Antsingy leaf chameleon (Brookesia perarmata)

Antsingy leaf chameleon
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Antsingy leaf chameleon fact file

Antsingy leaf chameleon description

GenusBrookesia (1)

The Antsingy leaf chameleon is much smaller than most chameleons, but is the largest of the Brookesia (dwarf) chameleon species. It has a limited ability to change colour and looks like a tiny armoured dragon, with thorny spines running down its back and sides (2). It is dull in colouration, with a dark brown body and a lighter brown head. This suits its lifestyle though, as it hides amongst the dead leaf litter, and is therefore well camouflaged (4).

As a forest floor dwelling chameleon this species does not have a prehensile tail to assist tree climbing. Instead, its tail is short and stumped, and also has spines running down it (5). Its eyes have two rounded crests behind them, and are almost completely covered by brown eyelids, leaving only a narrow opening (5).

Also known as
armoured chameleon, stump tailed chameleon.
Length: up to 11cm (2)

Antsingy leaf chameleon biology

The Antsingy leaf chameleon lives amongst the leaf litter and on low branches on or close to the forest floor where it feeds on small insects such as small flies and termites (4). It stalks prey slowly and, when within range, flicks out its muscular tongue at great speed, catching the prey on the tongue tip and pulling it back into the mouth (6).

In the tropical climate of Madagascar, reproduction occurs mainly during the rainy season (2). The Antsingy leaf chameleon, like most other chameleons, is oviparous (5). Females lay their eggs in soft soil or piles of dead foliage on the forest floor, where natural decomposition of the leaves provides a constant level of heat and humidity (7). Hatching occurs after four to six weeks, and there may be two to five eggs per clutch, with females laying two clutches per year (8).


Antsingy leaf chameleon range

This species is endemic to Madagascar (1), a large island off East Africa’s coast. There it is found in the northern part of the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in the Melaky Region (2).


Antsingy leaf chameleon habitat

Like other members of the Brookesia genus, the Antsingy leaf chameleon has specific habitat requirements. It exists in primary or relatively untouched tropical deciduous forests where there is a dense leaf litter. This dense leaf litter is important as it provides food for the Antsingy leaf chameleon. During the night it perches on low twigs, stems and leaves (2).


Antsingy leaf chameleon status

The antsingy leaf chameleon is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix I of CITES (1) (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Antsingy leaf chameleon threats

Chameleons are favoured as pets across the world due to their fascinating appearance and behaviour. Collection and trade has therefore taken its toll on many chameleon species, but international trade in this species is now prohibited (9). However, habitat degradation remains a threat, even though the species is found within a national park. As this species depends on the presence of leaf litter for food, shelter and laying its eggs, and also on low shrubs and seedlings for roosting at night, its survival is dependent on maintaining the existing vegetation structure within the Tsingy forests (5) (10).


Antsingy leaf chameleon conservation

The Antsingy leaf chameleon is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), and as such international trade of this species is illegal (3). Its survival is not immediately threatened in the wild, although it is still justifiably a conservation priority because of its limited range and the continued degradation of its favoured habitats within the national park (1) (2) (10).

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

Find out more

For more information on the Antsingy leaf chameleon see:

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


Authenticated (28/01/2008) by Richard K. B. Jenkins, Madagasikara Voakajy.



A plant that sheds its leaves at the end of the growing season.
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
A method of reproduction in which eggs are laid and embryos develop outside of the mother’s body.
Capable of grasping.
Relating to forest, forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.


  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2011)
  2. Glaw, F. and Vences, M. (2007) A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar: Third Edition. Köln, Vences and Glaw, Köln, Germany.
  3. CITES (January, 2012)
  4. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Randrianantoandro, J.C., Randrianavelona, R., Andriantsimanarilafy, R.R., Fidelene, H.E., Rakotondravony, D. and Jenkins, R.K.B. (2007) Roost site characteristics of sympatric dwarf chameleons (genus Brookesia) from western Madagascar. Amphibia-Reptilia, 28: 577 - 581.
  6. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  7. Le Berre, F., Bartlett, R.D. and Bartlett, P. (2000) The Chameleon Handbook. Barron's Educational Series, New York.
  8. Chameleon Care and Information (January, 2008)
  9. Carpenter, A.I. and Robson, O. (2005) A review of the endemic chameleon genus Brookesia from Madagascar, and its rationale for listing on Appendix CITES II. Oryx, 39: 375 - 80.
  10. Randrianantoandro, J.C., Randrianavelona, R., Andriantsimanarilafy, R.R., Fidelene, H.E., Rakotondravony, D. and Jenkins, R.K.B. (1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM) Deciduous Karst Forest is Important Habitat for Dwarf Chameleons (Brookesia) in Western Madagascar. Oryx,.

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Antsingy leaf chameleon  
Antsingy leaf chameleon

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