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Chameleonic Notes

Nature volume 54, page 573 | Download Citation



MR. BARTLETT writes me that they have no chameleon now in the Gardens, so that probably my little stranger is the only one in this country; and to the note on its habits, which you printed in your number of July 16, may I add the following: Little is known of these most interesting creatures, and the book knowledge is singularly discrepant. After being kept for nearly eight months under a large bell glass in my library, and fed with garden flies of all sorts, he began changing his skin. This, first, appeared to hang rather loosely in milk-white folds on his body, then he got rid of it bit by bit, squirming himself against the stick on which he was perched, and continually changing his attitude. He also used his feet occasionally, to help to rip off the old skin; and being very restless, this was all got rid of in one day. His general colour also changed from very light brown to very dark brown, then to light brown, and again to very dark brown, while the skin-shedding took place. He never seemed to care for any water all the time I had him. On being approached in a dark room at night, he appeared most conspicuously white, doubtless for protective purposes. I believe wild-fowl shooters are also in the habit of painting their boats and paraphernalia white in order to be less conspicuous. Turning the bright light of a lantern (with a powerful reflector) upon him, he immediately began visibly to darken, until in an extremely short space of time he had assumed the same colour as the brown twig on which he was sitting. These colour changes have, I think, never been satisfactorily explained; and their rapidity is not the least extraordinary phenomenon in these most curious creatures.

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