Chameleons – Hunt

music
ambience Madagascar Forest
Right up there with searching for a needle in a haystack is the challenge of hunting for chameleons in the forests of Madagascar. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“On a typical day, you could be walking through the forests, the chameleons are there, but you just won’t be seeing them.”

Christopher Raxworthy is the associate curator of Herpetology at the American Museum of Natural History.

“The best time to look for chameleons is at night, and there we would be wearing headlamps, and we would be looking for chameleons asleep in trees. And at night, chameleons change color, they become very pale and become very obvious if you have a flashlight and you have some experience about picking out their profiles amongst the leaves. The forest actually at night is a very different and exciting place to be in.”

“It’s very important when you’re going out at night looking for chameleons that you you have somebody experienced that can help to teach you and train you,
particularly with things like these very small dwarf chameleons. There’s a group now, which I know pretty much always hide under, on the underside of leaves. So if you’re looking on the top of the leaf, you’re never going to see it. And these chameleons can be only ten or twenty or thirty centimeters above the forest floor. So if you’re walking along at eye level height, you’re never going to see them because they’re on the undersides of the leaves below you. You can get lucky, but really most chameleons are still trying to their hardest to hide and it’s something which over years of experience you finally get better and better at, even to the point where eventually you can be driving along at night in a truck at maybe 40 miles an hour watching chameleons roosting on the vegetation by the roadside, or finding chameleons up to about eight or ten meters up in the canopy. So there’s a certain amount of pride and competition amongst the students in terms of who’s got the best eyes and the best visibility. But with experience, it’s amazing how effective you can become.”

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner. music

Chameleons - Hunt

Searching the rainforests for chameleons is a daunting task!
Air Date:09/26/2005
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience Madagascar Forest
Right up there with searching for a needle in a haystack is the challenge of hunting for chameleons in the forests of Madagascar. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"On a typical day, you could be walking through the forests, the chameleons are there, but you just won't be seeing them."

Christopher Raxworthy is the associate curator of Herpetology at the American Museum of Natural History.

"The best time to look for chameleons is at night, and there we would be wearing headlamps, and we would be looking for chameleons asleep in trees. And at night, chameleons change color, they become very pale and become very obvious if you have a flashlight and you have some experience about picking out their profiles amongst the leaves. The forest actually at night is a very different and exciting place to be in."

"It's very important when you're going out at night looking for chameleons that you you have somebody experienced that can help to teach you and train you,
particularly with things like these very small dwarf chameleons. There's a group now, which I know pretty much always hide under, on the underside of leaves. So if you're looking on the top of the leaf, you're never going to see it. And these chameleons can be only ten or twenty or thirty centimeters above the forest floor. So if you're walking along at eye level height, you're never going to see them because they're on the undersides of the leaves below you. You can get lucky, but really most chameleons are still trying to their hardest to hide and it's something which over years of experience you finally get better and better at, even to the point where eventually you can be driving along at night in a truck at maybe 40 miles an hour watching chameleons roosting on the vegetation by the roadside, or finding chameleons up to about eight or ten meters up in the canopy. So there's a certain amount of pride and competition amongst the students in terms of who's got the best eyes and the best visibility. But with experience, it's amazing how effective you can become."

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner. music