When you think of a chameleon it’s usually the panther chameleon you’ll be picturing in your mind’s eye. These striking chameleons display incredible colour phases and morphs. It is important to note that, as with many species on the planet, the males tend to err towards brighter and more vibrant colour morphs than the females (who tend to be more orange and brown tones). These chameleons have gun turret-like eyes which they can rotate independently of each other, giving them a full 360-degree field of vision.
Panther chameleons are very territorial, due to this they should be kept on their own and due to their tendency to become stressed quite easily it is best for them to be an observed pet rather than one that is handled regularly. These lizards don’t tend to live particularly long as domestic pets, though there have been cases of them living longer, so the lifespan can be between 3 – 10 years. These chameleons can reach up to lengths of 21 inches including the tail and males are often larger than females.
Panther chameleon’s need a well-ventilated cage, constant moisture can make your chameleon very sick so a cage that is screened is ideal for them as it keeps well ventilated. Most veteran chameleon owners will know that a glass tank is not recommended, for panther chameleons it is simply a big no-no. They are climbers, so will need a cage that is vertical rather than wide. The higher the better and the bigger the better as far as budget will allow. Usually for chameleons between 0-9 months you should be looking for a cage around 20”x18”x12”, upping for a 6-12 month old chameleon as 36”x18”x18” and chameleon 12+ months look to go 48”x24”x24” minimum or the largest you can afford.
Now for the fun part – furnishing your chameleon’s house. Plants is a good place to start and they must be nontoxic. The most used plant is the ficus tree, but you can also use pothos, umbrella, hibiscus or dracaena. If you did want to, you can also use artificial plants and vines and branches – try to get these in different diameters. Make sure one of these is in a place your chameleon can use as a basking spot, within 6 inches of their UVB light. You can also put lots of plants and greens by and around the cage as this will also keep the inside of the cage hydrated. Make sure to mist your panther chameleon at least a couple of times a day.
Panther chameleon’s need a UVA/UVB light source, so you will need to make sure this is provided for them. They love to bask so need to have optimum temperature. You should buy this in addition to a basking bulb – the basking bulb won’t offer the ultraviolet rays that the UVA/UVB one does, so you will need to get both. Remember that they should have these lights on continuously, up to 12 hours a day if fine.
Make sure that the ambient temperature for your chameleon is different to the basking temperature, they need to have the gradient. Ideally a gradient temperature between 23-30C with basking temperatures of around 32C will be ideal for them. If temperatures at night are dropping below 10-15C, this will be too cold for them, so a night heat source must be provided. Do not use a lightbulb, make sure to use a ceramic heat emitter or something similar and make sure this is outside of the cage so your chameleon cannot burn itself on it.
Your panther chameleon loves to drink, but you’ll be hard pressed to get it drinking from a water bowl. You can buy and install a system that drops water inside your chameleon’s cage so they can drink the water drops or take them from the leaves within their cage. Remember to mist your chameleon, it will not only help to keep the humidity within the cage at an optimal 60-85 percent but will water your plants as well. Make sure the cage has completely dried between mists.
As with many lizards’ chameleons are insectivores and will need a good variety of insects to feed on. Crickets are the most often fed insect to chameleons, but you need to make sure they are getting everything they need form their diet. Locust, butter worms, grasshoppers, flies, silkworms, roaches, mealworms and some others are good to vary your chameleon’s diet. Don’t give your panther chameleon wild-caught insects as they may have been exposed to pesticides and other toxins.
You will need to gut load your chameleon’s food. To do this is simple, you need to feed the insects something nutritious around 24 hours before they are fed and eaten by your chameleon, so they are as healthy as possible. You can buy formula for gut loading. You will also need to make sure that you dust the food with a calcium powder with a vitamin D3 supplement, again, you can buy these online, SwellReptiles have a 125g pot for £5.29.
The name panther derives from them being very aggressive.
Though aggressive to other males, they will run and hide if attacked by a predator or human.
Some have been caught snoring!
Gaping is normal – They may even yawn, more likely in the morning.
When angry or threatened they can hiss.