Panther chameleons are up there with the most colorful of all chameleon species. Oh? You already know this? Well OK! But I bet you don’t know who first discovered them do you?
Well, that fact and 29 other awesome facts are contained in this handy list for you to enjoy.
1. Panther Chameleons Are From Madagascar
The Furcifer Pardalis, otherwise known as the panther chameleon is found predominantly in Madagascar and they live in various different parts of the island.
2. Panther Chameleons also live in…
Réunion, a French island just off the coast of Madagascar and Mauritius. They introduced to both of these places rather than naturally evolving there.
3. Panther Chameleons were discovered by…
Major French conservationist and founder of the scientific field of paleontology, Georges Cuvier whilst on an expedition to Madagascar in 1829.
4. They’re called Panther Chameleons because…
The black markings on their bodies are similar to those of a panther big cat. It’s Latin Furcifer Pardalis. Furcifer means forked, which describes a panther chameleon’s foot. Pardalis is Latin for ‘spotted like a panther.’
5. Panther chameleons have tonged feet
This is, in fact, the case for all chameleons. Panther chameleons have them because they’re an arboreal species, meaning they spend most of their time living high in the trees so they need tong like feet to get a good grip on branches, and boy do they have a strong grip!
6. Panther chameleons have a prehensile tail
All that climbing means they need all the help they can get. As well as tonged feet for grip they have a prehensile tail for extra support, grip and stop them falling. A prehensile tail is like that of a monkey’s tail, it wraps around branches to grab on to them and acts as an extra limb.
7. Panther chameleons can see in 360°
Again, not exclusive to the panther chameleon but it’s a really cool feature of all chameleon species. This vision enables them to fully scan their environment for food and for escape routes away from potential predators.
8. Panther chameleons are extremely colorful
They are generally regarded as one of the most colorful species of chameleon. The pictures on this post speak for themselves.
9. Panther chameleons are colored by locale
As I mentioned at the beginning, panther chameleons evolved in Madagascar and in specific parts of Madagascar. They are so specific in fact that you can identify where in Madagascar a panther chameleon is from just by their coloring.
So Nosey Be panther chameleons are a vibrant electric blue and those from Sambava are a more orange and red color. The vibrancy of these colors can be seen in the pictures below.
10. Panther chameleons rapidly change color
The ability to change color is what chameleons are famous for but few chameleons color faster than the panther chameleon. In less than a minute they can change completely from one tone to another. Many chameleons usually change shades rather than completely different tones but the panther chameleon can do both in quick time.
11. Panther chameleons have a casque
Again, like many species but certainly, not all, panther chameleons have a casque or helmet-like protrusion on their head. Casques in chameleons are general used to allow water to run down them and collect in their mouth and to signal good genes to potential mating partners. Females have casques too but these are much smaller than males.
12. Male panther chameleons are larger
By a good few inches too. Male chameleons grow to a maximum of around 18 inches from nose to tip of tail, whereas females grow to no larger than 14 inches.
13. Male chameleons are more colorful
Again this is seen in several chameleon species but the difference in coloration between males and females is particularly striking in panther chameleons.
14. Panther chameleons have many different colors
A lot of chameleons have one or two base colors and will change to different shades of it. Panther chameleons, on the other hand, have several different and vibrant colors as their main display and will either change to different shades of them or different colors altogether.
15. Hemipenal Bulge
Another clear way to differentiate the sexes is by checking the hemipenal bulge that only male panther chameleons have at the base of their tail where it meets the underside of the body.
16. Female panther chameleons lay eggs
Panther chameleons are an oviparous species meaning they lay eggs which then hatch later. Females will lay eggs in clutches up to 40 in size and will lay eggs that are unfertilized in the same way chickens do. Fertilized eggs will produce baby chameleons between 7 months and a year after laying.
17. Panther chameleons breed all year round
This is because Madagascar has a pretty stable climate all year round and fluctuations between seasonal temperatures aren’t too extreme.
18. Gravid panther chameleons change to a specific color
Gravid, or pregnant, panther chameleons will turn an orangey brown and black color to signal to males she is carrying eggs and has no intention of finding a mate. The colors shown by a female panther chameleon at this time will differ depending on what Madagascar locale they are.
19. Panther chameleons reach adulthood
At around about 7 months. Some older some younger but this is the general age they start to eat a bit less, shed a bit less frequently and start to seek out a mate.
20. Panther chameleon lifespan
Panther chameleons live to an average of 5 to 7 years for males and females live shorter lives at 2 to 3 years old. Both of these numbers depends on a variety of factors and some can live even longer in captivity.
21. Panther chameleons have amazing tongues
Another thing all chameleons are known for is their long tongues and panther chameleons are no exception. Their tongues can fire out at a speed faster than an accelerating high end sports car and it can extend up to 26 times the length of its body.
22. Panther chameleons catch pray by
Using a combination of their eyesight and their incredible tongues. Panther chameleons use their eyes to scan the environment for an insect before locking on to their target. They do this by creating a virtual high definition image of the insect and effectively zooming in on their prey like a pair of binoculars.
Once they are locked on target they fire their tongue out which at the end has a sticky pad that has the ability to physically grasp the pray before drawing the tongue back in. The targeting, lining up and striking all happen in a matter of seconds.
23. Panther chameleons eat…
A large variety of insects, worms, small birds and rodents in the wild. In captivity, this is restricted to insects and worms that are easy to breed and handle. This is usually crickets, hornworms, and roaches.
24. Panther chameleons are eaten by…
In the wild, they’re in the middle of the food chain so are preyed upon by large birds, snakes, and other larger reptiles. Primates have also been known to eat panther chameleons too.
25. Panther chameleons defenses are pretty rubbish
Yep, panther chameleons have no venom to or inflict by bite, they’re not very fast to run away, they don’t have powerful enough jaws to inflict any meaningful bite and they have not tough outer defenses like spikes or hard skin.
All panther chameleons have is their ability to stealthily mimic leaves in the forest and their extraordinary eyesight to scan their environment for threats.
26. Panther chameleons are fiercely territorial
Territorial aggression is quite common in all chameleon species but it’s particularly so in the larger species. When a rival male chameleon enters a panther chameleon’s territory a fight will ensue like in the video below.
Death rarely ensues as a result of a chameleon fight but the loser has to move away and find new territory when the fight is over.
27. Panther chameleons are good pets
They are the second most popular chameleon pet behind veiled chameleons. This is because they’re hardy and quite easy to care for requiring conditions similar to that of veiled chameleons. You should only ever get them captive bred because.
28. 2000 Panther Chameleons Are Caught in Madagascar Every Year
This is actually good new because this is a quota set by the government as it used to be 15000 a year and this caused numbers to dwindle. It’s still a lot though so make sure your panther chameleon is captive bred should you get one.
29. Panther Chameleon Conservation Status
In a world where many species are threatened by climate change and human activity like logging and mining, its very pleasing to know that at the time of writing the panther chameleon is of least concern according to this list and its population in the wild is stable.
30. Rango is a Panther Chameleon
I don’t know that for sure but he certainly looks like one! Take a look at the pic and see what you think.
That’s it for these awesome panther chameleon facts! Hopefully, you’ve learned something interesting!