Panther Chameleon

Male Panther Chameleon

Panther Chameleons live mainly in Madagascar. MacKenzie Mathis, a herpetologist at the Tennessee Aquarium said they hatched in September.

"These guys have no parental guidance, the mother will lay the eggs and the parents will be on their way," said Mathis. This means the chameleons have to fend for themselves. In order to help them camouflage and protect themselves, they are different shades of brown when they are young

"They have to be able to blend in a little bit better so you don't want them to be super bright colors like what you would see with the adults," said Mathis. Another defense mechanism panther chameleons have is the ability to move their eyes independently of each other.

"They are able to look out for predators to protect themselves and look out for prey," said Mathis. While the babies are shades of brown, the adults are beautiful colors.

Mathis pulled out the adult female first: "...we will expect her to be a bright pink color when she calms down a bit, right now she is a gray to almost blackish coloration and that's just based off the fact that she doesn't like to be handled so she is a little bit stressed." Females grow to be close to one foot long. They only live for two to three years. Their main job is to lay eggs.

"Once they lay those clutches, their lives are pretty much over," said Mathis.

While the mom does not like to be handled, the male panther chameleon does not mind at all.

"He actually likes to be handled," said Mathis. "This is the father and as you can see the coloration is quite different between the female and the male." The males are bright red, blue, and green. They grow larger than the females -- closer to a foot and a half long. Just like the females, if they get stressed out, they will turn a darker coloration.

Chameleons are very good hunters. They use their mucus-coated tongue to catch and eat insects like crickets.

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