The brown leaf chameleon spends its days foraging among dead leaves on the forest floor (2), searching for prey with its independently moving turret-like eyes and catching insects with its long, sticky tongue which shoots out at lightening speed (6). If threatened, the lizard’s first reaction is to stay still and rely on its remarkable camouflage but it may also exhibit other defence behaviours. This includes the ‘freeze-and-roll’ technique, in which the chameleon folds its legs underneath its belly, rolls over to one side and remains very still – cleverly mimicking a dead leaf on the forest floor (7).
Brown leaf chameleons have an interesting courtship ritual in which a male approaches a female with pronounced nodding and rocking movements. A non-receptive female repels a male by reacting with jerky movements, while a receptive female walks with the male. After some time walking together, and before dusk, the male mounts the female and is carried on her back until the pair copulates in the late evening or at night. This species is known to store sperm (2).
Between 30 and 45 days after copulation, the female lays two to five eggs, which she hides under dead leaves, moss, and pieces of bark on the forest floor. Sometimes, a true nest is excavated and the clutch is laid on to the ground. The eggs hatch after 59 to 70 days, with the brown leaf chameleon reaching sexual maturity within one year (2).