Scientific Name: Rieppeleon brevicaudatus
IUCN Red List status: Least Concern
Bearded Pygmy Chameleon are named after their tiny 8cm-long-body and scaly throat with two chin lobes.
These miniature reptiles can adopt a variety of colours (brown, yellow, green, orange and black) to show stress or attract a mate. They can even compress their body and produce a stripe down their side to mimic a dead leaf to deter predators when sleeping in the open.
Bearded Pygmy Chameleons are usually active during the day, as they hunt for small insects to eat within the leaf litter and shrubs of the forest floor.
Bearded Pygmy Chameleon are found in lowland forest across eastern Tanzania and south-eastern Kenya.
When they are not clinging onto twigs or leaves of low bushes, they are usually found on the leafy forest floor catching insects in submontane, coastal and lowland forest habitats.
The landscape of Rondo Plateau in Tanzania’s Lindi District, set to be protected by WLT partner TFCG starting in 2021, is one of their confirmed homes.
Threats and Conservation
Habitat loss and deforestation is a major threat to Bearded Pygmy Chameleon, which rely on the rich leafy understorey of a healthy evergreen forest.
According to the IUCN, this species has an estimated extent of occurrence of 163,800km2, but within this area the available forest covers less than 10 per cent.