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Chameleons: Chamaeleonidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Chameleons are cold-blooded animals, meaning that their body temperature varies with the weather. After resting during the night, they warm up in the daytime by basking, or resting, in the sun. If they get too warm, they lower their body temperature by resting in the shade. All their activities take place during daylight hours.

Most chameleons prefer to live alone. Males are very territorial, or protective of their living areas. Males and females tolerate each other only briefly, during the mating season. When males with bony head horns fight over territory, one may lower its head and attempt to ram the other with its horns. Usually no harm is done, unless an eye or lung is damaged.

In the mating season, males try to attract females by bobbing their heads, inflating their throats, puffing up their bodies, and displaying their brightest colors. A female may accept or reject the courting male. If she rejects him, she might run away or she might face the male and hiss at him with an open mouth. She might even attack and bite him. These bites can kill.

Most chameleon species lay eggs. Eggs are placed in tunnels or pits in the ground or under rocks or leaves. This keeps them cool and moist. After laying their eggs, females cover the area with dirt to hide it from predators. Depending on the species, young chameleons hatch one to eighteen months later. They are independent at birth and must find their own food and shelter. A few chameleon species give birth to live young, rather than lay eggs. These species often live in areas where the weather is very cold in winter and where eggs placed directly on the ground might not hatch because of the cold.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesChameleons: Chamaeleonidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Jackson's Chameleon (chamaeleo Jacksonii): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CHAMELEONS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS