31/01/2019

Tiny trio hatch

​A trio of tiny bearded pygmy chameleons have hatched at Bristol Zoo in the past week.

It’s the first clutch of 2019 for the Zoo’s reptile team who are keeping them safe off-show with other infants in the Reptile House.     

They measure just 1.5cm long and are barely the size of a fingernail but even when they are fully grown they will only measure 8cm (3 inches).  

The chameleons, which get their name from small beard-like lobes under their chins, hatched after 66 days at a room temperature of around 25C and will start to eat over the next couple of days.

Tim Skelton, curator of reptiles at Bristol Zoo, said: “We’ve had a hugely successful 12 months for breeding these fascinating creatures. A total of 17 bearded pygmy chameleons have hatched and are thriving.  

“Other Zoos are keen to continue the success of our breeding, including Jersey Zoo who we donated some hatchlings to in 2017. Chester Zoo has also contacted us to do the same thing.  

“Breeding this species is a great way for our team to learn how we can eventually rear and house more exotic species of chameleon, such as the Madagascan dwarf chameleon, which requires more complex husbandry. It’s great to see that we are leading the way for the future of this species.”  

Bearded pygmy chameleons can blend into their background by becoming darker when they are under stress. They are also capable of compressing their bodies laterally and producing a stripe down one side, so they look like a dead leaf.  

Tim added: “They are such fun to watch feeding. Chameleons are so different from other animals, the way they have evolved, the way they camouflage themselves.”

In the wild this species is found amongst the leaf litter in Tanzania. They lay their eggs in soft ground, leaving the newly-hatched chameleons to scramble to the surface.  

In the Zoo two adult female bearded pygmy chameleons can currently be seen in the rearing area of the Reptile House.  

Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity. It relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.

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