Lifescapes Gallery

10 / Aug / 2011
United Colours of Kabini
Indian Chameleon, Kabini Photograph: Amoghavarsha Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

United Colours of Kabini

We all know of people who’ve been called, not very flatteringly, as chameleons. We tend to find a lot of such specimens populating the portals of Indian polity, and their ability to change colour is legendary; predicated, as it is, to the political power equations at the moment. Surprisingly though, the Chameleon himself has very human characteristics, and his ability to change colour has less to do with camouflage and more to do with mood swings. Just like people can turn ‘pale’ in fear, or blush ‘pink’ in embarrassment, the Indian Chameleon of Kabini wears his heart on his skin. While primarily found in shades of green or brown, he changes colour to communicate with others of his tribe, and his tone is often an indicator of his physiological state. When fearful or agitated, he often becomes a much darker shade. His choice of hue is also influenced by climactic conditions, and he often regulates his body temperature by changing to darker colours to absorb heat. This increase of body temperature is critical to the Chameleon, for, without warmth, he just can’t move, hunt or even digest his food. In fact, Chameleons don’t just change tones, but also change shape; every morning you can see them squeezing their sides together, puffing out their chins, just to flatten their bodies to create more surface area to absorb the sun’s rays. The sun worshippers of Ibiza, Cannes, Cancun and Miami could do well to learn this trick, one feels. Talking of tricks, the Indian Chameleon has another one up his sleeve. He can rotate and focus his eyes separately to observe two different objects simultaneously, giving him a 360 degree field of vision. This, most people will agree, is a handy trick to have, especially on the bikini-clad beaches mentioned some time back. Catch them at it, though, and you’d be excused for thinking they were Chameleons, considering how they turn ‘pink’ in an instant.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 at 10:42 am and is filed under Kabini, Reptiles . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Vinay Singh says:


  2. Vinod Kumar VK says:

    One of the best shot of this beautiful creature.. and as usual a superb Narration!!

  3. lechu says:

    Writing is very informative and it changed my concepts about the colour change of Chameleon. A fabulously clicked picture to add more colour to the writing. Well done and keep going.

  4. Jose Ramapuram says:

    I would like to specially thank Rajesh Ramaswamy for his beautifully woven stories that educate yet bring a smile every time. Amazing work Rajesh! Lifescapes wouldn’t be what it is today without you :).

  5. Dr. Satish Sharma says:

    Outstanding capture. And such an easy on the eyes write-up that leaves you smiling. Great teamwork Team Orange County…keep it coming.

  6. Ragoo Rao says:

    Fabulous capture.!!!!

  7. jonathan rosoff says:

    These make my day, every time I receive them! They’re beautifully photographed, and lovingly curated. They bring me right back to my time in Orange County, which always brings a smile to my face.

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Tapas says:

    Amazing shot. I opened the link wondering ‘how can a shot of achmeleon be worthwhile?’ Boy, was I wrong!

  9. Vikram Nanjappa says:

    There is only one species of chameleons found in the Indian subcontinent. ).Chameleon means ‘Earth Lion’ – combination of two Greek words, ‘Chamai’, meaning ‘on the ground/earth’ and Leon, meaning ‘lion’.They have a prehensile tail (Adapted for seizing, grasping, or holding, especially by wrapping around an object) and a long tongue having a sticky tip on the end, which serves to catch prey items that they would otherwise never be able to reach with their lack of locomotive speed. The tip of their tongue is a bulbous ball of muscle, and as it hits its prey, it rapidly forms a small suction cup. Once the tongue sticks to a prey item, it is drawn quickly back into the mouth, where the chameleon’s strong jaws crush it and it is consumed. Another interesting fact is that they are almost deaf, but can hear tones and feel vibrations.They hear vibrations in the air, which help them find food and stay safe from their enemies.

  10. Sameer R Rao says:


  11. Mahesh Parameshwariah says:

    Good Photography!

  12. Rohini says:

    chameleons are a sight that frightens most of us. This write up makes them less formidable and in a sense closer to “human”

  13. Harisankar Kurup says:

    Extremely informative narrative and a wonderful picture of the creature itself!!!

  14. Mrs Rika Dubois says:

    Thank you so much to send me every month so a beautiful picture. My passion is photography but never I can take such beautiful pictures. Rika Dubois Belgium

  15. Pooja Sriram says:

    Superb photography and very beautifully written!….I just realised i can actually ‘LIKE’ a chameleon!!

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