Congratulations on your new Panther Chameleon. Welcome to the world of owning a piece of living art. Panther Chameleons come in more colors than a rainbow. There is sure to be a panther to match your decor. Our first panther was a Ambanja. He was only 3 months old when he came into our life. He was a little bark colored lizard with big eyes. As the months went by, with each shed came more color than before. We were mesmerized at the color a animal can have that has not been photo enhanced or human involved to be this brilliantly colored animal we see before us. These animals are born this way. Surprisingly they hide very well in the trees despite their dramatic colors. We defiantly understand "living art". This care sheet was designed to show you the basic care needs of a panther chameleon. Be ready, they are easier than rumor has them to be.
We keep our baby chameleons up to 6 months in a 30"tall 16" deep 16" wide screen enclosure. Adult females need to be housed in a 36"x18"x18" screen enclosure minimum. Adult males require more room than females. 48"x24"x24" screen enclosure is the minimum for adult males. These are the smallest sizes we recommend. Bigger is always better. Panthers require constant air flow in their enclosures. You should not house a panther in a glass or plastic cage. Especially in the southern United States. Changes can be made for different parts of the country.
*Inside the enclosure can basically be left to your imagination and creativity. These animals live in vast jungle edges in Madagascar. We personally use ALL fake vines and plants/leafs from the craft stores. We believe using fake plants/vines are more hygienic for the animal. Fake plants can be cleaned and sterilized. And don't require repoting or care. At least 3 levels of branches are required in your panthers enclosure. This allows them to regulate their body temperature. Hot, Medium, Cool.
It is not required, recommended or necessary to have a substrate in your chameloens enclosure. Panthers live in the trees. They should never be hanging out on the ground. Only females will venture down to lay their eggs deep in the ground. Then back up they go. When panthers hunt they shoot their tongues out the length of their bodies to catch the insects. Accidental ingestion of substrate can become possible, and cause impactions and digestive complications. We personally line the bottom of all the cages with puppy pads and paper towels. You can even use newspapers or just paper towels. This will collect the animals waste and water from mistings and make clean up a breeze. Just ball up the paper and waste and throw it away. Replace with fresh and your good to go. Panthers also have a low odor. You would know we owed a dog well before you would smell our panthers.
Lighting & Temperature
Panthers chameleons are solitary animals. Only coming together to breed. If housing more than 1 chameleon in the same room, NO matter the gender, the must NOT be able to see each other at anytime. If you put enclosures together. You will need to put a piece of cardboard or dark colored fabric between the 2 enclosures to provide a barrier for them. Panthers can not be housed together, no matter the gender or relation.
Panther Chameleons are insectivores. Meaning they ONLY eat bugs. We provide a wide variety of insects to our panthers. No one wants to eat a cheese burger everyday. So why should your panther only get crickets. We offer our panthers crickets, dubia roaches, red runner roaches, silkworms, hornworms and super worms. Don't get me wrong, you can provide a good diet to your panther on crickets or dubias as a staple with the occasional silk, horn or super worm. The key is Gutloading. Gutloading is basically treating your feeder insect as a empty pill pocket. When you feed your insects a high quality diet, your panther will be eating a high quality diet. The healthier the insect, the healthier your panther will be. We gutload our feeders with mustard, turnip & collard greens, carrots, oranges, squash, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apple, mango, papaya etc... We also offer our feeders a dry gut load. We use & recommend Repashy SUPERLOAD dry gut load.
Panthers 12 months and younger should be offered food daily. Then as they mature their appetite will slow, and they can be fed every other day. Allow your panther to eat as much as they want when they are under 15 to 18 months old. Do not restrict their feeders while they are growing.
Panthers REQUIRE supplements (lightly) dusted on their food, NOT CAKED up on the bug. We use Repashy SUPERCAL No D 6 days a week. Example: Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday.
Repashy Calcium Plus LoD 1 day a week. Example: Wednesday
Supplements can be changed and motified for your personal panthers needs. All recommendations are just a base line to start with.
Water & misting
Panther chameleons have incredible vision. But they cannot see standing water. They will NOT drink from a bowl of water like your other pets do. They will drink water drops from off the leaves. To simulate this in captivity we can use a hand misting spray bottle, dripper cup on top of the enclosure or an auto misting system. No matter what you choose, always try to catch your panther in the act of drinking. Just to make sure they are getting hydrated. You will need to mist your chameleon 2-3 times daily. This will also help spike the humidity level up and give your chameleon a chance to drink a couple of times. If you choose to hand mist. Mist from top to bottom. Avoid spraying your panther directly. I have had some panthers over the years want to drink directly from the bottle. I just bring it to their mouth and let them lick from the drips. Your panther will let you know if they want to do this. If you decide to use a auto misting system. We recommend the brand Mist King. This will allow you to set up a misting schedule for your panther so you never forget a misting. We recommend a minimum of 2 mistings a day. We personally do a 8:55am misting for 3 minutes. Then a 5:00pm misting for 2 minutes. The lights come on at 9:00am and turn off at 9:00pm. So this misting schedule works well with the chameleons day and night light times. Starting the misting about 5 minutes before the lights come on for the day. And stopping them at least 1 hour before the lights go off for the night. It's important to allow the cage to dry out completely before the lights go off. This way your chameleon wont be sleeping in a damp enclosure.
When you first receive your new panther, no matter the gender or age. Give them at least a few weeks to a month before you try to handle them. These animals like to gain our trust. They can be shy and scared. The best thing to remember when you begin to handle your panther , is to let THEM HOLD YOU. You DONT hold them. Allow them to get onto your arm. Never reach inside the enclosure & grab a chameleon by the back. This is a threat in their eyes and you will quickly lose the trust of your panther. A tip to getting your panther to trust you is to hand feed them. Use the feeder your panther likes the most. Almost like positive reinforcement with a dog. They may soon begin to get on your arm when you open the cage. Or come down from their "spot" when you enter the room to see what you have for them that day. And begin to show almost excitement when your around. All panthers are different so be patient. Some will be super freindly and out going. While others will never be that way. But I have never had a chameleon I could not hold. They can all be removed from the cage when needed. Just remember to go from below. Never above. Overall in our experience with panthers, most are friendly. Each will have their own personality and preference.
The reason we recommend using fake plants and vines in our panthers enclosures is so that we can sanitize them. We clean our enclosure bottoms 1 time a week. Just roll up the paper towels, newspaper or puppy pads used to cover the bottom and throw them away. Then you can wipe the bottom pan with a Clorox wipe. Put a fresh paper bottom down and you're done! DO NOT USE REPTILE CARPET for the bottom of the enclosure. These can cause bacteria growth along with other issues. Once a month we do a heavy cleaning on the enclosures. First, we take the panther out of the enclosure. Someone can hold them while you clean or we have even put them out on a fake tree or plant in our home to hangout. But make sure you can trust any other pets or people you have in your home to not hurt your panther while they are out. If necessary you can "box" up your panther so you can make sure they are safe while the encloser is being cleaned. We take the enclosures outside (if weather permits) or in the shower and hose it down. Making sure to get all the leafs and around the corners. We then use Nolvason Disinfectant in a spray bottle diluted to the directions on the bottle. We spray the entire thing down, all the vines and leafs need to be soaked down. You can also use properly diluted bleach. We let it soak for 15 minutes, then rinse, rinse, rinse. Do a good job when rising. Remember your panther drinks off those leafs and vines. Let the enclosure dry completely before returning your panther back in. Oncit'sts dry, get it all set back up. Check the lighting, replace the bottom papers and return your panther back to their home. That's it you're our done with cleaning. Simple!
**Panther chameleons will sometimes scratch and climb on the screen of the enclosure. Sometimes it happens when you first bring them home. We can only asume they are just exploring their new area. Just trying to figure out their new space. Its nothing to be concerned about. They all seem to do it. They will eventually stop. Sometimes they will also do it after the heavy cleaning is done. Sometimes they do it when they come back in from being outside etc... Don't panic they will stop. All though sometimes is not a fun sound when their nails are popping the screen. Keep a eye for nails being damaged by this. **Panther chameleons are dry shedders. So do not add extra moister to their environment while they are shedding. They cannot be soaked like a snake can for shedding. **Your panther should not be sleeping during the day.They are Diurnal. Which means they are awake during the day and sleep at night. So make sure where ever you house your panther. There are no lights left on over night. They will not be able to sleep. A tv or lamp shouldn't be a issue. If your panther is sleeping during the day, that is a sign something is wrong, and it may be time to seek medical care. Overall panthers are fairly healthy reptiles. As long as the basics are taken care of. You shouldn't have many health issues with a panther. **Your new chameleon may not eat for the first few days or more when you first bring them home. Dont be alarmed. They are just getting used to all the new sights and comforts of your home. Just give them some time. Offer food every day. Maybe even at different times unitl they settle in.
This is just a general basics care sheet to get you started. We will be adding more in depth detailed posts on each section in this care sheet. Check back in for more tips and tricks.
***Updated June 2023
Beyond the basics Expanded Care sheet added June 2023
Gut loading options guide added June 2023