Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia (snakes, worm lizards, lizards, alligators, caimans, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles, and tuataras)
Order: Squamata (scaled reptiles, all lizards and snakes)
Family: Chamaeleonidae Chameleons

Genus/species: Furcifer pardalis


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: This arboreal species has a laterally compressed body, prehensile tail, zygodactylous feet, protruding eyes covered with muffler-like lids, independent eye rotation and an extensile tongue. length to 23 cm (9.06 in).

A popular misconception is that chameleons change color to match their surroundings. While chameleons can in fact, change color, they are limited by a natural range of color unique to each species and, in the case of the panther chameleon, unique to the locales within the species. Color change occurs based on temperature, lighting, time of day, and the individual’s mood. It is also a way for the chameleons to communicate with one another.  Ref. Academy Rainforest blog 2-10-14      

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Endemic to Madagascar, the panther chameleon is found in lowland areas of the northeast and east, where it is locally abundant. They prefer humid disturbed scrub and forest. 

DIET IN THE WILD: F. pardalis forages diurnally for insects, small vertebrates and vegetation.

REPRODUCTION: Lays 10–46 eggs after about 45 days following copulation. Can produce four clutches per year. Young hatch 4–9 months later, depending on climatic conditions. Growth is rapid. Sexual maturity at 6–9 months.


PREDATORS: The most common threat to chameleons are birds — as these are diurnal canopy searching predators with excellent vision.  At night, roosting chameleons are also vulnerable to rats, mouse lemurs, arboreal tenrecs, carnivores, and snakes. But they usually choose sleeping points at the ends of thin branches or leaves, and will drop off if they feel vibrations towards them.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List No Special Status. CITES Appendix II. In 1998, 34,000 wild-taken of this species were exported from Madagascar for the pet trade. CITES established an export quota of 2,000 in 1999. The facts that this chameleon has populated disturbed areas and is one of the few chameleons that is bred outside of Madagascar on a commercial basis have supported its survival rate.

REMARKS: Chameleons also are known for their unusual grasping feet ideally adapted to climbing and for their long tongues that, missile-like, can project to remarkable distance to capture prey.

The independent rotation of their eyes allows chameleons to see where they’re going and where they’ve been at the same time or even to recognize a prey item in the foreground and a predator behind.

Color of life note: The Panther Chameleon uses cryptic coloration (conceals or disguises an animal’s shape) by changing the colors of its skin to make them look similar to its surroundings.

This change occurs through active tuning of a lattice of guanine nanocrystals within a superficial thick layer of dermal iridophores. These nanocrystal act like the structural lattice of the Blue Morpho butterfly but in the chameleon the nanocrystal are moved to create different color reflections of structural light. 


Other References

California Academy of Sciences Rainforest Docent Training Manual 2014

Animal Diversity Web (ADW)

Ron’s flickr 

Ron’s WordPress shortlink