Pygmy Stump-Tailed Chameleon

By Eleanor Warren-Thomas

Scientific Name: Brookesia peyrierasi

This little chameleon lives on the island of Madagascar, off the southeastern coast of Africa. This is the only place in the whole world that you can find it - it is called "endemic" to Madagascar. You can see a map of where they live here: You can see that they only live in a small part of Madagascar, but scientists think they might live in other parts of the island too, although because they're so hard to find, we can't be sure! They live on the ground in the leaf litter of dry deciduous forests, and rainforests.

The Stump Tailed Pygmy Chameleon eats small insects, and hunts for food as it journeys across the forest floor. It has really good camouflage, and if it feels scared or threatened, it will stay still to try and blend in with its surroundings - it looks just like a fallen leaf! They can play dead for several minutes, until the confused predator loses interest, or can't find it. They hunt during the day, and at night they sleep on the leaves of shrubs. This would be the best place to look, if you were in Madagascar and hoping to find one...

Pygmy Stump-Tailed Chameleon. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
It is listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red list, which is a list of animals and birds that might be endangered. This means that although this species is OK for now, it is declining and we need to be very careful that it doesn't become endangered. Some problems for the Pygmy Stump-Tailed Chameleon include cutting down of forests to harvest trees where they live. Another problem is that the areas of forest that are not cut down are separated from each other by open areas, a bit like islands in the sea, so the different populations of chameleons living in each patch of forest aren't able to meet each other to breed, which is worrying scientists This species is on a special list called CITES, which means that people aren't allowed to sell them as pets overseas. This is to try and make sure that these chameleons aren't taken out of Madagascar wild to become pets, as this might mean there aren't enough left living in the wild.

Pygmy Stump-Tailed Chameleon. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
This tiny little chameleon is one of the smallest species of chameleon in the whole world! It's close relative, the Dwarf or Pygmy Chamelon (Brookesia minima) is the smallest in the world, but this little guy is a close second. This picture shows you just how little it is!

Just imagine what the world would look like if you were this tiny. If you were only an inch long, you would find that lots of bugs were bigger than you, and crossing the forest floor would be like hiking over mountains! We don't know very much about these little chameleons, but scientists have seen them mating and laying eggs in February.

Pygmy Stump-Tailed Chameleon. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
There are lots of similar chameleons to this one, that are also really tiny. Why don't you have a look on the internet for "Brookesia" and see how many other species you can find! You can see some more wonderful pictures of this tiny chameleon here:


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