|alternate scientific names
spinosus, Chamaeleo spinosus.
see a species list of Bradypodion
Bradypodion spinosum is an uncommon species from virgin forests of the eastern and western Usambara Mountains (elev. approximately 2700' to 4000' 820 to 1200 meters) of Tanzania where it is threatened by rapid deforestation. Deforestation can result from logging by the local people as a means to get firewood or to clear land for tea plantations that are becoming increasingly abundant. Bradypodion spinosum does not adapt well, if at all, to disturbed forests. They inhabit small trees, brush and vines in high altitude forests where little, if any, direct sunlight penetrates the dense "canopy." They are most easily spotted at night, usually from waist to shoulder height with some being found even higher. These forests stay extremely humid despite periods, of up to several months without rain. However, heavy dew is common and this dew can appear as rain. The dew collects and falls from foliage high up in the forest, which can form quite large drops and fall for extended periods of time. It should also be noted that the clouds commonly appear very low as they sweep through the forests, making everything damp and raising the ambient humidity. Other chameleons commonly found in the same areas are Bradypodion tenue, Chamaeleo deremensis and Rhampholeon temporalis. Chameleons found at lower elevations include Bradypodion fischeri fischeri, undescribed Bradypodion fischeri, Bradypodion tenue and Rhampholeon brevicaudatus.
Bradypodion spinosum is one of the smallest specimens of the Genus Bradypodion with mature adults reaching a total length of approximately 3.5 inches (>9 centimeters). The most distinctive characteristic is the laterally compressed, rosette-shaped rostral process, which is soft to the touch and present in both sexes. The low casque lacks occipital lobes. Scalation is heterogeneous and as the name spinosum implies, the body is adorned with patches and rows of enlarged, spinose scales that resemble small spikes. Two rows of soft spinose scales are apparent on the flanks and additional patches of these scales may be seen on the tail and on the limbs. Gular and ventral crests are absent but there is a dorsal crest that consists of a small number of soft, spiny scales irregularly spaced along the dorsum and the proximal third of the tail. The tail is approximately the same length, or perhaps a little shorter, as that from the snout to vent itself (SVL).
Coloration in males is predominantly a light gray but may include a green tint on the flanks and the rosette-shaped rostral process. However, the head and body can include pink, yellow, brown, white (lichen-like patches) as well as a bluish tint. Furthermore, males have noticeably larger and more abundant "spines" than females. Also noteworthy is the fact that, males have extremely long and thin hemipenes.
Females exhibit brown and black patches and/or bands on the head and body. Females stress coloration is recognized by a tan and/or white body with brown and black bands and/or blotches across the body and over the back (Walter Hirschmann & Trevor Dell, personal communication). Stress coloration in males consists of a uniform dark coloration with gray on the back and flanks.
Reproduction is oviparous with clutches containing 2-3 eggs. It has been reported that in the wild, they usually lay only a single clutch a year in January (Walter Hirschmann, personal communication). However, Joe Beraducci (personal communication) has observed females "double clutching," where a clutch of 2 eggs is typically laid in January and 2 more eggs are laid 1-3 months later. Neonates can be raised with the adults for the first few months with no aggression or stress. They may then be separated (Joe Beraducci, personal communication). Furthermore, breeding pairs can be maintained together in densely planted enclosures with no aggression or stress. They will usually even sleep close by one another in the same spots every night. Bradypodion spinosum prefer to be kept in a shady area although they will commonly bask in the early morning sun, especially after a cool night. They seem to be quite active in the mornings and can usually be seen hunting for food at that time. Bradypodion spinosum prefer flies but they will readily take any small food item that is available as they are voracious eaters. Ideal day time temperatures are mid 70's (24C) to low 80's (28C). Nighttime temperatures of low to mid 60's (16C-18C) are recommended.
Contributed by Josh Mease, with additional information provided by Trevor Dell.
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., and Ashe, J. 2002. A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, New York.
click on any thumbnail for a larger image
This page last modified on: Tuesday, February 11, 2003
© 2002-2005 ADCHAM.com
ADCHAM logo illustrated by Randy Douglas. Web site design by Look Design, Inc.
Do not reproduce or redistibute any of content of this web site without express written permission from the authors.