chameleons

Seriously cute!

If you like chameleons like us, there are few things nicer than the start of the warm season when they become active and appear in the garden. They are incredible animals.

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They are not only able to change their colour to adjust to their surroundings but also to independently change the colour of each side of their bodies in a feat I find amazing but that I only observed once and could not photograph.

Apart from that, I am also fascinated by their ability to move their eyes in all directions, another of their special talents.

However, you have seen nothing until you find a baby chameleon and yesterday Stephen (our caretaker) find not one but two of them!

The gestation period of the flap-necked chameleons (Chamaeleo dilepis) lasts about 30 days and the female bury the eggs that would hatch only nine months later, quite a long period for such a small animal!

But I do not delay you anymore and present you with a few pictures of our find.

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We released them immediately after taking these pictures to avoid them getting too stressed and we hope to see them as grown-ups next year!

Keeping fit

The weather in Harare is clearly getting warmer now. Although this complicates the water situation as the dry season advances, the conditions are great to renew our daily walks to keep our physical wellbeing. We are gradually increasing the distance and we hope to reach about 10 km, our daily average. Today we did six km and it was an interesting mid morning walk. We met the family of vervet monkeys that dwell in the hilly area our walking path traverses, where some large plots covered with msasa trees are present. The monkeys are now used to the increased urbanization and are seen walking over the walls and houses, apparently having found a new harmony with their man-made surroundings.

Further on, we came across another find in the form of a chameleon road kill. It was clearly a young one and, although sad, it indicated that these creatures are getting active again, probably with the warmer weather.

This find brought to mind an event that took place in Kenya in the eighties, while we lived in Tigoni. Chameleons were quite common in the forest that surrounded our house. Of particular interest was Jackson’s chameleon Trioceros jacksonii with its three horns and bright colours. The shrieks from a couple of hornbills called our attention and we realized that they were trying to catch a chameleon that was puffed up and putting up a gallant but hopeless battle. It was duly rescued and brought into the house “for protection”. It was seen inside for a couple of days and then it disappeared. Our belief that it had left the house was wrong as, regrettably, it was found mummified under the mattress of our bed a few days later! How he got there will remain a mystery.

Being a veterinarian, used to strong professional smells, I did not notice anything. However, I am sure that my wife did and she probably attributed it to me but she was, as usual, too polite to mention it.