KwaZuluNatal Midlands dwarf chameleon

Bradypodion thamnobates

TAXONOMY

Bradypodion thamnobates Raw, 1976, Nottingham Road, Natal, South Africa.

OTHER COMMON NAMES Afrikaans: Natalse Middelveld.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This species is 6-7.5 in (152-191 mm) in length. Females are marginally smaller than males. Male coloration is dark green or blue-green with white markings on the head and a prominent gular crest composed of lobed scales. There is also a spiky dorsal crest. Large conical or rounded scales, which are white, blue, or reddish in color, cover the body and legs. Female coloration is olive green, and the markings, scalation, and crests are less pronounced. Juveniles are brownish, yellowish, or light green.

DISTRIBUTION

The species occurs in South Africa in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal in the midlands between the Mooi River, Bulwer, Howick, and Dargle at an elevation of 3,000-4,200 ft (915-1,281 m).

HABITAT

These chameleons live among shrubs, bushes, and anthropogenic vegetation, including gardens and hedges in residential areas.

Photooanimals

BEHAVIOR

The species is calm and docile, but males are aggressive toward other males.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The dwarf chameleon preys upon small crawling and flying insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Males court females by head bobbing while approaching a female. Unreceptive females display defensively or flee. Receptive females remain passive and allow males to copulate. Gestation is from five to eight months, depending on ambient climate, and females give live birth to as many as 18 neonates.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN. Limited numbers have been exported to zoos and a few private people as of 2002. The range of distribution of this rare species is poorly protected, continues to erode, and is under serious threat, which may affect its abundance in the future.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

These chameleons are used occasionally in traditional medicine by indigenous people in Africa. ♦

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