The Beautiful Panther Chameleon: A Closer Look
With some of the most stunning color variations of all chameleons, the panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) is a beautiful species popular among reptile enthusiasts.
Panther Chameleon Range
Like the majority of the world’s chameleon species, panther chameleons are native to Madagascar. They live in coastal regions and islands of central-eastern, northeastern, northern and northwestern Madagascar. Panther chameleons mainly inhabit lowland, humid forest.
Color Variations and Geography
Like other types of chameleons, panther chameleons change colors; however, they do so in a much more flamboyant way. Interestingly, the colors and patterns of the geographically isolated populations vastly differ from each other. Male panther chameleons from the areas of Nosy Be, Ankify and Ambanja are typically a vibrant blue, while those from Ambilobe, Antsiranana and Sambava are red, green or orange. Primarily red specimens come from the areas of Maroantsetra and Tamatave. Numerous other color phases and patterns occur between regions.
In contrast, female panther chameleons are mostly gray, brown or faint green, except during breeding, when receptive females become pale or vivid orange to pink, later changing to black, with bright orange or pink vertical bars when carrying a clutch of eggs.
Male panther chameleons can grow up to 20 inches in length, with a typical length of around 17 inches. Females are about half that size. Like many other chameleon species, the panther chameleon is notable for having a bony ridge known as a casque behind its head.
Panther Chameleon Conservation
With relatively abundant wild populations, panther chameleons are not considered at risk for extinction. International trade in this species is strictly controlled and regulated by an annual maximum export quota of 2,000 individuals per year, which has been sustainable thus far.
A major threat to all Madagascan wildlife is the ongoing habitat loss occurring throughout the island. While the panther chameleon seems to be relatively resistant to this problem, the species and all of Madagascar would nevertheless benefit from more sustainable environmental practices.