There is no way you can miss panther chameleons among the list of most beautiful reptiles on the planet. After all, their dazzling gorgeous colors, unique toes, and distinctive eyes are unrivaled. Not forgetting, the majestic slow gait, elongated tongue, and prehensile tail that adds to the charm.
Sadly, this amazing native from Madagascar faces extinction because of its appeal. As a result, several states began controlling the exportation of panther chameleons back in the 1990s. At the moment, you can only purchase bred species from reliable sources.
Despite their huge reputation panthers have demanding needs especially to novice pet devotees. They may not portray aggression unless threatened but easily become stressed when in captivity. Read on to understand how to keep your stunning little friend, hale and hearty.
Panthers are among the larger chameleons. Depending on the diet and habitat a healthy adult male measures between 12 and 18 inches and weighs about 140-220 grams.
Distinguishing the male from the female is uncomplicated because of the body structure. Usually, males have brighter coloration and approximately double the female sizes.
The most amazing trait about this chameleon is the combination of colors, patterns, stripes, and spots on the skin. The common base colors range from green, red, bright blue, and orange.
What’s more, the tong toes give panther chameleons a distinctive look and aid in grasping branches together with the long tail. This combination makes panther chameleon’s expert and avid climbers.
Although they are slow-moving reptiles, their long tongue is quite fast. As an added advantage, it swiftly snatches prey from the trees or ground.
When agitated, the skin color may change from red to yellow and back to green after they relax. Equally blue color indicates an effort to impress others, especially during mating.
If your pet’s color shifts from dark to light colors, it is a signal that they are ready to mate. Nonetheless, black or brown skin discoloration portrays reluctance to mate or mingle.
As beautiful as they come, panther chameleon territorial aggression is nothing to write home about. Therefore, avoid keeping males in one enclosure. Since they are solitary creatures, living alone would not harm them.
There is scanty information on how panther chameleons communicate. However, color changes may indicate mood changes or sickness. As a way of keeping themselves busy, panther chameleons spend most of their time climbing or sitting on branches.
Panther chameleons detest frequent handling. As a matter of fact, it makes them excessively stressed or gravely sick.
On that basis, if you have to come into contact with them, avoid wrapping your fingers around the body. Instead, hold out your hand and encourage them to mount on it.
Like any other chameleon, clean your hands thoroughly before and after the encounter to minimize contamination.
Due to breeding complications, female chameleons have a shorter lifetime. On the other hand, males enjoy a slightly longer life of about two to three years. On rare occasions, they can sustain up to six or seven years.
Common death causes in panther chameleons include metabolic bone disease, hypovitaminosis A and internal parasites. The first symptoms you should detect are discoloration, weight loss, poor appetite, and discharge of watery mucus.
General Care & Requirements
Taking a panther chameleon home is a decision you need to make on a sober mind. From their complicated husbandry, strict diet, and aggressive nature, this is not a journey for the chick-hearted. Follow a quick guide on their basic requirements.
– Temperature and Lighting
As common with other chameleons, most pet owners use fluorescence to light the terrarium. Unfortunately, the lights produce UVA waves which may affect their health.
The safest method to adopt is the use of UVB bulbs. A 40 watts bulb switched on for around 50 to 50 hours weekly provides your pet with enough UVB lighting.
In addition, expose them to natural sunlight at least five hours weekly. With a great thirst for ambient temperatures, keep them within 65 to 90℉. At night, slightly reduce the temperatures by about 10℉ to allow your pet to sleep.
Chameleons thrive through frequent and enough humidity levels. For panther chameleons, they perform better in an enclosure with 60% to 80% humidity.
To achieve this, add plenty of live plants to the terrarium. Based on their great love for climbing, this would be an added source of pleasure.
Remember to mist the cage at least thrice a day. Then allow the cage to dry out completely to enhance humidity levels. Among the plants you should not miss in the cage include ferns, ivy plants, and orchids.
– Cage Size
To keep your pet chameleon happy, house them in a spacious enclosure. Males require a slightly bigger space compared to females.
A 50-gallon tank makes a perfect home for male panther chameleons. For females, you can settle for at least a 40-gallon enclosure.
Wire mesh cages with metal and wood frames are best suited for all chameleon species. However, ensure that it has plastic-coated wires to prevent rusting.
Also, check for proper ventilation as it keeps chameleons calm. If possible, buy one that has a barrier to keep them in.
By all means, restrain from glass cages because panther chameleons become extremely stressed if they spot their reflection.
Food and Nutrition
Panther chameleons are the most misunderstood species when it comes to diet. Additionally, their frequent stressed episodes can greatly affect their feeding patterns. Here are quick ways on how to feed them properly.
Mainly insectivores, panther chameleons enjoy a meal of gut-loaded crickets, beetles, flies, cockroaches, mealworms, and others. Besides, add some green vegetables like ficus leaves, collard, and kales. For the large species, they can also gobble on tiny birds.
In a week, you should feed them five times with at least 15 to 25 insects. For juveniles or those under seven months nourish them more frequently to satisfy their high appetite.
Later, you may notice that the appetite declines as they grow older. To ensure that your pets fully benefit from it rub some vitamin and calcium supplements on the insects.
Take note that any food you give them should not exceed the chameleon head. Place the food on either a shallow container or on your hand. Wash your hands before feeding your pets to avoid transmitting microorganisms.
– Supplements and Vitamins
Another complicated aspect of the panther chameleon’s diet is the body’s absorption of calcium and vitamins. For that reason, you have to incorporate an adequate amount of supplements in their diet. Although you can get plenty of vitamin A from vegetables, you still need to buy commercialized supplements.
Likewise vitamin D aids in proper development and growth. If the cage has minimal UVB rays exposure, vitamin D supplements are vital for adult panther chameleons but not necessary for neonates. Instead, feed them with more nutritious drosophila flies and tiny crickets.
From the natural inclination of sipping dew in the forest, chameleons in captivity still use this method to hydrate. Similar to raindrops trickling on the leaves in forests and woodlands, you have to adopt a similar technique.
Regular misting of the cage is the best option you can use to replicate chameleon’s natural habitat. Not only does it allow chameleons to hydrate through the skin, but also increases humidity and keeps your pet calm.
For bigger panther chameleons, you can train them to sip water from a shallow container or use a slow-dripping method. Do not attempt this with neonates as they can easily drown.
While you can buy automatic misters from a pet shop, you can effortlessly build one at home. For instance, poke holes on a plastic container and place it on top of a dish for your pet to indulge.
From as early as seven months, your pretty friend is ready to breed. Immediately a female panther chameleon carries eggs, they instantly change to a dark color and orange stripes.
In her lifetime, she may lay about six to nine egg clutches. Each clutch contains around 10-40 eggs.
Since chameleons do not have maternal instincts, they only hide the eggs in one corner of the tank and forget about them. Normally, it takes close to seven months for the eggs to hatch.
To avoid over-breeding, separate the males and females for a couple of weeks after laying eggs. This helps the female to recuperate and relax after the tedious breeding process. Furthermore, it prolongs and gives them a better quality of life.
Fascinating panther chameleons are as pretty as a picture. However, do not be deceived by their alluring beauty especially if you are an apprentice chameleon pet admirer.
Still, if you are up for the challenge, you only need to practice the tips above. It might get a bit complicated in the beginning before you become well accustomed to another.
Sooner or later, your cute pet would feel more at ease around you and even attempt to feed on your hand.
When it comes to panther chameleons pets, patience, compassion and love is all that you need to keep them happy.