compiled by senior field guide Lucas Mbangu
On a walking safari in the morning of 10 May 2013, I spotted one of the true desert masters. Living in such a inhospitable environment, the Namaqua chameleon’s body and behavior have evolved to keep it from overheating. It digs holes in the sand to reach the cooler sand beneath or may hide in burrows built by other animals. All chameleon species are capable of colour change, which is not only for camouflage as generally assumed. Chameleons may also change colour in response to other chameleons, when fighting or mating, temperature fluctuations and their surroundings.
Mating can take place up to times a year producing 6 – 20 eggs in each clutch. The eggs incubate for three to four months in the sand. Chameleons start reproducing between five and seven months old. Their nasal glands are adapted to excrete salt, allowing the Namaqua chameleon to reabsorb water as much as possible.
The chameleon’s life span is relatively short, with the female’s life span shorter than the male’s. Female chameleon live between three to five years, while males live between five and eight years.