Perinet chameleon (Calumma gastrotaenia)

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Perinet chameleon at night
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Perinet chameleon fact file

Perinet chameleon description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
FamilyChamaeleonidae
GenusCalumma (1)

Perinet chameleons are small and graceful reptiles (3), with smooth, vivid green skin (2), which can make them almost invisible in their lush, green habitat (3). The head is elongated (2), the body is slender, and the tail is long and tapering (3). Typically, a pale line runs along each side of the body (2). Three subspecies of Perinet’s chameleon are recognised. Calumma gastrotaenia andringitraensis can be easily distinguished by the presence of a dorsal crest (a ridge of highly modified scales along the back), while C. g. marojezensis and C. g. guillaumeti both lack a dorsal crest but differ in the morphology of the hemipenis (2). Male Perinet chameleons can be distinguished from females by, not only their larger size (3), but also the more pronounced casque (a bony head crest) and, where present, a slightly higher dorsal crest (2).

Also known as
side-striped chameleon.
Synonyms
Chamaeleo gastrotaenia, Chamaeleon gastrotaenia, Chamaeleon grandidieri.
Size
Total length: 88 – 144 mm (2)
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Perinet chameleon biology

Chameleons are generally solitary, and move about on slender branches and twigs, gripping with their fused toes. The prehensile tail provides an additional ‘hand’ on this precarious walkway as they scan the surrounding area with their independently mobile eyes for prey (5).

In captivity, a Perinet chameleon fed on small insects and laid a clutch of three eggs, which were incubated at 23 degrees Celsius, but none hatched (3).

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Perinet chameleon range

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Perinet chameleon habitat

The Perinet chameleon inhabits primary forest and forest remnants, between elevations of 600 and 1,530 metres (2), particularly alongside rivers (4). It is known to dwell in shrubs and low trees (3).

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Perinet chameleon status

Listed on Appendix II of CITES (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Perinet chameleon threats

Many of Madagascar’s chameleons are thought to be threatened by the continued fragmentation and degradation of the island’s forests. Most chameleons cannot tolerate high levels of disturbance, such as burning, which destroys vegetation that the chameleons rely on to protect against predators and solar radiation, and reduces numbers of prey. However, it appears that many chameleons can tolerate low levels of disturbance, such as selective timber extraction (4).

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Perinet chameleon conservation

Habitat protection is likely to be the key to this species’ long-term survival. As well as protecting primary forest, the Perinet chameleon’s ability to inhabit forests subject to low level of human disturbance show that these areas are also worthy of protection. Its apparent preference, in at least some areas, for forest alongside rivers, highlights that rivers and their bordering forests should also be incorporated into future management and conservation programmes in Madagascar’s rainforests (4).

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

For further information on chameleons see:

  • Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptile and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Hemipenis
One of a pair of reproductive organs, present in snakes and lizards.
Prehensile
Capable of grasping.
Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Subspecies
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
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References

  1. CITES (July, 2007)
    http://www.cites.org
  2. Glaw, F. and Vences, M. (1994) A Fieldguide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. M. Vences and F. Glaw Verlags GbR, Germany.
  3. Bartlett, R.D. and Bartlett, P.P. (1995) Chameleons: Everything About Selection, Care, Nutrition, Diseases, Breeding, and Behavior. Barron’s Educational Series Inc, New York.
  4. Jenkins, R.K.B., Brady, L.D., Bisoa, M., Rabearivony, J. and Griffiths, R.A. (2003) Forest disturbance and river proximity influence chameleon abundance in Madagascar. Biological Conservation, 109: 407 - 415.
  5. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptile and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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Image credit

Perinet chameleon at night  
Perinet chameleon at night

© Nick Garbutt / naturepl.com

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