David Attenborough – I used a chameleon to stop car thieves

The resourceful broadcaster explains how he once used a reptile as a steering wheel lock...

As a wildlife enthusiast and environmental campaigner, David Attenborough is the last person you’d expect to find exploiting exotic species for personal gain. But the veteran broadcaster has made an unusual confession – he once caught a chameleon and used it to deter car thieves.


“One night [while working in Madagascar] our car was broken into and a window was smashed,” said Attenborough. “It was quite a worry: what we were going to do with all our valuable stuff in the car? Could we ever leave it?”

His solution? Use an unsuspecting reptile as nature’s steering wheel lock.

“What I did was, get this [chameleon] and put him on the steering wheel. Of course nobody would dream of breaking into the car with the steering wheel covered in that thing so it was very useful!”

The one flaw we can see in the plan? How would the thieves spot the chameleon once it had use its camouflage abilities to blend into the steering wheel?


Attenborough was speaking at the launch of his new series Natural Curiosities, which examines evolutionary anomalies such as the chameleon’s extremely long tongue. The series will air on Eden in January.