A Reptilian encounter in suburban South Africa

A Reptilian encounter in suburban South Africa

Yesterday, I was walking across our lawn when I spotted something strange sauntering across the grass. Upon closer inspection… it turned out to be a Southern Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion ventrale). This is only the second time in 11 years that I have seen one in my garden.

They are particularly adept at camouflage. They are listed on the IUCN red list as Least Concern because they are quite widely distributed across the Eastern Cape and Great Karoo of South Africa. These amazing creatures are relatively large for a dwarf chameleon and can be up to 14cm long. Its most distinguishing features are the protrusion on the back of its head, called a casque and its beard-like crest. Although it typically lives in dense thicket and shrubs, it adapts well to living in gardens. When I attempted to rescue it… it hissed viciously and attacked me so I enlisted the help of a log. The video below shows just how similar its coloring is to the log. See how its eye swivels and it slowly “stalks” along the log.

Interestingly it gives birth to litters of babies… about 10-20 in a litter!!! I don’t know about you but I find my one child is a handful sometimes so I am not sure what having 10-20 would be like… good thing chameleons are not known for their parental care. Once it was safely in a tree… it quickly scurried off. Hopefully it stays in our garden to protect my plants from bugs. I hope to see it again soon.




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