Bradypodion pumilum
Scientific name Common name(s) alternate scientific names described by year size Brood

Bradypodion pumilum

Cape Dwarf Chameleon Chamaeleo bonae speh, Lacerta pumila, Chamaeleo thermophilus, Chameleo pumillus, Chamaeleon tunicatus, Lophosaura pumila, Chamaeleon punilus, Chamaeleo pumilus, Microsaura pumilum, Microsaurus pumilus.
see a species list of Bradypodion
Gmelin 1789 Small Live

The systematics of this group has been the subject of considerable debate. Klaver and Boehme (1997) recognized the following subspecies: Bradypodion pumilum pumilum, B. p. caffer, guttarale, karrooicum, melanocephalumm occidentale, taeniabronchum, transvaalensis, ventrale. However, Raw (1976) gave species status to virtually all of these subspecies as did Klaver and Boehme (1986). Necas (1999) follows the 1986 nomenclature of Klaver and Boehme. Needless to say, controversy exists.

Bradypodion pumilum is a small, active chameleon indigenous to southern Namibia, South Africa and southern Mozambique. It occupies grasses and shrubs in a range of habitats, often near streams or shorelines but also in cultivated regions where it has successfully colonized gardens and plantations. Daily temperature fluctuations are extreme in its natural habitat. Summer highs are around 87ºF while night time lows are aften in the high 50sºF. During the winter months, daily highs in the upper 60s and night time lows of less than 20ºF are common. Humidity in its home range is often quite high and daily dewing is likely its major source of water.

Total length does not exceed 10 inches and is usually less than 8 inches. The high crest lacks occipital lobes. The gular crest is of a type that is unique to the Bradypodion pumilum complex, being composed of small hanging flaps of skin rather than enlarged, modified scales. The dorsal crest is composed of enlarged conical scales and extends from the cervical region to roughly half way down the tail. A ventral crest is absent and body scalation is strongly heterogeneous. Coloration and body markings are highly variable The body may range from yellow to green to brown. A broad, light colored stripe on the flanks extends from the head to the pelvic region. Males may be distinguished only by a hemipenal bulge.

Intermale aggression is strong but males may be housed with several females in a large, heavily planted cage. Adequate ventilation of the cage is crucial and screen or wire mesh cages are strongly preferred. Unlike many species of chameleon, B. pumilum lives far from the equator. This means that annual fluctuations in day length are significant. It is not known to what extent (if any) reproduction is tied to light cycles but it is recommended that the keeper attempt to mimic the natural condition with a 10L:14D cycle during the winter and a 14L:12D cycle in the summer.

Females give birth as many as 3 (and occasionally 4) times/year. Gestation lasts from 90-105 days and 2-21 babies may result. Fertilization has been shown to occur from retained sperm.

Contributed by E. Pollak

Bartlett, R. D. and Bartlett, P. 1995. Chameleons: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual. Barron's Educations Series, Hauppuage, NY
Klaver, C. & W. Boehme. 1986. Phylogeny and classification of the Chamaeleonidae (Sauria) with special reference to hemipenis morphology. Bonner Zool. Monogr. 22: 1-64.
Klaver, C. & W. Boehme. 1997. Chamaeleonidae. Das Tierreich, 112: i-xiv' 1 - 85. Verlag Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin, New York.
Le Berre, F. 1994. The New Chameleon Handbook. Barron's Educational Series. ?
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.
Raw, L. R. G., 1976. A survey of the dwarf chameleons of Natal, South Africa, with descriptions of three new species (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae), Durban Museum Novitates 11 (7): 139-161.
Schmidt, W., Tamm, K. and Wallikewitz, E. 1994a. Chameleons, Volume I: Species. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, NJ.
Schmidt, W., Tamm, K. and Wallikewitz, 1994b. Chameleons, Volume II: Care and Breeding. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, NJ.

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