12 Incredible Snapshots of Chameleons Launching Their Tongues at Prey

Chameleons are famed for being able to change their color, but another of their amazing characteristics is the way they unleash their long, sticky tongues to grab the insects – and even sometimes small birds – on which they feed. Behind these remarkable appendages are some extremely intricate and impressive biological features that are of great interest to scientists. Yet chameleons flicking out their tongues also make for some very attractive photos.

In this first image, the mantis had no chance. One minute the insect is sitting on a twig, perhaps surveying the scene for another small creature to make its prey, the next it is yanked back into the waiting mouth of the chameleon. It’s too bad for the mantis, but the reptile has itself a tasty meal.

Green chameleon with purple tongue
Image: © Cathy Keifer | Dreamstime.com
A baby veiled chameleon reels in its prey, an unlucky fly.

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Chameleons are largely insectivores, feeding on prey like crickets, grasshoppers and locusts. However, some of the bigger ones may go for small birds and lizards. Chameleons are found mainly in Madagascar and Africa, although a handful of species live on islands in the Indian Ocean. Another species can be found in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, while the common chameleon is endemic to parts of the Mediterranean. There are also reported to be populations in Hawaii, Florida and California, although these are not native habitats for chameleons.

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