Panther chameleon at night in the Anjajavy Forest
The panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) is a species of chameleon found in the eastern and northern parts ofMadagascar in a tropical forest biome. Additionally, it has been introduced to Réunion and Mauritius.
A panther chameleon at the Zurich Zoo
Scientific classification :
Binomial name :
Chamaeleo pardalis Cuvier 1829
Chamaeleo ater Lesson 1832
Cyneosaura pardalis Gray 1865
Chamaeleo guentheri Boulenger 1888
Chamaeleon longicauda Günther 1891
Chamaeleon axillaris Werner 1899
Chamaeleon krempfi Chabanaud 1923
Chamaeleo niger Duméril & Bibron 1836
Chamaeleon pardalis Werner 1911
Chamaeleon guentheri Werner 1911
A panther chameleon with mostly green and red colors and the characteristic white stripe along the body axis.
The panther chameleon was first described by French naturalist Georges Cuvier in 1829. Its generic name (Furcifer) is derived from the Latin root furci meaning "forked" and refers to the shape of the animal's feet. The specific name pardalisrefers to the animals' markings, as it is Latin for "leopard" or "spotted like a panther". The English word chameleon (also chamaeleon) derives from Latin chamaeleō, a borrowing of the Ancient Greek χαμαιλέων (khamailéōn), a compound of χαμαί (khamaí) "on the ground" and λέων (léōn) "lion". The Greek word is a calque translating the Akkadian nēš qaqqari, "ground lion". This lends to the common English name of "panther chameleon".
Male panther chameleons can grow up to 20 inches (51 cm) in length, with a typical length of around 17 inches (43 cm). Females are smaller, at about half the size. In a form of sexual dimorphism, males are more vibrantly colored than the females. Coloration varies with location, and the different color patterns of panther chameleons are commonly referred to as 'locales', which are named after the geographical location in which they are found. Panther chameleons from the areas ofNosy Be, Ankify, and Ambanja are typically a vibrant blue, while those from Ambilobe, Antsiranana, and Sambava are red, green or orange. The areas of Maroantsetra and Tamatave yield primarily red specimens. Numerous other color phases, and patterns occur between and within regions. Females generally remain tan and brown with hints of pink, peach, or bright orange, no matter where they are found, but there are slight differences in patterns and colors among the different color phases.
Panther chameleons are zygodactylous: on each foot, the five toes are fused into a group of two and a group of three, giving the foot a tongs-like appearance. These specialized feet allow the panther chameleon a tight grip on narrow branches. Each toe is equipped with a sharp claw to gain traction on surfaces such as bark when climbing. The claws make it easy to see how many toes are fused into each part of the foot — two toes on the outside of each front foot and three on the inside.
Their eyes are the most distinctive among the reptiles and function like a gun turret. The upper and lower eyelids are joined, with only a pinhole large enough for the pupil to see through. They can rotate and focus separately to observe two different objects simultaneously; their eyes move independently from each other. It in effect gives them a full 360-degree arc of vision around their bodies. When prey is located, both eyes can be focused in the same direction, giving sharp stereoscopic visionand depth perception. They have keen eyesight for reptiles, letting them see small insects from a long (5–10-m) distance.Ultraviolet light is part of the visible spectrum for chameleons.
Panther chameleons have very long tongues (sometimes longer than their own body length) which they are capable of rapidly extending out of the mouth. The tongue extends at around 26 body lengths per second. The tongue hits the prey in about 0.0030 sec. The tongue of the chameleon is a complex arrangement of bone, muscle and sinew. At the base of the tongue, a bone is shot forward, giving the tongue the initial momentum it needs to reach the prey quickly. At the tip of this elastic tongue, a muscular, club-like structure covered in thick mucus forms a suction cup. Once the tip sticks to a prey item, it is drawn quickly back into the mouth, where the panther chameleon's strong jaws crush it and it is consumed.
Behaviour and ecology
It is a common misconception that chameleons of any kind can change color to match any color of their environments. All chameleons have a natural color range with which they are born, and is dictated by their species. It is affected by temperature, mood, and light. If, for example, the color purple is not within the range of colors to which their particular species can change, then they will never turn purple.
Like most species of chameleons, the panther chameleon is very territorial. It spends the majority of its life in isolation, apart from mating sessions. When two males come into contact, they will change color and inflate their bodies, attempting to assert their dominance. Often these battles end at this stage, with the loser retreating, turning drab and dark colors. Occasionally, the displays result in physical combat if neither contender backs down.
Head and neck
Captive care :
When kept as pets, they require a large enclosure and are fed crickets primarily but also wax worms, meal worms, and roaches – chameleons should have a varied diet. It should be noted that panther chameleons require fresh flowing air, so the use of an open air screen cage is necessary. A glass aquarium should not be used as it restricts airflow and can cause respiratory infections in the animal. Enclosure size is very important, a 2'×2'×4' mesh cage is perfect for a single adult although females could be kept in a 1.5'×1.5'×3' enclosure. A proper day and night light schedule is required along with a UVB bulb being present in the cage. The reptile requires UVB to replicate sunlight, and help its body process. A 5.0 UVB bulb should be on for 12 hours a day as well as a heat bulb to replicate the suns heat. Humidity is very important with chameleons, 50-60% humidity should be perfect for a panther chameleon, although it will not be fatal if this is not consistent. Panther Chameleons do however require the constant availability of water. When studying a Panther Chameleon you will notice that they do not drink from a dish as might be considered. A misting bottle should be used three times daily to properly hydrate the chameleon, this will also help maintain humidity, a water dripping system could be used so that water droplets form on the interior of the cage setup. The chameleon will sponge the water droplets from the surfaces of the cage using their tongue. It is very important that chameleons are not housed together as adults; there should be only one chameleon per cage. These rules could be slightly bent during breeding season by slowly introducing an opposite sex chameleon for short periods of time. Females should have many places available to lay eggs at all times, because they will lay eggs even if they have not been fertilized.
Panther chameleons reach sexual maturity at a minimum age of seven months.
When gravid, or carrying eggs, females turn dark brown or black with orange striping to signify to males they have no intention of mating. The exact coloration and pattern of gravid females varies depending on the color phase of the chameleon. This provides a way to distinguish between locales.
Females usually only live two to three years after laying eggs (between five and eight clutches) because of the stress put on their bodies. Females can lay between 10 and 40 eggs per clutch, depending on the food and nutrient consumption during the period of development. Eggs typically hatch in 240 days.
Adult Nosy Mitiso Panther Chameleon from TikiTikiReptiles.com.
Male panther chameleon
Ambilobe panther chamelion in the Shedd Aquarium, Chicago
Panther Chameleon Changing Colors Quickly
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Panther Chameleon Care Sheet
BY CHAD NEW
Adult Sambava Panther Chameleon
Panther Chameleons (Furcifer Pardalis)
Panther chameleons are one of the most colorful chameleon species available today. Native to Madagascar, they are able to turn a wide variety of colors depending on their locale or the area from which their line originated.
Panther Chameleon Availability
Panther chameleons are commonly available from reputable breeders and can usually be found at local reptile shops, reptile shows or through the Internet. Ambilobes are the most common locale; however, others, such as Nosy Be, are becoming more widely available. Depending on their size and color, panther chameleons can vary in price.
Panther Chameleon Size
Male panther chameleons typically have a body length of 12 to 18 inches while females are slightly smaller at 10 to 14 inches. A healthy male panther chameleon will average between 140 and 180 grams in weight, and a healthy female panther chameleon will weigh around 60 to 100 grams.
Panther Chameleon Life Span
Panther chameleons can have a varied life span depending on the care they are given. Under good conditions, your panther chameleon should live 5 to 7 years.
Adult Tamatave Panther Chameleon from TikiTikiReptiles.com
Panther Chameleon Caging
To make locating prey items easier for your baby panther chameleon, cage your new pet in a small enclosure. All screen cages 16 inches long by 16 inches wide by 20 inches tall will work for the first six months of life. After that, adult male panther chameleons should be kept in a minimum of 18 inches long by 18 inches wide by 36 inches tall enclosures, whereas female panther chameleons can be kept in 16 inches long by 16 inches wide by 30 inches tall enclosures. These sizes are the absolute minimum, and as always, bigger is better! Decorate the cage with live, nontoxic plants and various sticks or vines. Ficus Benjamina, Schefflera, and Pothos plants all make great choices. Chameleons love to climb, and live plants will give them places to hide and feel secure. Screen is always preferred over glass, as chameleons can easily get an upper respiratory infection if kept in stagnant air.
Panther Chameleon Lighting and Temperature
Provide two types of light: one UVB bulb (I recommend the ReptiSun 5.0) and one incandescent bulb of appropriate wattage. Adult panther chameleons need a basking spot of around 100 degrees Fahrenheit with the ambient temperature between 75 to 85 degrees; smaller panther chameleons should have a basking area of 85 to 90 degrees with a lower ambient temperature of around 75 degrees. It is important for panther chameleons to thermoregulate. That is why you place lights toward the top of the cage.
Panther Chameleon Substrate
Chameleon cages are best left with a bare bottom. Substrate will only complicate the cleaning of your chameleon’s cage and give insects a place to hide. If you choose to have substrate, keep it simple with paper towels or newspaper. Humidity is provided when you water your plants and chameleon.
Panther Chameleon Food
A good diet is a varied diet! Crickets are the main staple, but superworms, silkworms, hornworms, waxworms, roaches, stick bugs, etc., can all – and should all – be offered to your panther chameleons. Make sure you feed gut-loaded insects. It is also necessary to dust your insects with vitamin powders. You can do this a number of ways. I recommend doing calcium three times a week, calcium with D3 once a week, a small dusting of Miner-All one time a week and Herptavite one time every other week.
Hatchling Nosy Be Panther Chameleon from TikiTikiReptiles.com.
Panther Chameleon Water
Water is one of the most important things to consider when keeping a panther chameleon, as they love to drink and need to every day. Misting the chameleon two to three times a day will keep the humidity in the required 60 to 70 percent range and will also allow the animal a chance to drink. I also suggest running a drip system most of the day at least twice a week. This will allow the panther chameleon to drink nice full drops of water whenever it likes. It will also keep your plants watered.
Panther chameleons are one of the more docile of the common chameleon types, though you can get an occasional grumpy one. It is important to remember that chameleons like to be left alone. They are a great display animal that should not be handled on a daily basis. Some tips to remember when handling a chameleon are to approach the chameleon from the bottom. A hand coming from above can be taken as an attack. If you have a grumpy chameleon, first coax it onto a stick and then onto your hand or arm. With time, most chameleons come to associate their owner with food and will often come to the door in anticipation of feeding.
Chad New is the source for Panther Chameleon information and breeding. Please visit his site at TikiTikiReptiles.com.
Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) Care Sheet
courtesy to : chamownersweb.net/husbandry/care_sheet_panther.htm
Description: These are one of the most colorful reptiles in the world, with males displaying various shades of blue, orange, yellow, red, and green. Slight differences in the shape of the head and subtle to extreme differences in color of the males of this species have been documented based on their native locale. Naming of the "Panther Morphs" is based on this i.e. Nose Be, Ambanja, Tamatave. Males display a broken white stripe on their sides which starts near the head and continues almost to the tail. Adult females from all locations display only shades of the same color, especially when gravid. Females also have a faint lateral stripe and vertical bars which become more prominent when they are stressed or gravid. F. pardalis is one of the best chameleons for adapting to indoor housing. This makes it a great choice for a beginner, however, it should be emphasized that NO chameleon is easy to care for.
Male Furcifer pardalis ©Diana Rasmusson
Selection: The color of a chameleon is generally a good indicator of its condition. Dark and drab colors are generally indicative of stress or improper temperature. A healthy chameleon will have straight limbs. If you see a chameleon that looks "bowlegged", has difficulty grasping onto branches or walking, or has a crooked back or jaw, do not purchase it. These symptoms often indicate that an animal has developed metabolic bone disease, a preventable calcium deficiency. Healthy chameleons have their eyes open during the daytime and and are constantly surveying their environment. Chameleons that have their eyes closed for long periods of time during the day are usually sick. Sunken eyes generally indicate a dehydrated and stressed animal. There should be no elongated lumps beneath the skin (possible filarial worms). Look for any visible cuts bruises or broken skin. The skin should look well hydrated, not dry or withered. Large black or gray areas can be fungal infections.
Sexual dimorphism: Males panthers can reach 21" in total length but are typically smaller (12"-18") in captivity. Males have slightly larger and more pronounced casques than females. Color of the female is limited to gray, brown or light green unless threatened or gravid. Females are smaller than males and only reach sizes of 7"-9". Juvenile to adult size males are easily distinguished from females by the hemipenal bulge or thickened base of the tail. Hatchlings are difficult to sex reliably until their about 4 months old.
Sexual maturity: Sexual maturity is reached around 5 months, but it is recommended that breeding wait until the females are 9 -12 months old and fully developed.
Average life expectancy: Panther chameleons generally live between five and eight years in captivity, depending on husbandry and breeding history.
Size: Males can grow to 20 inches in length while females mature to a smaller size of 12 to 14 inches.
Growth and Breeding: When shedding occurs, it is is completed quickly. Shedded skin explodes off in pieces within 24 hrs. A common misconception with chameleons is that if a female chameleon is not mated she will die egg bound. If she is not given a suitable place to lay her eggs then this is possible. Female panther chameleons will produce 5-8 clutches of 12-30 eggs per year, whether they have been mated or not. Females are able to breed at about 5 months of age but waiting to full maturity (9-12 mos.) is highly recommended. At 5-6 months of age most males have not yet developed full colors (12 months of age), but the hemipenal bulge is quite evident and they are sexually mature. Colors will brighten and stripes stand out when courting males spot a female. Upon reaching sexual maturity, two to three weeks before oviposition (egg laying) females exhibit sexual receptivity. Brighter or lighter colors indicate her willingness to mate. Willing females allow males to approach from behind. Copulation typically lasts from 10-30 minutes. Gravid coloration is displayed during or within minutes following copulation but could take as long as a day or two. Gravid coloration is identified by intense black/brown and orange colors. Sperm retention is possible so mating may not be required for every clutch. Pairs can be separated after a single copulation or left together for extended time until the female acts threatened. Be prepared to provide a nesting area for her after mating. She will become restless, have reduced appetite, and constantly wander about her cage looking for a place to nest when she is ready to lay her eggs. Egg laying occurs 20-40 days after copulation. A five gallon bucket half filled with damp sandbox sand makes a good nest. The sand should be damp enough to build a sand castle, but not saturated. Once she lays the eggs, carefully remove the sand until you can see the eggs. Using a spoon remove the eggs and place them in a Tupperware type container half filled with damp vermiculite or perlite (Mix 1 1/2 parts vermiculite or perlite to 1 part water by weight). Leave 50% of egg showing. Put the lid on it tight and place it in where temperatures are 65-78ºF. Hatching can occur in 6-9 months, but warmer temperatures can cause a longer diapause (dormant period) and hatching could take up to 12 months. Check the eggs weekly. If they shrivel up or turn dark and look moldy, they are no longer viable.
Temperament: Panther chameleons are more tame than many chameleons. All chameleons should be handled as little as possible.
Diet: Panther chameleons are insectivores. It is imperative that they receive enough calcium to prevent MBD. Babies take 5-10 two-week-old crickets 1-2 times per day. Feeder insects should be gutloaded with a high calcium diet and periodically dusted with vitamin supplements. Don't overfeed. This is especially critical with females. Overfeeding females causes larger clutch sizes (number of eggs per laying) and can greatly reduce their life expectancy. While crickets are the staple of their captive diet, meal worms (Tolebrio molitor) super worms (Zoophobus morio) waxworms (Galleria mellonella), and captured insects (from safe pesticide free fields) provide great variety in their diet. They really seem to jump on any green insect, but black and red colors usually indicate toxic if not distasteful.
Hydration: Clean water should be provided daily via a drip bottle dripping over the foliage within the enclosure. Chameleons will typically not recognize water unless it is moving i.e. rolling off the foliage after misting or dripping. A drip bottle can be purchased at about any reptile supply site on the Internet or at your local pet store. They can also be easily made from a cup with a pin hole poked in the bottom. Just misting the enclosure for a primary water source is inadequate. It will cause problems in the long run, the chameleon will not get sufficient water.
Enclosure: Their enclosure should allow air circulation which is typically achieved by two or more sides made of screen. Only one chameleon should be kept per enclosure because they are solitary animals and stress easily. Stress can lead to health problems.
Enclosure - temperature: Reptiles are ectothermic (cold-blooded). They do not manufacture their own body heat and rely on environmental elements to regulate body temperature. In order to raise or lower their body temperature, reptiles move from hot or cold area as needed. Chameleons also use color change (darker colors absorb heat, while lighter colors repel heat) and slight body shape manipulation (they flatten themselves out to absorb more heat) In captivity, we need to provide reptiles with a range of temperatures so that the animals may thermoregulate as they would in the wild. That means one end of the cage should be the preferred ambient temperature, and one end should be at the basking temperature. If the enclosure is large enough, there may also be temperature differences at different heights. It is best to put the basking site at the highest point of the cage, so that the vertical temperature change mimics what occurs in nature. It is critically important that the owner provide a heating lamp to create a basking spot of 90-105 degrees F at one end of the enclosure. The ambient air temperature in the rest of the cage should be 80's over the course of the day with a preferred drop to the mid 60's at night. There is no need for heat rocks or warming pads.
Enclosure - lighting: The lighting should include a basking light (any bulb placed near the top to create a warmer area) and ReptiSun 5.0 or similar UVB output bulbs. Make sure the chameleon can not come into contact with the bulbs!!!
Enclosure - humidity: The enclosure should be misted with warm to hot water several times daily. This aids in shedding and adds a little humidity. Baby chameleons (and adults) will usually lap the water off the foliage. Fifty to sixty percent humidity is desirable and fresh airflow is mandatory to prevent bacterial growth.
Enclosure - size: Because of their large size, a screen cage of at least 24"x24"x36" is recommended but 24"x24"x48" is more preferable. As a guide cage dimensions should meet this criteria:
A good formula for calculating this is:
(HBL=snout to vent length)
For arboreal (height loving tree dwellers) species:
short side of bottom = 3 x HBL - long side of bottom = 4 x HBL - height = 6 x HBL
For terrestrial (ground dwellers) species i.e. Brookesia:
short side of bottom = 4 x HBL - long side of bottom = 6 x HBL - height = 4 x HBL
So a Veiled measuring 10 inches HBL would need an enclosure measuring 30" X 40" X 60"
Enclosure - plants: There are many plants suitable for chameleon cages. The plant must have similar temperature and humidity requirements, and must not be considered toxic. This is a short list of the acceptable and unacceptable plants for chameleon enclosures:
Acceptable - Weeping fig Ficus benjamina, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, pothos or devil's ivy Epipremnum aureum, Dwarf Umbrella Schefflera arboricola
Unacceptable - Octopus Tree or Queensland Umbrella Tree Schefflera actinophylla, Rubber Tree or Rubber Plant Ficus elastica
Health problems and veterinary care: Dystocia (egg binding) is a relatively common problem in reptiles. Dystocia can occur in live-bearing and ovoviviparous (reproducing by eggs which the female carries in her body until they hatch) species. Parasites are common in wild caught specimens. Metabolic Bone Disease is another common health problem. Improper diet and poor lighting or lack of UVB light contribute to MBD. Symptoms are described under the "Selection" heading. Salt crystals may form on their nostrils. This is not uncommon but could indicate a need for more water.
(1) Bartlett, R.D. and Bartlett Patricia P. 1995. Chameleons: Everything about Selection, Care, Nutrition, Diseases, Breeding, and Behavior. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
(2) Davison, Linda, J. 1997. Chameleons: Their Care and Breeding . Blaine, WA : Hancock House Publishers
(3) De Vosjoli, Philippe, and Ferguson, Gary. 1995. Care and Breeding of : Panther, Jackson's, Veiled, and Parson's Chameleons. Santee, CA : Advanced Vivarium Systems, Inc.
(4) De Vosjoli, Philippe. 1990. The General Care and Maintenance of True Chameleons: Part I Husbandry. Lakeside, CA: Advanced Vivarium Systems, Inc.
(5) Le Berre, Francois. 1995. The New Chameleon Handbook: Everything about Selection, Care, Diet, Diseases, Reproduction, and Behavior. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
(6) ADCHAM.com species profile edited 11/27/02 Contributed by Jim Amirian and Olaf Pronk.