Wild Fact #597 – The Jousting Reptiles – Jackson’s Chameleon

Photo from Wikimedia

I think today’s Wild Fact was sub-consciously inspired by Monday’s episode of “How I Met Your Mother”.  In case you missed it, they were bugging the main character, Ted, about his inability to properly pronounce “Chameleon”.  Well, it is a few days later and I am writing about a cool looking reptile called the Jackson’s Chameleon.  Do you think this is a coincidence or was my sub-conscious mind still thinking about these fancy colour changing animals?

You can tell right off the bat that this isn’t your ordinary, every day Chameleon, well the males anyway.  As you can tell, the males have three large horns, which makes them pretty easy to pick out of a crowd.  Actually, you would think this would be a disadvantage for an animal that tries so hard to blend in.  So what is the purpose of the horns?  Great question!  Well, as you may have guessed they play a role in self-defense and also help out during the mating season.  If threatened by a predator, the Jackson’s Chameleon will use their horns to ward off the bad guy.  During mating season though, these horns become jousting weapons between competing males.  It is literally like a jousting match as both males will charge at each other with their heads down.  Obviously, the one with the longer horn usually wins! I keep picturing two Chameleons wearing American Gladiator outfits and jousting while standing on a pedestal.

Photo by Peter Halasz (Wikimedia)

The other key feature of any chameleon is their ability to change colour.  Of course, today’s featured animal also has this capability.  Typically, they remain bright green, however, their colour will change quickly depending on their stress level, temperature and other environmental factors.  This whole colour changing thing does help males during mating season though.  When they approach a potential mate she will either turn a dark colour which means “Go Away” or she will remain bright green which will make the male very happy.  Chameleons are lucky!  This colour changing trait takes all the guess work out of finding a date.  They don’t need to see if she is playing with her hair or what way her feet are pointing…nope, they just watch her colour.  I guess it is sort of like a more advanced mood ring.

So I guess that just about does it for today’s colourful Wild Fact.  Enjoy the rest of your day, folks.

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