Charming chameleons

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A night time game drive on Mountainlands has taken on a whole new meaning since baby Flap-necked Chameleons (Chameleo dilepis) have been spotted perched high up on grass stalks. Flashlights are no more directed to look for the eyes of big game, but rather for these lackadaisical and most adorable reptiles.

Recently a clutch of 40 baby chameleons were seen sleeping in the grasses at the De Kaap Conservancy where Chris de Bruno Austin and some friends spotted them. Subsequently a night search on Mountainlands delivered the same kind of chameleons. The 4cm long babies seem luminescent at night and with real slow driving and a keen eye are easy to spot.

According to chameleon researcher Dr Krystal Tolley from the South African National Biodiversity Institute they hatch from eggs, laid in a nest underground. “Usually, baby chameleons have to find shelter on vegetation which is very thin, like grasses, because they have small feet and cannot grasp the larger branches. So it would be quite normal to find them on things like grasses. They would spend little or no time on the ground, because it is safer for them to be perched in the vegetation,” she added.

Flap-necked Chameleons can reach a length of 35 cm and lay between 25 to 50 eggs in a hole dug in soil from which the babies hatch around 9 months later.

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