Today, I joined Richard and a work colleague at our favourite farmstall, the Millstone Farmstall, Ouden Molen Eco-village in Pinelands, for lunch.
We had quiche and a mixed salad, accompanied by fresh carrot juice and beetroot juice, and – to offset all the good stuff – a piece of super-decadent chocolate cake. It’s important to keep a balance in life, after all.
And then this extraordinary little creature suddenly appeared on our table.
It was the sleepiest and most lethargic chameleon I had ever seen. Actually, it was the first chameleon I had ever seen in real life. For a long time, it just sat on the counter-top, its eyes firmly shut, and not moving a muscle. Richard placed his beetroot juice next to it, not to see whether it would change colour, but to give an indication of its size.
Then he picked it up gently and placed it on my hand. It opened its strange bulging eyes to peer at me, moving up my hand to get a firmer grip on my thumb with one of its front feet, and wrapping its tail around my ring finger. I had never realised what strange feet they have, nor how agile and strong they are.
“Chameleons are didactyl: on each foot the five toes are fused into a group of two and a group of three, giving the foot a tongs-like appearance. These specialized feet allow chameleons to grip tightly to narrow branches. Each toe is equipped with a sharp claw to gain traction on surfaces such as bark when climbing. The claws make it easy to see how many toes are fused into each part of the foot: two toes on the outside of each front foot and three on the inside. The back foot … reveals the sex of the chameleon. On the outer part of the foot, there will be 3 toes if male, 4 toes if female.” (Wikipedia)
So, as you can see from this picture, our’s must have been a male!
I completely fell in love with him. He was just sooo beautiful and perfect. And I can vouch for the sharp claws! They pierced my skin like needles!
After a while, I manoeuvred him into the granadilla bush… which proved rather tricky. He grasped hold with his two front feet, but suddenly seemed to fall asleep in mid-air, with only one of his rear feet touching a branch. It looked a bit uncomfortable and precarious.
At last, after a few more acrobatics, he managed to anchor himself more securely, wrapping his beautiful long tail around a little branch.
Isn’t he just gorgeous?