Can also be referred to by their common name parsons chameleon and is recognised as one of the largest and most majestic of all old world chameleons, Calumma p parsonii is considered by ‘some’ to be king of the order.
There are two known subspecies, Calumma parsonii parsonii and Calumma parsonii cristifer, C. p cristifer being a smaller species than C. p parsonii.
It is believed that James Parsons a physicist first described C. p parsonii in 1768 as Cameleonis rarissima, though this name didn’t catch on, so Georges Cuvier a French naturalist dedicated this species to Parsons in 1824.
This species is endemic to Madagascar, and are generally found along the eastern coast, and have been spotted following tributaries towards the north of the Island. These coasts are open and exposed to the Indian Ocean, temperatures here are generally cooler, only reaching a maximum of 26′c and dropping to lows of 10′c. What makes these areas of the Island so different is the amount of rainfall it receives, as much as 150 inches of precipitation can fall in one year.
Along with their very slow drinking response and their insatiable thirst it makes the parsons chameleon incredibly susceptible to dehydration if kept in captivity. This large and heavy set animal dwell along lowland forest edges, living deep under the cover of the canopy, which in some areas can reach up to 150 foot high. They spend most of their days stationary, only moving to warm up, feed or if the time is right…..Breed. parsonii will not bask for long periods, they shade themselves from the suns rays possibly only receiving filtered radiation which penetrate through the plantations. Within these protective walls of the jungle the temperature and humidity is fairly stable, making these giants a sensitive species. In the cooler months parsonii will go into a state of hibernation, surfacing occasionally to drink, defecate and possibly eat.
There are secluded pockets within the rain forests protecting those that live within it.
Male C. p parsonii can grow up to 30” in length, their rostral appendages make them appear even larger. Colour morphs can vary dependant on their locality. In the North east you may find males which are predominantly blue with orange or white lips, in the South east males may display blue/green colours with eye turrets similar to the body with yellow lips. The diagonal barring this animal can show is spectacular especially when displaying their emotions.
Females can grow to 20” in length and do not possess such an impressive rostral appendage as with the males. Females retain their uniform green with or without yellow/orange eye turrets regardless of location. As with the males diagonal barring can also be seen. Both sexes may or may not show a single eye in the middle of their flanks. This species can be hard to sex until maturity is reached, though there are subtle differences within the species that a trained eye can pick up.
The parsons chameleon has a longer life span than most other species, they reach sexual maturity at 3-5 years, and can possibly live up to to 10-15 years.
Information on the parsons chameleon is limited. We have gained our knowledge of this species through fellow parsonii keepers sharing their valuable knowledge.