We have a few handsome reptiles in the Nature Centre, but none as impressive as Daario and his fellow panther chameleons! These amazing reptiles come from Madagascar and can be seen in the centre’s Madagascan Zone living in an enclosure with their tomato frogs friends!
Chameleons can’t hear very well, but they more than make up for it with their brilliant eyesight. They can see insects from up to 10m away, and can move their eyes independently of one another. They can even focus on different objects with each eye!
And it’s not just their eyesight that’s impressive; their ability to change colour is well-known but often misrepresented. Whilst it is widely believed that chameleons change colour to camouflage themselves, this isn’t true. They actually change colour in order to display their mood and intent. They also change colour depending on their health and temperature. Males are generally larger and more colourful than females, with the ability to display a wider spectrum of colour. Males in North West Madagascar are often such a vibrant pink that they’ve earned the nickname ‘Pink Panthers’!
So, how do they change colour? It’s all to do with the structure of their skin. These reptiles can consciously modify the structure of their skin. Different structures then reflect different light, which makes different colours! Incredible, huh? Don’t forget to check out this handsome chap next time you visit!