Of the Chameleon

The camelion being of the shape and bignes of a lizzard, is a deformed, crooked, and leane creature, having a long and slender tayle like a mouse, and being of a slowe pace. It is nourished by the element of ayer, and the sun-beames, at the rising wherof it gapeth, and turneth it selfe up and downe. It changeth the colour according to the varietie of places where it commeth, being sometimes black and sometimes greene, as I my selfe have seen it. It is at great enmity with venemous serpents, for when it seeth any sleeping under a tree, it presently climeth up the same tree, and looking downe upon the serpents head, it voideth out of the mouth as it were, a long threede of spittle, with a round drop like a perle hanging at the end, which drop falling wrong, the camelion changeth his place, till it may light directly upon the serpents head, by the vertue wherof he presently dyeth. Our African writers have reported many things concerning the properties and secret qualities of this beast, which at this present I do not well remember.

Leo Africanus, ca 1540


From: A Geographical Historie of Africa
by Leo Africanus
( born around 1490 in Granada, died after 1550 in Tunis )
Contained in the 1600 translation of John Porry, Book IX (p. 347)
Quoted by James Eason as a Footnote of his Translation of
Pseudodoxia Epidemica: Or Enquiries into very many received Tenents and commonly presumed Truth
Based on The Sixth and Last Edition of 1672
By Thomas Brown
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/oddnotes/africanuschameleon.html