B. oxyrhinum is one of the rarest of the Chamaeleonidae. A small chameleon from the Uluguru and Udzungwa (Uzungwe) Mountains of Tanzania (1400-1900 m), it was first distinguished from the closely related B. tenue in 1988 by Klaver & Boehme. Males may grow to 6.5". Females reach 5.5". The most distinctive characteristic is the long (up to 0.75"), blade-like rostral process of the male, formed from the canthi rostrales. The distal end of this process is flexible and broadens into a slightly rosette-shaped tip. Females lack a rostral appendage and have slightly lower casques. The low casque of both sexes lacks occipital lobes. Scalation on the head is heterogeneous but is largely homogeneous on the typically slim body. Gular and dorsal crests are absent.
Basic body coloration is variable and unremarkable, including creams, grays, browns and rust with irregular markings. However, during sexual or agonistic encounters, the eye turrets of the male may exhibit bright blues and reds. The eye turrets of the female turn a light green in such situations. In both sexes the snout may also turn blue and females may show small blue spots on both the casque and body.
This is a rainforest species that prefers the lower levels of vegetation such as bushes and grass tussocks. Temperatures reach day time highs of 85ºF with night time lows in the high 50s to low 60s.
There are no
published reports of the successful
breeding of this species but they
are oviparous like the
closely related B. tenue. They are very shy chameleons, so heavy foliage and individual caging is crucial. Hydration requirements are high and good UVB lighting is also important but natural sunlight is better. Fruit flies, houseflies, small silkworms, wax worms, crickets, and pillbugs are eagerly accepted. As with many chameleons, they accept somewhat warmer temperatures outdoors than indoors.
Contributed by Edward Pollak and Susan James
Klaver, C. & W. Boehme. 1997. Chamaeleonidae.
Das Tierreich, 112: i-xiv' 1 - 85. Verlag Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin, New York.
Martin, J., 1992. Masters of Disguise: A Natural History of Chameleons. Facts On File, Inc., New York, NY.
Necas, P. 1999. Chameleons: Nature's Hidden
Jewels. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, FL.
Spawls, S., Howell, K, Drewes, R. & Ashe, J. 2002. A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.