Posted by: David Green | February 9, 2010

Chameleon Diary


At about 10.30, on most days, I walk from the mineral store to the botany department, where there’s a possibility of tea and conversation. These locations are about as far apart as it is possible to be, and still remain in the museum. The complexity of the building is such that there are hundreds of possible routes. All of the routes cross the galleries, so there is an opportunity to see rocks, minerals and fossils; birds, mammals, insects and invertebrates; Egyptology, archaeology and ethnography, a variety of temporary exhibitions and the people who are visiting them.

Our panther chameleon, showing its ability for independent eye movement.

For the last week my journeys have passed in front of a case in the vivarium which contains a chameleon. And each day I have stopped for a minute or two there. Perhaps I’m trying to figure out what it’s like to be a chameleon… Or perhaps it’s the opportunity to have a close look at a creature that lives half a world away.

Shedding skin on Wednesday of last week

The chameleon shed his skin on Wednesday, attracting the attention of a film crew from National Geographic. Madagascar came to Manchester on that day. The case was surrounded by children on Thursday. On Friday I happened to pass while Adam was tidying things up, so I took the opportunity to have a really close look. On Monday there was a demonstration of a prehensile tail gripping a twisted branch and on Tuesday of basking sleepily close to the lamp at the top of the case.

An extra limb is useful when you spend your time in the trees

It is a privilege to be able to see a chameleon at close quarters. Further information on the vivarium and the animals it shelters can be found on Andrew Gray’s popular FrogBlog.

David Green,



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