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Nguru Pygmy Chameleon

Rhampholeon acuminatus


The Nguru Pygmy Chameleon is an incredibly small species that grows to only around 5.7 cm long!

It is one of many pygmy chameleons found in East Africa. These chameleons diverged from all reptiles more than 40 million years ago, when humans still shared a common ancestor with tamarins and capuchin monkeys.

This minute chameleon is heavily impacted by the international pet trade, which has reduced its already small population.

A major threat to this species is that it is heavily traded in the pet trade, which can be detrimental due to its very small population size. To combat this, the species has recently been listed on CITES Appendix II.

This species range overlaps with the Mkingu Nature Reserve, which gives the Nguru forest the highest level of protection in Tanzania. However, there are still some land changes for cultivation of shade crops in some areas. The size of the forest patch should not change in the future due to its protected status.

  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Chamaeleonidae
  • Population: Small
  • Trend: unknown
  • Size: 47-57mm

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.76 (?)
ED Score: 18.736 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


The species is found on Nguru Mountains, Tanzania.

Habitat and Ecology

This species is found only in Afromontane forest, 1,500 metres above sea level. It lives in forest leaf litter, but it can also be found in low bushes between 50cm to many metres high

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Eva Johnson

  • Project name: Conservation of the Nguru Spiny Pygmy Chameleon
  • Project site: Mkingu Nature Reserve
  • Active: 2023 - ongoing
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