Pygmy Stump-Tailed Chameleon

By Eleanor Warren-Thomas

Pygmy Stump-Tailed Chameleon

Photo by Rhettt A. Butler

Pygmy Stump-Tailed Chameleon

Scientific Name: Brookesia peyrierasi

This little chameleon lives on the island of Madagascar, off the southeastern coast of Africa. This is the only place in the whole world that you can find it - it is called "endemic" to Madagascar. You can see a map of where they live here: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=172795. You can see that they only live in a small part of Madagascar, but scientists think they might live in other parts of the island too, although because they're so hard to find, we can't be sure! They live on the ground in the leaf litter of dry deciduous forests, and rainforests.

The Stump Tailed Pygmy Chameleon eats small insects, and hunts for food as it journeys across the forest floor. It has really good camouflage, and if it feels scared or threatened, it will stay still to try and blend in with its surroundings - it looks just like a fallen leaf! They can play dead for several minutes, until the confused predator loses interest, or can't find it. They hunt during the day, and at night they sleep on the leaves of shrubs. This would be the best place to look, if you were in Madagascar and hoping to find one...

It is listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red list, which is a list of animals and birds that might be endangered. This means that although this species is OK for now, it is declining and we need to be very careful that it doesn't become endangered. Some problems for the Pygmy Stump-Tailed Chameleon include cutting down of forests to harvest trees where they live. Another problem is that the areas of forest that are not cut down are separated from each other by open areas, a bit like islands in the sea, so the different populations of chameleons living in each patch of forest aren't able to meet each other to breed, which is worrying scientists This species is on a special list called CITES, which means that people aren't allowed to sell them as pets overseas. This is to try and make sure that these chameleons aren't taken out of Madagascar wild to become pets, as this might mean there aren't enough left living in the wild.

This tiny little chameleon is one of the smallest species of chameleon in the whole world! It's close relative, the Dwarf or Pygmy Chamelon (Brookesia minima) is the smallest in the world, but this little guy is a close second. This picture shows you just how little it is!

Pygmy Stump-Tailed Chameleon

Photo by Rhettt A. Butler

Just imagine what the world would look like if you were this tiny. If you were only an inch long, you would find that lots of bugs were bigger than you, and crossing the forest floor would be like hiking over mountains! We don't know very much about these little chameleons, but scientists have seen them mating and laying eggs in February.

There are lots of similar chameleons to this one, that are also really tiny. Why don't you have a look on the internet for "Brookesia" and see how many other species you can find! You can see some more wonderful pictures of this tiny chameleon here: http://www.arkive.org/pygmy-stump-tailed-chameleon/brookesia-peyrierasi/.

Pictures of the Brookesia chameleons

Brookesia superciliaris chameleon; Masoala NP

Brookesia superciliaris playing dead

Brookesia peyrierasi chameleon in hand

Brookesia superciliaris chameleon

Brookesia superciliaris chameleon in leaf litter

Brookesia peyrierasi chameleon on twig

Brookesia superciliaris sleeping on leaf

Plated Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia stumpffi)

Brookesia Chameleon; Madagascar

Peyrieras' Pygmy Chameleon (Brookesia peyrierasi)

Brown Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia superciliaris)

Brookesia thieli chameleon

Pygmy Stump-tailed Chameleon (Brookesia peyrierasi) on a woman's hand

Brookesia antakarana

Brookesia peyrierasi chameleon on leaf

Brookesia tuberculata

Thiel's Pygmy Chameleon (Brookesia thieli) in the palm of a man's hand

Brookesia antakarana

Brookesia tuberculata

Antongil Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia peyrierasi) on a woman's hand

Brookesia antakarana

Animal profiles

Bare-Faced Ibis
Blue and Gold Macaw
Common Potoo
Green Honeycreeper
Grey Winged Trumpeter
Harpy Eagle
Horned Screamer
Jabiru Stork
Malachite Kingfisher
Mealy Parrot
Northern Cassowary
Savanna hawk
Scale-crested pygmy-tyrant
Rhinoceros Hornbill
Scarlet Ibis
Wattled Jacana

Asian black bear
Black-and-white ruffed lemur
Black-faced spider monkey
Bornean Rhino
Brown capuchin monkey
Capybara [2nd profile]
Coquerel's Sifaka
Crowned Lemur
Eastern Long Beaked Echidna
Howler Monkey
Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat
Malayan Tapir
Mountain Gorilla
Plains Zebra not a rainforest species
South American tapir
South American coatimundi
Spectral Tarsier
Spider Monkey
Squirrel Monkeys
White-lipped peccary
Woolly Monkey

Green Basilisk
Leatherback Sea Turtle not a rainforest species
Pygmy stump-tailed chameleon
Spectacled Caiman

Giant Chinese Salamander
Gladiator Tree Frog
Green Poison Arrow Frog
Indian Purple Frog
Monkey Frog
Follow mongabay kids on Twitter

All about Rainforests


  • May I use graphics from mongabay.com for my projects? Yes, you may provided that you don't remove the mongabay label from the images. You may use information from the site for class projects and can cite kids.mongabay.com as the source.
  • Can I interview the founder of mongabay.com for my school project? Unfortunately due to the large number of requests and the need to work on the main mongabay.com site, Rhett (the person who runs mongabay.com) is not available for interviews. However he has answered some common questions on the Rainforest Interview page.
  • Do you have any games or activities? Currently there are a few on the resources page. There may be more in the future.
  • Who are some scientists who study rainforests? Take a look at the Interviews with rainforest experts page.
  • How can I help save rainforests? Some ideas are listed on the Rainforest Solutions page.
  • Where can I learn more about rainforests? There is a wealth of information at the main rainforest site

    Simplified version (fewer images and links)

  • home | teacher resources | rainforest books for kids | other languages | about the site | main rainforest site | help support the site | search | contact

    ©2008 mongabay.com