Chamaeleo melleri


Chamaeleo melleri

Taxobox
name = Meller's Chameleon



regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Reptilia
ordo = Squamata
subordo = Sauria
familia = Chamaeleonidae
genus = "Chamaeleo"
subgenus = "Trioceros"
species = "C. melleri"
binomial = "Chamaeleo melleri"
binomial_authority = (Gray, 1865)Gray, J.E. (1865). "Revision of the genera and species of Chamaeleonidae, with the description of some new species". Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (3) 15: 340-354]

"Chamaeleo melleri", common names Meller's Chameleon (German: "Mellerchamäleon"), Giant One-horned Chameleon, and "Elefantenohrchamäleon" (German for "Elephant Ear Chameleon") is the largest species of chameleon from the African continent (i.e. the largest of the chameleons not native to Madagascar).cite web |title=Common Name: Meller’s Chameleon| publisher = LLL Reptile|url= http://lllreptile.com/info/library/animal-care-sheets/chameleons/-/mellers-chameleon/|accessdate = 08/19/2008] cite web | last = Pollak | first = E. | title = Chamaeleo (Trioceros) melleri Profile | work = AdCham.com | date = 6/18/203 | url = http://www.adcham.com/html/taxonomy/species/chmelleri.html | accessdate = 8/20/2008] cite web |title=Meller's Chameleon Printable Page from National Geographic Animals| publisher = National Geographic|url= http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/printable/mellers-chameleon.html|accessdate = 08/19/2008] Meller's Chameleon gets its common name from a "Dr. Meller" who is mentioned by biologist and taxon authority John Gray in the section about the habitat of the species in his 1865 description.

Range

"C. melleri" is relatively common in the bushy savannahs and interior mountains of East Africa and may be found in Malawi, northern Mozambique, and Tanzania.

Description

The largest of the African Chamaeleonidae, "C. melleri" averages 21 inches (50 cm) in length but exceptionally large specimens of Meller's Chameleons have reached over convert|30|in|cm in length and have weighed convert|21|oz|g|-2|abbr=on|lk=on.

In addition to being slightly smaller, female Meller's Chameleons medial crest anterior to the eyes is smaller.Citation | last1 = Halliday | first1 = Tim | last2 = Adler | first2 = Kraig | title = Firefly Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians | publisher = Firefly Books | year = 2002 | isbn = 9781552976135 ] Females also have less developed dorsal crests. The head of this species is relatively small in relation to the rest of its body and has a more elongated shape in comparison to other chameleons in its genus. A sharp medial ridge runs from the lizard's eyes to the tip of its snout which bears a single small horn. This chameleon also has bears greatly enlarged occipital lobes.

"C. melleri" is stout-bodied and has a relatively stubby tail one one third the length of its body. A low, scalloped crest extends from just behind the casque of the head through the proximal half of the tail. It has heterogeneous scales which vary shape and size to various parts of its body and large, granular scales distributed homogeneously on the trunk and limbs. There are longitudinal rows of large, granular scales in the chameleon's gular region, one of its most distinctive characteristics.

Spots and broad vertical bands on the chameleon's flanks range in color from brown, dark green, yellow or even black. The basic coloration of the creature is a deep forest green with white stripes but like all chameleons its changes color depending on various circumstances. If being fed or handled they might show display black and white dots all over. When basking in the sun, the side of their body towards the sunlight can turn dark green or black white the rest of the animal stays much lighter.

They also have color patterns associated with stress. Mild excitement or stress is indicated by dark spotting overlaying the reptile's normal color. These dark green spots turn to black mottling as the chameleon gets more upset. Severe stress turns the chameleon first charcoal gray, then pure white adorned with yellow stripes. A sick Meller's Chameleon may be mottled with brown, gray, pink, or white. A gravid animal is black, cream, and gray colored and will also be bulging with eggs.

Male Meller's Chameleons, and to a lesser extent females as well, are extremely territorial and highly aggressive toward others of their species. Their long tongues can reach prey up to convert|20|in|cm away.

Diet and reproduction

Like most chameleons, Meller's are strict carnivores eating insects, smaller lizards, spiders, worms, and caterpillars. Large specimens have been known to eat small birds.Citation |last1 = Griffiths | first1 = Clare | last2 = Bell | first2 = Brian | title = Insight Guide East African Wildlife (Insight Guides East African Wildlife) | publisher = Insight Guides | year = 2003 | edition = 3 | isbn = 9789812349422 ]

Females annually produce a single clutch of up to 60 eggs.cite book | last = Cogger | first = Harold |authorlink = Harold Cogger | last2 = Zweifel | first2 = Richard | title = Reptiles & Amphibians | publisher = Weldon Owen | location = Sydney |date = 1992 | isbn = 0831727861] Newborn Meller's Chameleons are about convert|4|in|cm in length and must be fed Drosophilidae and tiny crickets for the first three weeks of their lives. Afterwards, they accept house flies and larger insect prey including crickets, locusts, silkworms, and cockroaches. They may live as long as twelve years.

Captivity

"C. melleri" specimens vary from timid to moderately aggressive towards humans.Citation |last1 = LeBerre | first1 = J | title = The Chameleon Handbook | publisher = Barron's Educational Series | year = 2000 | edition = 1 | isbn = 9780764112423 ] Wild caught specimens of "C. melleri" have fared poorly in captivity, often imported with heavy parasite loads, they have a high mortality rate.Citation | last = Ackerman | first = Lowell | title = Biology of Reptiles Vol. 1 (Biology Husbandry and Health Care of Reptiles) | publisher = TFH Publications | year = 1997 | volume = 1 | isbn = 9780793805013 ] The species has been successfully bred in captivity as long as specific requirements are met and are recommended for advanced hobbyists.

As they are large lizards, a large enclosure is recommended. One breeder recommends placing the chameleon's cage above human eye level so that it can feel elevated in its environment.

High day time temperatures (80-85°F or 27-29°C) are needed for the reptile's enclosure. Simulating the natural temperature changes of the creature's native environment, a night time temperature of the low 60s Fahrenheit (~16°C) is recommended as well. They also need considerable hydration and various dietary supplements are recommended.

External links

*
* [http://www.tigr.org/reptiles/species.php?genus=Chamaeleo&species=melleri Profile at the Reptile Database]
* [http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=715176 ITIS Standard Report Chamaeleo melleri]

References


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