Brygoo’s chameleon (Brookesia brygooi)

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Brygoo's chameleon
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Brygoo’s chameleon fact file

Brygoo’s chameleon description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
FamilyChamaeleonidae
GenusBrookesia (1)

The tiny Brygoo’s chameleon (Brookesia brygooi) belongs to a group of chameleons endemic to Madagascar (3), the leaf chameleons, or Brookesia species. The earthy colours and unusual body shape of Brygoo’s chameleon gives it the appearance of old bark covered with lichens, so it blends magically into its habitat (2). It even moves back and forth in the breeze like a leaf when disturbed. On each foot, opposing fused toes ensure a firm grip on slender branches and twigs, and the tail of this species is short and thick (4). Brygoo’s chameleon moves so slowly that it is hard to detect, and only a swivel of its independently mobile eyes or a flicking of its incredibly long tongue may alert predators or prey to its presence (4) (5)

Size
Total length: up to 81 mm (2)
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Brygoo’s chameleon biology

Brookesia chameleons have all adopted a terrestrial lifestyle, moving about on the ground or on the low branches of bushes and mossy trees (4), and resting on the stems and leaves of low vegetation (7). Little is known specifically about the biology of Brygoo’s chameleon, but like other Brookesia species it is likely to feed on a range of insects. It uses its bulbous, independently moving eyes to scan the surrounding area for potential prey, and then shoots out its long, sticky tongue at lightening speed to capture the unsuspecting victim (4).

Brygoo’s chameleon is known to store sperm, and lays clutches of two to five eggs under bark, moss or dead leaves (2). These tiny eggs measure only 2.5 by 1.5 millimetres (4).

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Brygoo’s chameleon range

Brygoo’s chameleon is widely distributed in south-western Madagascar (3).          

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Brygoo’s chameleon habitat

Brygoo’s chameleon is one of the few Brookesia species adapted to the arid conditions of south-west Madagascar, where it is thought to be restricted to native deciduous forests (6). During the day it can be found foraging in leaf litter, while at night it roosts (rests) on thin twigs or fern fronds (7).

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Brygoo’s chameleon status

Brygoo’s chameleon is listed on Appendix II of CITES (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Brygoo’s chameleon threats

Brygoo’s chameleon is threatened by the loss and degradation of dry deciduous forest. It is, however, better able to survive in disturbed forest than other leaf chameleons and as such is not one of Madagascar’s most threatened chameleons (8).

Brygoo’s chameleon is sometimes exported from Madagascar for the pet trade (6), but there is little commercial demand for this species and collection for the pet trade is not currently considered to be a threat (9).

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Brygoo’s chameleon conservation

Brygoo’s chameleon is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that trade in this species should be carefully controlled in order to be compatible with their survival (1).

The peculiar Brygoo’s chameleon occurs in Bemaraha National Park (6) (10), although illegal harvesting or other activities that degrade the forest habitat may lessen any benefits this bestows. 

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on Brygoo’s chameleon see:

  • Nečas, P. and Schmidt, W. (2004) Stump-tailed chameleons. Miniature Dragons of the Rainforest. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt.
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Authentication

Authenticated (07/03/11) by Dr Richard K.B. Jenkins, Madagasikara Voakajy and Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent.
http://www.madagasikara-voakajy.org/

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Glossary

Deciduous
A plant that sheds its leaves at the end of the growing season.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
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References

  1. CITES (July, 2007)
    http://www.cites.org/
  2. Nečas, P. and Schmidt, W. (2004) Stump-tailed chameleons. Miniature Dragons of the Rainforest. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt.
  3. The Reptile Database (October, 2007)
    http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/
  4. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Smith, C. (2002) Brookesia: The Living Leaves of Madagascar. Chameleonnews.com, Chameleons Online E-Zine. Available at:
    http://www.chameleonnews.com/02SepSmith.html
  6. Carpenter, A.I. and Robson, O. (2005) A review of the endemic chameleon genus Brookesia from Madagascar, and the rationale for its listing on CITES Appendix II. Oryx, 39(4): 345-380.
  7. Randrianantoandro, J.C., Randrianavelona, R., Andriantsimanarilafy, R.R., Fideline, H.E., Rakotondravony, D. and Jenkins, R.K.B. (2007) Roost site characteristics of sympatric dwarf chameleons (genus Brookesia) from western Madagascar. Amphibia-Reptilia, 28(4): 577-581.
  8. Randrianantoandro, J.C., Randrianavelona, R., Andriantsimanarilafy, R.R., Fideline, H.E., Rakotondravony, D., Randrianasolo, M., Ravelomanantsoa, H.L. and Jenkins, R.K.B. (2008) Identifying priority areas for dwarf chameleon (Brookesia spp.) conservation in Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar. Oryx, 42: 578-573.
  9. Jenkins, R.K.B. (March, 2011) Pers. comm.
  10. Bora, P., Randrianantoandro, J.C., Randrianavelona, R., Hantalalaina, E.F., Andriantsimanarilafy, R.R., Rakotondravony, D., Ramilijaona, O.R., Vences, M., Jenkins, R.K.B., Glaw, F. and Kohler, J. (2010) The herpetofauna of the Tsingy de Bemaraha plateau, western Madagasar: checklist, biogeography and conservation. Herpelogical Conservation and Biology, 5: 111-125.
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Image credit

Brygoo's chameleon  
Brygoo's chameleon

© Jörn Köhler

Jörn Köhler
Department of Zoology
Hessisches Landesmuseum
Friedensplatz 1
64283
Darmstadt
Germany
Fax: +49 (6151) 165765

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