Panther Chameleon

Panther Chameleon

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Genus
SPECIES
Furcifer pardalis
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
1-5 yrs
WEIGHT
60-180 g
LENGTH
up to 20 cm

The Panther chameleon is a species of chameleon native to Madagascar. These colorful reptiles are very popular in the pet trade. Their coloration varies with location, and the different color patterns of these chameleons are commonly referred to as 'locales', which are named after the geographical location in which they are found. Panther chameleons can be vibrant blue, red, green or orange. Numerous other color phases and patterns occur between and within regions. Females generally remain tan and brown with hints of pink, peach, or bright orange, no matter where they are found, but there are slight differences in patterns and colors among the different color phases. Males in this species are larger and more vibrantly colored than the females.

Distribution

Panther chameleons are found in the eastern and northern parts of Madagascar. They live in tropical forests and bushes.

Panther Chameleon habitat map

Geography

Continents
Subcontinents
Countries
Introduced Countries

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Panther chameleons are solitary and very territorial. They spend the majority of their life in isolation, apart from the mating season. When two males come into contact, they will change color and inflate their bodies, attempting to assert their dominance. Often these battles end at this stage, with the loser retreating, turning drab and dark colors. Occasionally, the displays result in physical combat if neither contender backs down. Panther chameleons are most active during the day and spend their days foraging in the trees, searching for insects. Panther chameleons have very long tongues (sometimes longer than their own body length) which they are capable of rapidly extending out of the mouth. The tongue extends at around 26 body lengths per second and hits the prey in about 0.0030 sec. At the tip of this elastic tongue, a muscular, club-like structure covered in thick mucus forms a suction cup. Once the tip sticks to a prey item, it is drawn quickly back into the mouth, where the panther chameleon's strong jaws crush it and it is consumed.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Panther chameleons are carnivores (insectivores). Their diet consists of insects, small birds, and other reptiles.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
January-May
INCUBATION PERIOD
240 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
at birth
BABY NAME
hatchling
BABY CARRYING
10-40 eggs

Panther chameleons are polygynous meaning that one male mates with more than one female. Breeding varies with location but usually, it occurs between January and May. When carrying eggs, females turn dark brown or black with orange striping to signify to males they have no intention of mating. Females usually only live two to three years after laying eggs (between 5 and 8 clutches) because of the stress put on their bodies. Females can lay between 10 and 40 eggs per clutch, depending on the food and nutrient consumption during the period of development. Eggs typically buried in excavated burrows and hatch in 240 days. Hatchlings are independent at birth and weigh around 0.25 to 0.75 g. They reach reproductive maturity at a minimum age of seven months.

Population

Population threats

There are no major threats to Panther chameleons at present.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Panther chameleon is abundant and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. However, there are estimated 451,730 individuals of this species on the island of Nosy Be in northeastern Madagascar. Currently, Panther chameleons are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are stable.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The generic name of this species (Furcifer) is derived from the Latin root "furci" meaning "forked" and refers to the shape of the animal's feet. The specific name "pardalis" refers to the animals' markings, as it is Latin for "leopard" or "spotted like a panther".
  • Panther chameleons are zygodactylous: on each foot, the five toes are fused into a group of two and a group of three, giving the foot a tongs-like appearance. These specialized feet allow the Panther chameleon a tight grip on narrow branches.
  • The eyes of these chameleons are the most distinctive among the reptiles; they function as a gun turret. The upper and lower eyelids are joined, with only a pinhole large enough for the pupil to see through. Their eyes move independently from each other and give Panther chameleons a full 360-degree arc of vision around their bodies.
  • When Panther chameleons locate their prey, both eyes can be focused in the same direction, giving sharp stereoscopic vision and depth perception. They have keen eyesight for reptiles, letting them see small insects from a long (5-10 m) distance.
  • It is a common misconception that chameleons of any kind can change color to match any color of their environments. All chameleons have a natural color range with which they are born and is dictated by their species. It is affected by temperature, mood, and light. If, for example, the color purple is not within the range of colors to which their particular species can change, then they will never turn purple.

References

1. Panther Chameleon on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panther_chameleon
2. Panther Chameleon on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/172955/6947909

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