Caring for Panther Chameleons

From the island of Madagascar comes one of the most brilliant chameleons of the species, the Panther chameleon. Changing color with its environment, the colors of the Panther chameleon are bright and vibrant. They feature bulging, cone-shaped eyes that move independently of each other and a tail that can coil up like a snake.

HOUSING
The Panther chameleons are natural tree dwellers and need space to climb. While glass aquariums are sometimes used for their housing it is not recommended. Just like with other animals of this species, their reflection on glass can sometimes be seen as a threat thus causing stress on the chameleon. Most enthusiast use a screen enclosed sanctuary of fairly good size. Their home should provide non-toxic plants for hiding and plenty of limbs for climbing.

Most owners do not use a substrate which is the material placed on the bottom of the enclosure. If you choose to use a substrate you should stay clear of any substances that contain chemicals or could cause impaction.

The Panther chameleon will need about 12 hours of daylight every day. UV rays are important for their overall health as it helps with the absorption of vitamins. There are specialty fluorescent fixtures available that also transmit UV rays that can be purchased online or at larger pet stores. The temperature of their environment should never go below 75 degrees or above 90 degrees. The home should also provide a place of shade for the chameleon to go when temperatures rise.

Thermometers should be placed inside their home to insure proper temperatures. Heating pads and rocks should never be used with this chameleon as their heat sensors are not located on their stomachs but rather on their backs.

FEEDING
The Panther chameleon’s diet consists of crickets, silkworms, wax worms and mealworms, among others. Expert breeders agree that feeding an abundance of certain prey items like wax worms can lead to grout. This chameleon also enjoys nutritious leafy greens which can be fed as an addition to their regular meals. Any uneaten foods should be removed from their home promptly and never left to rot in their environment.

Like most lizard-type species, supplements should be provided for positive overall health. Supplements can be given through gut loading or dusting the supplements, such as calcium, onto the actual food. Gut loading is the process of feeding the food. Approximately 24 hours before feeding your chameleon, meals such as crickets can be placed into a container and fed a vitamin rich meal such as fruits and vegetables. The crickets are gut loaded with the vitamin rich nutrients which are then passed on to your chameleon when it eats the crickets.

The average adult will intake approximately fifty crickets per week but the appetite is known to decrease with age. Juveniles should be fed on a daily basis while adults can be fed every other day. Fresh water should be made available on a daily basis and breeders recommend un-chlorinated water that provides calcium and electrolytes. Rarely will a Panther chameleon lap from a water bowl so misting of their surroundings will be required or a drip system can be installed into their sanctuary.

The Panther chameleon is not considered a beginner pet. Even though they are a hardy species, they do require special care and knowledge about their overall needs. Take the time to research this species of chameleon before venturing into ownership. In general, the Panther chameleon does not make a good pet for children since young hands love to hold their pets. Improper or over handling will kill the Panther chameleon. This unusual yet stunning creature is best kept as a “viewing” pet and not a “handling” pet.

Sources:
http://animal-world.com/encyclo/reptiles/lizards_chameleons/PantherChameleon.php
http://www.grizzlyrun.com/Pets/Reptiles/Lizards/Chameleons/Panther_Chameleon_Care_Information/Default.htm