They are truly interesting little creatures, full of wonder and intrigue. And, if you look at them closely enough, they almost look as though they are grinning at you! Recently, they seem to be popping up throughout Simbithi, so we thought we could reintroduce you to the creature known as…the chameleon.

During a recent weekend, a new member was welcomed to the SEEHOA team and has already made himself quite at home in our courtyard. A delightful chameleon, rescued by a couple of former residents, was placed safely on a tree branch among the Village Weavers.

“They are appearing everywhere lately,” Environmental Manager Ayanda Duma agrees. “We had not seen them in a while, so it is good to know that they are coming back to our environment.”

Chameleons are part of the lizard family, best known for their unique ability to camouflage, through changing colour to match their surroundings. Some do this through altering how bright they appear, much like those in Simbithi, while others are more kaleidoscopic in appearance. Another distinguishing feature of the chameleon is its thin, projectile tongue that shoots out to catch prey.

These creatures have an interesting stride about them, often swaying back and forth before lurching forward. Their eyes, as you might have noticed if you have been up close with one, are individually ambulant. This means a chameleon is able to view, and analyse, a different image with each eye; at once!

They enjoy coastal forests, grasslands and suburban gardens. No small wonder, then, that they are quite at home in Simbithi.

“We take good care of them, too,” Ayanda shares. “Our environmental team ‘sweeps’ lands before construction begins, to ensure that any chameleons in the area are safely relocated first.”

So, what to do if you see a chameleon?

Although they are small in stature, a chameleon will defend itself if you handle it roughly. They do let you come rather close to admire them, or take a photograph, but Ayanda says the best is to leave them be in their natural environment. “Like the rest of our wildlife, this is also their home. If you touch them, they are likely to freeze. They are very intelligent creatures, so their eyes will keep swivelling to watch you.”

If you do spot a chameleon on the road, as we have in the past, it is possible to help them – gently. “They are slow and do walk strangely, but it may take a while and it is understandable that we don’t want them to be run over,” Ayanda says. “If you pick a chameleon up, do not grab it. Put your hand out and let the chameleon walk onto your hand. Its feet and tail will gradually hold onto you, gently. If you are forceful, you could break its bones.”

Once you have carried the chameleon to the other side of the road, place your hand on the grass and delicately let it walk off.

Now that we know a bit more about these chaps, what do you think we should name our new friend in the HOA courtyard? Karma sounds like a good place to start!