Madagascan Dwarf Chameleon Fact File

Brookesia minima













Conservation Status


Least Concern

The Madagascan dwarf chameleon was until 2012 considered the world's smallest chameleon. They have since been taken over by another species but still remain tiny.

Their small size restricts the prey which they can feed on to small insects such as fruit flies.

When a male finds a suitable female with which he wants to mate he will grab on to her and he is then carried on her back for a few days until conditions are suitable for mating.

Read on to learn more about these miniature reptiles.


Across the top of their body are light grey scales except for the tail which is orange and then yellowish at the tip. Along the sides they are colored brown. When stressed they may take on a spotted coloration.

At the end of the body is a short tail which can be curled at the end and is prehensile to help them grab on to items. This prehensile tail is a helpful adaptation to help steady them when moving through the trees.

Like all chameleons their eyes have the ability to rotate independently of one another.

Each foot ends with short, claw like toes which help them to grab on to branches. Along each side of the backbone is a row of small, spiny scales.

Previously regarded as the world's smallest chameleon species these animals grow to lengths of just 3.5cm long. Males tend to be slightly smaller than females though have a longer tail. A small bulge is present at the base of the males tail.


Madagascan dwarf chameleons are carnivores. They feed on tiny insects such as fruit flies.

Madagascan Dwarf Chameleon


Madagascar is the native home of the Madagascan dwarf chameleon. Here they can be found in the northwest of the island. A population also occurs on the offshore island of Nosy Be.


They make their home in lowland areas with humid forests. Madagascan dwarf chameleons show a preference for areas with little undergrowth with a deep layer of dead leaves.

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When the males find a mate he will grab on to her and not let go until he has finished mating with her. During this period the female may carry him on her back until he is ready to mate with her. He may remain here for days until conditions are suitable for mating.

Their clutch includes two eggs which are deposited 30 to 40 days after the mating. She will dig a small hole in the substrate in which she can lay.

After a three month incubation the hatchlings will emerge.


During the day they move around in the leaf litter on the ground. By night they will rest on low vegetation.

Madagascan Dwarf Chameleon

Predators and Threats

When threatened by a predator they will freeze and then roll away.

Their population is believed to be declining due to habitat loss with the areas they call home leading to large amounts of fragmentation. The areas they call home suffer from high amounts of slash and burn agriculture and logging to create charcoal.

In parts of their range they can be gathered for the pet trade which is considered legal.

Their range does take in a few protected areas which affords a small level of protection.

Currently the population of Madagascan dwarf chameleons is believed to be declining in numbers.

Quick facts

Madagascan dwarf chameleons are also known as the dwarf chameleon, the minute leaf chameleon and the Nosy Be leaf chameleon.

Until 2012 the Madagascan dwarf chameleon was regarded as the world's smallest lizard species. This status was lost with the description of the Nosy Hara leaf chameleon (Brookesia micra).

The Brookesia genus diverged from other living species of chameleon over 50 million years ago.

Photo Credits

Top and Bottom

Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Lois56D, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


EDGE of Existence. 2021. Minute leaf chameleon | EDGE of Existence. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 June 2021].

Glaw, F. & Jenkins, R.K.B. 2014. Brookesia minima. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T67009871A47583723. Downloaded on 07 June 2021. 2021. The chameleon the size of an ant. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 June 2021].

RARE. 2021. Madagascan Dwarf Chameleon - RARE. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 June 2021].

Arkive. 2021. Minute leaf chameleon videos, photos and facts - Brookesia minima | ARKive. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 June 2021]. 2021. Minute Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia minima). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 June 2021]. 2021. Brookesia chameleons of Madagascar. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 June 2021].

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