Panther Chameleon

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Species group:

Scientific name: Furcifer pardalis

The basics:
The majestic Panther Chameleon is perhaps the best of the larger chameleons to consider - but only for those with a good deal of experience with other delicate insectivorous lizards. While still a labor-intensive pet, the Panther Chameleon’s ability to survive in an unstable natural habitat seems to ease its adjustment to captivity.

Panther Chameleons are native to the eastern and northwestern coasts of Madagascar, and also occur on Reunion and several nearby islands. Highly arboreal, they inhabit humid forest edges, cut-over woodlands, and brushy scrub, to heights of 4,000 feet above sea level.

Appearance / health:
The Panther Chameleon is one of the largest of the 200+ chameleon species. Males may reach 56 cm (22 in) in length, while females top out at 33 cm (13 in). Panther Chameleons vary greatly in coloration, with least 22 unique “types” described. They may be brilliant turquoise, many shades of blue, light blue with red stripes or dark green, to name a few. Some males can change to yellow or orange, and the eye turrets may flash green, orange, and other colors. Females are more somberly-colored.

Stress-related ailments are common health concerns. Handling, the sight of a dominant individual and noise will raise your pet’s stress level. Dehydration may occur if a supply of dripping water is not provided, and metabolic bone disease is typical of animals that are not provided with ample calcium and/or UVB exposure.

Behavior / temperament:
All chameleons are high strung, and rarely take well to handling. They are “hands-off” pets, but will give you much of interest to observe when properly cared-for.

Shy and arboreal, Panther Chameleons should be kept in custom-made screen cages that are vertically oriented and well-stocked with vines, cork bark rolls and sturdy plants. A single adult requires an enclosure at least 1.2 x 1 x 1.5 meters (4 x 3 x 5 ft, l x w x h) in size. Glass terrariums do not supply the air circulation essential to good health.

Panther Chameleons need daily UVB exposure; recent studies have revealed that they modify basking behavior in response to the Vitamin D3 content of the diet. A temperature gradient of 74-78 F and a basking temperature of 88-90 F, with a dip to 66-68 F at night, should be established. Humidity should be kept at 65-85%.

The natural diet includes caterpillars, tree crickets, grasshoppers, flies, spiders and other invertebrates. A highly-varied captive diet is essential. Panther Chameleons should be offered a mix of roaches, crickets, butterworms, locusts, lab-reared house flies, hornworms, and other commercially-available species. A pink mouse may be provided every month or so. Insects should themselves be fed a nutritious diet for 1-3 days prior to use. Most meals should be powdered with a Calcium/VitaminD3 supplement; vitamin/mineral powder should be used 2-3 times weekly.

Chameleons will not drink water from a bowl, but will lap drops from foliage. A perforated container on the cage top that allows water to drip over plants should be available, as sprayed water may not meet your pet’s needs.

Well-nourished females may produce 2-3 clutches of 10-50 eggs yearly. The eggs should be incubated in a mix of 1 part vermiculite to 1 part water (by weight) at 70-80 F for 8-12 months.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


awesome display pets, Beautiful mystical creatures, brightest colours, stunning, amazing center piece


limited handling, precise environment, particular vitamin supplementation, health problems, fragile


slow moving creatures, long sticky tongues, healthy insect diet, good eating habits

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