How to Care for Your Panther Chameleon
Panther Chameleons (Furcifer paradalis) are moderate sized (12-18”, females are smaller), diurnal, arboreal geckos native to Madagascar. They generally prefer a well-ventilated, humid habitat. Adult Panther Chameleons come in a wide variety of colors and patterns that make them striking pets to look at. To an extent, the coloration is dependent on their locale of origin and consequently Panther Chameleons are often labeled with origin information (e.g. “Nosey Be Panther”). Although they are easier to keep than they were when first introduced into the hobby, the size of their enclosure and the watering system they require indicate that they are at an intermediate or advanced care level.
Panther Chameleons require large, well-ventilated enclosures and do best in tall, screened cages. A minimum size of 24” wide and 48” tall for a male or 18” wide and 36” tall for a female is essential. With the growing popularity of Chameleons, enclosures especially designed for them are becoming more common. Since Chameleons are arboreal, they need appropriate sized perches, which can be artificial or made from actual plants. Perches must be of a width that the Chameleons can easily grip and be able to hold its weight. They also require cover vegetation for hiding spots so they will feel secure. Many keepers place a large potted plant at the bottom of the cage to provide both perches and hiding spots. It’s generally recommended that the Chameleon’s enclosure not have a particulate substrate (such as eco-earth), though an increasing number of reptile keepers have successfully maintained a large variety of species in bioactive enclosures with particulate substrates.
Heating and Lighting
Since they are moderately large diurnal reptiles, Panther Chameleons require two kinds of lighting: a source of UVB throughout the cage to provide vitamin D3 for metabolizing calcium, and a focused basking light to provide heat. The recommended UVB light is a full-spectrum florescent or compact florescent bulb that runs most of the width of the enclosure. Florescent bulbs decrease in the amount of UVB emitted with time. It’s safest to replace the bulb every 6 months, though a more accurate schedule can be determined if a UV meter is purchased and used to check UV levels. The basking light can be a floodlight or LED light and should provide a heat level of approximately 85-95 degrees F when the chameleon is on its highest perch. Both lights should be placed about 6-8” above the highest perch. The florescent light will provide UVB throughout the cage and the basking light will allow the chameleon to thermoregulate by choosing different spots at different elevations of the enclosure. A 12-hour on/12-hour off lighting schedule is sufficient to provide enough light and heat as well as a temperature drop at night.
Food and Supplementation
Panther Chameleons are primarily fed with adult sized crickets or large Dubia Roaches. Their large size and arboreal habits make worms an impractical choice. Feeders should be dusted with calcium, vitamin D3 and other vitamins and minerals at every feeding. Juvenile Chameleons should be fed daily; adults can be fed every other day. Panther Chameleons get their hydration from droplets of water that adhere to the cage and the foliage. The enclosure should be misted two to three times daily to thoroughly wet the perches and foliage. Some keepers prefer to use a timed drip or mist system which they can either purchase or make themselves. On occasion, keepers will place the Chameleon and a large plant in the shower to provide hydration.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to Panther Chameleons, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.