When young chameleon hatch or are born, a miracle happens...
They often show an obsessive tendency to restlessly run for several hours...
Why is that?
There are several explanations and parallell functions of this phenomenon...
DISPERSAL FOR REDUCING FOOD COMPETITION
They are dispersing in the environment to utilize it efficiently. It does not make sense for them to sit and wait (using their dominant hunting strategy) in close vicinity of each other because they would compete for the limited food ressources.
They settle in a distance not provoking their aggression. Chameleons are socisl animals but they perform their social behavioral patters over distance. They do not touch each other and do not live in colonies.
they disperse quickly to disable predators to eat all clutch at once and kill the whole offspring at once thus increasing the chance of survival of some. Otherwise, it would be very easy for a predator to come and collect all.
Dispersal prevents to help to get as far as possible for siblings from each other to reduce or exclude the possibility to breed amongst relatives, as they simply do not meet even in the unlikely case that more siblings survive to adulthood. In reeding or sibling breeding is from evolutionary and genetics point of view very disadvantageous mechanism, if it would happen, as it dramatically reduces the heterozygocy and leads to degeneration of the population.
When you see a group of freshly hatched chameleons run over each other in the incubation box, do not panic: they do not panic, neither they feel uncomfortable. They just perform a programme of the Mother Nature that under natural conditions increases their chance of survival as individuals, as population and as species...
Author: Petr Nečas