Madagascar chameleon observations (Brookesia, calumma, furcifer)

javadi

Chameleon Enthusiast
I recently got back from a 2-week expedition to Madagascar where I primarily looked for chameleons and observed them in their native habitat. I thought I would make this thread to summarize some observations I had during this time, probably over a few separate posts over time. Of course this is just one person's experience, but I did my best to corroborate my findings with others who have spent time there (especially local guides, specifically Patrick Andriamihaja) and think about each observation critically. I hope this will pave the way to improving how I (and maybe others) think about the care of these stunning creatures.

I found 21 species of chameleons on this visit, with two "localities" of parsonii (yellow giant and yellow lip). My main travels were to Andasibe, Maromizaha, Vohimana, Analamazotra, Ranomafana, Ambositra and of course the roadside along this whole journey.

Brookesia superciliaris
Brookesia therezieni
Brookesia thieli
Calumma gallus
Calumma roaloko
Calumma radamanus
Calumma fallax
Calumma tijiasmantoi
Calumma gastrotaenia
Calumma glawi
Calumma oshaughnessyi
Calumma parsonii (yellow giant and yellow lip)
Calumma parsonii cristifer
Calumma malthe
Calumma brevicorne
Calumma crypticum
Furcifer lateralis
Furcifer oustaleti
Furcifer minor
Furcifer balteatus
Furcifer bifidus
Furcifer willsii

Oh, also, although these aren't super high quality, if desired any of the photos pictured here can be used by chameleon forums staff to promote the website. Cite me if possible but otherwise, if this is of value, please use :)
 
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I found Brookesia superciliaris, therezieni, thieli in Madagascar across a few sites. All 3 species can be found on very thick tree trunks, logs and branches, on thinner branches, as well as on the ground and in the case of thieli, very high up on trees as well. At night, they would all often be found from about 1 foot to 4 feet off the ground, with some thieli found about 10 feet up in a tree, often sleeping upside down! We also observed some pairs of brookesia sleeping together-likely an extension of courtship behavior. Further, the leaf litter, while widespread in these environments, was never very deep. Immediately below the leaf litter was dirt or other decomposing material. I think this supports a relatively shallow layer of leaf litter being sufficient in captivity, which has indeed proven successful. Humidity where all of these individuals were found, during both day and night, was very high (above 70%, up to 95%). I’m looking forward to continuing to tweak husbandry based on observations from the wild. What a treat to see them in the wild! Here are some photos of individuals, their environments, and even the leaf litter forest floor before and after I brushed into it a bit.

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Also, some experts agree that these are B. thieli, which I'm inclined to agree with, but these individuals had slightly different features than most B. thieli I have ever seen or worked with. Specifically the supraorbital crest/spikes along the eyes. These were found in Ranomafana, so who knows, maybe a regional variant. Also note some were found sleeping nearly vertically (pictured).


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Amazing...I would have been so scared to step on one. But Michael I am over here waiting for you to post the pic of the parsons that was bigger than your arm. Like the biggest I have ever seen... :)
 
Here's some pictures of calumma parsonii. Something interesting about them-the ones I saw were mostly on the outskirts of villages/towns where foliage was less dense, often in introduced plants like avocado trees or jackfruit trees. The ambient humidity during the daytime tended to be very high (70-95%) but in some areas it was also quite warm. Most babies I saw were found deeper in the forest though. Here are some adult yellow giant and yellow lip. It's remarkable how tolerant of handling/observation they were. Really gentle and enormous. A lot of folks in Madagascar don't care much for chameleons, but tourists get excited enough about parsonii that many of the villagers sort of "take care" of the local parsonii and know where to find them. Apologies that so many of these have some human goofball in the photo, but it does help for size comparisons.


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Here's some pictures of calumma parsonii. Something interesting about them-the ones I saw were mostly on the outskirts of villages/towns where foliage was less dense, often in introduced plants like avocado trees or jackfruit trees. The ambient humidity during the daytime tended to be very high (70-95%) but in some areas it was also quite warm. Most babies I saw were found deeper in the forest though. Here are some adult yellow giant and yellow lip. It's remarkable how tolerant of handling/observation they were. Really gentle and enormous. A lot of folks in Madagascar don't care much for chameleons, but tourists get excited enough about parsonii that many of the villagers sort of "take care" of the local parsonii and know where to find them. Apologies that so many of these have some human goofball in the photo, but it does help for size comparisons.


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You look so happy! ❤️ The huge male on your arm.... Just blew my mind when I saw that pic on Bill's promo when you were on his show while in Madagascar.
 
Great pictures about Calumma parsonii parsonii in Madagascar!! Thanks for sharing. I have got a couple Avacodo Tree's in my greenhouse and have considered buying a Jackfruit Tree. That is great news you documented Calumma parsonii parsonii living on both tree's in Madagascar.

Best Regards
Jeremy A. Rich
 
Here's some pictures of calumma parsonii. Something interesting about them-the ones I saw were mostly on the outskirts of villages/towns where foliage was less dense, often in introduced plants like avocado trees or jackfruit trees. The ambient humidity during the daytime tended to be very high (70-95%) but in some areas it was also quite warm. Most babies I saw were found deeper in the forest though. Here are some adult yellow giant and yellow lip. It's remarkable how tolerant of handling/observation they were. Really gentle and enormous. A lot of folks in Madagascar don't care much for chameleons, but tourists get excited enough about parsonii that many of the villagers sort of "take care" of the local parsonii and know where to find them. Apologies that so many of these have some human goofball in the photo, but it does help for size comparisons.


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Oh my gosh what an amazing experience you must have had! Thank you for sharing it with us!
 
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