The world’s largest chameleons have been born at Chester Zoo in a UK first – but the baby critters still only measure 2cm in length.
The first of ten tiny Parson’s chameleons hatched, each weighing just 1.5g, following a 569-day incubation period.
It is the longest incubation period of any reptile on the planet but they will grow to be around 70cm (2.3ft) in length and weigh up to 800g (28.2 ounces).
The breeding involved ‘meticulous’ monitoring of temperature to “mimic” conditions in Madagascar, the zoo said.
So far 10 chameleons have emerged from their eggs, with another 17 still in incubation.
Jay Redbond, Team Manager of reptiles at the zoo, said: ‘To be the first UK zoo to successfully hatch a clutch of Parson’s chameleons is a momentous and exciting event for the team here – but most importantly it’s a major breakthrough for the species.
‘The levels of intricate care and attention to detail provided by team over a number of years to achieve this breeding success has been truly remarkable.
‘We’ve had to carefully replicate the seasonal variations of Madagascar and mimic the exact same conditions these chameleons experience on the island, right here in Chester, and that’s no easy feat.
‘Every slight tweak to temperature and humidity each day and night has been meticulously recorded and, now that we’ve cracked this, we believe we’ll be able to take this information and apply it to help save some of Madagascar’s other threatened reptile species.
‘This important clutch of eggs, along with all that we’ve learned along the way, will now help us play a part in preventing the extinction of this incredible species, and many others just like it.’
The Parson’s chameleon population has declined by more than 20 per cent in the last two decades as a result of widespread habitat loss on Madagascar.
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