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Discover 4 Chameleons Who Give Live Birth

Chameleon Live Birth
Screenshot from YouTube Video by Atmosphere Chameleons & Exotics

If you, like me, were shocked to learn that some chameleons give live birth – this is the article for you! Let’s take a look at four really cool ovoviviparous chameleons, and what being ovoviviparous actually means.   

But first, here is a video of a Cape Dwarf Chameleon giving birth:

YouTube video
YouTube Video by Atmosphere Chameleons & Exotics

What does ovoviviparous mean? 

Ovoviviparous chameleons do not lay eggs like oviparous reptiles. These chameleons give birth to live offspring! Once fertilized by a male, the female chameleon keeps the fertilized eggs inside her body for a gestation period. After these eggs hatch internally, the offspring is brought into the world alive, covered in a membrane. After the baby chameleon escapes their membrane they are ready to take on the world!

Ovoviviparous vs. Oviparous 

Here’s a simple table comparing ovoviviparous and oviparous reproduction before we take a look at some ovoviviparous chameleons:

Embryonic DevelopmentEggs develop inside the mother’s bodyEggs develop outside the mother’s body
Birth ProcessLive birth (emerging from eggs inside)Hatching from eggs
Parental CareSome parental care is possible, as embryos may receive nutrients from the motherLimited to no parental care, eggs are left alone to hatch on their own

1. Jackson’s Chameleon

Jackson Chameleon
Perched Jackson’s Chameleon. Image by dpenn via

The Jackson’s chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii) is native to Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa. These small to medium-sized chameleons occur in nature in humid, cool mountain areas with significant rainfall and vegetation. Where their diet consists of flies, worms, small snails, and crickets. 

2. Cape Dwarf Chameleon

Cape dwarf Chameleon
Young Cape Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion pumilum) shedding its shin. Taken in a garden in Tokai, Cape Province. Image by Charles J. Sharp, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Cape Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion pumilum) is native to South Africa and resides in the Western Cape area of the country. These medium-sized chameleons prefer areas with winter rainfall, especially areas with lots of hiding places in trees and bushy scrubs. Their diet mainly consists of small insects and anthropods.

3. Side Striped Chameleon

side-striped chameleon
Side-striped chameleon Trioceros bitaeniatus, photographed on Mount Kenya, at approximately 3600 m altitude, about 10 cm in length, side view. Image by Dwergenpaartje, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The side-striped chameleon (Trioceros bitaeniatus or two-lined chameleon) is native to Kenya, Tanzania, Southern Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, and the northeastern area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These small-sized chameleons live in grasslands, savannah, and woodland areas. Where their diet includes insects such as locusts, crickets flies, and the occasional worm. 

4. Von Höhnels Chameleon

Helmeted chameleon
Helmeted Chameleon (Trioceros hoehnelii). Image by Marius Burger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Von Höhnels chameleon (Trioceros hoehnelii) also goes by the name the helmeted chameleon or the high-casqued chameleon. These chameleons are native to Eastern Africa and can be found in Kenya and Uganda in high savannah grasslands, often hiding in bushes, small trees, reed beds, shrubs, and tall grasses. Their diet consists of a variety of insects and the occasional worm. 

Final say

Not only do these chameleons have the ability to change color and adapt to their surroundings, but showcase diverse reproductive strategies. A wonderful reminder of the diversity and adaptability of not just the animal kingdom, but chameleons themselves!

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