When it comes to exotic pets, few offer as much notoriety as the chameleon. These camouflaging creatures have an almost mythical quality to them, even if their primary attribute is a bit misleading. Most chameleons don’t actually change color to blend in with their surroundings (like a cuttlefish), but rather as a result of their mood or demeanor. Nonetheless, it can be a real treat to have a chameleon as a pet. There are numerous species of this reptile, but one that stands apart from the rest is the Panther Chameleon. While it may be cool to think that this is some kind of Frankenstein type hybrid between an apex predator and a lizard, the reality is slightly less impressive. Regardless, caring and maintaining a Panther Chameleon can be a rewarding endeavor. Below we’ll outline the proper way to house, feed, and care for your pet.
This species of chameleon is native to Madagascar, so they love warm, humid climates. Also, like all chameleons, the Panther species likes to climb and stay in the foliage. As a result, you need to keep live plants with plenty of branches for your chameleon to climb on. Thankfully, this means that you won’t need to invest in a complex substrate such as dirt or moss. Paper towels or newspaper is perfectly acceptable, as your chameleon won’t spend much time on the ground.
When it comes to the type of enclosure, screen cages are best, but if you decide on a glass terrarium, make sure that it gets plenty of air circulation. Panther Chameleons are susceptible to respiratory illness if left in stagnant air. The enclosure should be at least 18 wide by 18 inches long and at least 36 inches tall. If you have a small chameleon, you can go as low as 16 inches, but bigger is always better. Humidity levels should be relatively high, at about 60-70 percent. Misting regularly will help ensure the levels stay sufficient. As for temperature, Panther Chameleons are best suited to a range of about 75-80 degrees, with a basking spot of up to 100 degrees. If your chameleon is smaller, then keep the basking area at around 90 degrees. This can be done with heat lamps at the top of the enclosure. Your chameleon needs to thermoregulate itself, so it’s important that it can move from warmer temperatures to cooler.
As with most reptiles, Panther Chameleons love to eat insects. You can feed them a wide variety of arthropods, such as crickets, roaches, and stick bugs, as well as worms. If you want to use roaches, we recommend Dubia roaches, as they are bred to be more docile and provide more sustenance than normal cockroaches. You can live feed your chameleon, as it will stalk and kill its prey at its leisure.
When it comes to hydrating your pet, Panther Chameleons don’t need a water dish. If you mist the enclosure three times a day, it should allow your pet to drink from the dew that collects on the foliage. If you like, you can have a drip system so it can take full drops of water as it likes. The added benefit of this system is that it will help water your plants as well as your pet.
When it comes to chameleon species, Panther Chameleons are more docile than other varieties. Nonetheless, handling your pet regularly is not recommended, as they typically like to be left alone. If you do handle your chameleon, don’t reach in from above, as it can be interpreted as a threat, causing it stress and perhaps provoke it to attack. Instead, reach for it from below when removing it from the enclosure. Handling Panther Chameleons should be relatively easy, but again, do so infrequently. This type of animal should be more for display rather than affection.
With proper care, feeding, and handling of your chameleon, it should live about five to seven years.