Buying Panther Chameleons

juvenile maleThe first step in buying a Panther Chameleon is learning about their care requirements as well as the equipment required to successfully care for them. Chameleon enthusiasts looking to purchase a pet Panther Chameleon are advised to then calculate the costs of all the equipment required (suitable enclosure, lighting, thermostats, timers, thermometers/hygrometers, plants, vines/branches, drippers/misters etc), the chameleon itself, as well as the ongoing costs of insect food, supplements, gutloads, replacement bulbs, and electricity. A Panther Chameleon should only be purchased if the new owner can afford to meet all of its captive care demands (in terms of both time and money). After deciding that they are in a position to properly care for a Panther Chameleon in the long-term, the next step is to purchase all the equipment required and set up the enclosure in an appropriate place. Only after the complete setup is running without any issues or problems should a Panther Chameleon be purchased.

Panther Chameleons are available for sale in local pet shops, from local chameleon breeders, as well as from larger-scale chameleon breeders who can arrange long-distance delivery of animals. One of the main advantages of buying locally is that it provides the opportunity to talk to the breeder/dealer face to face and ask any specific questions that you may have. Good questions to ask include the age, sex, and locales of the Panther Chameleons currently available, as well as weather they are captive bred or wild caught, and if they have traveled any long distances in the recent past. Panther Chameleons purchased locally also have the advantage of not needing to be couriered over long distances to reach their enclosures, eliminating a potential cause of illness and injury. Buying locally also provides the opportunity to perform a visual examination of available chameleons. Ideally, Panther Chameleons available for purchase should be plump, the vertebrae should not be visible, the skin, toes, and tail should be undamaged, and the eyes should be open and not sunken into their sockets. The animal should also be able to grip firmly and move freely.

The main advantage of purchasing a Panther Chameleon from a larger-scale breeder/dealer is the greater choice of individual chameleons available for purchase at any given time. Larger-scale breeders typically have both male and female Panther Chameleons hailing from several different locales available throughout the year. While you cant discuss issues and ask questions face to face, you can call them on the telephone, or ask questions via email. By asking the dealer to provide photographs and videos of the chameleons available for purchase, prospective buyers still get the opportunity to visually examine individuals prior to purchase. The main disadvantage of buying from a larger-scale breeder is that they may well be located a long way away, meaning that the purchased chameleon may have to be transported over long-distances. While this can sometimes be an issue, reputable dealers are aware of the risks and know how to transport Panther Chameleons in such a way that such risks are minimized. In these times of reputable high speed couriers the vast majority of purchase Panther Chameleons arrive in perfect health.

Panther Chameleons (Furcifer pardalis) are currently listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES exists as a means of monitoring and regulating the movement of certain species of plants and animals (considered threatened by collection and trade) between countries. Since 1999 export quotas from their native country of Madagascar have been set to 2000 individuals per year, which is thought to be sustainable.

The chameleon pet trade has been heavily criticized for its reliance on wild caught specimens to satisfy the demands of chameleon enthusiasts wanting to keep chameleons as pets. Members of the public wishing to purchase a Panther Chameleon for a pet are therefore encouraged to purchase a captive bred animal. This allows experienced Panther Chameleon breeders involved in the pet trade to retain more newly exported individuals from the quota for their breeding programs. This in turn will help to reduce the problem of inbreeding depression which is an issue when breeding from a small number of individuals (especially when they are closely related). Ultimately, the genetic diversity present in newly exported individuals is far better utilized by breeders than by enthusiasts looking to keep a Panther Chameleon as a personal pet.

Captive breeding programs for the pet trade should aim to avoid hybridizing individual Panther Chameleons from different locales, as such hybrids have been shown to be reproductively inferior to offspring born of parents from the same locality. Chameleon enthusiasts looking to buy a Panther Chameleon should encourage best practice buy avoiding the purchase of hybrids where possible.

For more information about Panther Chameleon conservation issues please visit the Panther Chameleon Conservation page.