The panther chameleon can be considered as one of the most stunning chameleon species; not only because of its large size, but also because of the innumerable colors that it exhibits. Native to the island of Madagascar, the panther chameleon is becoming popular as a pet among reptile lovers.
Though the panther chameleon, which is scientifically named Furcifer pardalis, is a great pet, taking care of this reptile is not an easy task. Only people who have enough time as well as money can afford to adopt this chameleon as a pet. Hence, before you make the decision to adopt this chameleon, it is important for you to know about the various kinds of care it requires.
Panther Chameleon Facts
- The length of a male panther chameleon is 20 inches, i.e., 50 cm. However, it has been observed that the chameleons held in captivity are comparatively smaller. Also, the female panther chameleon is smaller than the male; it does not grow more than 7-9 inches in length.
- While the male is found in varied colors, including orange, red, yellow, blue, green, etc., the female is not as colorful as the male. Usually, the female chameleon is either brown or orange.
- The panther chameleon reaches sexual maturation at the age of 5-7 months. However, it is best to wait for the female to reach 9 months before breeding, to ensure that she is fully developed and healthy.
- The lifespan of these creatures is 8-10 years. However, it has been observed that females who have bred multiple times are likely to stay alive only for 2-3 years.
Caring for Adult and Baby Panther Chameleon
As you now know the basic facts about the animal, the next step would be to know the things that you have to do if you want to bring it home as a pet. This includes the housing, food, environment, etc.
Prospective owners should know that this reptile needs good ventilation throughout the day and hence, keeping it in a glass cage is not a good option. Instead, the best thing would be to invest in a an aluminum screen cage. Another thing that has to be considered is the size of the cage.
Though it is fine to have a small cage for a baby panther chameleon, as the reptile grows, it's need for space also increases. Apart from this, one must remember that panther chameleons should be kept alone in a cage, because this reptile is territorial, and having to share their space with another will be seen as a threat and can also cause severe stress.
Once you have chosen the cage, the next step would be furnish it. This is important because the chameleon is a plant dweller and would live longer if kept in a natural environment. Due to this, it is necessary to furnish the cage with lots of plants and branches. Make sure that the branches are nontoxic, as some chameleons have a habit of chewing plants. Some of the plants that you can use to decorate your pet's cage include hibiscus, pothos and dracaena. Adding some vines and sticks that will enable the chameleon to climb the cage will also be a good idea.
Temperature and Lighting
The panther chameleon, like all other reptiles, is a cold blooded animal, and cannot keep itself warm on its own. Hence, it is important to provide the perfect temperature to the chameleon in its cage. The perfect temperature for the chameleon would be somewhere between 75-90 degrees F. Using a incandescent light is best to heat the cage. However, make sure that the temperature does not go beyond 90 degrees F and does not drop below 75 degrees F.
The best way to monitor the temperature is by keeping a digital thermometer in the cage. Apart from temperature, providing the correct lighting is also very important. Panther chameleons require UV light for at least 12 hours in a day and hence, it would be a good idea to invest in a good UV bulb. It would also be a good idea to shift the cage outside on some days, so that the reptile can get some natural sunlight.
The main diet of the panther chameleon is insects, as it is an insectivore. Though crickets are something that chameleons love to devour, insects like locusts, silkworms, butterworms, waxworms, roaches, flies, etc. are said to be good food for this reptile. It is important to see to it that all the insects that are given to the panther chameleon are gut loaded i.e. they are fed fresh vegetables, minerals, and vitamins beforehand. As the chameleon has high nutrient requirements, spraying or coating the worms with mineral and vitamin supplements is also a good idea.
As there are some panther chameleons that like to eat plants, it will be a good idea to feed items like mustard greens, pea pods, turnip greens, collard greens, etc. While babies have to be fed at least once a day, adults have to be fed only once in two days. When it comes to drinking water, the chameleon does not understand the concept of drinking from a bowl. So, it is necessary to mist the plants regularly, so that it can drink water dripping from the plants. Apart from this, adding a drip system to the cage will also be a great idea.
As I said earlier, taking care of panther chameleons can be an expensive endeavor. Make sure that your finances allow you to adopt it. Also, it is more of a viewing pet than a handling one and hence, will not be a good pet for children. This is because children like to hold their pets and there are chances of accidents occurring if the chameleon is held very frequently. Hence, consider all these factors carefully before making the final decision.