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Biology

A diurnal species, the graceful chameleon commences activity early in the morning, alternating between periods of intensive hunting and basking in the sun (6). It feeds on a variety of invertebrate species (6), which it catches using its remarkable, extensile tongue (3). The contraction of special muscles within the tongue rapidly propels it towards the prey, which is snared by a combination of the tongue's sticky mucous coating and a vacuum created by muscles in the tip (3). During the hottest part of the day the graceful chameleon rests in the shade, where it conceals itself from predators behind broad leaves. It recommences hunting from late afternoon until dusk, before spending the night resting amongst vegetation close to ground level (6). Males are highly territorial and will aggressively compete with other males. Initially, rivals engage in elaborate threat displays, becoming bright green with dark-olive or black spots, arching their backs, expanding their throat pouches, and raising their tails to give the impression of greater size (2) (5). If neither male backs down, they will make lunges for the other's throat, often inflicting severe and even fatal injuries (5). The graceful chameleon may breed twice a year, with two main egg laying periods occurring, one between the end of the wet season and onset of the dry season, and the other in the middle of the dry season (6), during which a clutch of between 22 and 50 eggs is laid (2).

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Source: ARKive

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