Currently, the best existing literature sources on these fascinating reptiles is “Stump-tailed Chameleons” by PETR NECAS and WOLFGANG SCHMIDT (2004) and “A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa” by STEPHEN SPAWLS et al (2002).
In the following text, the environments and climate of Rhampholeon spinosus (MATSCHIE, 1892),Rhampholeon (Rhampholeon) temporalis (MATSCHIE, 1892), Rhampholeon (Rhinodigitum) moyeriMENEGON, SALVIDIO & TILBURY, 2002 und Rhampholeon (Rhinodigitum) nchisiensis (LOVERIDGE, 1953) from Tanzania and Malawi will be presented. Their distributions reach from the Eastern Arc Mountains in north-eastern Tanzania to the Southern Rift Montane Area in south Tanzania (Southern Highlands) and north-western Malawi. They are found in very limited ranges in the sub-montane and montane forests or forest edges where they are threatened by rapid deforestation. A total of five stump-tailed chameleons species occur in the Usambara Mountains (SPAWLS et al, 2002). Two of these species, R. (R.) spinosus and R. (R.) temporalis, are endemic. The first is common at altitudes up to 2,630 feet (800 m) in the eastern part of the Usambaras and up to 4,270 feet (1,300 m) in the western part of the Usambaras. R. (R.) temporalis only found in the Eastern Usambaras at an altitude up to 2,630 feet (800 m). There are often located close to Amani. The Usambaras are one of the prominent parts of the Eastern Arc Mountains with an altitude at 7,550 feet (2300 m). Being close to the Indian Ocean, they receive higher rainfall at the lower eastern slopes with a yearly average from 1,900 mm at Amani to 2,200 mm at Kwamboro (IVERSEN 1991). The mean humidity in the Eastern Usambaras is 90% in the morning and 75% at midday. Fog and mist has been recorded as much as 130 days annually. In Amani, the mean annual temperature is 69.1°F (20.6°C), the mean daily maximum is 76.8°F (24.9°C) and the mean daily minimum 61.3°F (16.3°C)(IVERSEN 1991). The Western Usambara Mountains are much drier but exact climatic data is less available. The weather station of Mazumbai Estate derived an average rainfall between 1935 and 1985 of 1,400 mm at an altitude of 5,000 feet (1520 m).
Rhampholeon is a genus of small chameleons, commonly known as pygmy chameleons or African leaf chameleons, found in centralEast Africa (extending slightly into adjacent DR Congo). They are found in forests, woodlands, thickets, and savanna, and most speciesare restricted to highlands. They are brown, grey, or green, and typically seen at low levels in bushes, or on the ground among grasses orleaf litter.
Scientific classification :
Until recently, the members of the genus Rieppeleon were commonly included in Rhampholeon, instead.
The following 19 species are recognized as being valid.
-Rhampholeon acuminatus Mariaux & Tilbury, 2006
-Rhampholeon beraduccii Mariaux & Tilbury, 2006
-Rhampholeon boulengeri Steindachner, 1911 – Boulenger's pygmy chameleon
bruessoworum Branch, Bayliss & Tolley, 2014
-Rhampholeon chapmanorum Tilbury, 1992
-Rhampholeon gorongosae Broadley 1971 – Gorongosa pygmy chameleon
-Rhampholeon hattinghi Tilbury & Tolley, 2015
-Rhampholeon marshalli Boulenger, 1906 – Marshall's pygmy chameleon
For the external links , refrences click here to read the full wikipedia article
-Rhampholeon maspictus Branch, Bayliss & Tolley, 2014
-Rhampholeon moyeri Menegon, Salvidio & Tilbury, 2002
-Rhampholeon nchisiensis (Loveridge, 1953) – pitless pygmy chameleon
-Rhampholeon nebulauctor Branch, Bayliss & Tolley, 2014
-Rhampholeon platyceps Günther, 1893
-Rhampholeon spectrum (Buchholz, 1874) – spectral pygmy chameleon
-Rhampholeon spinosus (Matschie, 1892) – rosette-nosed chameleon
-Rhampholeon temporalis (Matschie, 1892) – Usambara pitted pygmy chameleon
-Rhampholeon tilburyi Branch, Bayliss & Tolley, 2014
-Rhampholeon uluguruensis Tilbury & Emmrich, 1996 – Uluguru pygmy chameleon
-Rhampholeon viridis Mariaux & Tilbury, 2006
The Pygmy Leaf Chameleons
East African Stump-tailed Chameleons
courtesy to : www.chameleonnews.com/07FebHildenhagen.html
By Thomas Hildenhagen
Hildenhagen, T. (2007). East African Stump-tailed Chameleons. Chameleons! Online E-Zine, February 2007. (http://www.chameleonnews.com/07FebHildenhagen.html)
The African stump-tailed chameleons of the genera Rhampholeon and Rieppeleon comprises 17 species with the vast majority being endemic to tropical East Africa with an epicenter of speciation in Tanzania. The only one of these species recorded from the western and central parts of Africa is Rhampholeon (R.) spectrum. Stump-tailed chameleons, sometimes termed as leaf or pygmy chameleons, are particularly small, often with short tails and usually in shades of grey or brown. They don't have horns but some have rostral processes or a rosette-like appendage (Rhampholeon spinosus) and soft, spiky enlarged scales on flanks and limbs. The ecological information of the East African stump-tailed chameleons is extremely limited. In the last few years the reports of a successful care or breeding of these small reptiles has increased. Many of these animals are still passed on asRieppeleon kerstenii or Rieppeleon brevicaudatus. This incorrect information reduces the survival of animals drastically and places the future owner with unknown issues.
Ri. brevicaudatus is probably the most kept and bred East African stump-tailed chameleon
The eastern slopes of the Eastern Arc Mountains close to the Indian Ocean receive the highest rainfall in Eastern Africa
Another part of the Eastern Arcs is the Udzungwa Mountains, with the highest peak, Luhombero, with an altitude of 8,460 feet (2,579 m). On the higher slopes at 5,250 feet (1,600 m) where R. (Rd.) moyeri is recorded, the rainfall measures 3,000 mm per year (SHANGALI et al. 1998). The average temperature at this altitude varies from 55.4 to 78.8°F (13 to 26°C) in January with humidity from 65 to 94% (MENEGON et al. 2002). R. (Rd.) moyeri is located in two different areas in the south-western Udzungwas (Mufindi district) - Kihanga Valley at an altitude of 5,840 feet (1,780 m) and Kitolomero Valley 3,850 feet (1,174 m). Both are in the Udzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve (Luhega).
The humid currents of the Indian Ocean supporting the growth of tropical evergreen forest at the Eastern Arc Mountains
Elevated plateaus and mountains centered on the northwest shores of Lake Malawi are the home of R. (Rd.) nchisiensis. They are a part of the Southern Rift Montane Area with altitudes near 9,840 feet (3,000 m). R. (Rd.) nchisiensis is recorded originally from the lower Nchisi (5,000 feet, 1,520 m) and Misuku Mountains (6,890 feet, 2,100 m) in Malawi. They also recorded from the Poroto, Rungwe, Ukinga Mountains and Kipengere Range in southern Tanzania. It may be found at altitudes of 5,910 feet (1,800 m) and above. One of the differences between this ecoregion and the Eastern Arc Mountains relates to the differing climate regimes. The Southern Highlands receive a mean rainfall of approximately 1,500 mm per year from the surface convection of Lake Malawi. The wet Poroto Mountains have an average annual rainfall of 2,850 mm (CRIBB & LEEDAL 1982). Mean annual temperatures vary from 55.4 to 66.2°F (13 to 19°C)(DOWSETT-LEMAIRE 1989), with an average maximum of 71.6°F (22°C) and an average minimum of 49.6°F (9.8°C)(MCKONE & WALZEM 1994). At the highest areas, frosts are common and temperatures as low as 23°F (-5°C) have been recorded.
Stump-tailed chameleons are extremely difficult to identify. Some can be easily separated by atypical rostral (cranial) appendage (e.g. R. (R.) spinosus ) or in size (e.g. R. marshalli) but there are few species that look very
similar. There may clearly be different in specific appearance, but describing the detailed differences is not easy. Particularly the members of the new subgenus Rhinodigitum have many similarities. Colour pattern is not a consistent character to distinguish the species. Rather there are subtle distinctions in the character of some body parts, e.g. forming of the dorsal crest, direction of the rostral process or presence of axillary dermal depressions (axillary pits). In most species the sex differences find only be determined by the hemipenal bulge and the tail length of the males.
A tail base of a member of the genus Rhampholeon with the significant hemipenal bulge
A rough classification between Rieppeleon and Rhampholeon species is possible by the pattern of their side-stripes. Rieppeleon species have stripes across the flanks running horizontal from the head to the tail.Rhampholeon species have two or three diagonal stripes along the flanks running in the anterodorsal to posteroventral direction. The stripes heightening the resemblance of lead veins of dead leaf.
The side-stripes of Ri. k. kerstenii running horizontal along the flanks. A typical pattern in the genus Rieppeleon
In the genus Rhinodigitum the presence of processes (cranial and supraciliar appendages) and dermal depressions (axillary and inguinal pits) are helpful to identify some species. Cranial or rostral processes are
dermal appendages without a bone structure. Mostly they look like a bent digit not longer than 0.1 inch (3mm). The supraciliar appendages consist of one big scale or a cluster of scales that rises up above the eyebrows. Dermal depressions behind the limbs are referred as axillary or inguinal (goin) pits. This small invaginations bear resemblance to the so-called "mite pockets" of other saurian species. They are often not greater than 0.08 inch (2mm) in diameter and at most less than 0.04 inch (1mm) deep. So far there is nothing known about their function.
The diagonal side-stripes of a female of R. (Rd.) nchisiensis are distinctive in the genus Rhampholeon
Neonates of R. (Rd.) moyeri with 0.6 inch length are one of the smallest reptiles in the world
Notes on General Care
Most of the wild-caught stump-tailed chameleons are debilitated and often carry internal parasites (helminthes). Fecals should be performed by a vet as soon as possible to see if treatment is necessary. First enclosure to acclimate should be a simple quarantine-box which is easily to keep clean. After a negative fecal examination, they could move in their regular enclosure. Newly imported animals require a lot of hydration because most of them are dehydrated. Adult wild-caught females are especially delicate as most of them are gravid. They need rest and absolute isolation to acclimate to the new surroundings.
The largest male and female I recorded were 3.5 inches (90 mm) and 3.4 inches (85 mm) total length respectively. The tail is thin, partial prehensile and about half the TL. The most distinctive characteristic is the laterally compressed, rosette-shaped dermal appendage, which is soft and movable with enlarged scales. It can reach a length of 0.2 inch (5 mm). In males the rather prominent casque is raised at the back and overlies the dorsal line. Widely spaced, spiny, enlarged scales extend along the back and most of the way along the tail. Rows of soft spine-like scales are present on the flanks, each side of the tail and the limbs. A gular crest is formed by two diverging rows of stumpy scales - a feature also common to the species Chamaeleo (Trioceros) laterispinis, tempeli, incornutus and Calumma capuroni. They also have axillary dermal depressions equivalent to the deep invaginations (axillary and inguinal pits) of some species of the subgenus Rhinodigitum. Males may be distinguished by coarser scales on the appendage and a hemipenal bulge. The coloring of R. (R.) spinosus can be very variable. The color palette ranges from grey, brown and green up to blue, turquoise, orange, red and yellow, with black interstitial skin of the throat. Sometimes dark-colored stripes are present on the flanks.
First enclosure for young R. (R.) spinosus and R. (R.) temporalis
A controversial subject in herpetoculture is whether stump-tailed chameleons should be housed together or individually? Some keepers argue that the interspecific aggression isn’t well developed because pair-wise housed animals rarely display noteworthy reactions. But anytime one animal becomes dominate over another, sooner or later the dominated specimen gets stressed or sick. From my past experiences it is best to keep stump-tailed chameleons individually! Another negative habit is to touch or pet these small chameleons, mainly to activate the buzzing body vibration. This practice will harm them and can cause ongoing stress.
First fittings are small plants like ferns and tiny twigs
The amount of food consumed will vary with temperatures and climatic conditions. It is best to feed in the morning, because at this time is the greatest active phase. To retain food items in one place, a flat cup can be used. Adults will eat only slightly larger prey items and will not be able to eat anything larger than 20% of their own body size. Uneaten or dead food items in the feeding-cup should be removed daily before they spoil and present a hygiene risk. It is no unusual that crickets bother stump-tailed chameleons on their resting places and give them deep wounds. It is preferred to take excess food items out of the enclosure before the sleep.
Typically enclosure of R. (R.) spinosus
Young stump-tailed chameleons should be kept in smaller enclosures to ensure they get the food they require. After hatching the young are transferred directly to small enclosures to come to rest for at least a day, to give them time to absorb the rest of the yolk sac. When adequate moisture is reached, droplets from misting should evaporate in two or three hours. The surface of the soil or leave litter should be allowed to dry out between mistings. Do not overcrowd the stump-tailed chameleons especially the hatchlings.
Typically enclosure of R. (Rd.) nchisiensis or R. (Rd.) moyeri
- Rhampholeon (R.) spinosus (MATSCHIE, 1892)
This chameleon had been described as Chamaeleon (Brookesia) spinosus in 1892 by Paul Matschie (1861-1926) and later 1986 Klaver & Böhme named it Bradypodion spinosum. In 2004 Tilbury & Mariaux transfer it to the genus Rhampholeon, and 2006 Mariaux & Tilbury place it now in the subgenus Rhampholeon. This species is currently listed under CITES Appendix II because of his former membership in the genus Bradypodion, indipendant of his new taxanomic status.
Male R. (R.) spinosus
The coarser scales on the appendage are easily to identify the males of R. (R.) spinosus by
Female R. (R.) spinosus
There are no species in East Africa that look like R. (R.) spinosus. The Malagasy Calumma boettgeri(BOULENGER, 1888) is very similar but lacks enlarged scales on the rostral appendage and the body. The next similar stump-tailed chameleon is R. (Rd.) acuminatus, a new described species from the neighbouring Nguru Mountains, which has a comparable rostral appendage mostly bent down. R. (R.) spinosus are not a shy chameleon; they don't cover behind branches when someone picked up. They keep quiet and trust their perfect mimicry. Rapid body vibration when touched have not been observed like other in other Rhampholeon species.
An axillary of R. (R.) spinosus with the dermal depression
These chameleons inhabit the lower vegetation, bushes, small tress and thicket in the moist, moderate climate montane forests (STEPHAN KALLAS, personal communication). They may be found at night sleeping on outer branches from a few inches to 10 feet (3m) but seldom on the ground. Some other chameleon species living in the same areas include Bradypodion tenue, Ch. (T.) deremensis and R. (R.) temporalis.
Juvenile male R. (R.) spinosus absorbs water droplets from misting
Captive Care :
The cage for a single animal should be 16 x 16 x 16 inches (40 x 40 x 40 cm). This species is best kept individually, because interspecific aggression is well developed. Adequate ventilation of the cage is crucial. Screen on the top and half of one side frame is standard. Special fluorescent tubes with UV-light are essential for indoor housing. HQL or HQI-lamps are used in larger enclosures with a minimum high of 24 inches (60 cm). Day temperatures should be around 68 to 77°F (20 to 25°C) with night time drops to 61 to 64°F (15 to 18°C). Hydration requirement are high, misting at least twice a day is necessary. Humidity during the day should range from 70 to 95% (after misting), at night 80 to 95%. The cages should be well planted with small foliage plants (e.g. ferns, herbs, tresses) and branches, some with dead leaves. The substrate should be a mix of styrolite-free soil and sand (2:1) covered with some dead leaves, bark or moss. The chameleons readily accept most insects and other arthropods of appropriate size such as small crickets (Acheta domesticus), flies (Fannia canicularis, Lucilia caesar), grey roaches (Nauphoeta cinerea) and waxworms (Galleria mellonella, Achroea grisella). Food items should be dusted with a multi mineral supplement with high-calcium (Miner-all). They lap droplets from the leaves or drink the spray runs down their head.
R. (R.) spinosus like to rest on tress or moss covered barks
When the following conditions are met, outdoor setups in moderate climate zones are possible and recommended:
-no direct sunlight! R. (R.) spinosus prefer densely planted enclosures (e.g. Asparagus falcatus)
-full or semi-screened cage in a shady area that only receives a maximum temperature of 77°F (25°C).
-misting during the hottest part of the day to minimize the low moisture outside.
“Where are you?” - Well camouflaged male R. (R.) spinosus on green and grey tresses
This species is oviparous, like the rest of the genus Rhampholeon. Breeding occurs throughout the year with six or more clutches per year. For mating the male is placed into the female’s terrarium. When the female is receptive she remains quiet and displays light colors. A non receptive female displays dark colors and makes threatening postures to ward off the male. The only observed copulation lasted around 15 minutes. Around four weeks after mating the females lay their eggs in a moist spot, mostly under a bark covered corner. The substrate for egg-laying females needs proper moisture content and should be around 3 inches (75 mm) deep. Sometimes they simply scatter the eggs on the ground of the enclosure. Clutch size ranged from three to four eggs. The eggs are white with a size of 0.43 x 0.24 inches (1.1 x 0.6 cm). Clutches were kept in Vermiculite at room temperature, not in an incubator. The incubation duration lasted about 6 month at temperatures from 64 to 72°F (18 to 22°C) with a light nightly temp drop. For all my Rhampholeon clutches I use small boxes with some holes in the lid for the circulation of air. The appointed water potential at 9g Vermiculite with 12g water is -600 kPa (KÖHLER, 2005). The hatching begins mostly at night or early in the morning and takes a few hours.
Rhampholeon spinosus high-speed feeding video
Mating of R. (R.) spinosus in the evening hours
The eggs of R. (R.) spinosus
Hatchling of R. (R.) spinosus
Care of Hatchlings
Care for hatchlings of R. (R.) spinosus is very similar to adult care and they can be housed very successfully under the same conditions. Similarly individually housing is essential. The first cage (small spider-tank) should be 8 x 8 x 8 inches (20 x 20 x 20 cm) with tiny twigs or blades of grass. The newborn chameleon’s size is about 1.2 inches (30 mm). Small enclosures will make it easier for young stump-tailed chameleons to find their food. A good item to have in the enclosure is small ferns. These help to retain moisture and also supply a surface for water to collect for the young chameleons to drink. They feed first on flightless fruit flies (Drosophila hydei, D. melanogaster) and pinhead crickets always dusted with calcium supplement. Juvenile seem to be nuts about the slim larvae of the grey roaches. At the age of four months the young chameleons can move in enclosures of the size of the adults. Sexual maturity occurs at approximately 9 months of age.
The neonates of R. (R.) spinosus even have a completely developed dermal appendage
5 month old female of R. (R.) spinosus