Living in such an inhospitable environment, the Namaqua chameleon’s body and behaviour have evolved to keep it from overheating. It digs holes in the sand to reach the cooler sand beneath, or may hide in burrows built by other animals. It will also stand on straightened legs to lift its body off the hot sand, a behaviour known as ‘stilting’. The nasal glands are adapted to excrete salt, allowing the Namaqua chameleons to reabsorb as much water as possible (5).
The Namaqua chameleon is an extremely fast runner, and uses its lengthy tongue to catch anything small enough to swallow, including locusts, crickets, beetles, small snakes, and poisonous scorpions. It is preyed upon by hawks, eagles and jackals. Adult Namaqua chameleons may even cannibalise smaller individuals of the same species (2).
Mating can take place up to three times a year, producing between 6 and 22 eggs in each clutch. The eggs incubate for three to four months in the sand, and females are thought to guard the laying site. Young Namaqua chameleons become reproductively active between five and seven months old (4).