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The chameleon, :, is the most common of the shapeshifters. They have a 1/6 chance per turn of changing forms, and will change into an animal 2/3 of the time, or a random monster the rest of the time.

They are quite capable of imitating nasties such as arch-liches, which can spell death for the unprepared. They should therefore be treated with caution, and dealt with quickly. Wearing a ring of protection from shape changers will revert them to their chameleon form, which is often easier to deal with.

Eating a chameleon corpse causes polymorph unless you have unchanging. This will polymorph pets as well, most likely into something useless, which is one of the dangers of leaving carnivorous pets (especially purple worms) near chameleons. It also pays to pay attention to the corpse monsters leave, as eating a chameleon corpse yourself without realizing it will most likely cause a lot of misery, especially for your armor.

A chameleon in the form of a domestic animal can be tamed with the appropriate food. The chameleon will remain tame even as it changes forms. Unfortunately, it is very likely to polymorph into a weak form and die, and it cannot be predicted when it will change into something useful. Thus, it is not the most useful pet. You can improve it by displacing it onto a polytrap while wearing a Ring of protection from shape changers.

Encyclopaedia entry

Name of a family (_Chameleonidae_) and race (_Chameleo_) of
scaly lizards, especially the _Chameleo vulgaris_ species,
with a short neck, claws, a grasping tail, a long, extendible
tongue and mutually independent moving eyes. When it is
scared or angry, it inflates itself and its transparent skin
shows its blood: the skin first appears greenish, then
gradually changes color until it is a spotted red. The final
color depends on the background color as well, hence the
(figurative) implication of unreliability. [Capitalized:]
a constellation of the southern hemisphere (Chameleo).

[ Van Dale's Groot Woordenboek der Nederlandse Taal ]


As mentioned above, if a chameleon polymorphs into a domestic animal, you can tame it with an appropriate food. In vanilla, it is likely that your pet chameleon will polymorph into something weak and die. In SLASH'EM, because polymorphed monsters return to their natural form upon death, pet chameleons are much more useful! When your pet chameleon would die or self-destruct, it only becomes a chameleon; then it can later polymorph again. A pet chameleon can still die in its chameleon form, but in SLASH'EM you can keep a pet chameleon for a long time.

A pet chameleon will from time to time take a form that is strong or useful, so follow every opportunity to tame a chameleon with food.