10 04/10/2017

Baby chameleons hatch in Chester Zoo first

Three colourful chameleons, so tiny they each fit on the end of a finger, have hatched at Chester Zoo.

Baby chameleon

It’s the first time the zoo’s reptile experts have successfully bred the species, known as Cameroon two-horned mountain chameleons.

The first in a clutch of three eggs, laid by mum Ruby, hatched in late August with two more following soon after.

Adam Bland, Lead Herpetology Keeper, said:

These chameleons have a really unusual appearance. They’re sometimes referred to as the Cameroon sailfin, owing to a sail-like flap of skin running along their backs. The males of the species boast two large horns just above their upper jaw which they use for jousting with other males.

Even as babies they have their iconic large eyes which, at their current size, may appear a little too big for their body. However these give them 360° arc vision so they can see in two different directions at once and look out for predators.

It’s the first time we’ve ever bred the species here at Chester and the team are thrilled.
Baby chameleon

As their name suggests, the Cameroon two-horned mountain chameleon is found living at altitude in the West African nation of Cameroon.

Dr Gerardo Garcia, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates at the zoo, added:

These chameleons are thought to live in just 10 locations in the highlands of Cameroon as they only thrive at a very particular altitude (between 700m and 1,900m), in very specific forest habitat. As much of the highlands of Cameroon comprise of savannah and grasslands, it really restricts their range. Sadly, with that already small amount of available habitat being affected by human activity - degradation, agriculture and climate change - it’s making these chameleons more and more vulnerable.

Another big threat to their survival is the international pet trade. Thousands of live chameleons have been taken from the wild and traded from Cameroon in the last dozen years.
Baby chameleon

Chameleon facts:

  • Scientific name: Trioceros montium
  • ­Also knows as the Cameroon sailfin
  • Males are known to grow to approximately 25cm in length, with females much smaller at 20cm
  • As well as being bigger in size, males can also be distinguished from females by their two forward-facing horns emanating from their upper jaw
  • Their typical colouration is bright (even turquoise) to dark green with randomised yellow and red markings
  • They are usually green but males often turn blue when attempting to attract a mate
First hatched in incubators at the zoo on 24/08/2017 


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