Armored chameleon

Brookesia perarmata

TAXONOMY

Brookesia perarmata Angel, 1933, Antsingy at an elevation of 984 ft (300 m), Province du Menabe, Madagascar.

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Antsingy leaf chameleon.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

At 4-6 in (102-152 mm), this is the largest and most easily identifiable member of the genus Brookesia. It is reddish brown, brown, and tan in coloration. The most remarkable physical feature is a row of pointed scales projecting outward from the spine that continue onto the tail, diminishing in size. The remainder of the body and tail bear numerous thorny scales, giving it the armored appearance for which it is named.

DISTRIBUTION

The only known locale is l'Antsingy d'Antsalova in the Tsingy de Bemaraha Nature Reserve, Madagascar.

HABITAT

The armored chameleon inhabits bushes, shrubs, and leaf litter in or near dense, dry, deciduous forest, where it is primarily terrestrial. According to E. R. Brygoo, three specimens were collected in 1952 "on the trail from Antsalova to Tsiandro, at the level of the Ambodiriana clearing, in the rocks to the north of the road, among the vegetation between the stones."

BEHAVIOR

The species is docile, secretive, and often sedentary.

H Brookesia perarmata H Calumma parsonii

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The armored chameleon feeds on invertebrates within its prey size range.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Little is known of the reproductive biology of this species. CONSERVATION STATUS

This species is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN based on a 20% population decline in 10 years, or three generations, owing to levels of exploitation and because the population is characterized by an acute restriction in area of occupancy and number of sites. Despite this listing, it receives no formal protection from CITES to prevent unsustainable commercial trade. It has been exported regularly to the pet trade beginning around 1993, but quantities of harvested specimens were unrecorded as of 2002. Protection from commercial trade and preservation of habitat are critical to preventing extinction.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

The only member of the genus Brookesia, the armored chameleon is in high demand for the commercial pet trade. Longevity and reproduction in captivity are poor. ♦

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