Indian chameleon

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Indian chameleon
Indian Chameleon (Chamaeleo zeylanicus) Photograph By Shantanu Kuveskar.jpg
In Mangaon, Maharashtra, India
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Chamaeleonidae
Genus: Chamaeleo
C. zeylanicus
Binomial name
Chamaeleo zeylanicus
Laurenti, 1768

The Indian chameleon (Chamaeleo zeylanicus) is a species of chameleon found in Sri Lanka, India, and other parts of South Asia. Like other chameleons, this species has a long tongue, feet that are shaped into bifid claspers, a prehensile tail, independent eye movement, and the ability to change skin colour. They move slowly with a bobbing or swaying movement and are usually arboreal. Strangely, they do not choose the background colour and may not even be able to perceive colour differences. They are usually in shades of green or brown or with bands. They can change colour rapidly and the primary purpose of colour change is for communication with other chameleons and for controlling body temperature by changing to dark colours to absorb heat.[2][3]

Indian chameleon


Indian chameleon at Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat

They are found in India, south of the Ganges River and Chainnsa Type locality: Sri Lanka, restricted by Mertens in 1969.


The head has a bony casque, ornamented with crests or tubercles. A separation between the eyes, the interorbital septum, is present. Its dentition is acrodont; the teeth are compressed, triangular, and more or less distinctly tricuspid. The palate is toothless. The eyes are large, covered by a thick, granular lids pierced with a small central opening for the pupil. No tympanum or external ear is present. The body is compressed, and the neck is very short. The vertebrae are procoelian; abdominal ribs are present. The limbs are long, raising the body. The digits are arranged in bundles of two and three; in the hand, the inner bundle is formed of three, the outer of two digits; it is the reverse in the foot. The tail is prehensile. The head and body are covered with granules or tubercles.

The casque is much elevated posteriorly, with a strong curved parietal crest; the distance between the commissure of the mouth and the extremity of the casque equals or nearly equals the distance between the end of the snout and the hinder extremity of the mandible; no rostral appendages occur; a strong lateral crest, not reaching the end of the parietal crest, is present; an indication of a dermal occipital lobe is found on each side, not reaching the parietal crest. No enlarged tubercles occur on the body; a feebly serrated dorsal crest is present; a series of conical tubercles form a very distinct crest along the throat and belly. Males have a tarsal process or spur, the tail is longer than head and body. The gular-ventral crest and the commissure of the mouth are white.[4]

From snout to vent, it is up to 7 in long, with a prehensile tail of 8 in.


  1. ^ Srinivasulu, C.; Srinivasulu, B.; Mohapatra, P.; Shankar, G.; Das, A., Murthy, B.H.C.K.; Aengals, A.; Somaweera, R. (2014). "Chamaeleo zeylanicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2014: e.T172657A1360663. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T172657A1360663.en. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  2. ^ Walton, B. M. and A. F. Bennett. 1993. Temperature-dependent Color Change in Kenyan Chameleons. Physiological Zoology 66(2):270-287 [1]
  3. ^ Durve, V. S and H. S. Sharma. 1975. Some observations on color changes of the Indian chameleon. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 72:107-112.
  4. ^ Boulenger, G. A. 1890 Fauna of British India. Reptilia and Batrachia.


  • Barry, A.T. 1936 The Common Chamaeleon (Chamaeleon zeylanicus) in Gujarat J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 38: 201-202
  • Gray, J. E. 1865 Revision of the genera and species of Chamaeleonidae, with the description of some new species. Proc. zool. Soc. London, 1864: 465-479.
  • Laurenti, J. N. 1768 Specimen medicum, exhibens synopsin reptilium emendatam cum experimentis circa venena et antidota reptilium austracorum, quod authoritate et consensu. Vienna, Joan. Thomae, 217 pp.
  • Singh, L. A. K. (1979): To change is chameleon. Science Reporter, 16 (1) : 59-61.
  • Singh, L. A. K., Acharjyo, L. N., Bustard, H. R. (1984) : Observation on the reproductive biology of the Indian chameleon, Chamaeleo zeylanicus (Laurenti). J.Bombay nat. Hist. Soc., 81(1) : 86-92.
  • Singh, L. A. K. (1986): The Indian chameleon, Chamaeleo zeylanicus (Laurenti) in Satkoshia Gorge Sanctuary, Orissa : Notes on availability, growth and biometrics. J.Bombay nat.Hist. Soc., 83(1), 111-119.

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