Paignton Zoo in Devon is home to a pair of Parson’s chameleons, the largest of the species in the world.
Found only in isolated pockets of humid forest in Madagascar, the Parson’s chameleon has a strange appearance with swivelling eyes and a rapid-fire tongue longer than it’s own body which can hit prey in about 30 thousandths of a second. Commonly thought to change colour to match their surroundings, it is mostly affected by temperature, mood and light.
The Parson’s chameleon is classified as near threatened in its native Madagascar, with movements highly regulated and import illegal.
Paignton Zoo’s chameleons can be seen in the Reptile Tropics enclosure, although they are now kept separately after the pair are thought to have mated. Keepers are hopeful the chameleons have been successful in breeding and the female Parson’s may go on to lay as many as 50 eggs – which can actually take up to two years to hatch.
This striking portrait of a male Parson’s chameleon at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon was taken by Zoo volunteer Cathy Oetegenn.
To find out more about visiting Paignton Zoo Environmental Park go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk