Keeping and breeding Brookesia thieli

Keeping and breeding Brookesia thieli


The breeding of leaf chameleons outside Madagascar has been successful since the 1990s. Nevertheless, there are only a few keepers who can prove breeding success in the long term or who have been dealing with individual leaf chameleon species for years. Michael Nash from the USA has now published a detailed husbandry and breeding report on Brookesia thieli.

He keeps his animals in the terrariums we commonly use with completely ventilated lids and either vent in the front bottom or the entire front as ventilation area, living plants, and bioactive substrate. T5 HO and halogen spotlights are used for lighting. The best breeding results were achieved by keeping two or three males together with four females. The author was able to make exciting observations on the defensive behaviour of males, where the animals not only open their mouths but actually protrude their mouth cavities. For food, the author uses Zelus renardii, a type of predatory beetle from North America, in addition to the usual small food such as micro crickets, bean beetles, and various flies. This is sold as a beneficial insect and is used, for example, in the Mediterranean region to control certain pests in olive plantations. In addition, Brookesia thieli particularly liked winged termites offered by the author, which might also be an interesting food animal that has hardly been used by chameleon keepers so far.

To trigger mating behaviour, dry and rainy seasons are imitated. The dry season is characterised above all by a massive night-time drop in temperature to 13°C and less irrigation. During the imitated rainy season, temperatures rise to around 26°C during the day and 19-21°C at night, and there is also increased irrigation during the day. Females lay 3-5 eggs after an average gestation of 30-60 days, with up to three clutches per female per season. The best incubation success was achieved at 21-23°C during the day and 19-20°C at night. The author notes that hatching rates increased after supplementing the diet with preformed vitamin A every two months.

Overall, this is a very readable husbandry report with many interesting details. Hopefully that the data will support keepers in the breeding and long-term conservation of this exciting leaf chameleon species.

Keeping and breeding Brookesia thieli
Michael Nash
Responsible Herpetoculture Journal 5, 2022
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Parasite treatment in leaf chameleons

Parasite treatment in leaf chameleons


Last weekend, the autumn meeting of the AG Amphibien- und Reptilienkrankheiten (working group on amphibian and reptile diseases) took place. With over 500 members, the AG ARK is one of the strongest sub-groups of the DGHT and at the same time the largest association of veterinarians for amphibians and reptiles in Europe. Accordingly, the autumn meeting in Münster was fully booked as usual. Besides the main topic of the meeting, Asian turtles, one veterinarian presented a case report on parasite treatment in leaf chameleons.

In this case, 7.5 subadult and adult Brookesia stumpffi (5 wild-caught, 7 German offspring from different husbandries) were acquired for a breeding project. Fecal examinations of all terrestrial chameleons were carried out. Masses of Choleoeimeria spp., presumably Choleoeimeria brookesiae, were found in flotation and native preparations of almost all terrestrial chameleons. In addition, there were isolated co-infections with Heterakis spp. and trematodes. Strongylid-like eggs with thin shells and larvae as well as adult nematodes were found in the feces of several animals. A treatment protocol with Baycox 50 mg/ml (Elanco Animal Health, Rathausplatz 12, 61352 Bad Homburg, Germany, active ingredient toltrazuril) on days 1, 7, and 14 and Panacur 10% (Intervet Germany, Feldstraße 1a, 85716 Unterschleissheim, Germany, active ingredient fenbendazole) on day 3 and 13 proved successful. The diluted solutions were given into the mouth with a 100 µl pipette. Fecal examinations at the beginning of quarantine and on days 14, 28, and 42 after treatment were suggested as a practical protocol for veterinarians.

The biggest problem during treatment was reinfection with coccidial oocysts from the environment. The leaf chameleons reinfected themselves, among other things, via left feeders and fecal remains on climbed gauze and living plants. Successful quarantine was finally achieved under the following parameters: individual keeping without visual contact in separate terrariums, daily exchange of kitchen paper on the floor and a freshly cut elder branch, use of new gloves for each chameleon, slow-moving food from bowls disinfected daily in boiling water, weekly disinfection with ready-to-use Interkokask® (Albert Kerbl GmbH, Felizenzell 9, 84428 Buchbach, active ingredient chlorocresol). Extremely strict compliance with all cleaning and disinfection measures was necessary.

Parasite treatment in leaf chameleons (Brookesia stumpffi)
Dr. Alexandra Laube
Proceedings of the 57th Workshop of the WG Amphibian and Reptile Diseases, Focus: Asian Turtles
Münster, 04 – 06 November 2022

Unexpected genetic diversity in leaf chameleons in western Madagascar

Unexpected genetic diversity in leaf chameleons in western Madagascar


Until now, it was thought that the earth chameleon Brookesia bonsi occurs exclusively in the Tsingy of Namoroka in western Madagascar. German and Malagasy researchers have now discovered that very close relatives of the species live a good 150 km further north, not far from the coastal town of Mahajanga. The earth chameleons from a forest near Antsanitia look more like Brookesia decaryi on the outside, but genetically they are more closely related to Brookesia bonsi. In contrast, the true Brookesia decaryi from Ankarafantsika, 80 km east of Mahajanga, seems to be exclusively restricted to this occurrence and not more widespread, as originally assumed. In the same studies, the scientists found that another population of leaf chameleons from the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tsingy de Bemaraha is also closely related to Brookesia bonsi. The leaf chameleons of the population found there had previously been assigned to Brookesia brygooi on a purely visual basis.

Further work is now necessary to clarify the exact genetic identity of Brookesia aff. bonsi. Are they separate species or merely locally isolated populations of Brookesia bonsi? One thing, however, is already certain: the habitat near Mahajanga should urgently be placed under protection. The leaf chameleons must be protected so that they can be studied further. According to current data, they could already be critically endangered (IUCN). And further research could still be very exciting!

New records of threatened leaf chameleons highlight unexpected genetic diversity of the Brookesia decaryi / B. bonsi species complex in western Madagascar
Frank Glaw, Njaratiana A. Raharinoro, Rojo N. Ravelojaona, David Prötzel und Miguel Vences
Der Zoologische Garten 90, 2022 (1)
DOI 10.53188/zg003