Masters of color change, the Panther Chameleon rapidly turns from shades of green to orange and red to camouflage itself in the rainforest or defend its territory.
An unusually shaped lizard which can reach a length of 12"". The trunk is excessively flattened from side to side which helps them absorb radiation (sun heat) during the early and late portions of the day but avoid it during the hottest times. The tail is prehensile and when not in use is usually coiled. The feet consist of two opposed sets of fused digits (are shaped like a V) for gripping. Eyes are large, almost entirely covered with skin with only a small central aperture for viewing. The eyes can be moved independently of one another so the lizard can look in two directions at once. The tongue can be extended to a length equal to that of the body, and ends in a muscular and sticky tip with which to catch prey. The extension process can be accomplished in 1/16 of a second.
An extremely aggressive and territorial chameleon. When confronted with a rival male the lizard will swell to an imposing size and angle its body so that the flank faces the enemy. The colors change rapidly to angry reds and yellows. It then opens its mouth to display the contrasting colors of the mucous membranes
The Zoo is protecting wildlife and habitats in Madagascar in partnership with the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group.
Like other chameleons, panther chameleons can change color to communicate. Additionally, you can tell what region a chameleon is from and whether it’s male or female by its main color pattern.
Overall the social structure of panther chameleons is poorly understood. Like most chameleons they are known to be solitary and territorial regardless of age or sex. Males tend to have larger home ranges than females. Males are often intolerant of other males invading their resident shrub or tree and will defend their territory by engaging in a display, pursuing, and possibly severely injuring an intruding male. Hostility increases during breeding season. It is not known whether female panther chameleons are intolerant of other females in general or only at nesting sites. Chameleon eyes do not contain the rods and melanin pigments necessary for night vision and are thus the panther chameleon is diurnal.
Females will move through the territories of several males. After mating she will change color to black with red stripes to indicate her gravid status, gaping and hissing at any male who fails to note her color. She will go down to the ground and dig a tunnel that is as deep as she is long and lay her eggs. This is accomplished in broad daylight and is therefore very hazardous due to the lack of coverage and camouflage. After laying her eggs, she fills the tunnel and taps the ground with her feet. She may mate and lay several clutches per year. The young begin to hatch after approximately 240 days and claw their way to the surface. The last may not hatch until 7 weeks after the first. The fingernail-sized hatchlings are ready to hunt from the moment of emergence.