Brookesia minima

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Brookesia minima
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Family: Chamaeleonidae
Genus: Brookesia
Species: B. minima
Binomial name
Brookesia minima
Boettger, 1893
Brookesia minima distribution.png

Brookesia minima, (common names of which include the dwarf chameleon, the Madagascan dwarf chameleon,[2] the minute leaf chameleon,[3] the pygmy leaf chameleon,[4] the Nosy Be pygmy leaf chameleon, and the tiny ground chameleon[5][6]), is a diminutive chameleon that was often said to be the smallest[7] of the Chamaeleonidae, but a smaller species, B. micra, was described in 2012.


B. minima is endemic to Nosy Be, an island located just off the northwest coast of Madagascar, but has extralimital distribution to Manongarivo Reserve on Madagascar's northwest coast.[7]


The newly discovered Brookesia micra chameleon is the tiniest lizard ever to be described (4). With the independently rotating eyes and curly tail characteristic of all chameleons, Brookesia micra is coloured light grey on the head, back and tail, although the tail becomes orange then yellowish towards the tip. The sides of the body are brown, occasionally interrupted by dark brown spots, and the limbs are almost entirely dark brown. Spotted patterning appears to be a stress colouration, and unstressed individuals have a more or less uniform dark brown body, apart from a beige area in front of the eyes (1). The B. minima adult has a flattened head and an orbital crest with large scales forming triangular plates above its eyes. Along its back are two rows of granular protrusions. B. minima specimens sometimes have lateral yellow stripes over their basic drab grayish-brown color. The maximum total length is 3.4 cm (1.3 in) for females and 2.8 cm (1.1 in) for males.[8] Males are also more slender than females, and exhibit a hemipenial bulge at the base of their tails. They are often considered the smallest of the Chamaeleonidae, but there is a smaller species.[7][8]


B. minima is native to the rain forests of its native island. It has a relatively active habit for a chameleon and likes moving around in the low branches and leaf litter of its native rain forests. Though they are moderately aggressive toward one another, population and densities in the wild may approach one animal per square meter.[7]


It is not known how frequently B. minima reproduces, but a typical clutch contains two eggs.[7]


Few successful examples of captive breeding have been reported. Because B. minima are somewhat territorial, individual housing is recommended even for very young specimens. Their terrarium or other "glass enclosures of at least 16" x 16" x 16" (16"=~40 cm)"[7] should have a substrate of leaf litter or soil. As they prefer to stay close to the ground, the horizontal dimensions of their habit are more important than its height. B. minima eggs are tiny and difficult to locate; some breeders prefer to leave them in their enclosure until hatching.[7]

Similar species[edit]

B. minima has been characterized as belonging to a species group with other Madagascan dwarf chameleons such as B. dentata, B. tuberculata, and other new or unidentified species such as a recently described chameleon from Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve.[7]

A 1999 paper in the Journal of Zoology disputed a 1995 paper which considered B. tuberculata and B. peyrierasiand to be the same species as B. minima. The later paper discussed the same details as the first—subtle morphological differences in the hemipenises of the respective species—and determined they were heterospecific. They also found differences in the arrangement of head crests and in minute spines above the eyes.[2][9]



  • 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.


  1. ^ Andreone, F., Andriamazava, A., Anjeriniaina, M., Glaw, F., Jenkins, R.K.B., Rabibisoa, N., Rakotomalala, D., Randrianantoandro, J.C., Randrianiriana, J., Randrianizahana , H., Ratsoavina, F. & Robsomanitrandrasana, E. (2011). "Brookesia minima". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b [1] Journal of Zoology (1999), 247: 225-238 Cambridge University Press
  3. ^ [2] Arkive:Images of Life on Earth
  4. ^ [3] Zoological Society of San Diego
  5. ^ [4]
  6. ^ [5] Common names
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h [6] Brookesia minima by E. Pollak
  8. ^ a b Glaw, Frank; Vences, Miguel (1994). A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar 2nd edition. Köln: M. Vences & F. Glaw Verlags GbR. ISBN 3-929449-01-3. .
  9. ^ [7] The Reptile Database