Furcifer oustaleti

Scientific name Common name(s) alternate scientific names described by year size brood

Furcifer oustaleti

Giant Madagascar or Oustalet's Chameleon Chamaeleon oustaleti, Chamaeleo oustaleti
see a species list of Furcifer
Mocquard 1894 Medium Large

F. oustaleti is abundant and widespread in Madagascar. It has also been introduced near Nairobi, Kenya although its current status there is unknown. It inhabits both warm and humid coastal lowlands but seems to prefer drier forests. Most common in disturbed areas, it even occurs in parks and gardens of Antananarivo (Pronk, personal communication). This large chameleon commonly reaches a total length of 24 inches but even larger males have been reported. Females reach half this size. they are moderately aggressive toward conspecific but docile to aggressive toward keepers.

F. oustaleti has a high casque which lacks occipital lobes. Horns or other rostral processes are also absent. Gular and dorsal crests are composed of specialized, prominent conical scales. A small abdominal ridge is also present. Body scalation is heterogeneous. Coloration is primarily of grays and browns. Animals from different localities may exhibit variations in the extent of a reddish or greenish tinge. Females tend to be slightly more colorful than males, to be somewhat slimmer and slightly smaller. Males have a broader tail base.

As many as 61 eggs are laid in a single clutch. In captivity there may be as many as 2 clutches per year although in the wild it is likely that more than one clutch is laid. Sexual maturity is achieved at 6 - 12 months of age. The average weights of the hatchlings are between .81 and .88 grams (Pronk, personal communication).

F. oustaleti occupies many of the same areas as F. pardalis and has similar requirements regarding hydration. These areas get a great deal of rain during the Malagasy spring and summer but little rain in the fall and winter.  Initial reports (e.g., Davison, 1997)  that oustaleti are "oblivious to dry atmosphere" (p.90) seem to have given many novices the impression that F. oustaleti is a "desert chameleon" with low hydration requirements. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Even during the dry season, humidity is high (over 70%) in the coastal lowlands preferred by this species.  Consequently, there is extensive daily dewing regardless of season. Like most other chameleons, F. oustaleti should be considered a water-loving species with high hydration requirements.

Contributed by E. Pollak

For photos of oustaleti color morphs, please see our oustelati morph page.

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Davison, Linda J. 1997. Chameleons: Their Care and Breeding. Hancock House Publishers, Blaine, WA.
De Vosjoli, P. and Ferguson, G. 1995. Care and Breeding of Chameleons. Advanced Vivarium Systems, Santee, CA.
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.
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.

Spawls, S., Howell, K., Drewes, R., and Ashe, J. 2002. A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, New York.

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