F. rhinoceratus is endemic to Madagascar. Its distribution is restricted to the dry, Western Domain. Found within Réserve Naturelle Intégrale Ankarafantsika (R.N.I. 7) around Ambovory, Ampijoroa, Antema, Lakato, Mahajanga, Soalala, St.Marie de Morovoay, rhinoceratus is locally common and often seen along roads and paths. It is also present, but more difficult to spot, within the forest.
Males reach a maximum total length of 11 inches (27 cm), females 5 inches (12 cm). There is more or less homogenous scalation, often with a longitudinal row of slightly enlarged scales at the flanks. Males have a prominent, vertically compressed nasal projection that is present but less developed in females. The "nose" for which this species is named (rhinoceratus mean "horn-nosed") is thin and fragile. Both sexes possess a low casque. Males have no gular crest or very few small, pointed tubercles. Females have no gular crest. Males are
grayish or brownish with dark brown or black between scales. The labials (lips) are white and there is a white, longitudinal line at the flanks. The "nose" often has a bluish hue. Female coloration is similar to tht of the male except that gravid females exhibit an overall neon-purple coloration and black transverse bands that continue on the orange or red tail. In both sexes a dorsal crest is present on the anterior half of the body.
Very few if any published records exist of successful caprive breeding of Furcifer rhinoceratus. This is partially due to the relative rarity of the species in the wild but also because legal exports of the species were banned in 1995. Hardly any
Furcifer rhinoceratus were exported prior to the ban and breeding successes with chameleons were much more uncommon before 1995 than they are nowadays. At Centre Soafiavy, clutches of 4-11 eggs were laid in November 2000. Incubated in slightly moist vermiculite, allowed to dry out during incubation, eggs started hatching after 291 days at 83.3ºF (28.5ºC). The newly hatched chameleons weighed 0.38-0.44 grams.
F. rhinoceratus may be confused with F. antimena and F. labordi, two closely related species. Male rhinoceratus differ from male antimena and labordi by the incomplete dorsal crest and the lower casque. Female rhinoceratus may be differentiated from female antimena and labordi by the absence of a white ventromedial line.
Contributed by Olaf Pronk, Centre Soafiavy, Madagascar
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.