Added 28 July 2014.

A look at the

Genus Chalarodon – Dwarf Malagasy Iguana


Genus Chalarodon – Dwarf Malagasy Iguana

This is a monotypic genus and one of the two iguanid genera found on Madagascar, their presence being something of an anomaly in the Old World. The two genera can be told apart as follows: Oplurus lacks a dorsal crest and has a tail consisting of large segmented spiny scales, whereas Chalarodon has a distinct dorsal crest, particularly in males, and has a tail covered with small, equal, keeled scales.

Characteristics of the species are as follows: tympanum distinct; body depressed; dorsal crest present; dorsal scales small, upper head scalation slightly enlarged, occipital large; tranverse gular fold present; long, round tail; digits denticulated laterally, with sharply keeled lamellae inferiorly; no femoral pores; lateral teeth tricuspid; pterygoid teeth; no sternal fontanelle; abdominal ribs.

Glaw and Vences (2007) suggested that molecular data might suggest future definition of a second species from the southeast near Esomony, but so far (2014) this has not occurred.

For husbandry details see Henkel and Schmidt (2000). Bosch and Werning give very few details.

Scientific Name

Common Name





C. madagascariensis

Dwarf Malagasy Iguana

SW Madagascar

Max TL 22½cm/ 9"; avg SVL 8½cm (m)/6½cm (f). [Henkel & Schmidt (2000) claim a max. TL of 30cm/12" for the species]

A terrestrial lizard that lives on sandy soils and can occur locally in very high population densities [Glaw & Vences]: also found in secondary habitat such as gardens or in thorny undergrowth forests. . It is frequently found in the direct vicinity of the sea and beaches and among sand dunes [Henkel & Schmidt]. To protect against excessively high or low temperatures the species will burrow into loose sand Scalation details: canthus rostralis and superciliary edge angular; nostril pierced above the canthus rostralis, near to end of snout than to orbit; 8-9 supralabials; occipital large and round; series of large interorbitals; scales on body small, imbricate, keeled, largest on belly, smallest on flanks. Dorsal scalation: upper head-scales uni- or tricarinate, smaller on supraocular region; series of enlarged scales, indicative of dorsal crest, along neck and back. Other: digits long and slender; head moderately large, short, rounded; tympanum vertically oval, as large as the eye-opening; gular fold strong; parietal eye noticeable. Tail: long and round, not quite twice SVL, covered with small, equal, keeled scales. Coloration: dorsally yellow-reddish brown; darker angular transverse bands/patches often present on the back, separated by round whitish spots; large black spot on occipital; dark crossbands on limbs; white, black-edged band on posterior side of thigh; yellow spots sometimes present on flank; lower surfaces whitish. Reproduction: males become brightly coloured in the mating season and defend territories by either ritual or fight; copulation time very short; clutches observed December-March, normally consisting of two eggs placed in damp sand beneath rocks or pieces of wood; sexual maturity probably reached after one year. [Boulenger, Glaw & Vences, Henkel & Schmidt]



Back to Iguanids | Back to Lizards | Back to Reptiles | Back to Herpetology | Back to Homepage