This species has a maximum size of about 3.2 inches (80mm), and an average of 2.0 to 2.6 inches (50 to 60 mm). The short tail is 27 to 36% of total length and not prehensile, even though it may be used for gripping. The casque is flattened and the small, undulated dorsal crest reaches to the end of the tail. Gular and ventral crests are absent, but small spines are present on the throat and the limbs. A small flexible rostral process of enlarged scales rises forward off the snout. The temporal crest ( canthus temporalis ) is only present by two or three enlarged scales. A deep pit is present in each axilla, but none in the goin. Males exhibit a broader tail base. The basic coloration reaches from maroon to grey-brown with two or three dark, diagonal stripes along the flanks. R. (R.) temporalis is very similar to R. (R.) spectrum (BUCHHOLZ, 1874) distinguished by the absence of any prominent canthal processes (supraocular appendage) above each eye.
They have some interesting self-defense strategies. When touched or angered they produce a noticeable body vibration, or fall itself from a branch and play dead.
- Rhampholeon (R.) temporalis (MATSCHIE, 1892)
This stump-tailed chameleon had been described as Chamaeleon (Brookesia) temporalis in 1892 by PAUL MATSCHIE and in 1986 KLAVER & BÖHME named it Rhampholeon temporalis. MATTHEE et al (2004) classify it in the subgenus Rhampholeon. This species is currently not listed in any CITES Appendix.
Male R. (R.) temporalis
Female R. (R.) temporalis
These little chameleons are common in submontane and montane forests and forest edges. They live in low dense vegetation and on the ground in leaf litter. They readily enter well wooded gardens and plantations (NECAS & SCHMIDT, 2004). They are often located close to R. (R.) spinosus (TILBURY & MARIAUX, 2004), but very rarely seen in the same location as Ri. brevicaudatus (EMMETT, 2004).
The intermale aggression of these species is strong, more weakly in interspecific. Individual animals can be kept in well screened enclosures of 16 x 16 x 16 inches (40 x 40 x 40 cm). Most of the day, R. temporalis climbs in the dense vegetation or on the ground. For that reason a full spectrum fluorescent tube should be an adequate lighting with Vitalights or other reptile high-fluorescent lights that produce amounts of UVA and UVB lights even avoided. Temperatures reach day time highs of 77°F (25°C) with night time lows of 61 to 64°F (15 to 18°C). The chameleons require a relative humidity of 70 to 95% that can be maintained by misting the enclosure several times a day. Night time moisture should stay at 80 to 95%. The substrate should be made of a mix of soil and sand (2:1) with a layer of dead leaves. The enclosures should be well planted with dense small plants such as ferns, herbs or little Asparagus. Branches with dead leaves and some overgrown with tresses should be placed for climbing. It is important to provide hiding places like a half cork bark tube covering horizontal a corner, or an abundantly covered corner with vegetation. It will be a retreat area for the animals which will help to reduce stress. Plants and proper substrate are important in maintaining required humidity levels. The main diet consists of insects and other arthropods which include small crickets, grey roaches, flies, firebrats (Thermobia domestica) and waxworms. Food items should be dusted every second feeding with multi mineral supplement (Miner-all) containing Vitamin D3 for proper calcium utilization. They lap droplets from the leaves or drink the water running down their head. Occasionally stump tailed chameleons like R. (R.) temporalis push their head laterally on damp plants or dead leaves and absorb the surface-humidity.
Mating R. (R.) temporalis
These species is not particular about a breeding season and they will mate throughout the year. They lay their eggs about 40 days after mating, predominantly in the evening hours (SCHMIDT, 2004). The typical clutch size is two or three eggs. R. temporalis clutches have been successfully incubated under the same conditions as R. (R.) spinosus with day temperatures from 64 to 72°F (18 to 22°C) with a weak nightly temperature drop. The egg-laying substrate in the enclosure should be at least 3 inches (75 mm) deep. Gravid females prefer a proper moisture place to laying her eggs, mostly behind a flowerpot or under plant canopy. Eggs are white and dotted with bright spots; the egg size is 0.55 x 0.24 inches (1.4 x 0.6 cm). The incubation duration in Vermiculite lasts from 135 to 150 days. Clutches of WOLFGANG SCHMIDT (2004) incubated successfully from 150 to 172 days at 68 to 73.4°F (20 to 23°C).
Clutch of R. (R.) temporalis with white spotted eggs
Neonate R. (R.) temporalis
Male R. (R.) temporalis resting on thin branches
Care of Hatchlings
The care of the young R. (R.) temporalis can be housed under the same conditions as the adults. They are best kept individually in enclosures of 8 x 8 x 8 inches (20 x 20 x 20 cm). The neonates measure approximately 1 inch (25 mm). Tiny twigs or blades of grass with a ground of leave litter are the first fittings. A small fern retain moisture and supplies the hatchling with water to drink. Flightless fruit flies and pinhead crickets always coated in calcium supplement should be offered daily, to juveniles every other day. Misting vigorously at least twice a day is ideal. At the age of six months the young chameleons can move in taller enclosures or one the size of the adult’s enclosure. Sexual maturity occurs at approximately 9 to 12 months of age.
4 month old juvenile of R. (R.) temporalis
- Rhampholeon (Rd.) nchisiensis (LOVERIDGE, 1953)
This species had been described as Brookesia nchisiensis in 1953 by ARTHUR LOVERIDGE (1891-1980) and in 1986 KLAVER & BÖHME named it Rhampholeon nchisiensis. In 2004 MATTHEE et al classify it in the new subgenus Rhinodigitum. This species is currently not listed in any CITES Appendix.
R. (Rd.) nchisiensis male with blue eye turrets and the typical cranial and supraciliary appendage
R. (Rd.) nchisiensis female
Total length of the Malawian species from the Nchisi Mountains reaches a maximum of 3.3 inches (83 mm). Those from the Nkuka Forest in the Rungwe Mountains in Tanzania reach a somewhat smaller total of 2.2 inches (56 mm) (LOVERIDGE, 1953). I have never personally record a R. (Rd.) nchisiensis greater then 2.0 inches (50 mm), and it is my opinion that the majority of specimens imported into Europe are from South Tanzania. Males are distinctly smaller than females with a significant hemipenal bulge. Tail length amounts to about only 20 % of the body length. A small flexible rostral process of a length of 0.08 inch (2 mm) rises forward off the snout. The most unusual feature of the species is the head, which is very flat and recognizable only by the easily raised lateral edges. An undulated dorsal crest is present, but no gular and ventral crests. There is a prominent canthal processes (supraocular appendage) above each eye. Their basic color is grey-brown which with its characteristic two or three dark, diagonal stripes at the flanks. Occasionally a pale green or yellow specimen is seen. Males and females frequently display light blue or turquoise eye turrets, although they are still hard to detect in the leave litter.
R. (Rd.) nchisiensis female displays a yellowish color
Erdchamäleon Rampholeon Temporalis
R. (Rd.) nchisiensis is closely related to R. (Rd.) moyeri and R. (Rd.) uluguruensis. But R. (Rd.) nchisiensis is easily distinguished by their pitless axilla and goin (table 1). The three species have some interested behavior. When touched or angered they inflate themselves like a highly gravid female. A body vibration is also present in these species. Most of the specimen in the trade have been females, apparently due to the fact that the natives in Tanzania and Malawi who collect the chameleons seem to mostly take the larger females, believing them to more valuable than the smaller males.
The axillary region is behind the foreleg
The axillary region of R. (Rd.) nchisiensis is pitless and even
This species is located in the remaining stocks of the primary forests and highland grasslands. They live in closed-canopy forests in the valleys and gullies and are also found in the wide open grasslands (HILMAR HUFER, personal communication) on the upper slopes. The chameleons climb into low dense vegetation or on the ground in leaf litter. In some habitats R. (Rd.) nchisiensis is sympatric with a few species of the subgenusTrioceros like Ch. (T.) incornutus in the Ukingas and Ch. (T.) fuelleborni in the Porotos.
These montane species need an enclosure with two or more sides screened. A cage size for an adult of a least 16 x 16 x 16 inches (40 x 40 x 40 cm) will be sufficiently. Interspecific aggression is well developed so it is best to keep this species individually. In order to remain healthy this species needs a high fluctuation between daytime and nighttime temperatures. It should be around 68°F (20°C) during the day with a maximum 73°F (23°C), the nighttime lows under 61°F (16°C). Setups in cooled rooms (air conditioning) or cool cellars are the best. R. (Rd.) nchisiensis are native to an area with high rainfall which they require a high humidity of 75 to 95% during the day and 90 to 100 % at night. It can be maintained by misting three times a day and once more after lights off. Associated with their low light habitat, this species needs dense plants like ferns, herbs or other small foliage plants building a closed canopy. For this reason a simple white fluorescent light to indicate day should suffice. The soil should be covered with a thick layer of dead leaves which the small chameleons can hide under. Substrate should be made of a mix of soil and sand (2:1) and should be at least 3 inches (75 mm) deep. The main diet is insects and other arthropods which include small crickets, grey roaches, flies, firebrats and waxworms. Food items should be dusted every second feeding with multi mineral supplement (Miner-all) contains Vitamin D3 for proper calcium utilization. They lap droplets from the leaves or drink the spray running down their head. Sometimes they absorb the surface-humidity from the damp leaves litter just like R. (R.) temporalis.
Gravid female R. (Rd.) nchisiensis holding 15 eggs
A female R. (Rd.) nchisiensis buries her clutch
It is best to place the male into the females enclosure. When the female is receptive she remains quiet and displays light colors. The male displays dark diagonal stripes and bright blue eye turrets. Copulation lasts from 30 minutes to several hours. Egg laying has been observed all year round with two to four clutches a year after a gestation period from a couple of weeks to 4 month in one case. The females deposit relatively large clutches of 8 to 15 eggs, with a highest number of 19 eggs (ROBERT MASLAK, personal communication). The eggs are white with orange and violet blotches. The size is 0.35 x 0.16 inches (0.9 x 0.4 cm). Some of my females had problems with their egg-laying and became egg-bound. The main reason is the incorrect temperature of the egg-laying substrate. It is essential not let the soil temperatures rise above 66°F (19 °C), and you should try to promote around 59°F (15 °C). Furthermore they prefer a proper moisture place, mostly under plant canopy or bark tube. Sometimes they simply scatter the eggs in the leave litter. An over-soaked substrate is bad too. The eggs from R. (Rd.) nchisiensis will need to be incubated at cool temperatures from 61 to 66°F (16 to 19°C) not higher. Incubation time is surprisingly short and ranges from 65 (ROLF MÜLLER, personal communication) to 104 days.
A clutch of R. (Rd.) nchisiensis with orange and violet blotches
The clutch of R. (Rd.) nchisiensis a few days before hatching, the blotches turn into deep grey color
Care of Hatchlings :
Newborn chameleons are extremely small with a total length of 0.6 inch (15 mm). They therefore need a small terrarium at first. They can be raised together until 60 days but do better is housed individually in small enclosures of 4 x 4 x 6 inches (10 x 10 x 15 cm). The remaining care for hatchlings of R. (Rd.) nchisiensis is very similar to the care of the adults and they can be housed very successfully under the same conditions. First fittings should be tiny twigs or blades of grass with a ground of leave litter. Small fern or herbs retain the misting moisture and supplies the hatchling with water to drink. First food items are the small flightless fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and pinhead crickets coated in calcium supplement. The small enclosures should be misted vigorously at least twice a day. At the age of six months the young can move in bigger enclosures (8 x 8 x 8 inches, 20 x 20 x 20 cm), and after 12 months they are the size of the adults. Sexual maturity occurs at approximately 9 to 12 months of age. The difference in the sexes is easily noticeable in the young as females grow faster than the males.
Neonates of R. (Rd.) nchisiensis