Panther Chameleon: Nature’s Master of Disguise

Male Panther ChameleonPhoto: JeffdelongeMale Panther Chameleon

An extraordinary long and powerful tongue, nearly 360-degree-vision and an ability to display vibrant colorations along with brilliant markings throughout its body; these are he specific distinguishing details of the Panther Chameleon. Rather large for a chameleon, these finicky creatures are found mostly in Madagascar. They could hunt and eat with their tongue and have the ability to inflate their bodies so as to appear much larger from the side view. Also, while looking at another threat for an instance, they will hiss with their mouth wide open.

Female Panther ChameleonPhoto: B.navezFemale Panther Chameleon

More active than regular chameleons, they are sexually dimorphic and so one could easily differentiate between male and female. Males have ornamental ridges on their head and they could grow up to 17-20 inches in length. Females are comparatively small in size with less vibrant colors. Males are tending to be a blue-green or green with some patches of red, yellow or orange on head and tail. Females remain grey, brown or pale orange and could change color when receptive to male courtship. These color patterns may vary between different regions.

Panther ChameleonPhoto: Tom JunekClose up of Panther Chameleon

It is a popular misconception that these prevalent tree-dwellers can change color to match their environment. Actually light, temperature and emotional state commonly bring about a chameleon’s change in color. The chameleon has several cell layers beneath its transparent skin that serve as a source to the changing color. Some of the layers contain pigments while others just reflect light to create new colors.

Chameleon enclosurePhoto: VitruvianChameleon enclosure

Panther chameleons are becoming very popular as pets because watching them changing their color is always fascinating. However, keeping them as a pet is very time consuming. Not only do they demand a jungle-like environment, they are also finicky creatures with demanding diet that consists mostly of crickets and mealworms.

Also, an exposure to an ultraviolet light source is a must for 10-12 hours per day. In spite of all these requirements, people love them as pets and there are a large number of wholesalers and private breeders available throughout world, with a price range of $75-$450 per animal.

Keeping them as pet is healthy if they are being kept as a display pet only and not an interactive one. Beware of the deadly infectious disease salmonella that they could carry. It is always advised to wash your hands properly after you have touched these exotic and colorful creatures. As someone has well said, “prevention is better than cure”.

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