Brookesia nana

With a body length of only 13mm (0.5 in), it is the smallest reptile on earth

Brookesia nana


With a body length of only 13mm (0.5 in), it is the smallest reptile on earth

Only 2 specimen have been located

Brookesia nana, commonly referred to as the nano-chameleon, is one of the smallest known reptiles on Earth. This minuscule chameleon is found only in the rainforests of northern Madagascar, a hotspot for unique biodiversity due to its isolation and varied microclimates. The “island effect” or “insular dwarfism” is a biological phenomenon often observed in island populations, where limited resources and lack of predators lead to decreased body size over evolutionary time. In the case of Brookesia nana, this effect has resulted in an extraordinarily tiny reptile.

The nano- chameleon’s body length is less than 30 millimeters (about 1.1 inches), allowing it to perch comfortably on a fingertip or a matchstick. Despite its diminutive size, Brookesia nana shares many characteristics with its larger chameleon cousins. It possesses a projectile tongue that it uses with remarkable speed and accuracy to snatch up insects, which are its primary food source. This tongue can be as long as its body and head combined, a necessary adaptation for a predator that relies on ambush to capture prey.

The nano- chameleon’s coloration is typically brown and leaf-like, which serves as camouflage against the forest floor litter where it resides. Unlike other chameleons, Brookesia species are not known for dramatic color changes but can adjust their hue slightly to blend in better with their environment.

Habitat loss poses a significant threat to Brookesia nana, as Madagascar’s forests continue to be impacted by deforestation for agriculture, logging, and charcoal production. The recent designation of its habitat as a protected area is a positive step, but ongoing conservation efforts are critical to ensure the survival of this species. Conservationists and scientists are particularly concerned about the nano- chameleon’s habitat because of its limited range and the specific environmental conditions it requires.


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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No