Chester Zoo Hatch Rare Chameleons After Two Year Wait

Chester Zoo Hatch

Rare Chameleons

After Two Year Wait

Image: ©Chester Zoo.

Image: ©Chester Zoo.

Image: ©Chester Zoo.

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: October 17, 2022 1:30 pm

Chester Zoo, in the United Kingdom have celebrated the hatching of rare Parson's chameleons in a UK first. Parson's chameleons are the world's largest chameleon but are under increasing threat in their native Madagascar.

Conservationists at the zoo described the event as 'momentous.' Jay Redbond, Team Manager of reptiles at the zoo, said, 'To be the first UK zoo to successfully hatch a clutch of Parson’s chameleons is a momentous event for the team here.''

Reptile experts at the zoo have endured a long wait to meet the new arrivals with Parson's chameleons holding the world record for the longest reptile incubation at close to two years. The first of the hatchlings to emerge at Chester Zoo took 569 days to emerge from its egg.

At hatching the little lizards measured just 2cm (0.8in) long and tipped the scales at 1.5g (0.05oz). As adults they could reach lengths of up to 70cm (27.5in) and weigh up to 800g (28.2oz).

The team at Chester Zoo are experts in breeding rare reptiles having become one of the few zoos in the world to hatch a tuatara and to learn that a female Komodo dragon can successfully produce viable eggs without a male. They continue to apply these learnings to breed rare reptiles and have been able to develop new skills in producing the parson's chameleons.

Jay added, “The levels of intricate care and attention to detail provided by team over a number of years to achieve this breeding success has been truly remarkable. We’ve had to carefully replicate the seasonal variations of Madagascar and mimic the exact same conditions these chameleons experience on the island, right here in Chester, and that’s no easy feat.''

''Every slight tweak to temperature and humidity each day and night has been meticulously recorded and, now that we’ve cracked this, we believe we’ll be able to take this information and apply it to help save some of Madagascar’s other threatened reptile species.''

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Ín their native Madagascar the Panther chameleon population has seen a 20% decline in their population. Ongoing habitat loss, drive by slash and burn agriculture has seen the forests become so fragmented that it will now be difficult for this species to survive long term. Madagascar is the only place in the world where this species is found.

Chester Zoo are not just helping this species in the United Kingdom but have teams in Madagascar working to save the species, Gerardo Garcia, Curator of Lower Vertebrates & Invertebrates, added: “Our teams are currently on the ground in Madagascar, alongside our partners Madagasikara Voakajy, fighting to protect what’s left of the island’s beautiful forests and the species that call it home. The widespread destruction of the forests on the island has seen more than 90% of its trees cut down for agriculture and logging – taking with it hundreds of precious species that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth, just like the Parson’s chameleon.''

“That’s why we need to learn as much as we can, as quickly as we can to help prevent species from becoming extinct. These new hatchlings may be small in stature for now, but their impact will be huge in helping us to accelerate our efforts to save some of Madagascar’s rarest reptiles. The information gathered by our experts will now go on to be shared with other conservation zoos just like ours, kick-starting global efforts to create a safety-net population of these incredible chameleons – and we’re enormously proud to have played a vital role in protecting their future on this planet.” 

Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island and houses a wide variety of unique fauna such as the ring-tailed lemur or fossa.

Our Top Animal Fact

The parson's chameleon is able to catch food using its long tongue which is sticky and can easily latch on to the insects on which they feed.

Jackson's Chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii)

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Image: ©Chester Zoo.

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