The flap-neck chameleon

By Patrick O’Brien on August 14, 2008

I found this little guy on drive this morning.

The flap-neck chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) of Southern Africa is named for the occipital (relating to the back part of the head) flap that extends from the back of its head over its neck. It raises this flap when agitated, to make itself appear larger, as well as hissing, gaping and changing colour.

This reptile is usually green, with a white bar along its side. But it can take on a range of colours and is paler when sleeping and almost black when stressed. When its body temperature is low it goes darker so as to absorb more of the sun‘s warmth.

The male of the species has an extra projection on its back feet (both sexes have five toes on each foot) as well as a swelling at the base of the tail.

Females lay 25 to 60 eggs in a hole and cover them up with soil. The eggs incubate for about a year.

Flap-neck chameleons feed on insects, which they catch with sticky tongues which can be as long as their bodies. When the animal is hunting, its cone-like eyes both look ahead, though they can move independently.
The flap-neck chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) of Southern Africa. By head guide Patrick O'Brien
By head guide Patrick O’Brien

7 thoughts on “The flap-neck chameleon

  1. Patrick, I have to say that I found this to be one of the most interesting and informative articles I have seen on any of the 3 lodge weblogs. I am fascinated by chameleons and learned so much more about them from your article. The image is stunning too. Thanks for taking the time to share your in depth knowledge of the wild with us. I look forward to the next one?

  2. Patrick, this is a great photo of this guy. The info about him is great. Over the years, especially our Florida years, we have seen many chameleons, but nothing like this one. (I assume his species does make it to our part of the world?) Thanks so much!

    Switching subjects-We heard that there was a black bear killed in the town next to ours in Connecticut because he was threatening people. I only hope that it was the one that people said I might encounter when I run in the mornings! I’m not sure what I would have done if I had met him.

  3. Patrick, What a good eye you have, to be able to spot this little green reptile among the same-colored green leaves, especially in a moving vehicle. Very intersting information, and as usual, an award-winning photograph!

  4. Hi Patrick,

    This looks like the same one you showed me when I was there. Thanks to you I have a similiar picture to show my students. Hope you are well. My pictures are a constant reminder of the great game viewing you shared with me.

    How’s Mbali and JNR?

    Take care.


  5. It was really fascinating learning so much more about chameleons! In fact I saw the biggest chameleon I have ever seen at Kings Camp about 2 years ago, he must have been 25cm long & fat – the kids still talk about it.

  6. Gosh, looks like he/she was posing for you! Sure is a lot prettier than the iguanas we see in Mexico! Great pic, Patrick and great narrative too.

    Joy in Camarillo, CA

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