Indian chameleon (Chamaeleo zeylanicus) is a species of chameleon found in the Indian subcontinent. It is a unique reptile that has fascinated people for centuries due to its ability to change its color. These lizards are arboreal, and their physical features make them well-adapted to their environment.

NameIndian Chameleon
Scientific NameChamaeleo zeylanicus
ColourMostly green, sometimes brown
LengthUp to 35 cm
HabitatTrees and shrubs in forests
Food habitsInsects and other invertebrates
IUCN statusLeast Concern


Indian chameleons have a distinct physical appearance. They have a long tail, a triangular head, and bulging eyes. The body length of an adult Indian chameleon is between 22 to 30 centimeters, and they can weigh up to 100 grams. The males are generally larger than the females. Their coloration varies from brown to green, and they can change their skin color according to their surroundings. They are also well-known for their prehensile tail, which helps them grip the branches while climbing.

How does it change colours 

A chameleon’s ability to change its color is one of its most fascinating and well-known features. The process of changing color is called chromatophore movement, and it involves a complex interplay of physiological and environmental factors.

Chameleons have specialized cells called chromatophores in their skin that contain pigments, which are responsible for producing different colors. Each chromatophore is surrounded by tiny muscles that can contract and expand, allowing the pigments to move and change the color of the skin.

The color change is initiated by a signal from the chameleon’s brain, which sends a message to the skin cells to either contract or expand the muscles surrounding the chromatophores. The chameleon can change its color in response to various stimuli, such as temperature, light, and emotions.

For example, if a chameleon is in a dark environment, its skin cells will expand the muscles around the chromatophores to create a darker color. Alternatively, if it’s in a brightly lit environment, the skin cells will contract the muscles to create a lighter color. Similarly, when a chameleon is angry or threatened, it may turn darker in color to appear more menacing.

Overall, the process of color change in chameleons is incredibly complex and fascinating, involving a combination of physiological and environmental factors. The ability to change color serves several purposes, such as camouflage, communication, and thermoregulation, making it a vital adaptation for survival in the wild.

Habitat details

Indian chameleons are found in various habitats, including forests, scrublands, and gardens. They are arboreal creatures and can be found on trees, bushes, and other vegetation. They are distributed across the Indian subcontinent, including India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.


Indian chameleons are carnivorous reptiles, and their diet mainly consists of insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They use their long tongue to capture their prey, which they flick out at high speeds to catch insects. Their eyes can also move independently, enabling them to focus on their prey better.

Importance to ecosystem

Indian chameleons are an essential part of the ecosystem. As they are insectivores, they help control the population of small invertebrates. This, in turn, can help maintain the balance of the ecosystem. Additionally, they also serve as prey for various predators, such as birds of prey and larger snakes.

IUCN status

The Indian chameleon is not currently listed as an endangered species. However, habitat destruction, deforestation, and illegal trade can pose a significant threat to their population.


Indian chameleons are fascinating creatures that have captured the imagination of people for centuries. Their ability to change their skin color and their unique physical features make them stand out in the animal kingdom. As an important part of the ecosystem, it is crucial to protect their habitat and ensure their survival for generations to come.

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