Wild Fact #151 – World’s Smallest Chameleon – Brookesia micra

Brookesia micra on a match stick

Photo by: Frank Glaw, Jörn Köhler, Ted M. Townsend, Miguel Vences

Did You Know?

  • The reptile known as the Brookesia micro (doesn’t have a common name) was discovered in early 2012
  • This particular reptile just happens to be the smallest Chameleon on the planet and may beat out the dwarf gecko as the smallest reptile on earth
  • The incredibly small size is most likely due to the a phenomenon known as insular dwarfism, which results from having limited resources and a need to reach maturity quickly, in order to survive as a species

Match-Stick Chameleon

Obviously we have to discuss the size of the Brookesia micro. It isn’t every day that you discover one of the smallest reptiles in the world so just how small are these little cold-blooded animals? Believe it or not, the photo above has not been photoshopped. This chameleon grows to a whopping 29 millimetres (1.1 inches) in length and as such can literally fits on the head of a matchstick. It is crazy to think that there are reptiles out there smaller than a lot of insects.

Worlds Smallest Chameleon - Brookesia micra

Click for Photo Srouce

Madagascar: The Extreme Island

Interestingly enough, the smallest chameleon in the world actually shares their island home with the largest chameleon in the world, Parson’s Chameleon. And this folks, is why I want to explore the amazing islands of Madagascar. Since they are isolated on an island with high competition for little resources, you will often seen extremes – either gigantism or dwarfism. Unfortunately, regardless of their size both of these chameleons are at risk as a result of habitat destruction. Since our tiny friend can only be found in a very localized area, they are very susceptible to the destruction of their forest home. It would be sad if one of our newest discoveries is wiped off the planet before we can learn more about their intriguing life.

Picking Strawberries

Although the Brookesia micro are an incredibly tiny species, they are rather easy to catch…once you find them. Throughout the day, these little reptiles are most active as they forage for food, however, as the sun sets these chameleons head high into the trees for protection. Okay, maybe I am using the word “high” very loosely as they branches they occupy are only about 4 inches off the ground but I guess when you are only 1 inch long, this would be like climbing to the top of a Redwood tree. Throughout the night, these creatures will not move so catching them is quite easy. In fact, ne of the discoverers, Dr. Glaw, compared catching them to “picking strawberries”, so the trick is finding them.

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