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The darker colors of a female carpet chameleon (left) tell a male to go away.

Color Correct Like many animals, a chameleon’s skin color oſten matches its habitat. For example, the brown horned leaf chameleon lives among dead leaves on the forest floor. Te dusty-brown Namaqua chameleon lives in Africa’s Namib Desert, a dry and sandy place. Naturally blending in with their habitats

helps chameleons hide from predators and makes it easier to surprise prey. But chameleons can change their color when they need to. Tey do so in response to their environment, their moods, and to send messages to others.

Eye Catching Male and female chameleons use color to communicate with each other. When a male sees a female, he may want to impress her. His green skin may become much more colorful. His flashy colors signal to the female: “I’m a strong, healthy male.” Females change color, too. A female lesser

chameleon may display a bold pattern of black stripes. She does this when she wants a nearby male to back off. If the male ignores her colors, she will hiss and even bite him.

A Will’s chameleon on pink flowers does not change color to match its surroundings.

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A Subject of Study Changing its color isn’t a chameleon’s only remarkable ability, though. A chameleon has other unique adaptations that help it survive. With a tongue far longer than its body, a chameleon can catch insects in a fraction of a second. Its eyes swivel like domed turrets to catch the

slightest movement. Mitten-like feet help it keep a firm grasp on branches when it walks. And a flexible tail steadies and balances a chameleon that’s on the move. Given their many odd characteristics, there’s still a lot to learn about how a chameleon survives in its environment.

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