening. It has also been known to bite, if harassed. It feeds mainly on insects, with an apparent preference for grasshoppers. There's an interesting video here:


It inhabits the coastal areas of the Algarve (in Portugal), being more prominent in the east. There have also been sightings further inland, but the hard clay soil makes it impossible for the chameleons to dig themselves in for the colder months, or dig their nests. Unfortunately, the coastal development in this part of the country over the last 30 years, has caused severe habitat loss for the Common Chameleon. In particular roads have become a deadly hazard for them, specially in August - September, when the pregnant females wonder in search of the right sand dune in which to lay their eggs. Another hazard are people, tourists and locals alike, keeping them as pets. They don't last long in captivity, often dying of depression. And again, most captured animals are pregnant females, which critically endangers the next generation. Fortunately, this species is now protected in Portugal.

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Felix Fleck
Spotted by
Felix Fleck

Algarve, Portugal

Spotted on Sep 9, 2009
Submitted on Jul 30, 2016

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