There are over 150 chameleon species in the world, ranging in size from the large Parson's and veiled chameleons to the smaller jeweled and Jackson's chameleons. While chameleons are native to the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe, approximately half of these species live in Madagascar.
The largest chameleon species in the world is the Parson’s chameleon. Native to Madagascar, these lizards often exceed 2 feet in length, including their long, prehensile tails. Another large species is the veiled chameleon, which is native to the Arabian Peninsula. Veiled chameleons have a tall casque on their heads, which helps them collect water in their arid environment. At night, water droplets condense on the casque and roll down to the lizard’s mouth.
Examples of smaller chameleons include the jeweled and Jackson’s chameleons. While jeweled chameleons deposit eggs as most other species do, Jackson’s chameleons give birth to live young. Jackson’s chameleons are primarily green, and the males have three horns on the front of their heads. They use these horns in battles with other males over territory or breeding rights.
Despite the incredible diversity of the group, most chameleons share a common suite of physical traits, including the ability to change color, laterally flattened bodies, independently mobile eyes and fused digits, which afford the lizards a strong grip.