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Panther Chameleon - Calumma Pardalis

The Panther Chameleon is a beautiful chameleon. Panther chameleons are “true” chameleons. They have cone shaped eyes that are able to move independent of the other. This is a pet that really is not for the beginner. If you choose this species as a pet, you need to know how to care for them. Chameleons are pets that are best viewed and not handled. The Panther Chameleon is native to the island of Madagascar.


Average Size - Adult males will grow to a length of 12 to 17 inches and females from 7 to 9 inches.

Life Span - Panther Chameleons live up to 5+ years

Diet - Panther chameleons eat a variety of live insects including crickets, mealworms, and waxworms. Provide greens several times each week - lettuce (avoid iceberg since it has little nutritional value), collards, etc. Remember to "gut load" crickets a day before offering to your pet. This can be done by feeding with any of the commercial insect foods available at pet shops. You should also dust crickets or other insects about twice each week with a calcium and vitamin supplement.

Feeding - Feed adults every other day; juveniles daily. Do not let crickets stay in the tank. Any not eaten should be removed. If left in they may bother/stress out the chameleon. Learn how to raise feeder foods.

Housing - Appropriate size enclosure of at least 30 gallons for an adult will accommodate normal behavior and exercise. The enclosure should be vertically oriented since panther chameleons are climbers. A screened top is a must. A screened enclosure would also be appropriate, however make sure it will accomodate a full spectrum lighting system. One adult panther chameleon can be kept in a wire cage that measure 36 inches long, 18 inches wide and 36 inches high, at the minimum.

Habitat - Most chameleons are arboreal (primarily tree-dwelling) and need lots of climbing surfaces. A dense area of non-toxic plants for hiding and a more open, exposed area of branches for basking. The cage furnishings should consist of a Ficus tree, fake plants and a couple tall pieces of drift wood, barnches and tree limbs. Ideal humidity is between 50% to 75%.

Temperature - The ideal daytime temperature for panther chameleons is between 75ºF and 85ºF. Nighttime temperatures should drop down to 65ºF - 75ºF. Temperature fluctuations are absolutely necessary and their environment should never be hot and stuffy. Provide needed an incandescent bulb or ceramic heater for temperature control.

Substrate - For a substrate you can either use reptile and small mammal bedding (not cedar) or a potting soil sand mixture. Since panther chameleons are arboreal, you can also use astroturf, paper towels etc. You should  change the substrate regularly. Both are easy to clean. We had a female veiled that used to lay eggs even though they were not fertile. I asume that female panthers are the same so...females can be given a bowl filled with sand – to lay eggs. This is important because even if you never mate them, eggs can form and if your chameleon does not have a place to nest and deposit her eggs, she can become egg bound and die.

Water - Not likely to drink directly from a bowl; will rely on moisture on non-toxic plants and in collecting pools for drinking; use drip system with chlorine-free water or mist regularly. You can create your own water drip system by placing a plastic container on the top of the enclosure with a pinhole in the bottom of the container.

Lighting - Provide full spectrum fluorescent light for 10 to 12 hours a day; incandescent bulb is needed for basking area if not using a ceramic heater in the basking spot. Also, if the habitat is positioned in a window that has full sunlight – YOU MUST PROVIDE A SAFE SHADE SPOT THAT MAINTAINS A TEMPERATURE IN THE HIGH 70’S TO LOW 80’S.

Recommended Supplies:

  • Habitat with secure lid
  • Thermometer and humidity gauge
  • Mist bottle/drip system
  • Book about chameleons 
  • Full spectrum light
  • Incandescent basking light or ceramic heater
  • Basking branches and non-toxic plants
  • Vitamin/mineral supplement

Normal Behavior and Interaction All chameleons have eyes that can see in two directions at once. Most chameleons are very territorial, it is best if kept singularly.  Panther Chameleons, like other varieties, may be aggressive towards other chameleons. Since they exhibit territorial behavior they are best housed alone. Males tend to be most aggressive to other males, and therefore two males should not be kept together. Like other chameleons handling should be kept to a minimum, as it tends to stress most individuals. The Panther Chameleon is relatively hearty, and this may also explain their popularity in the pet trade.

Habitat Maintenance Remove feces from habitat daily; mist frequently to maintain humidity. Thoroughly clean the habitat at least once a week: set chameleon aside in a secure habitat; scrub the habitat with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all smell of bleach; add clean substrate

Grooming and Hygiene Always wash your hands before and after touching your chameleon or habitat contents to help prevent Salmonella and other infectious diseases. Chameleons regularly shed their skin; mist regularly to ensure proper humidity for shedding

Signs of a Healthy Pet:  

  • Consistent behavior
  • Healthy skin
  • Clear eyes
  • Eats regularly
  • Clear nose and vent
  • Body and tail are rounded and full
Common Health Issues and Red Flags:

  • Mucus in mouth or nose
  • Lethargic
  • Swelling
  • Labored breathing
  • Paralysis of limbs or tail
  • Abnormal feces
  • Bumps, sores or abrasions on skin
  • Weight loss or decreased appetite
As with all pets in this category, it is important that you find a veterinarian that practices in EXOTICS – this is critical. The typical small animal practitioner may not have sufficient knowledge in this area. Even this guide is general in nature and should not be used to diagnose your pet.

Page Last Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 21:25 EST
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