Panther Chameleon

Furcifer pardalis

"Fair Choice" Pet Fair Choice

The Panther Chameleon is native to the forested ecosystems of Madagascar and it has been introduced to the islands of Réunion and Mauritius. They feed primarily on insects. Male Panther Chameleons come in a range of vibrant colors, and grow up to 20 inches long. Females are plainer and only half the size of males. Panther Chameleons can live up to 10 years in captivity; however, if bred often, females live only 2 to 3 years because of the stress of egg laying. Females lay 10 to 40 eggs per clutch; the number of eggs a female lays depends on her level of nutrition during the period when she is developing eggs.

Did You Know?

The Panther Chameleon is native to the forested ecosystems of Madagascar.

Source Sustainability Fair Choice

Does the harvest for wildlife trade or captive breeding of this species harm wild populations?

Some Cause for Concern

Panther Chameleons are locally very abundant and large numbers of wild individuals are collected for the pet trade. International trade of Panther Chameleons is carefully regulated, and current harvest levels are thought to be sustainable. If the demand for these chameleons increases, local populations could be at risk.

PetWatch Recommendation:

When possible, always buy a captive-bred animal as this will decrease the demand for wild-born individuals. In general, captive bred animals will also be healthier and live longer than wild-caught animals. Only acquire a pet that is from a reputable USDA-licensed breeder or dealer to ensure that you are not buying an illegally wild-caught and/or imported animal.

Invasion Threat Fair Choice

Does the release or escape of this species into the wild harm the environment and/or economy?

Some Cause for Concern

Panther Chameleons have established self-sustaining populations outside of their native range on the islands of Réunion and Mauritius. It is not known whether these populations have had any adverse effect on native and/or domesticated species.

PetWatch Recommendation:

Before obtaining a Panther Chameleon, check to make sure that it is legal to own one in your state of residence and check for permitting requirements. Always keep your pet chameleon inside a safe and secure enclosure. Never release a pet into the wild.

Animal Welfare Worst Choice

Does harvest, captive breeding, transport, or being kept as a pet harm individual animals?

Significant Cause for Concern

Chameleons are very difficult and costly to maintain in captivity and therefore are not good pets for beginners. Panther Chameleons require precise conditions and foods that mimic their natural rain forest environment. Providing the correct type of light (in the UV range) and dietary vitamins are the most significant challenges. Also, Panther Chameleons can be very aggressive, so they must be kept visually and physically separated from one another.

PetWatch Recommendation:

Before acquiring a pet chameleon, be sure to research its specific care requirements. Annual check ups and fecal analyses are recommended. Talk to your veterinarian about the proper diet and how to maintain a healthy weight for your pet. Because these animals can be carriers of disease (see Health Threat, below), acquire an animal only from a reputable USDA-licensed breeder/dealer.

Health Threat Fair Choice

Does this animal pose a health risk to native wildlife, humans, livestock and agriculture?

Some Cause for Concern

Like most captive reptiles, Chameleons are known carriers of Salmonella. If ingested by humans, Salmonella can cause vomiting and diarrhea; these symptoms are usually mild in healthy adults but can be fatal to infants and young children, or anyone with a compromised immune system. It is important to wash hands before and after handling an animal. Salmonella can be transmitted from exotic pets to any member of a household, even those who do not handle the pet directly.

PetWatch Recommendation:

Due to the potential for disease transmission to humans and other household pets, acquire a Panther Chameleon from a reputable USDA-licensed breeder/distributor. Be sure to ask for proof of a clean bill of health and that the animal has been checked by a certified veterinarian. Obtain a list of any medical treatments the animal has received.

EcoHealth Alliance works at the intersection of ecosystem, animal and human health through local conservation programs and develops global health solutions to emerging diseases.
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