This exquisite little chameleon is locally abundant but restricted to the Grand Comoro Island (not Mayotte) in the northern part of the Mozambique Channel which separates Mozambique from Madagascar. It inhabits the humid, tropical coastal regions. Males may grow to 7 inches (TL; SVL to 2.5") while females are slightly smaller. Adults may weight from 3-8 grams. There is significant variability in temperament that may range from timid to aggressive.
The rostral process projects above the mouth (similar to F. pardalis). In some specimens the rostrals may also project slightly anterior to the mouth. Scalation is smooth and homogeneous. Colors are light green, with yellow, blue, and brown intermingling, and a light lateral stripe. The most apparent differences between the sexes are body and rostral size, which are larger in the male. Males also have a prominent hemipenial bulge.
This species only entered the U.S.A. legally for the first time in April 2000. They are infested with parasites upon arrival. One analysis revealed
Ancylostoma (hookworms, moderate burden) and Flagellates. Non-pathogenic
organisms and and pseudoparasites
included amoebic cysts, pollen granules and possible yeast problems. High concentrations of actively budding fungal organisms were also apparent (Ken Lopez, DVM, personal
communication to S. James). For all these reasons F. cephalolepis should be kept only by keepers with extensive experience.
Females may lay as many as 3 - 5 clutches per year. Gestation has been reported at 33 - 45 days and egg incubation at 244 - 320 days with incubation temperatures between 78F - 82ºF (Necas, 1999). However, one of us (S.J.) has observed gestation to be closer to 60 days and incubation range from 255 - 405 days at those same temperatures or somewhat cooler (six clutches studied). Four-nine eggs are laid in a single clutch. Sexual maturity may occur as early as 3 months.
Contributed by Susan James and E. Pollak
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.