Short-horned Chameleon
Calumma brevicorne (Gnther, 1879)

Family: Chamaeleonidae

Order: Squamata - Lizards and Snakes

Class: Reptilia

Phylum: Chordata - Vertebrates

Kingdom: Animalia

Red List status: Not listed

                                Male            Female

Snout-vent length: 132-170 mm  110-140 mm

Total length:            405 mm        280 mm

Short-horned chameleon. Andasibe, Madagascar


Endemic to Madagascar, where it is widespread from the Tsaratanana Massif in the far north to the southeast corner of the island. However, reliable records exist only for scattered populations throughout this range. Like all Calumma species, it is absent from the island's dry southwest.

            Range            Description            Habitat            Taxonomy            References

This is a medium to large species is characterised by the possession of large occipital lobes whose base is at or below the lower margin of the eye orbit, and aalmost (but not completely) separated from one another by a deep notch, and a single short (3.5-5 mm long, projecting at least 2.5 mm ahead of the mouth) bony rostral appendage in males extending from the front of the rostral crests, which are distinct and meet at the tip. In females, the rostral crests meet but no appendage is present. A gular crest is typically but not invariably present. Lateral crests are present; there is a parietal crest, but this is indistinct. Colouration is generally grey, with irregular brown markings, and a white stripe may occur along the flank. A pale mark is usually present behind the eye, connecting it to the occipital lobe. In both sexes, the fused rostral crests are red at the tip, including the appendage in males. Scales on the head and legs are noticeably variable in size (heterogenous).

Similar species: Unusually among Calumma species, C. brevicorne does possess a rudimentary ventral crest. Furcifer chameleons lack occipital lobes, and are generally uncommon in mid-altitude rainforest. The rostral appendage of the short-horned chameleon is laterally flattened; those of C. amber and C. crypticum are shorter, and are distinctly flattened at the top and base. Additionally, these two species differ in colouration from C. brevicorne, the only reliable way of distinguishing females of the three species. Other species can be distinguished by the presence and extent of separation of the occipital lobes, or by the structure and shape of the rostral appendage.



Mid-altitude rainforest. Unlike many Calumma species, C. brevicorne is tolerant of a degree of habitat disturbance, and can sometimes be found in degraded habitats.

Elevation: Known for certain from 810 - 1,000 m, but may occur more widely.

Juvenile or female short-horned chameleon.



This species was originally described as Calumma brevicornis.




Glaw, F. and Vences, M. (2007) A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Cologne, Vences & Glaw Verlag: 496pp

Raxworthy, C.J. and Nussbaum, R.A. (2006) Six new species of occipital-lobed Calumma chameleons (Squamata: Chamaeleonidae) from montane regions of Madagascar, with a new description and revision of Calumma brevicorne. Copeia 2006(4): 711-734