Friday, February 11, 2011

Creature Feature: Cuban False Chameleon.

1You have probably heard the old saying, "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it's a duck." Generally, if one animal behaves and looks a lot like another animal, the two animals are probably the same species.

Again, if only nature made things that easy.

This alien-looking lizard is called a Cuban False Chameleon (Chamaeleois genus; also Anolis barbatus, "bearded anole"). It is found only in Cuba and resembles a cross between a chameleon, an iguana, and a space monster. It is so obscure that Wikipedia does not even have a page on it.

The Cuban False Chameleon walks like a real chameleon and has bulgy eyes like a real chameleon, but is not a true chameleon. It, like the "chameleons" common in Florida, is an anole - a type of lizard related to iguanas. It cannot change color like those little anoles, and overall behaves much more like an iguana when it is not swaying like a twig.

Cuban False Chameleons are lazy. If you own a CFC, it will spend most of its time on a branch, staying as still as the wood itself. These lizards are not very active; their sluggish nature plus excellent camouflage means that predators will have a hard time picking one out. It also means that they are fairly easy to take care of, even though they are rather large for anoles.

Wood, lizard, or lizard made of wood? 

Good luck finding a CFC if you want one as a pet. They can get rather pricey; after looking around a little, one can expect to pay upwards of 300 USD for one lizard. In the wild, they eat snails, insects, frogs, and young birds; they can eat insects specially sold for lizards in captivity. Cool lizard; decide for yourself whether it is worth 3 paychecks for yourself.

Tomorrow: Yet another overlooked felid!

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