- Rhampholeon (Rd.) moyeri MENEGON, SALVIDIO & TILBURY, 2002
This species was recently described in 2002 by MICHELE MENEGON, SEBASTIANO SALVIDIO (both Italy) and COLIN R. TILBURY (South Africa). MATTHEE et al classified it in 2004 in the new subgenus Rhinodigitum. It is currently not listed in any CITES Appendix.
Diagonal side-stripes of a female R. (Rd.) moyeri
This species is found only in a small area inside a dense montane forest with the canopy ranging from 82 to 131 feet (25 to 40 m). During the night the chameleons are observed in the dense undergrowth on ferns, stems and branches at a height from 12 to 118 inches (30 to 300 cm) from the leaf litter (MENEGON et al 2002). Possible species within the montane area of the Udzungwas are Ch. (T.) laterispinis, Ch. (T.) tempeli, Ch. (T.) werneri.
A strong bent down appendage of a R. (Rd.) moyeri
This species closely resembles R. (Rd.) nchisiensis but is actually more closely related to R. (Rd.) uluguruensis. The females reach a maximum length of 64 mm, the males remain clearly smaller with maximal length at 51 mm. The short tail is not prehensile and amounts to an average of 20% of the body length. The head has a flat casque, which is recognizable by the coarse raised lateral edges. A small flexible and often bent down rostral process with a length of 0.08 inch (2 mm) rises forward off the snout. Two other canthal processes (supraocular appendage) are present above each eye. A crenulated dorsal crest is formed by clusters of small conical tubercles. The gular or ventral crests are not present. Each axilla have a deep dermal pit but there are no traces of a pit in the goin. Their basic color is between dark and light brown with its characteristic two dark, diagonal stripes on the flanks. Some specimen have pale green or pale yellow flanks, whereas the inside of the thigh is often auburn. Males and females frequently display light blue or turquoise eye turrets and their eyeball are orange.
The morphology of R. (Rd.) uluguruensis is very similar to R. (Rd.) moyeri - female from the Uluguru Mountains. Photo by Stephan Kallas
A gravid female R. (Rd.) moyeri buries under a cork bark covered place
These species is closely related to R. (Rd.) uluguruensis. It differs from R. (Rd.) uluguruensis principally in the number of scales of the interorbital row and the hemipenis morphology. The soles of R. (Rd.) moyeri are with smooth "cobblestoned" palms and the body scalation is of fine subhomogeneous stellate granules (MENEGON et al 2002).
Male R. (Rd.) uluguruensis from the Uluguru Mountains. Photo by Stephan Kallas
The interorbital row of a juvenile R. (Rd.) moyeri
Semi-screened enclosures are highly recommended with a cage size of 16 x 16 x 16 inches (40 x 40 x 40 cm) for a single animal. The interspecific aggression is well developed. Temperatures should be around 68°F (20°C) during the day with a maximum of 73°F (23°C). he night drop lows are under 61°F (16°C). These high fluctuations between daytime and nighttime temperatures are essential for these animals. For a humidity of 75 to 95% during the day and 90 to 100 % at night, the enclosure should be regularly misting three times a day and once more after lights off. Only a single white fluorescent tube is required over the length of the enclosure. Basking and UVB bulbs don’t seem to be necessary. Plants with good, dense leaf cover are important in maintaining the required high humidity level. A substrate of a forest type should be made with a mix of soil and sand (2:1) with a layer of dead leaves. Thin branches with dead leaves and some overgrown with tresses should be placed for climbing; this species will rest on them, depending on their camouflage for defense. Adult animals are fed every other day with appropriately sized crickets, grey roaches, flies, firebrats and waxworms. All food items should be coated every second feeding with multi mineral supplement (Miner-all) contains Vitamin D3 for proper calcium utilization. They drink the water droplets of dense plants or and absorb the surface-humidity.
A deep pit in the axillary is distinctive for R. (Rd.) moyeri
A gravid wild caught female laid a clutch of five white eggs with a size of 0.35 x 0.16 inches (0.9 x 0.4 cm). Before laying, she carried out some test excavations at different places and decided for a proper moisture spot under the leaf litter. The egg-laying substrate should be around 3 inches (75 mm) deep. Mating was observed once by MENEGON et al (2002). The eggs from R. (Rd.) moyeri will need to be incubated in Vermiculite at cool temperatures from 64 to 68°F (18 to 20°C) with a maximum of 73°F (23°C), and a minimum of 59°F (15°C). The only clutch of these five eggs were hatched after 99 days and survived. Due to the fact that all hatchlings were males and the loss of the breeding female, an abrupt stop of reproduction in this species occurred. The clutches of ALEXANDRA BUSCH and DIRK GRAEBER (2005) incubated successfully under similar conditions accept a temperature minimum of 55°F (13°C) in winter. They hatched their clutches from four to eight eggs around 90 days. MENEGON et al (2002) documented a clutch size of three to four eggs.
Care of Hatchlings
Newborn R. (Rd.) moyeri are 0.6 inch (15 mm) in length, from snout to the tail tip. They should be housed at first in small enclosures and can be care for under the same conditions as the adults. Ambient temperature from a high of 68°F (20°C) should not be crossed in the first weeks. From an early age neonates already display defense behaviors, showing their wide open mouth to display their orange mucous membrane. It is therefore best to housed them individually. First housing should be a small enclosure of 4 x 4 x 6 inches (10 x 10 x 15 cm) with tiny twigs or blades of grass. Soil layer is required, along with a variety of small plants and ground cover such as dead leaves to hold humidity up and provide hiding places. The young are as weakly active as the adults; they often rest for hours up in the ferns or the branches with dead leaf. Regularly misting of the enclosure with a minimum of three times a day may be necessary. Dense or drooping plants like small ferns and herbs provide hiding sites for the young lizards. Hatchlings and juveniles are fed every day with as many pinhead crickets and flightless fruit flies they will eat. Additional they drink droplets off of plants, especially of ferns. 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 transferred to the enclosure size of the adults.
The specific name, marshalli, is in honor of British entomologist Guy Anstruther Knox Marshall.
Marshall’s leaf chameleon is unmistakable. It is the only such tiny chameleon in its range (sympatric with Chamaeleo dilepis quilensis, the flap-necked chameleon to a degree). This is a tiny species of 3.2–7.5 cm (1.3–3.0 in), females being slightly larger. Isolated populations have distinct size variations; for example, those found just to the north of Mutare appear to be larger than those just to the south (separated by deep valleys). It has a dorsoventrally flattened head and body with prominent ribs and apparent venation, giving it the appearance of a leaf. Its colour variations are from deep brown to yellowish green according to the camouflage required for the situation. Males are usually more brightly coloured.
Males, being slightly smaller, having a distinct penial swelling at the base of the tail, and a greener throat with a row of defining white or yellow tubercle spots, are relatively easy to distinguish from females.
Neonate R. (Rd.) moyeri resting in his incubation box
Young R. (Rd.) moyeri showing their mucous membrane as a defensive behavior
Common and Scientific Names
Both the herpetological study and the care of chameleons would be impossible without a reliable system of naming. It is essential that one species has only one name used by scientists and interested people throughout the world. This allows people to be confident that they are talking about the same species. It allows a body of information to be built up about a chameleon that can be made available in books and databases. Common names are not reliable, because there is no guideline for using. They are not consistent and are very loosely applied. For example the Tanzanian stump-tailed chameleon Rieppeleon brevicaudatus has a lot of common names: Bearded Chameleon or Bearded Pygmy-Chameleon, Leaf chameleon or Leaf Pygmy-Chameleon, Usambara Leaf Chameleon, Short-tailed Pygmy-Chameleon and so on. These names are not used only forRieppeleon brevicaudatus some of them used for R. (R.) temporalis too.
So-called “People's Names” are common names built with a part of the scientific name - the Boulenger's Chameleon is Rhampholeon (Rd.) boulengeri. It seems at first sight a reliable name for chameleon species. But the Peyrierras's Chameleon could be both Brookesia peyrierrasi or Calumma peyrierrasi. Misunderstandings are bound to happen! (table 2)
The naming system used by scientists and herpetological amateurs likewise is the binomial system of scientific names. The names are not accepted until they appear in print with a full description of the species. Scientific names follow a strict set of rules adopted by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, and published in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. The intent of the code is to encourage stability, accuracy, and universality of an organism's scientific name.
Etymology of the scientific names
I would like to thank the following stump-tailed chameleon keepers and experts without whom I could not realize this article. First I would like to thank ULRIKE WALBRÖL, ROLF MÜLLER, ALEXANDRA BUSCH, DIRK GRAEBER, WOLFGANG SCHMIDT from Germany and CARL CATTAU from USA. Thank you for the exchange of your experience. I'd also like to thank STEPHAN KALLAS, Germany and TREVOR DELL, USA for their adjuvant information from the field. Especially, I would like to thank my brother JENS HILDENHAGEN for his support to make this English article possible.
BUSCH, A & D. GRAEBER. (2005): Zur Haltung und Zucht von Rhampholeon moyeri (MENEGON, SALVIDIO & TILBURY, 2002). - CHAMAELEO, Mitteilungsblatt der AG Chamäleons in der DGHT, 30: 28-30. (Care and breeding of Rhampholeon moyeri. - CHAMAELEO, bulletin of the Working Group Chameleons within the DGHT, German Society for Herpetology and Herpetoculture).
CRIBB, P. J. & G. P. LEEDAL (1982): The Mountain Flowers of Southern Tanzania: A Field Guide to the Common Flowers. - A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam: 244 pp.
DOWSETT-LEMAIRE, F. (1989): The flora and phytogeography of the evergreen forests of Malawi I: Afromontane and mid-altitude forests. - Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg., 59: 3-131.
EMMETT, D. A. (2004): Altitudinal distrubution of the short-tailed pygmy chameleon (Rhampholeon brevicaudatus) and the Usambara pitted pygmy chameleon (R. temporalis) in Tanzania. - Afr. Herp. News, 37: 12-13.
IVERSEN, S. T. (1991): The Usambara Mountains, NE Tanzania: History, vegetation and conservation. - Publication at the Uppsala universitet: 146 pp.
KÖHLER, G. (2005): Incubation of Reptile Eggs. - Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida: 214 pp.
LOVERIDGE, A. 1953. Zoological results of a fifth expedition to East Africa. III. Reptiles from Nyasaland and Tete. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., Havard 110(3): 142-322.
Mariaux, J. & C. Tilbury (2006): The Pygmy Chameleons of the Eastern Arc Range (Tanzania): Evolutionary relationship and the description of three new species of Rhampholeon (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae). - Herp. J. 16: 315-331.
MATTHEE, C., C. R. TILBURY & T. TOWNSEND (2004): A phylogenetic review of the African-leaf chameleons: genus Rhampholeon (Chamaeleonidae): the role of vicariance and climate change in speciation. - Proc. Roy. Soc., London B 271: 1967-1975.
MCKONE, D. J. & V. P. WALZEM (1994): A Brief Survey of Catchment Forest Reserves Mbeya Region, Tanzania. Government of Tansania/EEC Agroforesty, Soil and Water Conservation Projekt, Regional Natural Resources Office Mbeya, Tanzania. -
MENEGON, M., S. SALVIDIO & C. R. TILBURY (2002): A new dwarf Chameleon from the Udzungwa Mts. Of Tanzania, East Afrika, (Squamata: Rhampholeon GÜNTHER, 1874). - Journal of Herpetology 36(1): 51-57.
NECAS, P. & W. SCHMIDT 2004. Stump-tailed Chameleons - Miniature Dragons of the Rainforests. Chimaira, Frankfurt/Main 2004: 256 pp.
SCHMIDT, W. (2004): Über das weniger bekannte Usambara-Stummelschwanzchamäleon Rhampholeon temporalis (MATSCHIE, 1892). - CHAMAELEO, Mitteilungsblatt der AG Chamäleons in der DGHT, 29: 33-35. (About the poorly known Usambara Stump-tailed chameleon Rhampholeon temporalis . - CHAMAELEO, bulletin of the Working Group Chameleons within the DGHT, German Society for Herpetology and Herpetoculture).
SHANGALI, C. F., C. K. MABULA & C. MMARI (1998): Biodiversity and human activities in the Udzungwa Mountain forests, Tanzania. I. Ethnobotanical survey in the Udzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve. â€- J. East Afr. Nat. Hist. 87: 291-318.
SPAWLS, S., K. HOWELL, R. DREWES & J. ASHE (2002): A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa. - Academic Press, New York: 543 pp.
TILBURY, C. R. & J. MARIAUX (2004): A re-evaluation of the generic status of Bradypodion spinosum (MATSCHIE 1892) and some consideration in the genus Rhampholeon GÜNTHER, 1874. - Rev Suisse Zool. 111: 103 - 110.
- Marshall's pygmy chameleon - Rhampholeon marshalli
Marshall's pygmy chameleon
Marshall's pygmy chameleon (Rhampholeon marshalli ), also called Marshall's leaf chameleon or Marshall's dwarf chameleon, is a species of chameleon found in the forests of Zimbabwe and Mozambique in Africa. It grows from 3.5 to 7.5 cm (1.4 to 3.0 in) and feeds on insects. When standing still, it resembles a leaf on a branch.
Marshall's pygmy chameleon
- Scientific classification :
- Binomial name :
Sympatric species :
Little habitat overlap occurs as that of C. dilepsis approaches the range of Marshall's leaf chameleon. C. dilepis is rare, found in low, probably transitory population densities at the altitudes inhabited by R. marshalli, preferring the sunnier grasslands and forest margins.
Related species :
-Rhampholeon gorongosae (Broadley 1971), once considered a subspecies has been raised to species, is found in similar habitats on the Mt Gorongosa Massif in adjacent Mozambique.
Wright 1973 confirms the number and form of the chromosomes from specimens provided by Broadley put R. marshalli in the genus Rhampholeon with Rhampholeon spectrum, the type species for the genus having 36 pairs of chromosomes like the other members of this genus.
This species is found largely in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe and the adjacent upland forest of Mozambique.
The patches of relict montane forest found in the Nyanga, Bvumba, Himalaya and Chimanimani Mountains are the primary habitats. They can be found in the cool, damp interior of the forest, mostly in the undercanopy and on the forest margins. These forest patches are surrounded by vast expanses of montane grassland, but are often so far apart as to be isolated from one another, but forest along the numerous mountain streams may link these very limited habitats. Marked specimens surveyed over a long time appeared not to travel far at all, usually less than 15 m.
Natural history :
Rhampholeon marshalli seems to inhabit the subcanopy and leaf litter of the relict cloud forests. Major canopy trees include Syzygium and Ficus. These forest are rich in fern andliana species. Forest margins have prickly species of Ilex and Rubus briars. How far up the canopy these creatures ascend is not known, but they tend to be found in the leaf litter or low shrubs. The winters in these (evergreen) forests are sharp and very cool; a period of brumation seems likely to occur for these tiny lizards. They eat insects, though these forests seem to be fairly depleted now.
In the rains (November to March), Marshall's leaf chameleon lays a small clutch of embryonated eggs that hatch quickly. Humphreys photographed a gravid female excavating a hole in the forest soil and laying a clutch. One egg was exhumed and found to contain a fully developed embryo. After 35 days, the eggs hatched and the tiny juveniles dispersed. Juveniles are relatively large at 22–25 mm (0.87–0.98 in) long.
Like other small mountain chameleons, this species appears to have population spikes and collapses. Their ranges do not appear to be threatened and much of their habitat is safe in Zimbabwe in the Nyanga National Park (where introduced tree species of wattle and pine are being eradicated to allow natural forest to re-emerge), Stapleford Forest Reserve, Bunga National Park and Botanical Garden, the Chimanimani National Park, and the Chirinda Forest Reserve. However, the tiny relic cloud forest patches are under constant threat from excessive collection of firewood and clearance for coffee, tea and protea plantations. Also, the corridors that once connected populations have indubitably diminished.
It was discovered by the ornithologist Stuart Irwin.
-Rhampholeon platyceps is found in similar habitats on the Mt Mulanje in adjacent Malawi.
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Rhampholeon marshalli eating a cricket