South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston, SC, #2
This month’s articles comes from our great friends at the South Carolina Aquarium! They recently had baby panther chameleons born and were kind enough to share info, images and video with us. It is always such a pleasure to work with them. Thank you to Kate Dittloff and her staff for helping create this wonderful article. We are especially excited about this article as we have real footage from the aquarium! All video and photography are provided by the South Carolina Aquarium. Please enjoy!
Check out LIVE video of the Baby Panther Chameleons here:
Q: How many adult panther chameleons does the Aquarium have in the Madagascar Journey exhibit?
A: One, he is about 1 year old.
Q: What makes panther chameleons special and/or different from other species of chameleons?
A: Their stunning range of colors and patterns makes them great at camouflaging and popular in captivity, though it does not necessarily make them unique from all other chameleons.
Q: The aquarium just celebrated the birth of new panther chameleons! How many were born? What are their names? How were their names chosen?
A: We had 6 chameleons hatch. Unfortunately only 3 have survived which is not unusual due to their low survival rate even in captivity. Their names are Raul, Nico, and Ronald. There is noparticular significance to the names.
Q: How long is gestation for panther chameleons? What is the birth process like?
A: A female chameleon will lay eggs approximately 3-4 weeks after copulation. The female will be very active, digging around the enclosure until a suitable nest site is found. She will typically then lay between 15 and 40 eggs in a hole which she will cover with the substrate.
Q: During the pregnancy, are there any special environment or nutritional needs for the panther chameleon?
A: It is important to supplement the chameleon’s food with a calcium dust to ensure that she is capable of producing healthy eggs.
Q: How long will the little panther chameleons be behind the scenes?
A: They could potentially be behind the scenes for the duration of their lives at South Carolina Aquarium. We only keep one on exhibit. There is the possibility of using them as program animals if they prove to do well with handling.
Q: What type of special care do the little ones require?
A: Keeping the temperature and humidity levels correct is vital to the success of the baby chameleons. They are housed in a very basic setup with just a few branches. The chameleons are misted up to 3 times a day to maintain a high level of moisture in their enclosure. The temperature ranges from 78-84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Q: What do the babies eat? Do they spend time with their adult parents?
A: The baby chameleons are fed pinhead crickets and fruit flies, supplemented with a calcium dust that also contains important vitamins. As is the case with most reptiles, chameleons do not exhibit any maternal care. The babies are self-reliant from the moment they hatch out of the egg.
Q: What behaviors are the first for the little ones to pick up on/learn?
A: They hatch with a yolk-sac that could sustain them for up to 4-5 days. They will immediately be capable of hunting however, in the same way that adult chameleons hunt. Baby chameleons are also excellent climbers right of the egg.
Q: What is the best part of having baby panther chameleons?
A: Having the opportunity to raise animals from the moment they hatch until adulthood provides a sense of accomplishment and gratification. Plus, it is very cool to see tiny little versions of the adult chameleons behaving in the same ways an adult would.