Ambilobe Panther Chameleon
Scientific Name: Furcifer pardalis
Common Names: Panther Chameleon
Novice - Chameleons in general are not beginner animals but those designated novice are considered the best beginner species in the hobby with large, stable captive populations relative to other species. They are relatively easy to breed as well.
Brief Introduction: The panther chameleon is a very common species in the pet trade with widely spread captive populations. They are native to most of the coastal lowlands of Madagascar and nearby islands, and there is tremendous variation in color among the more geographically isolated populations. Panther chameleons are often labeled by their natural geographic location, or locale. These often represent specific colors and are frequently named after a nearby town or village. Cross breeding locales in captivity can be a controversial topic where some argue for the importance of preserving the natural locale identities.
Description: The panther chameleon is a medium to large sized species with an adult length of 15-20” (40-52cm). Their color pattern is extremely variable and the main reason they’re one of the most popular chameleon species. The Ambilobe locale is most commonly available, with Nosy Be, Ambanja, Sambava and other locales also bred in captivity. Like many chameleons species the color of a panther can change drastically during stress or courtship. Among the various locales their colors range from green, red, yellow, blue, white, orange and a combination of the above. Panthers also have colored barring that sometimes contrasts with their base color, creating a very striking appearance. All females are primarily peach to pink in color with some grey patterning, and their locale cannot be differentiated by appearance. A gravid female will have a darker background with orange to pink barring. Juveniles of both genders are usually greyish brown with faint patterning.
Behavior: Like most chameleon species panther chameleons are tree-dwelling reptiles that are active only during the day. They can generally be found hunting prey or basking on the branches of trees and large bushes. Panther chameleons are territorial and don’t tolerate the presence of other chameleons in close proximity. When threatened they will frequently change color and inflate their body to appear larger. Contrary to popular belief, chameleons don’t change color in a direct attempt to match their background. Their color changes are influenced most by their state of health, emotions or level of stress, and the process of thermoregulation. Panther chameleons vary in individual personality and some tolerate handling enough to seem friendly. Like other chameleons they are a pet that is more for observation and should not be handled regularly.
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Photo credit: Curious Creatures LLC