(from the Greek
thamnos meaning "shrub" and "bates" meaning to "crawl or climb over") inhabits the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. It is restricted to the Midlands between Mooi River, Bulwer, Howick and Dargle at an elevation of 3000 & 4200 ft. The preferred habitat is in bushes and scrubs, along roads, fences and gardens. The annual rainfall is less than 1000 mm but no month is without rain. The rainy season is from October to April. Maximum temperature is around 86¡F in January with a night drop to 59ºF. In July the maximum temperature is around 68ºF with a night drop below the 50«s and sometimes below freezing point.
B. thamnobates is a small chameleon with a total length of 7.5 inches (SVL 3 inches) and weight of 10-12 grams. Both sexes have a relatively high casque without occipital lobes. The gular crest consists of skin flaps (scaly lobes) typical of South African Bradypodion species. A dorsal crest of conical scales continues along the back until the middle of the tail. The body scalation is very
heterogeneous with interspersed lenticular scales on the sides. Males have a significant hemipenal bulge.
B. thamnobates is docile towards keepers and relatively docile toward conspecifics but males may be significantly aggressive amongst themselves.
B. thamnobates can be housed in pairs or groups in screen cages. This species seems to be sensitive to upper respiratory infections due to inadequate ventilation. The animals benefit from outdoor housing from spring to fall. They are heliophilic and like to bask whenever possible. When kept indoors they need a basking spot (20 W halogen spot), and preferably HQL/HQI lamps of appropriate wattage. The temperatures should be maintained as described above.
If housed in pairs or groups, mating may occur unnoticed due to the calm temper of the animals. If kept separated, the female should be introduced into the male«s cage. The male starts a head bobbing ritual and follows the female. If she is receptive she crawls away slowly and copulation takes place for 15 30 minutes. Mating can occur on consecutive days. When the female rejects the male«s approaches they should be separated. After a gestation period of five to eight months, 8-16 babies are born in the morning hours. They measure approx. 1.5 inches and can be raised with the usual drosophila and pinhead crickets in small groups. They seem to be sensitive to dehydration and should not be housed in all screen cages unless an ultrasonic humidifier is used. At the age of three months they should be separated since an early sexual maturity can happen at this time although 6 months is more common. Two clutches per year is possible in captivity.
Contributed by Stefan Dangel
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. & Wallikewitz, E. 1996.
Chaméleons -Drachen unserer
Zeit. Herpetologischer Fachverlag, Muenster.