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What do chameleons eat, where they live, why do they change color

These fantastic creatures have always attracted attention with their amazing properties. What kind of animal is a chameleon? Description, change in color, features of content and behavior - all these reptiles, surviving to this day from the Cretaceous period, amaze the imagination. It's hard to deny yourself the pleasure of having such an exotic animal at home. And then the question arises: "What do chameleons eat and how to make the animal feel comfortable?".

Lovers of heat

In the area where chameleons live, the climate is dry and very warm. That is why more than half of all species, and there are about ninety, live in Madagascar. Many species populations have chosen Africa and India. And only one - chameleon ordinary - is found in the south of Europe.

In the south of Spain, farmers and homeowners have adapted to make chameleons as a protection against flies: a saucer with honey, placed in an open area, attracts insects from around the room, and the chameleon can only "harvest".

I sit high, I look far away

There are only a few species of chameleons that lead a terrestrial lifestyle, while others prefer to live on trees. The natural coloring of foliage and plant bark is ideal for a small lizard with the ability to mimicry to become almost invisible to enemies and potential prey. The body of the chameleon can not be better adapted to the habitation among the branches: thanks to the long tenacious tail and the device of the paws, the animal can easily restrain itself on the thinnest branches. The chameleon has five fingers with webs on each foot, when the support is grasped, they are located on opposite sides: two on one side, three on the other. Additional hooking with the surface provides bumpy skin. By the way, the tail of a chameleon can not grow anew, like other lizards.

Very sharp eye

Chameleon is an animal unique in every respect. Among other things, they know what is impossible for any reptile to look at simultaneously in different directions.

Hidden in thick leathery folds of the eye (only the pupil remains on the surface), not only do they have a circular view, they also do it independently of each other! One eye, for example, looks out for prey ahead and around, and the second at this time follows the rear: Is there any danger from behind? At the same time, the vision of a chameleon is rather acute: they can see an insect at a distance of up to ten meters.

Leave, there's nobody here

The only creature fully worthy of the title of master of disguise among animals is the chameleon. The color of his skin can change, though not instantaneously, but very quickly. Why does the chameleon change color? The pigmentation of the skin depends on several factors:

1. The emotional state of the animal. Red, brown, black - a sign of aggression, pale colors - fear.

2. Change in environmental conditions. For example, with prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, the skin also becomes very dark.

3. A healthy, comfortable feeling chameleon on the hunt is painted in green-brown colors, under the color of foliage.

Contrary to common myths, the chameleon is not able to copy the pattern on the carpet or pretend to be an exotic flower. The maximum that representatives of certain species are capable of is to repeat the veins of the leaf and take a pose that makes them look like the same leaf, which in itself is already surprising. In such an uncomfortable position, the animal can spend several hours until the hunt succeeds.

What amazing natural mechanism helps them so successfully mask themselves?

Subcutaneous Palette

For many years the question of how and why the chameleon changes color, remained open. The veil of mystery began to rise when powerful microscopes appeared, which gave rise to the theory of cells. It turned out that for the color of the skin, hair and even the iris of the eyes, all living creatures have special cells - chromatophores containing various pigments.

The ability to move the pigment in the skin cells and explains the unique ability of chameleons to disguise, scientifically called the physiological change of color. Depending on the color of the pigment contained in chromatophores, they are divided into many subspecies: the most famous are melanophores. Melanin is the darkest, so it was on this example that this unusual phenomenon was studied. It turned out that the change of colors is achieved by the distribution of the pigment throughout the cell or its concentration in the center. In the first case, the color of this particular cell is the brightest, in the second case, the pigmentation of cells lying deeper is manifested.

The entire complex system is governed by nervous impulses: the connection between the effect of mimicry and the visual centers of the animal has been fully proved. The influence of hormones and other sensory organs on the pigmentation of chameleons is also studied.

Food comes by itself

What does the chameleon eat in the wild? The usual food of these reptiles is all kinds of insects. As a rule, at the beginning of the hunt the animal takes a wait-and-see position on the branch, practically merging with the surrounding background, and the waiting begins, which can last for hours.

If unguarded prey appears within reach, the chameleon instantly "shoots" at her side with a tongue - and after a split second the fly or the beetle is in his mouth. The language of the chameleon deserves a separate description: unusually long, in a quiet state, it hides in the mouth, twisted into a spring, and is charged with energy so that at the right moment it is possible to overtake the victim with tremendous speed and power. The tip of the tongue is sticky, which allows the chameleon not only to reach the target, but also to hold it.

If the mountain does not go ...

Funny looks chameleon, who decided that the extraction will not approach the distance sufficient for the attack: in such cases, it slowly begins to move in the right direction. One eye is fixed on the target, the second is relentlessly examining the neighborhood. A barely noticeable movement lifts the front leg, slightly pulls it forward, lets go and moves the tail forward, after having rearranged the hind paw. And the limbs are able to move like this: first left, then right, and not alternately, as we used to observe in the other quadrupeds. All this is absolutely noiseless and looks like a slow-motion shot.

By the way, in spite of the fact that chameleons prefer a sedentary lifestyle, if necessary they can run pretty fast and even jump from branch to branch.

Content in captivity

Outside the natural habitat chameleons feel comfortable in terrariums with a width and length of not less than half a meter and a height of more than a meter. If the specimen is particularly large, the capacity for it should be even more spacious. The optimum temperature during the day is +30 ... +32 о С, at night - +22 ... +24 о С, and no drafts!

If there are several individuals, it is necessary to equip the terrarium where the chameleons live in such a way that each has its own spacious site - these creatures quite jealously guard their territory.

The "day" should last at least twelve hours, which means that additional artificial light sources are needed . Very like the pet, if at different levels of the terrarium, in addition to living plants in pots, will be placed twigs and driftwood, which he can climb.

Chameleon in the nature of licking the moisture from the leaves of plants, he can not drink from the tanks. Therefore, it is necessary to install a pump feeder in the terrarium. Very stylish look waterfalls with continuously flowing water. Such drinkers provide sufficient moisture and allow the animals to easily quench their thirst.

Master, I'm hungry

What do chameleons eat in a home environment? The main food for any of these kinds of creatures is everything that flies, crawls, can be caught and swallowed, but not poisonous. The chameleon is an insectivorous animal. Dragonflies, butterfly flies, beetles and others, others. Do not offer pet or bees to anyone. However, the instinct tells the chameleon that it is not worth eating, because it is fraught with a painful death from biting into the tongue. Crickets are considered the optimal food for saturation by useful substances.

But insects are not the only thing that chameleons eat. Adults with an appetite diversify the diet with fruits and some non-rigid vegetables. Tastes can vary: someone will prefer an apple, someone more like a banana. To find out preferences of the pet it is necessary experimentally. Fruits should be cut into pieces and put them on the branches and leaves of plants, but so that they do not fall down. If you are too lazy to mess around, you can feed the beast from your hands or with tweezers.

Along with the crickets are popular locusts and fodder cockroaches. In large cities live food can be bought at pet stores, if this is not possible, you will have to attend to the breeding of insects yourself. From what they eat chameleons, their health and life expectancy directly depend.

Eating healthy and harmful

Of crickets the most useful and nutritious is the cricket of the goblin. It is resistant to diseases and reproduces well, without requiring additional heating. The largest - two-spotted - can be dangerous for the chameleon because of sharp and stiff wings and the habit of biting. And they sing very loudly, which can be quite unpleasant. Most owners of exotic reptiles prefer a banana cricket. It is large, soft and unobtrusive. But it needs heating and loves to eat the relatives.

The locust is superior to the cricket in terms of nutritional value, but it will take considerable effort to cultivate it: large terrariums with heating will be needed.

Cockroaches as a food are much worse: less protein and more fat. To make them a decent meal for a chameleon, they will have to feed protein food and fresh fruit. Breed fodder cockroaches at high temperature and low humidity.

Sometimes - as a variety - chameleons can be invited to eat insect larvae, for example, a flour worm. This food is "festive", very oily and with abuse can lead to problems with the liver.

Young chameleonchikam during the growth of young crickets should be sprinkled with a special supplement with vitamins and minerals.

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