All chameleons are found in the Old World, but most live in Madagascar and Africa. The rest are found in the Middle East, a few on islands in the Indian Ocean, and one, the Indian chameleon, in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Another, the common chameleon, is native to Spain, Portugal, the islands in the Mediterranean Sea, and the Near East.
Chameleons live in a variety of habitats, from rain forests and lowlands to deserts, semi-deserts, scrub savannas, and even mountains. Many inhabit trees, but some live in grass or on small bushes, fallen leaves, or dry branches.
How chameleons change color is a fascinating and complicated process. First of all, they don't really change color to match their surroundings, and they cannot change to any and all colors. For example, if a chameleon is sitting on a red-and-white polka dot tablecloth, it will not turn red and develop round, white spots! Chameleons don't look at what they're sitting on and deliberately decide to match it. Instead, each chameleon species has a group of patterns and colors that it is able to display.
Chameleons generally eat insects such as locusts, mantids, grasshoppers, stick insects, and crickets. Some larger chameleons also eat small birds and other lizards. A few species have been known to eat a bit of plant material.
Did you know?
Chameleons don't move around very fast, so they use their incredibly long tongue to catch the insects they eat.