In this post, I’ll talk about chameleons’ hearing ability and how you can talk to your chameleon. Hope you enjoy.
For many years I spoke to my chameleon and kept on wondering if he could hear me. The lack of visible ears on my chameleon and the fact that it seemed oblivious to many sounds got me wondering if he could hear at all.
So can chameleons hear? Yes, chameleons can definitely hear. Just how much they can hear matters a lot on the frequency of the sound around them. This implies that chameleons may not hear as clearly as you expect. They only can hear you if you talk to them with a certain pitch. So, If you enjoy talking to your chameleon, you should consider the frequency of your voice.
Do chameleons have ears?
Ears are incredible body parts because they make it possible for both humans and animals to hear what’s around them.
Chameleons, however, do not have ears similar to what we traditionally expect ears to be.
Like me, if you closely and thoroughly examine your chameleon, you will find there is no such a thing resembles an ear. This may make you conclude that since chameleons have no ears, they cannot hear. While this conclusion might seem logical, it is not exactly true.
Chameleons can hear without true ears.
Referring to the ears of the chameleon could actually be termed as something of a mistake because chameleons do not have the conventional ears you’ll expect to see in an animal. Not all animals have obvious ears as humans do. The ears on many animals are usually hidden under their feathers or fur, and may sometimes be located in an unusual place.
Chameleons and snakes are unique because unlike many other animals, they do not have outer ear structures or the lobe or flap on the outside of the head, making their ears difficult to find. They also lack a middle ear or the structure that captures and carries sound, so there’s neither an ear-opening or an eardrum.
They, however, possess a quadrate bone which allows them to sense and interpret vibrations.
What chameleons have for ears are more accurately described as two microscopic holes on each side of their heads, located very close to their eyes. These tiny holes are not very useful for hearing and chameleons have to rely on other well-developed senses such as touch and sight to guide them when they find food and evade predators.
How do chameleons hear?
Chameleons have the poorest hearing of all lizards.
They have an average of 40 to 50 hair cells in the auditory papilla which is relatively low when compared to other lizards.
While chameleons have developed advanced mechanisms for capturing prey with their tongue, they still have a very primitive mechanism for hearing. The auditory organ of chameleons slightly varies in structure from the usual lizard auditory organ. Chameleons do not have external ear opening, no visible tympanic membrane, and they also lack the round window of the cochlea.
Chameleons have a membrane at the side of their head which they use to hear low tones. Low tones stimulate this membrane and cause the membrane to vibrate. The channeling of these vibrations to the auditory organ through the help of bones in the chameleon’s head causes it to hear.
Since the chameleon can only hear low tones having a frequency of 200 to 600 Hertz, they might not hear most of what you say except you try not to keep your voice too loud or too soft.
The sense of hearing of chameleons is mainly used to communicate with other chameleons. The low tones which chameleons produce a sound like a sort of growling and can be heard and interpreted other chameleons.
Humans may find it difficult to hear these tones, but the tones can be recorded and felt if you touch your chameleon when it is growling. Larger chameleons use this sound to frighten or scare away other smaller chameleons, especially during mating.
Are chameleons afraid of noise?
If you shout next to your chameleon, it would most likely not be aroused even when it is awake because it disregards most sounds.
So, should you be concerned by the amount of activity and noise in the room where your chameleon stays?
Since we now know that chameleons can hear, it is important to know what sounds they can actually hear.
Although chameleons have no outer ear opening, their inner ear structure is still developed enough to hear some kind of sounds. Because of their lack of outer ears, their ability to detect airborne sound waves is highly limited to frequencies that are able to transmit into the inner ear through the skin and tissue. These frequencies are usually low pitched sounds of longer wavelengths.
Chameleons are able to convert these low pitched sounds of longer wavelength into vibrations and transmit them into the inner ears better than high pitched sounds of shorter sound waves. Hence, substrate vibrations in the environment are usually well detected and utilized by chameleons for communication.
Low-frequency noises can come from a variety of things in your house. Vacuuming, phone ringing, sound from TV and playing bass music all produce a range of sounds of various wavelengths. We also produce a range of wavelengths too when we talk.
Deeper tones have a longer wavelength (or lower frequency) which chameleons can hear and will respond to. These sounds can, therefore, prove to be stressful for them in repetitively high amounts. Chameleons are however not so disturbed by the noise like your cat or dog would be. While a certain amount of this noise is unavoidable, it should be avoided in excess.
What sound chameleon can actually hear?
If you want to be able to figure out what a chameleon can hear, it is important to know their hearing frequency range. Chameleons have a frequency range of between 200 and 600Hz. In contrast, the human frequency range is between 20Hz to 20KHz. If you, therefore, want to compare their hearing with humans, you will notice that humans have an extremely sensitive hearing and can pick up even the softest of whispers to the loudest sounds that fall within this wide range of frequencies.
200 to 250 Hz is a double-edged sword; this is where things can sound really warm and sweet, but too much and you get that muddy feeling, like when you have a cold and your voice sounds muffled in your own head. Simply said, a build-up of 200 Hz is a head cold. Above this, 250 to 500 Hz is where things can sound boxy (yes, this is a commonly accepted term). Imagine the woody ring when you hit or knock on a hollow box. It’s not as low and muddy as the “head cold,” but it’s similar. This is where you’re looking for issues with that.–By blog.sonicbids.com
Chameleons, on the other hand, cannot pick up the softest of whispers, neither can they hear the loudest of sounds. They have a very limited range to what they can hear. Sound with a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing (20KHz) is called ultrasound. Unlike many other animals such as bats, dogs, and cats, chameleons cannot hear or pick up on ultrasound.
How to talk to my chameleon?
When you speak to your chameleon, to be sure it hears you, don’t talk too loud, neither should you speak too softly.
Considering that the normal range of the human voice starts at the top end of that scale — 500 Hz, according to Cardiff School of Computer Science and Informatics — that means your chameleon can pick up at least some of the words you say. Find out more on : (CAN CHAMELEONS HEAR YOU TALKING?)
Check out this video, this might give you a brief idea of what kind of sound chameleon can hear.
Although chameleons may be almost deaf, they have their little tricks for communicating with each other and finding food. Not only can chameleons detect some audible tones, but they can also feel vibrations in the air. For instance, they can sense the vibration of the beating of an insect’s wings and plant-borne vibrations which they use to communicate.
If you enjoy talking to your chameleon, here’s good news! It may have been hearing you all the while, but you can speak to make sure it hears you better. Chameleons can hear what you have to say to them, you can go on telling your chameleon all you want it to know.
Hope you find this article interesting and helpful. If you find anything in this post wrong or outdated, please leave your comment below. I’ll update it as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading.