Photo: Meller's chameleon on a branch

Meller's chameleons are also called "giant one-horned chameleons" because of their large size and the small horn protruding from the front of their snouts.

Photograph by Marian Bacon/Animals Animals—Earth Scenes

Map

Map: Meller's chameleon range

Meller's Chameleon Range

Fast Facts

Type:
Reptile
Diet:
Carnivore
Average life span in the wild:
12 years
Size:
21 in (50 cm)
Weight:
14.4 oz (408 g)
Did you know?
Chameleons don't change colors to match their surroundings. Each species displays distinct color patterns to indicate specific reactions or emotions.
Size relative to a tea cup:
Illustration: Meller's chameleon compared with tea cup

The Meller's chameleon is the largest of the chameleons not native to Madagascar. Their stout bodies can grow to be up to two feet (two-thirds of a meter) long and weigh more than a pound (one-half kilogram).

Meller's distinguish themselves from their universally bizarre-looking cousins with a single small horn protruding from the front of their snouts. This and their size earn them the common name "giant one-horned chameleon."

They are fairly common in the savanna of East Africa, including Malawi, northern Mozambique, and Tanzania. Almost one-half of the world’s chameleons live on the island of Madagascar.

As with all chameleons, Meller's will change colors in response to stress and to communicate with other chameleons. Their normal appearance is deep green with yellow stripes and random black spots. Females are slightly smaller, but are otherwise indistinguishable from males.

They subsist on insects and small birds, using their camouflage and a lightning-fast, catapulting tongue, which can be up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) long, to ambush prey.

Exotic pet enthusiasts often attempt to keep Meller's chameleons as pets. However, they are highly susceptible to even the slightest level of stress and are very difficult to care for in captivity. In the wild, they can live as long as 12 years.

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