Panther Chameleon – Furcifer pardalis

Fast Facts

Name: Panther Chameleon
Scientific name: Furcifer pardalis
Size: 14-20” (35-50cm)
Life Span: 2 to 5 years
Appearance: wide variety of colors.
Food: Insects (crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches)
Temperature: 77-86°F(25-30°C)
Terrarium Size: 24x24x48” (60x60x120cm)
Sleep-wake rhythm: Day active
Number of Eggs: 10 to 40
Ease of Care: Easy-Medium

Furcifer pardalis - Panther Chameleon
Furcifer pardalis display of bright coloring

The Panther chameleon originates from the northern and eastern coasts of Madagascar and the surrounding islands such as nosy Bé or Nosi Tanikely. After the veiled chameleon, the panther chameleon is one of the most popular chameleon species. They are most frequently found on humid coasts and the edge of the forests.

Panther chameleons owe its popularity to its incredible color diversity. The males, especially during rainy season have unparalleled colors.

Furcifer pardalis - Panther Chameleon
Furcifer pardalis display of bright coloring

Chameleon colors change is the primary form of communication within the species. In addition, the humidity, temperature, sunlight, time of day and health also play a role in skin color. For example, at lower temperatures, they take on a darker skin color.

The color change is due to the expansion and contraction of pigment cells and the concentration of color cells. In general, there are three skin layers. The top layer is for red and yellows. The middle layer produces brown and black and the bottom layer produces blue. The different expansion and contraction between the three layers produce the wide variety of color variations.

Size & life expectancy

With proper care, the panther chameleon can reach 6 years of age in captivity. However, 2 years is the average.

The males reach approximately 20” (50cm) and the females are smaller at about 14” (35cm)

Characteristics

Female panther chameleon
Female panther chameleon duller coloring

The Panther chameleon has a back with jagged spikes, and a spiked nose is clearly visible especially in the males. The head is stretched and is relatively small for the females. The male is especially colorful and is one of the most colorful chameleon species. The males, especially during mate season, have a wide variety of coloration with white, blue and red spots. The females, on the other hand, are rather simple looking with green and brown tones.

The males have a thickened tail and are significantly larger than the females. The males are easily recognized by their continuous light longitudinal stripe, while it is not continuous on the females.

Chameleons are typically loners and often aggressive with each other. For this reason, males and females should only be brought together for mating, otherwise, it is important to keep them individually.

Nutrition

Panther chameleon hunting
Panther chameleon hunting a cricket

Panther chameleon’s food consists mainly of insects, such as grasshoppers, cockroaches, months etc.  when feeding live feed, it is important to dust the feed with a 1:2 mixture of a vitamin-mineral with pure calcium for healthy growth, to prevent deficiencies and diseases such as rickets. In captivity, it is also popular to add some fruit and vegetables in their diet for additional vitamins.

It is important that there is enough water for your pet to drink. This can be done by spraying water mist in the terrarium or a bowl with water. It is important that there is a sufficient overall supply of water.

Panther Chameleon Care

Terrarium

Panther chameleons react very quickly to changes in temperature and humidity. Although they are considered easy-medium to care for, they require some knowledge for successful long-term care.  A sufficiently large and well-lit terrarium is required.

Panther chameleons are somewhat larger chameleons and the size of the terrarium should be at least 24x24x48” (60x60x120cm). A 6” (15cm) peat sand mixture is optimal for the flooring. Dense plants with sufficient climbing are required for suitable captivity. For plants, ficus or ferns are good picks that will thrive well in this environment. In addition to plants, there should be other climbing possibilities such as branches and logs. It is important that the branches are thick enough for climbing and clear enough for sun bathing.

During the day, the temperature in the terrarium should be 77-86°F(25-30°C), at night the temperature should be decreased to 68-77°F(20-25°C). the UV lighting should be up to 12 hours per day. It is also recommended unfiltered sunlight or special UV emitters. Spraying the terrarium twice a day is required to produce enough humidity (between 70 to 100%). Spraying can be automated with a sprinkler system.

Lighting

The right lighting in the terrarium is important for the well being of your chameleon. A single light is not enough to provide enough light rays. Chameleon experts advise three lamps: an HQI light for brightness, one for heat and a UV spotlight.

Breeding

Although chameleons are sexually mature after 6 months, it is best to wait until the female is at least 12 months old. During mating season, when introducing the male with the female he will show beautiful coloring and slowly approach the female with nodding movements. If the female remains calm she is ready to mate, if not she will threaten with hissing and can seriously injure the male. The mating season lasts a few days and during this period they should be mated often.

when the female is pregnant they require an additional rich diet of food and young mice are a good choice now. After 30 to 45 days of gestation, the female will dig the earth and deposit 10 to 40 eggs. After an average of 200 days the eggs will hatch young chameleons and a few days later, the hatchlings should be separated and ready to hunt insects.