Chester Zoo

Future Giants: First UK Zoo breeding of Calumma parsonii, the world’s largest chameleon

Chester Zoo - 4th Jul, 2023

The Parson’s chameleon (Calumma parsonii) is a Near Threatened & declining Malagasy endemic chameleon and is the world’s largest chameleon species. Despite its popularity as a display animal, this species has proven difficult to breed due to a number of biological quirks, not least the extremely long incubation time and associated necessary seasonal changes in incubation temperature.

Here we report the first successful breeding of this species by any UK zoo, with the team at Chester having documented every stage of the process, from the introduction of the pair through to egg laying, carefully adjusted the temperature and moisture level of the incubation medium during the 569 days of incubation to follow seasonal changes in the species’ native range in eastern Madagascar, and the subsequent successful hatching and growth of 10 juvenile C. parsonii. It is hoped that this success may assist in the development of a sustainable zoo-bred population of this species and may in the future be used to help in the breeding of other more threatened Malagasy reptile species.

This project won Silver in the BIAZA Animal Husbandry, Care and Breeding Awards category in 2022.

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