Understanding chameleon's eating habits
By the Hawai'i Nature Center
Another chapter in the continuing adventures of the Hawai'i Nature Squad as it investigates mysteries and wonders in the environment
The Jackson's chameleon, which originated in Africa, likes to eat crickets, flies, spiders and a host of other insects.
The dragonfly detective stopped to take a rest next to her lizard partner. "Boy, this character could be right next to us, and we wouldn't notice until it was too late," Penny said worriedly.
Then without warning, a long, pale, pink, seemingly disembodied tongue shot straight out of the leaves and straight for Penny! Andy leaped for his partner. "Look out!" he yelled as he knocked her off the branch.
Now Andy was falling. Penny zoomed down to help, grabbing Andy and slowing his fall by beating her powerful wings. She maneuvered him toward a nearby branch. Andy grabbed it, his heart beating rapidly.
"What happened up there?" said Penny, shaking.
"Something long and sticky was heading straight at you. I wasn't taking any chances," answered Andy.
"Hey!" Penny cut in, "I just realized that run-in fits the M.O. of our suspect. Let's get back up there and find him!"
She zoomed upward, found the chameleon in an instant and flashed her badge. "I am Penny Pinao, a detective with the Hawai'i Nature Squad," she said. "My partner and I would like to ask you a few questions."
Andy joined Penny as the chameleon turned to face them. "My name is Kenya," the creature said in an agreeable but slow voice that matched its movements. "What do you want to talk about?"
"Well, besides the fact that you just tried to eat me, we have some concerns about your diet and its impact on native animals," Penny said.
"Sorry about that," the lizard replied. "Well, our ancestors were taken from the slopes of Mt. Kenya, in Africa, for the pet-store trade. Some of us escaped out here and survived. We like to eat crickets, flies, spiders and a host of other insects."
"Are any of them natives?" asked Penny.
"Food is food. I can't tell the difference," Kenya said. "By the way, this new home of ours is comfortable. We don't have as many predators as we do in Africa, and so we multiply. I've got lots of relatives here."
The detective duo looked at each other and shook their heads. "Well, thank you for your cooperation Mr. Kenya," Andy said.
As Kenya nodded and turned to continue his hunting, Andy looked dejected. "I feel sorry for them. My ancestors came here the same way. We didn't ask to come here, but we love our new home. And we have to eat something," he said.
"Yes, but if the Jackson's chameleons keep spreading, and people continue releasing them, our native invertebrates, who live in treetops, won't have a chance," Penny said sadly.
The detectives headed back to the squad room in a somber mood.
Hawai'i Nature Squad is written by Kim Welch, Kelly Perry and Ati Jeffers-Fabro of the Hawai'i Nature Center, an environmental education organization. It alternates in this spot with Dr. Gadget's Science Machine.