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Catching a Meal Survival in the forest requires keeping an eye out for danger. Luckily, that’s not a problem for a chameleon. A chameleon’s cone-shaped eyes rotate independently. Tat means they can look in different directions at the same time. A chameleon has good eyesight. It can see small insects from as far as 10 meters away. In its forest home, a chameleon can feast on locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, praying mantises, and stick insects. Once it spots some prey, it has to catch it.


But that isn’t a problem, either. A chameleon is equipped with an unusually long, sticky tongue. When prey is in sight, a chameleon’s


tongue shoots out of its mouth. In less than 1/125 of a second, the sticky end snaps up an unsuspecting insect. Like a wet suction cup, the tongue clings to the struggling insect. Ten the chameleon pulls its tongue back and begins to eat its crunchy prey. A chameleon’s tongue moves through the air


at an incredible speed, as fast as 21 kilometers per hour. Recent research has revealed how it works. Muscles in the tongue stretch elastic tissues, much like pulling back a bow. When the chameleon releases those tissues, its tongue flies forward like an arrow. A chameleon’s tongue may be twice as long as its body.


A chameleon’s toes are divided into groups. This helps the lizard grip branches.


Mitten Feet As a chameleon hunts for prey, it must move carefully through the forest. To live among trees and bushes, a chameleon learns to navigate narrow or rough branches. Tat’s why a chameleon’s feet are divided into two groups of two or three toes. Each foot looks like a mitten. A chameleon’s toes and sharp claws give


it a firm grip on twigs and branches. When a chameleon moves, it steps very slowly. It moves one leg at a time. Oſten, it rocks its body back and forth


between each step. Tis odd gait mimics a leaf fluttering in the breeze. A chameleon uses its long tail, too. Its tail can wrap around a branch and hold its body steady.


A chameleon’s thick, muscular tail helps it hang on when snagging a meal.


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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER


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