Shorttailed chameleon

Chameleon Care Guide

Chameleon Care Guide

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Rhampholeon brevicaudatus

TAXONOMY

Rhampholeon brevicaudatus Matschie, 1892, Derema, Usambara Mountains, Tanganyika (Tanzania).

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Bearded pygmy chameleon.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The species is 2-3 in (51-76 mm) in length, most of which is the snout-to-vent length. Females are brownish-orange, tan, or yellow, and males are cream or brown with darker brown stripes. The interior of the mouth is blue-gray. A fleshy spike protrudes from the chin, and the tail is very short in females and slightly longer, with a prominent hemipenial bulge, in males.

DISTRIBUTION

This species is found in Derema in the Usambara Mountains of East Tanzania, Africa, at elevations up to 4,200 ft (1,300 m).

HABITAT

The short-tailed chameleon lives in grasses, bushes, and leaf litter in humid forests. It is semiterrestrial.

BEHAVIOR

This is one of a number of species that vibrate rapidly and audibly when they are disturbed or stressed, which may act as a deterrent to predators.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The short-tailed chameleon preys upon very small invertebrates.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Males have been observed courting females several days before mating. Male courtship display may include pursuing the receptive female, rearing up on the hind legs, and approaching the female with a rhythmic gate. Copulation lasts only a few minutes, but it can be repeated several times over subsequent days. Clutch size is two to five eggs, which are laid in a shallow pit after a gestation period of three to four weeks. The young emerge about three months later.

CONSERVATION STATUS

This species receives no formal protection from CITES to prevent unsustainable trade. Habitat status and population densities were unknown as of 2002.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

The short-tailed chameleon has been captured for the commercial pet trade since at least 1990, but recording export quantities has not been required, and the total number exported is unknown as of 2002. ♦

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