Namaqua Chameleon – “solar panel” of a desert

We know it is hard to survive in the harsh environment of an African desert, where nights are freezing cold, and daytime is baking hot. On top of that, drought makes the environment even harsher. Yep, it sounds like a scene out of a horror movie. But, for the Namaqua chameleon, this environment is not as hellish as we think. They learned to adapt to that environment, and they live there gladly.

What is Namaqua Chameleon?

Namaqua Chameleon, also known as Chamaeleo Namaquensis, is reptile which belongs to the unique lizard family. Unlike many other chameleons, they have various unique physical traits and behaviors. Namaqua chameleons are bigger than most of chameleons. Their size can reach up to 9.8 inches (25 cm). Their color is grayish brown with light and dark patches. They have two independently-moving bubbly eyes which enable them to see 360 degrees. That means they can see everything around no matter which direction they are facing. Their tail is far shorter than their body.

Where do Namaqua Chameleons live?

Namaqua chameleons live in the desert regions of Namibia, South Africa, and southern Angola.

What do Namaqua chameleons eat?

Namaqua Chameleons eat insects, such as crickets and beetles. They also eat smaller snakes, lizards, and they even eat younger chameleons which are unable to protect themselves. Namaqua chameleons use their lighting-fast tongues to catch their prey. Their tongue can stretch to the distance twice the size of their body.

How can Namaqua Chameleons survive in a desert environment?

Namaqua Chameleons survive in a desert environment thanks to their color changing ability, and ability to conserve water in their body. Firstly, they regulate their body temperature by reflecting and absorbing the heat waves from the sun. That is the primary reason why some people call them “solar panels”. Their body weakens during the cold nights. Therefore, in the mornings they absorb sufficient warmth from the sun by turning their skin into dark color

When the sun gets higher and hotter, Namaqua chameleons change their color to white which helps them to reflect the heat.

Moreover, they excrete salt from nasal glands to conserve water, and they dig holes to cool down their body temperature. Unlike average chameleons, Namaqua chameleons are fast runners, which enables them to speedily walk on the hot sand without burning their feet. All of these characteristics contribute to the survival of Namaqua chameleons in a harsh desert condition.

By Arslan Batyrovich

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