Furcifer pardalis is the Latin name for panther chameleon, they belong to the family Chamaeleonidae and from the genus Furcifer. In our website we will be referring to Furcifer pardalis by the common name which is panther chameleon.
The panther chameleon is a relatively large species indigenous to Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. Chameleons are usually found along the north, north west, and north eastern areas as well as coastal islands off the mainland, where the natural climate is warm and humid with prolonged rainy seasons.
Due to Madagascar’s rain forests being destroyed at an alarming rate, panther chameleons are forced to move on and adapt. Their adaptability means that their habitat is varied and they can live easily amongst palm trees, deep rain forest to low degraded scrub lands. They have even been spotted taking residence in peoples back gardens! Living in and around plantations, upsetting locals who are very suspicious of them.
There is a misconception that chameleons change colour to blend into their background. In reality, they change colour to display their emotions e.g. anger, excitement, holding territory, fear, courtship.
Panther chameleons are an arboreal species which means they spend most of their time in the cover of bushland and tree tops. They can move surprisingly fast, and with the aid of their zygodactyle feet and prehensile tail, become more than agile within their habitat. Their natural diet compromises of locusts, grasshoppers, insects, lizards or anything living of appropriate size . Food is sourced using their independently rotating eyes and projecting their tongues at lightening speed and pinpoint accuracy. Their tongues can extend to more than their entire body length to grasp prey then retract to consume it.
Male panthers can reach lengths of over 19 inches and can astound even the most experienced enthusiasts with their array of colours. Females will rarely grow more than 11-12 inches and look similar throughout the species, showing pinks, peaches, blacks and turquoise/greens around the head and cheekbone.
Panther Chameleons are easily recognised by their vibrant colour displays of the males. This is known as locale.
Locale is the term used to describe the colour morphs within the panther chameleon species, it refers to the town/area where they are found. Each township has a different colour variant for that location, almost like a flag, though some locales are very similar in colour making it difficult differentiate between them. Many different locales have been identified – both mainland and coastal. Others are yet to be discovered!