Brookesia desperata belongs to the leaf chameleon genus Brookesia, species of which are also known as the dwarf chameleons. This species was first discovered in 2007 in northern Madagascar, along with three other new leaf chameleon species, and all were formally described in 2012 (1).
The head, back and tail of the miniature Brookesia desperata are light grey, in contrast to the sides of the body which vary between beige, brown and dark brown. A darkened colouration, along with the presence of dark brown spots on the sides and almost entirely dark brown limbs, is believed to be a stress colouration in this species. Brookesia desperata is able to change colour rapidly in response to stress, a trait characteristic of most chameleons. Variation in the colour of this species has been observed, with some individuals having an almost entirely beige-coloured body, a slightly lighter forehead and a stripe down the back.
Lines of pointed tubercles run down the body, on either side of the spine, and there are also distinct spines on each side of the tail. This species is set apart from other Brookesia species by three enlarged tubercles on its head. Like other Brookesia species, Brookesia desperata is distinguished from other chameleons by its short, non-prehensile tail (1).
- Male total length: 39.7 - 42.9 mm (1)
- Female total length: 43.3 - 47.6 mm (1)
- Male snout-vent length: 25 - 26.7 mm (1)
- Female snout-vent length: 27.3 - 30 mm (1)