Ambassador of the Month: Dimitri, our Panther Chameleon!

Dimitri is our beautiful adult Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis), one of the largest Chameleon species in the world (with males reaching up to 23cm). He is around 2 and half years old and may live as long as 7 years! We brought Dimitri into our team in 2015, from a local breeder. As he is captive bred a lot is known about his family blood line, and they are well known for being relaxed and easy going – perfect for a Zovargo animal ambassador! You might meet him at one of our many Zovargo education programs or even at our upcoming Summer Camp - CAMP ZOVARGO

DIMITRI. Credit: Jorge Ibarra

DIMITRI. Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Dimitri’s family are captive bred, but wild Panther Chameleons are from Madagascar where they are a hybrid of two types of chamelon – the Ambanja and Sambava chameleons.

Chameleons are primarily known for their ability to change color – often thought to be as a form of camouflage. However, the real reason for their color change is actually mood and temperature! Dimitri can subtly change color about once a minute, this is particularly obvious when he is experiencing some stress, i.e. too cold or hot, frustrated, or scared.

COLOR CHANGES IN TWO MALE CHAMELEONS. SOURCE: www.slashgear.com/chameleon-color-changing-abilities-unlocked-by-science-10373151/

COLOR CHANGES IN TWO MALE CHAMELEONS. SOURCE: www.slashgear.com/chameleon-color-changing-abilities-unlocked-by-science-10373151/

Another important use of color in Panther Chameleon’s is that their color can tell you where they are from in Madagascar. Their coloration can be so different that 21 ‘types’ of Panther Chameleons have been defined. For example, Panther Chameleons from the area of Nosy Be have bright blue coloration , while other areas produce types colored red, green and orange.

EXAMPLES OF PANTHER CHAMELEONS FROM DIFFERENT MADAGASCAN LOCATIONS. SOURCE: http://bluechameleon.org/Photo%20&%20Image%20Stockpile%20-%20BCV/Pardalis%20collage%20WITH%20captions.jpg

EXAMPLES OF PANTHER CHAMELEONS FROM DIFFERENT MADAGASCAN LOCATIONS. SOURCE: http://bluechameleon.org/Photo%20&%20Image%20Stockpile%20-%20BCV/Pardalis%20collage%20WITH%20captions.jpg

Chameleons are also known for their long tongues! Dimitri’s tongue is so long, it is actually 2 x as long as his whole body and he can rapidly extend it when he is hungry! Dimitri loves to eat crickets, cockroaches and worms.

Do chameleons make good pets? It is important to note that Chameleons can be difficult to care for. Firstly, they need specialized equipment and food. Like all other chameleons, Dimitri is cold blooded. Thus, he is unable to maintain a healthy body temperature without an external heat source. It is therefore important to make sure his environment is always a comfortable temperature for him. Specifically, Dimitri likes to be kept at 85˚F with 60% humidity. It is also worth considering that they are not a pet that you can cuddle! Great for observations, but if you want a more hands on pet, a Chameleon isn’t the answer. Furthermore, you must be really careful to find out where they come from. Rescuing a Chameleon from a previous owner or a shelter is a fantastic thing to do, but if it has been caught from the wild this will support the pet trade which has terrible consequences. 

Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Credit: Jorge Ibarra

 

References:

www.arkive.org/panther-chameleon/furcifer-pardalis/

Andreone, F.; Guarino, F. M.; Randrianirina, J. E. (2005). "Life history traits, age profile, and conservation of the panther chameleon, Furcifer pardalis (Cuvier 1829), at Nosy Be, NW Madagascar" (PDF). Tropical Zoology. 18