Panther Chameleon male, female, and juvenile

Panther Chameleons as Pets

What would a Panther Chameleon be like as a pet? Am I right for a Panther Chameleon? Today we explore these two questions!

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Further Panther Chameleon Resources and Study Opportunities

This entire podcast series will be reviewing Panther Chameleon care and husbandry. The unique aspect of it is that I will be looking at care and husbandry from different perspectives. I will start with the perspective of the person hatching out an egg and raising a hatchling. I want to caution you that the care parameters for raising a hatchling may be similar to the adult husbandry, the execution is very different. This is because the hatchling is so much smaller and we tend to keep them in smaller enclosures. Thus everything needs to be scaled down. I specifically mention this because almost all the advice you will find online are from people that know adult panther chameleon care. And they will, in all good intentions, give that to you. The problem is that adult basking bulbs, UVB bulbs, or misting systems will overpower a hatchling in a small cage. But it is valuable to be familiar with adult panther chameleon husbandry as this will give you a reference and an understanding of where people are coming. The first resource I would like you to be familiar with is the Panther Chameleon Care Guide. This is the general Panther Chameleon husbandry that would be given to anyone bringing in a juvenile to adult. Take a look at this page and the care guide download. Soak up as much of the information as you wish. But know that I will be going over al these parameters as they apply to a hatchling in the upcoming episodes. For now, I just want you to know where this resource is and be familiar with what it contains. Tap the caresheet image to go to the full care guide page.

panther chameleon care summary

What is a Chameleon like as a pet?

When thinking about getting a chameleon we often make the decision based on how cool they are or how much we think our lives would be better to have a chameleon in it. And, with this comes a number of assumptions and expectations as to what a chameleon will be and provide to us. Of course, chameleons did not spend millions of years evolving into a perfect pet for humans. They have their own social structures and ways of looking at life. And, those ways are very different than ours. So the first thing to do is to learn about what chameleons are and whether you will enjoy bringing a chameleon into your life with no expectations that they will change what they are!  This podcast episode gives you a tour into what a chameleon is with the express purpose of helping you decide whether you would be right for a chameleon.

Are Chameleons good pets for children?

One item I touch on in this episode is the decision that parents need to make for the child that wants a chameleon. Chameleons are one of the most fascinating creatures on Earth and so kids will naturally be drawn to them. Unfortunately, they don’t like being held and played with and so they aren’t a good choice for a pet in the traditional sense of the word. But there are things to consider. The main things I mention are that your child is okay with a pet that needs to be observed more than played with and that the chameleon is actually your pet and is something you do with your child. But you are responsible to make sure the daily maintenance is completed. If you are considering getting a chameleon for your child, this webpage goes into the things to consider in detail.

Though there are many cautions I would present when considering mixing a chameleon and a child there have been cases where it has worked beautifully and the chameleon was actually the perfect pet. In this podcast I interview two families where their children were not only a good match for the chameleons, but the chameleons were actually therapeutic and helped the child. Bringing a chameleon into your household is a big decision and I hope these resources give you the information you need to make the right decision for your household.

Your next step with Panther Chameleons!

This page is a module in a self-guided, multi-media course on the care of a Panther Chameleon hatchling. I you are finding this course through this module you can go to the home page and learn more about the outreach. This course is designed to be studied chronologically to start at episode 1. You may go to the home page to learn more about the course or go on to the next module with the links below.

Panther Chameleon Podcast Home Page

Ambilobe Panther chameleon

The next course module

Bright Ambilobe Panther Chameleon

Transcript (more or Less)

Hello Chameleon Wranglers! I am glad you have joined me for this special production designed specifically to help you give the best care possible to your Panther Chameleon. A healthy, happy Panther Chameleon makes for a lifelong memory of a unique experience. But more than just a pet, bringing a chameleon into your life opens up the entire world of nature. Yes, we will learn about chameleons, but to do that we will have to learn about weather patterns, nutrition, parasites, insect husbandry, geography, medicine, plants, and, I am afraid I would go on and on! John Muir is credited with saying that, “When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast, by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.” By getting involved with chameleons you are on a journey to discover how true that statement is. A chameleon is a part of nature and when you bring one into your home you just bring a great deal of nature with it. Does that sound a bit overwhelming this early in the process? Well, I hope that feeling becomes excitement and wonder because this truly is an exploration of the world around us. And I am specifically creating this podcast to guide you through all of this step-by-step assuming no prior experience. But I do need to say that keeping chameleons is not simple. There is a lot that goes into taking a slice of the forest edge and recreating that in our living room. It can be done and we have done a pretty good job of figuring out how to consistently keep chameleons successfully. But it still requires more than a passing interest to do it right. So I actually discourage people from getting a chameleon. If they respond back with that only a chameleon will do then there is a decent chance that this person will do what it takes to be successful.

Panther Chameleons are a dramatically colored egg-laying chameleon from Madagascar. Madagascar is the world’s fifth largest island and is off the south eastern coast of the African continent. It is the country with the greatest in chameleon diversity. Panther Chameleons are one of the species which is widespread. They are found for a wide range along the central Eastern to Northern to western coastlines and each location has a different color palette. You literally can find every color of the rainbow. They can interbreed, which gives us a headache, but more on this later, and so how they maintain this diversity by locale is a bit of mystery amongst scientists, but research continues!

In captivity, panther chameleons are the most commonly bred chameleon. Yes, Veiled chameleons might compete at pet stores, but within the serious breeder community, no species comes close to the panther. This is because Panthers are very desirable, hardy, and breed easily. Captive hatched panther chameleons are actually more easily available than wild caught individuals. We in the chameleon community are lucky that such an incredible species of chameleon happens to be the most common in captivity.

It is likely that you have been introduced to panther chameleons by the brightly colored male. The kaleidoscope of colors is mesmerizing and always a show stopper. As incredible as the males are you will often hear me talking about the females being one of the most underrated chameleon pets. They are drab only when compared to the male. To be, fair, not much can compete with the male! But the females can be orange, pinkish, salmon colored, gray, brown, and even black with orange stripes! Throw in blue highlights in the cheeks and you have a dynamic chameleon in her own right! Though we chameleon people need to go through a reality check because those bright colors are actually display colors that are used when they are wanting to fend off an intruder or impress a female. Their rest colors are not that bright! We love to take pictures when they are at their most impressive to the visually orientated species that we are, but that gives a skewed impression about their existence! And this kind of thing is why a podcast is the perfect medium to teach about chameleons. We are able to spend the time and talk about all this minutia that comes together to form a deep awareness of what a chameleon is.

Before we dive into how to care for panther chameleons, we should first touch on what a chameleon is like as a pet. I am sure it is no surprise that the movies are not a great place to research this!

The real chameleon is a shy lizard that lives in trees. They can bite, but really have little in the way of defense against predators. So, they excel at not being seen. A shy lizard that would rather not be seen is not a good start when we think of the traditional pet like a dog or cat that likes to be interacted with. And so this starts the education process as to just what a chameleon is. If your child is the one interested in a chameleon, this podcast series is the perfect thing to listen to together and have conversations based on what I go over.

Here are the top five things I would like to communicate to someone considering bringing a chameleon into their lives


Panther Chameleons can’t be played with

The most disappointing news to most people is that you shouldn’t handle a chameleon any more than absolutely necessary. They will not create a bond with you. That just isn’t what a chameleon is and our attempts to force a human relationship just result in stress for the chameleon. Now, we as loving parents would never want our chameleon to feel stressed and so we fool ourselves into thinking the chameleon likes our attention and end up loving our chameleon to death.

So, if that is the case and we can’t hold and play with our chameleon, why would anyone want a chameleon? Well, chameleons are incredibly fascinating to observe and they are perfect for a beautiful naturalistic environment. If you are the type of person that can be happy to create an environment and take satisfaction in it thriving you can create your own mini Jurassic Park where a reptilian creature slinks in and out of the leaves. Not only is this enough for us chameleon people, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. Our passion is to learn about this creature and do everything in our power to encourage it to be a chameleon and do chameleon things. We don’t want it to be tamed down and be a living toy. We are endlessly fascinated by watching and learning about what it is to be a chameleon.

I know you constantly see chameleons being held on social media.  Trained eye can usually see the signs of defensiveness and stress in those chameleons. The most obvious is the raising of one of the front legs. But it is rare to find a chameleon that is not bothered by handling and you definitely do not want to assume you will find that particular one and do not plan on being the one to tame your chameleon into riding on your shoulder or enjoy being loved up. These are just humans fooling themselves into thinking they are chameleon whisperers when, in fact they usually are just stressing their chameleons out and misinterpreting the chameleon giving up for tameness. Do not get a chameleon if you want to hold your pet or have tactile interaction.

One Panther Chameleon per cage

Yeah, we do love the idea of having a jungle teaming with life in our living room. Chameleons won’t be a good candidate for that experience. Chameleons are solitary animals. They will not get lonely. Putting two chameleons in the same cage is actually a way to get them sick and die. There is a constant low grade stress that goes along with cohabitation which weakens the immune system. Eventually, one or both of the chameleons get sick and die even though they, to the untrained eye, appear fine living together. Cohabitation is one of the biggest traps. We humans have a deep desire to pair things up and to have friends. And we both want to have lots of chameleons and we feel guilty keeping one alone. But we need to put aside our human way of looking at the world and realize that chameleons do not feel lonely and if we want more chameleons, we need more cages. Every chameleon needs their own room.

Panther Chameleons eat live insects

Chameleons need to see movement to know that it is good to eat. And so you will have to be comfortable with not only having live insects in your home, but actively caring for them and feeding them. These insects must be nutritious. This means that you are not just dumping bugs from the pet store in the cage, but that you are keeping insects for 24-48 hours with food. Pet stores usually keep their insects with the minimum of food to keep them alive, but not enough to make them truly nutritious. That will fall to you. And so, yes, chameleon keepers end up being bug keepers. So much so, that many chameleon keepers actually start keeping insects as pets themselves. My wife has gone from tolerating my feeder insects to becoming a gecko breeder herself and taking some of the cockroach feeders for herself as pets. I have no idea how that happened. But when you open up a world of wonder you find the most amazing things and end up being someone you never imagined. You may not be able to see it now, but, honestly, it becomes a lot of fun to work with insects!

Your Panther Chameleon will not love you 🙁

We provide their needs and love them so it just is logical to assume our chameleon would be grateful and love us back. The problem is that chameleons literally do not have the part of the brain that allows love in the human sense. Love is an emotion that binds pack animals together. It creates strong bonds for families that are necessary in species which need to be in groups to survive. Humans are one of these animals. So are dogs, dolphins, parrots, and elephants. These all have strong parent/child bonds and form groups. Chameleons are completely different. They never know their parents or where they came from. There is no nurturing and the only advantage to be with another chameleon is for mating. So there is no capacity to love that needed to develop for survival. We humans cannot imagine another way of life so we jump through hoops to project love on our chameleons and convince ourselves that it exists. Unfortunately, this is to the detriment to the chameleon that is expected to play the part. So, if having a reciprocal relationship with your pet is important to you then a chameleon is not the one for you. Look for a pet that forms family groups naturally and that pet will have a family framework in their brain that they can include you in.

That said, there definitely is a level of relationship you can develop with a chameleon. They will quickly learn who you are and that you mean food. They will have a trust and some sense of comfort (eventually, at least) around you and you will notice they may hide away when a stranger comes in the room. They usually will become comfortable enough with you that they will eat from your hands while safely perched in their cage. Though every single chameleon will have a different level of comfort around you. Some will walk out on your hand without hesitation and some will stay fearful and shy for their entire lives. Most will settle in enough to eat a tasty treat from your hand. This is an individual trait and cannot be predicted. And there is only so much you can do as far as taming to change this. If this level of interaction is enough for you, and you like the challenge of researching and putting together the right environment then you might be right for a chameleon.

A Panther Chameleons is not a good pet for a child

With everything that a chameleon is, it is easy to see why children would be enthralled. But knowing how complicated and stand-offish a chameleon is you can see how we don’t recommend a chameleon as a child’s pet.

The bottom line is that chameleons are a great pet for children under two conditions.The first condition is your kid would enjoy a pet that does not like to be held. Some children won’t be happy unless they have tactile time with their pet, showing it off, and playing with it. A chameleon is definitely the wrong pet to get for this child. While chameleons can be briefly held, that can’t be a major component of their life. Chameleons don’t move much unless they are unhappy and it is very easy to get bored with a chameleon if you are looking for it to entertain you. Would your child lose interest in a pet that doesn’t do much except require daily care? Would a chameleon become a burden to you if your child was through with it after two weeks?

There are some children that would be happy watching their pet with minimal touching. A chameleon could be a good choice for this child providing the second condition is met. The second condition is that it is your pet and your child helps you care for it. Do not get a pet to teach responsibility unless you are teaching by being an example. Most children do not have the attention span to care for a chameleon day after day for the years it will be with you. You need to be the one who makes sure the set-up is correctly done and the daily maintenance is completed. A chameleon will be fascinating pet and a fun project for you and your child to do together. But you have to take full responsibility for the chameleon’s care and well being. In this series I will be laying out all aspects of care and well being so now is a great time to bring in your chameleon obsessed child and listen to these episodes together. By the end of the series both you and your child will have what it takes to have an educated discussion about how life would need to change if a chameleon joined the household. In fact, just the process of performing research and having a pros and cons discussion with a night to think about it is an excellent opportunity to show to how to make major decisions in life! If, after a thoughtful conversation, you both decide a chameleon would have a good home with you then you will be in a strong position for this to be a success.

If this is all discouraging it is better to learn this now than after you bring a chameleon home. I love chameleons. I wish they were loving back, enjoyed being with each other, and appreciative of human interaction. But, unfortunately, that decision does not rest with me. I can only report what chameleons are. So, as much as I love them and would love to share that fascination with everyone in the world, I have to tell it like it is. It is better for both chameleon and people to have the cold hard truth up front.

Those are my top five things I would like people to know before getting a chameleons, but there are also some frequently asked questions by people new to chameleons and I’ll just do this in rapid fire

How long do Panther Chameleons live?

Panther chameleons typically live between five and seven years. The females often are seen to live shorter, but that is generally if they go through the stresses of constant producing of eggs. If they are not bred they can live as long as the males.

Do Panther Chameleons bite?

Panther chameleons can bite and they get big enough that they will break the skin. It can be painful depending on where this is a chomp and run away or if the chameleon feels trapped and thinks that they will die if they stop bitting. Chameleons don’t like to bite. They bite to get you to go away. And it is never a secret that they are about to bite. They give unmistakable warning signs. They puff up, they gape, they show their teeth, they make fake lunges to let you know they are serious. And if you ignore all that, yes, a bite is coming your way. The people who get bit most often are those who ignore all the warnings and insist on picking up a chameleon that is not interested in being picked up.

Do Panther Chameleons carry salmonella or any other dangerous zoonotic organism?

The best practice is to wash your hands after handling your chameleon and do not kiss your chameleon or put your fingers in your mouth after touching your chameleon. But since you are not touching your chameleon often at all this isn’t much of an inconvenience, right? Luckily, chameleons are not a significant vector for zoonotic diseases, meaning diseases that can be transferred from animal to human. I have yet to hear of a case where a person got sick because of something their chameleon gave them. But we also are careful not to push that. So, as far as we know now, there is not a significant risk of catching a virus or disease from a chameleon. And we all continue to exercise good preventative hygiene.

And, finally,

What Panther Chameleon should I get?

And this is a complicated and confusing question because you can choose between all the different locales, male or female, captive hatched or wild caught. You can even find different ages available. So, here are some guidelines for you.

The absolute best approach is to purchase a well started juvenile from a reputable breeder. This is a breeder that is established with a history in the community. They are accessible either by phone, email , or social media and are happy to speak with you and hand hold you through the process. Yes, I am giving you all the information here, but I am providing it in a general sense and making it for anyone from California to England to Japan to Mexico to implement. Your breeder will give you personalized information for your specific case and environment. I hope to be a virtual partner with your breeder where I take care of the general information and give you a firm base for starting, and your breeder can give the personalized finishing touches.

All the different locales are the same as far as husbandry so the color is up to you and your preferences. Males are the most in demand due to bright color, but, as I mentioned before, I think females are vastly underrated and I presently have more females as pets than males. You do not have to mate your panthers for them to have a happy life so do not get a pair for breeding purposes. Although, I can get behind getting a pair because you want to experience raising both a female and a male panther. As long as they each have a cage of their own I love the idea.

Wild caught panthers are tempting because they are big and, often, brightly colored. Why get a little brown sliver of a chameleon when you can go straight to the walking rainbow? Well, because wild caught come with a host of problems including trouble acclimating and parasite load. They look impressive, but there will be special care and expense that the person selling them to you won’t be mentioning. Avoid wild caught. Leave them to the breeders who are experienced in acclimating and medicating them. The pet keeping experience is night and day different with captive hatched chameleons. I have all the experience necessary to acclimate the most exotic wild caught species, but I will happily get on a waiting list and pay twice as much for a well started juvenile. It is that different of an experience. And even I lose wild caught chameleons. It really is a risk that is not worth taking no matter how big, colorful, and how much cheaper it is. Go for a well started captive bred panther. It really is a black and white answer for that!


Now, if this is the first time you have heard of me it is probably appropriate for me to introduce myself. My name is Bill Strand and I have been involved with chameleon in some manner for most of my life. I got my first chameleon over 40 years ago and have been a keeper, breeder, eZine publisher and podcast researcher throughout that time. I founded the Dragon Strand chameleon caging company ten years ago to provide chameleon caging that wasn’t available  – at least back then they weren’t available. I am the host of the Chameleon Academy Podcast and the creator of the chameleonacademy website which is the collection of all the information I have gathered over my 40 + years of experience and the eight seasons of the podcast where I interview keepers, breeder, veterinarians, and scientists from around the world. My mission and first love is helping newcomers be successful with chameleons. And that is the reason why I have started this podcast project. My Chameleon Academy Podcast is exploratory where I am dealing with new ideas. And with over 300 episodes it is a bit overwhelming for a beginner to start with! This podcast allows me to start at the beginning and offer a tutorial. So you just start at episode 1 and work your way forward.

And so, I hope you will enjoy this passion project. My goal is that you will be able to send me a picture of your panther chameleon living its best life. And I am serious about that because I have started a alumni board on the website for people who go through this podcast/tutorial project. I would love for a couple pictures of your panther from baby to adulthood to add to my wall. My email is or you can find me on Instagram at chameleon_academy. If you would like to be notified of further episodes then subscribe on whichever podcast playing platform you enjoy most. This show is on many players including Spotify, Apple Podcast, and Google Podcast.

Thank you for joining me here. I look forward to starting this journey with you!

Your next step with Panther Chameleons!

This page is a module in a self-guided, multi-media course on the care of a Panther Chameleon hatchling. I you are finding this course through this module you can go to the home page and learn more about the outreach. This course is designed to be studied chronologically to start at episode 1. You may go to the home page to learn more about the course or go on to the next module with the links below.

Panther Chameleon Podcast Home Page

Ambilobe Panther chameleon

The next course module

Bright Ambilobe Panther Chameleon