El camaleón de la Axarquia
El Camaleón en la Axarquía (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) por Juan Pablo González de la Vega
Reptile with arched body and very laterally compressed. The extremities are long and thin, the tail is prehensile and, as a rule, somewhat smaller than the rest of the body, an unusually variable background color (it has the ability to vary it at will). Head very hard and pointed on the back. Prominent eyes, very long tongue, capable of being projected at a great distance, while at rest it remains retracted in the lower part of the mouth.
Although the normal maximum sizes are between 190 and 250 mm. of total length, the author has found in nature specimens that reached and even exceeded 300 mm. In all cases in which the tail remained intact, which is very common in the species, it occupies between 44, 62 and 51, 72%, while in newborns occupies between 46.91 and 49.31% .
The head is well differentiated from the body, it is very hard and pointy. The eyes are very prominent, they are housed on both sides of the head and with them they are able to look at different places at once (stereoscopic vision). The tongue is folded in a cavity that has a pocket like the bottom of the mouth and can be projected with great precision and at a dizzying speed at a distance as long as the total length of the individual; with it it catches its prey, thanks to the previous extreme, sticky and sticky. There is no external ear and the nostrils are small.
El color de fondo es exageradamente variable y lo pueden cambiar a voluntad; de tal forma, se dan individuos de color verde, amarillento, pardo, e incluso azulado o exageradamente negro. Junto al color imperante, siempre aparecen una serie de ocelos o máculas, unas de color blanquecino y otras de tonos más oscuros. En todos los casos, las variaciones del color son fiel testigo del estado anímico, de factores ambientales, e incluso del rango que ocupa cada individuo con respecto a sus congéneres; dichos cambios se llevan a cabo gracias a unas células que poseen en la piel denominadas cromatóforos.Las extremidades son largas y delgadas, terminadas en poderosas manos a modo de garras que usa a modo de pinzas para asirse a las ramas y trepar. Los dedos se oponen tres a dos según el sentido de la marcha; es decir, los miembros delanteros presentan interiormente tres dedos, mientras que los traseros presentan sólo dos. No se desprenden de la cola en caso de peligro como ocurre en el caso de las lagartijas y lagartos y si por cualquier circunstancia resultara amputada no le volvería a salir. La usa como si de un quinto miembro se tratara para desplazarse por árboles y arbustos , siendo capaz de mantenerse asido tan sólo por ella; mientras que cuando está en reposo, la mantiene a menudo enrollada en espiral.
In males, the posterior prominence of the head (helmets) is more evident, while the tail is longer; while the females are the ones that reach the largest sizes and are much more robust. After fertilization, they present a characteristic design consisting of a yellow speckling on a blue or black background, which is used to warn the males of their condition.
La época de celo se extiende desde Julio hasta Septiembre, tornándose durante este tiempo exageradamente agresivos los machos para con sus congéneres, especialmente a la hora de cortejar a las hembras. Para la cópula mantienen inmóvil a la hembra merced a un incruento mordisco en el dorso o en el vientre. Para la puesta escogen un lugar húmedo, resguardado y soleado, normalmente bajo o entre las raíces de arbustos, plantas o pequeños árboles, bajo los cuales excava un agujero inclinado de hasta 510 mm. de profundidad con ayuda de sus extremidades (observaciones efectuadas en el litoral de Huelva). Como quiera que esta tarea es muy penosa debido a la forma de las extremidades, normalmente pasa la noche dentro del agujero, de manera que al amanecer la puesta se ha producido y todo ha quedado perfectamente disimulado.
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Obtained and observed in captivity, semi-captivity and in nature (which usually occurs from September 15 to October 15), resulted in a number of eggs ranging between 6 and 24. These are white, gummy, somewhat elliptical and they rarely stick to each other. The measurements range between 16.8 x 10.8 and 18.6 x 11'7 mm; After an incubation period that ranges between 258 and 366 days, young chameleons that measure between 56 and 67 mm in total length hatch.
It is a reptile of totally diurnal and arboreal customs, of slow and measured movements, solitary and very territorial. The rare times it moves on the ground, it does so slowly and with its tail raised. Eminently insectivorous food. It captures all kinds of insects that fit in its mouth, except for those with the hardest carapace. Large specimens can capture young lizards and even newborn chicks of certain birds. He likes to live in the coastal dunes and other dry places near the sea, always climbing brooms, pines, junipers, junipers, eucalyptus and trees in general. In the Iberian Peninsula it is present from sea level to 900 meters of altitude in the Axarquía Malagueña.
Although specimens have been observed in places as diverse as Aracena (Huelva), Cordoba, or around Seville, as a result of the capture in their habitat and subsequent release or evasion of their confinement in the aforementioned places, the chameleon has four populations nuclei in the Iberian Peninsula: Portuguese Algarve, most of the coast of Huelva, the Atlantic coast of Cádiz and the Costa del Sol and Malaga's Axarquía.
Gracias al poder colonizador de la especie y a la traslocación de ejemplares con motivo de las capturas, hoy día se pueden encontrar poblaciones más o menos estables en determinados puntos del sur de Cádiz, costa de Granada y en el sur y este de Almería.
Los principales enemigos del camaleón son : la depredación de la que es objeto por parte de determinadas aves y roedores, la perdida de hábitats como consecuencia de la implantación de mastodónticas urbanizaciones en aquellas zonas en las que este animal siempre ha estado presente, y los atropellos durante la reproducción, ya que el momento de máxima actividad de la especie coincide con un incremento del trafico rodado con ocasión de la época veraniega.
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