Parsons Chameleon

Calumma Parsonii – Parsons Chameleon

The Parson’s Chameleon, scientific name Calumma Parsonii is a very large species of chameleon first described by English physicist James Parsons in 1768. They can grow up to 27 inches in length, from head to tail, the size of a regular house cat ( They have a large triangular head, orange eyes and two warty protrusions near the tip of their mouth and mostly green in appearance.

Calumma Parsonii is a species of chameleon endemic to the forests of Eastern and Northern Madagascar. Their habitat ranges from the Eastern coast up to the elevated primary rain forests of the island 7000 feet up (ADCHAM). They thrive in humid environments with plenty of water and can live in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Parsons Chameleon


There are two species of Parsons Chameleon. The larger Calumma parsonii parsonii that can grow up to 27 inches and the smaller Calumma parsonii cristifer which can reach up to 18.5 inches and has a characteristic dorsal crest. These chameleons have a life expectancy of up to twenty years.

Their size, longevity and unique appearance makes them highly sought after as pets and as many as 10,000 specimens were taken from the island to the USA between 1988 and 1994 (USFWS Lemmis Database/ with a very high mortality rate due to negligence during transport and later because of lack of information for proper care.  Calumma Parsonii are now listed as NT (Near threatened) status by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES Appendix II) making importation of the animals illegal since 1994.

Captive Parsonii

Calumma Parsonii otherwise known as the Parsons Chameleon are highly sought after pets by lizard lovers. They are arguably the largest species of chameleon in the world growing up to 68 cm from head to tail in close contention with the Malagasy Giant Chameleon.

Most specimens age greenish in colour with a triangular head, orange eyes, pale lips and two protrusions near the mouth. (

However, they are currently listed (CITES Appendix II) as near threatened due to excessive importation and smuggling outside their native Madagascar thus importation into the United States has become illegal since 1994. Over 10000 chameleons were imported to the US between 1988 and 1994 but resulted in a high mortality rate.

For those who wish to own Calumma Parsonii, they can still be acquired from lizard enthusiasts who successfully bred the surviving lizards before the importation ban or through illegal imports. Breeders carefully choose their customers due to the extreme care required in keeping the animals. Calumma Parsonii require a large open space with high humidity, a diet of insects and sometimes other small animals. They cost from 2,000 USD and higher ( and may require a nearby veterinarian specializing in herpetology. Properly cared for, they have a life expectancy of up to 20 years and a reproductive cycle of two years.


1)Parson’s chameleon fact file
3)Chameleon Import Data USFWS Lemmis Database
4)Parson’s Giant chameleon CITES Appendix II



1) Main image supplied by Roger Sargent
2) Sub image supplied by Roger Sargent

Posted in Species List.

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