Parson's chameleon

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Parson's chameleon
Calumma Parsonii Ste Marie Madagascar.jpg
Male C. p. parsonii,
"orange eye" variant
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Chamaeleonidae
Genus: Calumma
Species: C. parsonii
Binomial name
Calumma parsonii
(Cuvier, 1824)
Calumma parsonii distribution.png

The Parson's chameleon (Calumma parsonii) is a large species of chameleon that is endemic to isolated pockets of humid primary forest in eastern and northern Madagascar. It is listed on CITES Appendix II, meaning that trade in this species is regulated. As with the majority of chameleon species from Madagascar, it is illegal to export Parson's chameleons from their native country.[3]


The specific name, parsonii, is in honor of British physician James Parsons.[4]



Among the largest chameleons in the world (usually considered the largest by weight, but shorter than the Malagasy Giant Chameleon which holds the title for the largest by length), C. parsonii males have ridges running from above the eyes to the nose, forming two warty horns. There are two recognized subspecies: The widespread Calumma p. parsonii reaches up to 68 cm (27 in) in total length (including tail), about the size of a cat, and has no dorsal crest. Calumma p. cristifer, from near Andasibe, reaches 47 cm (18 12 in), and has a small dorsal crest.[5][6] Several colour variants are known within the range typically included in the nominate subspecies, but it is unclear if they are best considered morphs or different subspecies (at present, most consider them morphs). This includes "orange eye" aka "white-lipped" (generally considered typical of the nominate subspecies), where the male is relatively small and mainly green or turquoise but with yellow or orange eyelids; "yellow lip" where the male is somewhat larger and mainly green or turquoise, but with a yellow edge to the mouth; "yellow giant" where the male is very large and overall yellowish (strongly marked with dusky when stressed); and "green giant" where the male is overall green. Males of C. p. cristifer are overall green or turquoise.[5] Females of both subspecies are smaller than the males and overall greenish, yellowish or brownish (often with an orange tinge).


In captivity, females of Parson's chameleon lay up to 50 eggs per clutch; the eggs can take up to two years to hatch. The female's reproductive cycle allows for egg laying only once every two years.[citation needed] The hatchlings are independent once they dig themselves out of their underground nest. Once the nest is dug, eggs are laid, and buried, the female's parental obligations are concluded. Parents do not contribute any care towards the young.


  1. ^ Jenkins RKB; Andreone F, Andriamazava A, Anjeriniaina M, Brady L, Glaw F, Griffiths RA, Rabibisoa N, Rakotomalala D, Randrianantoandro JC, Randrianiriana J, Randrianizahana H, Ratsoavina F, Robsomanitrandrasana E (2011). "Calumma parsonii ". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Calumma parsonii ". The Reptile Database.
  3. ^ Anderson CV (2006). Captive Chameleon Populations. Accessed 23-01-2009
  4. ^ Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Calumma parsonii, p. 201).
  5. ^ a b Glaw F; Vences M (1994). A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar (Second ed.). Cologne, Germany: M. Vences & F. Glaw Verlags GbR/Serpents Tale. 480 pp. ISBN 978-3-929449-01-3. 
  6. ^ Parson's chameleon. Accessed 23-01-2009

Further reading[edit]

  • Boulenger GA (1887). Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Second Edition. Volume III. ... Chamæleontidae ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xii + 575 pp. + Plates I-XL. (''Chamæleon parsonii, p. 466).
  • Cuvier G (1824). Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles, où l'on rétablit les charactères de plusieurs animaux dont les révolutions du globe ont détruit les espèces, Nouvelle édition, Tome cinquième, IIe Partie [= Volume 5, Part 2]. Paris: Dufour & l'Ocagne. 547 pp. + Plates I-XXXIII. (Chamaeleo parsonii, new species, p. 269 + Plate XVI, figures 30 & 31). (in French).

External links[edit]