Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Flap-necked Chameleon

"The flap-necked chameleon, one of the most common true chameleons in Eastern Africa, can grow to an astonishing 14 inches long!  Like other chameleons, the flap-necked chameleon has eyes located on cone-shaped turrets, which can move independently, allowing it to look in two different directions simultaneously.  The flap-necked chameleon has an long, extensile tongue and can change color rapidly when excited or ready to mate... The greatest threat to this chameleon species comes from the US pet trade.  More than 50,000 individuals were exported between 1977 and 2001, alone."
ARKive, Flap-necked Chameleon

Dan and I found this little critter on Sunday morning, while walking home from the market. It was picking its way across the path slowly, extending one leg at a time.  It moved with a sort of back-and-forth rocking motion.  Chameleons, I realized, were actually very dainty.

Thrilled, I got on all fours to take a picture.  

"Teacher Lisa!"  Exclaimed a few of my students, who were standing nearby.  They sounded shocked.  "Why are you on the ground?"

Wordlessly, I pointed at the chameleon, who was still tip-toeing from one side of the path to the other.  This was the first time that Dan and I had seen a living chameleon in Mozambique, and it was spectacular.  Her wary eyes, covered in green scales, were swinging back and forth in all directions. 

"Yes," said my students, wisely.  "Camaleao."

"Can I touch it?"  I asked.  The chameleon was walking so slowly.  It was tempting.

"Yes, you can touch it," said my students.  Then, as an afterthought, they mentioned, "But then it will bite you."

And so I let the chameleon go, watching it until it disappeared into the green grass on the other side of the path.

Back into the grass

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