Added 21 January 2007.

A look at the Family Chameleonidae



The genus Calumma is confined to Madagascar and the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. Although many of its representatives have been known to science for some decades, few are seen in captivity, with the notable exception of C. parsonii, Parson's Chameleon, and to a lesser extent C. brevicornis.

As at the time of first posting this page, this is more in the way of a simple listing than a full guide to some or all of the species. However we will be adding to it over time. For further details, readers are encouraged to check out the books in the Bibliography.

C. andringitraensis C. boettgeri C. brevicornis, Elephant-Eared Chameleon 
C. capuroni C. cucullatum  C. fallax
C. furcifer  C. gallus C. gastrotaenia, Side-Striped Chameleon
C. glawi C. globifer, Globe-Horned Chameleon C. guibei 
C. guillaumeti C. hilleniusi, Green Elephant-Eared Chameleon C. linotum 
C. malthe C. marojezensis C. nasutum, Leaf-Nosed Chameleon
C. oshaughnessyi  C. parsonii, Parson's Chameleon C. peyrierasi 
C. tigris C. tsaratarananensis  C. vatosoa 
C. vencesi     

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
C. andringitraensis   Madagascar     
C. boettgeri    NW Madagascar (inc. Nosy Bé)  Max 13cm  Very widespread species, found not only in rainforest but also abandoned gardens, although it avoids civilisation. May be found on ground, where they hunt for food, or at up to 4m above. Description: flat, elongated and slender body; nose-like nasal extension; occiptal flaps at rear of head. Coloration: overall dirty yellow, brown and green; occasionally blue spots on sides or nasal extension. Reproduction: female lays 2-4 eggs about 45 days after mating; these hatch in about 90 days. [SOURCE: Henkel and Schmidt].  
C. brevicornis Elephant-Eared Chameleon E & N Madagascar Max 35cm (m), 28cm (f)  Found on the edges of forests, in trees, bushes and undergrowth. This is one of the more aggressive chameleon species, and Henkel & Schmidt recommend solitary captivity with no visual contact to other animals. Description: nasal extension, especially enlarged in males, and occipital flaps which can be spread like an elephant's ears; overall small scales with scattered plate-like scales. Coloration: overall variable pattern of brown, beige and green; agitated males have light-coloured casque and red nasal extension; agitated females turn dark and display bright orange or red spots on the casque and occipital flaps. Reproduction: about 40 days after mating the female lays up to 30 eggs. [SOURCE: Henkel & Schmidt].
C. b. brevicornis  
C. b. hilleniusi   Now considered by some authorities to be a full species: EMBL reptile database is unclear on this point.
C. b. tsarafidyi     
C. capuroni    Madagascar    
C. cucullatum   NE Madagascar     
C. fallax    E Madagascar     
C. furcifer    E Madagascar  Max 12cm (SVL about 6cm)  Found on the eastern coast around Toamasina and between Fito and eastern Lac Aloatra, where they live in rainforests, both at the edges and in the undergrowth and clearings, and are most often found in the crowns of trees. Description: slender and elongated body; two narrow, laterally compressed and symmetrical nasal projections which point outwards. Coloration: overall green; white lateral stripe broken on each side by two bright white spots; ventrally bright white. Reproduction: no details available. [SOURCE: Henkel & Schmidt] 
C. gallus   E Madagascar Max 11cm (SVL about 5½cm)  Found in coastal areas in the lower regions of rainforests, up to 5m above ground on the floor, in bushes or on giant trees. They rarely bask. Description: body slender, compressed and elongated; crests absent; distinguished by pointed and scaly nasal projection up to 1cm long in males (smaller in females, absent in juveniles). Coloration: variable; may be variously green, brown, grey, white and sometimes blue. Reproduction: no details available. 
C. gastrotaenia  Side-Striped Chameleon E & C Madagascar  Max 12cm (SVL about 6cm)  A species of higher altitudes, dwelling in dense rainforest; juveniles may however enter meadows and cultivated land for food, and all ages bask briefly on the edge of the forest in the morning. As with many Sceloporus species, individuals will retreat to the other side of a branch if approached. Former subspecies of this species have all been raised to specific status. Description: body elongated and compressed; casque barely offset from body. Coloration: overall usually grass coloured, but may be overall green, yellow, brown or beige; conspicuous light lateral stripe with bright white spots. Reproduction: no details available. 
C. glawi   E Madagascar     
C. globifer  Globe-Horned Chameleon C/E Madagascar  Max (m) 16-17"  A higher altitude species, found at 700-1300m in rain- and montane forests. They live mainly in the crowns of giant trees but are also found in lower trees along forest waterways. Open country is avoided. Henkel and Schmidt describe this as a peaceful species. Description: casque slightly raised; well-developed dorsal crest; two bony extensions along edge of snout which in males project beyond the tip of the latter. These are used in male-to-male combat in attempts to dislodge the opponent from the branch. Coloration: darkish coloration of green, brown, yellow or grey, or alternatively a uniform green; conspicuous light lateral stripe and dark lateral bands. Reproduction: no details available. 
C. guibei   NE Madagascar    Found on Mt Tsaratanana
C. guillaumeti   Madagascar   Former subspecies of C. gastrotaenia.
C. hilleniusi Green Elephant-Eared Chameleon Madagascar 7"/18cm (m), 15cm (f) Former subspecies of C. brevicornis. Bartlett notes that this is a high-altitude and oviparous species. It is found on the Malagasy Central Massif L'Ankarata at altitudes of 1800-2000m, an area with considerable day-night temperature fluctuations. Individuals are aggressive towards their own kind. Although found in the undergrowth as well as on trees and in cleared areas, they never venture far from trees. Interestingly, the trees of the area are pine, planted by the French.  Description: small occipital flaps; row of enlarged tubercular scales along edges of casque and snout, which in males protrude beyond the tip of the latter. Coloration: (males) mainly overall yellow or green with brown casque edged in red; (females) overall brown, beige or green, less conspicuous than males.
C. linotum   NE Madagascar    
C. malthe    NE Madagascar Max TL 26cm, SVL 15cm   
C. marojezensis   Madagascar    Former subspecies of C. gastrotaenia. 
C. nasutum  Leaf-Nosed Chameleon N & E Madagascar  4"/10cm   
C. oshaughnessyi  



NE Madagascar 



Max TL 39cm, SVL 19½cm





C. o. oshaughnessyi 
C. o. ambreensis 
C. parsonii Parson's Chameleon N, E & C Madagascar  Max 65cm (m)   
C. p. parsonii  NE Madagascar     
C. p. cristiferum  CE Madagascar    Apparently only found in forested areas of Perinet. 
C. peyrierasi   Madagascar    Found in the Marojezy mountains. 
C. tigris   Seychelles  Max TL 16cm, SVL 8cm  
C. tsarataranensis    N Madagascar     
C. vatosoa    NE Madagascar     
C. vencesi    Madagascar     


Lizards of the World: A Checklist. 5: Agamidae, Chamaeleonidae, Cordylidae and Gerrhosauridae, K R G Welch, KCM Books, Somerset, England, 1994.

Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar and the Mascarene, Seychelles and Comoro Islands, Friedrich-Wilhelm Henkel and Wolfgang Schmidt, Krieger, Florida 2000. Good guide to the herpetology of the Indian Ocean islands, although not all species are described. Each species listed has a section on vivarium care which herpetoculturists will find useful.


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