Panther Chamaeleon

(Furcifer pardalis)


Panther Chamaeleon IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The Panther Chameleon is a very large chameleon. Males can grow up to 50 cm in length, with a typical length of around 45 cm. Females are generally much smaller (about half the size). Adult males, in addition to being significantly larger have a more defined “helmet” (casque). This head ornamentation consists of a prominent dorsolateral ridge extending on each side from the occipital region forward over the eye, along the dorsolateral border of the snout to the tip of the snout or slightly beyond (extends into a small shovel-like rostral projection). The rostral projection has slight variations between local populations.

Furcifer pardalis is one of the most colourful chamaeleons, however males are much more vibrantly coloured than females. Colouration varies with location ('locales', named after the geographical location). All males however have a continuous white stripe running the length of the body from the head almost to the vent. The basic colour of a mature female in a nonsocial context is tan, gray, brown or faint green with indistinct vertical bars and a lateral stripe. (metachromatic), no matter what region they are from. When the females become receptive however, the colour becomes a pale, sometimes rich, orange to pink hue and any darker bars/banding lighten and disappear.

Breeding activities occur all year but on the east coast with a more variable climate mainly during the spring and summer (October through March). Courting males will display a brightening of colours with striped coloration standing out (similar in territorial displays to rival males), and begin vertical, jerky head bobbing when a female comes into view. Females exhibit sexual receptivity upon reaching sexual maturity, 2-3 weeks before oviposition (egg laying). The brightening or lightening of colouration marks receptivity. In some morphs, this may involve a decidedly peach-coloured tone along with a reduction in vertical/patterned markings. If this colouration is maintained in the presence of a male it is an indication of a willingness to mate.

Receptive females allow males to approach from behind, with copulation lasting from 10-30 minutes. The female will often turn to gravid coloration during or within minutes following copulation but this change may take as long as a day or two. When gravid or non-receptive to breeding advances by males, they attain an overall dark-brown to black colour with contrasting vertical bars of pink to orange in bold colour patterns, signifying to males that they have no intention of mating. Females retain sperm and may require only a single mating to lay two or more consecutive fertile clutches. They may lay up to 4-6 clutches, with 10 – 40 eggs per clutch per year, but 2-3 is more typical. Eggs can take between 5 and 14 months to hatch. Under optimal growing conditions sexual maturity is reached at 5 months of age (but may take up to 9 months).

Did you know?
that colouration varies with location, and the different colour patterns of Panther Chameleons are commonly referred to as 'locales', which are named after the geographical location in which they are found? Panther Chameleons from the areas of Nosey Be and Ambanja are typically a vibrant blue, while those from Diego Suarez and Sambava are red, green or orange. The areas of Maroantsetra and Tamatave yield primarily red specimens. There are numerous other color phases, and patterns differ between and within regions.


Name (Scientific) Furcifer pardalis
Name (English) Panther Chamaeleon
Name (French) Caméléon panthère
Name (German) Pantherchamaeleon
Name (Spanish) Caméleon pantera
Local names Malagasy: Amboalavo
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Tom Junek



Range Madagascar (in coastal regions along a line of 2000 km from Ankarafantsika at the north-west coast , through Antsiranana in the north down to Tamatave at the east coast). Also introduced to Reunion and Mauritius and neighbouring islands.
Habitat Warm and humid coastal lowlands and islands. on bushes, trees and palm-trees. But also in developed areas like gardens, and et the edge of fields. In the mountains up to 1000 m asl. The average temperatures are between 23,5 und 25,5 °C (range from 16 to 30 °C) and the average rainfall/year app. 1000 mm.
Wild population Population size unknown. Thousands of specimens were collected for the pet trade before 1999. After 1999 an export quota of 2000 animals per year was established. This species seems to adapt well to degraded habitat.
Zoo population None reported to ISIS (2007), but this species is frequently kept by zoos and private owners.

In the Zoo

Panther Chamaeleon


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 41 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Mark Staub

Why do zoos keep this animal

Furcifer pardalis is not a threatened species. Zoos and aquariums keep these large and attractive chameleons primarily for educational purposes and as an ambassador species for the conservation of lowland forests in Madagascar.