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The Chameleon

--An officer in Africa thus writes of the habits of this animal:

‘ As some of the habits of the chameleon may not be generally known, I will take the liberty of mentioning a few of them which came under my own observation. One morning on my return from parade, I saw, close to my tent, a very large chameleon hanging on a bush. I immediately secured him and provided a box for him to repose in. In the course of a few days he became quite familiar, and, having seen them before, I knew how to gain his affections, which, in the first place, was done by feeding him well, in the next place, by scratching his back with a feather. I used to put him on my table at breakfast, and in the course of a very few minutes I have seen him devour at least fifty flies, catching them in the most dexterous manner with his long slimy tongue. Nor does he ever move from his position, but so sure as an unfortunate fly comes in reach, so sure is he caught, and that with the rapidity of thought.

In the forenoon I always gave him a large slice of bread, which he devoured, and he generally supped on as many flies as he could manage to entrap, setting at defiance the noble Hamlet's theory of the chameleon's death. Promises would not have suited him at all, being at the end of each day considerably more like a crammed capon than an aired chameleon. It is not true that this animal will change color according to what he is put on; but he will change shade according as he is pleased or displeased. His general hue is bright green, with small gold spots all over his body. He remains in this state when he is highly pleased by being in the sun, or being fed or scratched, which he delights in. when angry, and he is very easily made so, his hue changes to a dusky green, almost black, and the gold spots are not to be seen; but I never could perceive any other color on his body but green, in a variety of shades. The spots enlarge very much when he is in a good humor, so much, indeed, as to give a yellow tinge to the upper part of the animal, but, in general, they are merely little yellow spots here and there on the back and sides.

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