Rhampholeon spectrum

Scientific name

Common name(s)

alternate scientific names

described by




Rhampholeon spectrum

Spectral Pygmy Chameleon

Chamaeleo spectrum, Brookesia spectrum, Rhampholeon affinis
see a species list of Rhampholeon





Abundant throughout equatorial Africa from Fernando Poo Island to Western Kenya and Tanzania, R. spectrum inhabits the leaf litter of rain forest and dry forest floor. Two subspecies have been recognized: R. spectrum spectrum and R. spectrum boulengeri. Total length is to 4 inches. Levels of intraspecific aggression are low.

General Characteristics: R. spectrum is a leaf-shaped false chameleon with a laterally compressed body, low casque and small horns over the eyes. The casque sports lateral crests composed of small tubercles. A small rostral protuberance is also present. Scalation is heterogeneous with enlarged scales giving the body a "granular or thorny appearance" (Necas, 1999). Color varies from greenish-brown to light gray. A reddish- orange hue may also be present. Two parallel dark lines extend from the anterior and dorsal part of the flanks to the posterior and ventral part of the flanks. Irregular light and dark blotches give a lichen-like appearance. The belly may be lighter in color than the flanks. The short, stump-like tail is non-prehensile. Males may be identified by the markedly broadened tail base.

Despite the reported low levels of intra specific aggression it is recommended that specimens be housed separately. Little is known concerning the reproduction of this species aside from the fact that a clutch typically consists of 2-5 eggs.

Contributed by E. Pollak

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.

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