Small in size, but BIG on cute, four baby Panther Chameleons (Furcifer pardalis) recently hatched at the Tennessee Aquarium from eggs laid in January of this year. After hatching, the babies measured in at around two inches long and are now growing quickly under the care provided by Tennessee Aquarium herpetologists.
According to herpetologist MacKenzie Mathis, the daily routine for these tiny reptiles includes feeding them small insects along with calcium and vitamins twice a day, cleaning their environment and spraying them with lukewarm water.
Right now the babies, along with their parents, live in a backup area at the Aquarium, but the Aquarium staff hopes to develop guest programs featuring the adult Panther Chameleons in the near future.
Panther Chameleons are native to tropical forest biome areas of Madagascar. Like other chameleon species, Panther Chameleons display a wide array of colors. Females are typically peach, pink or grey while the males have red, blue or green color patterns. Babies have a more neutral coloring until they reach reproductive maturity at several months old.
These fascinating reptiles are carnivorous and eat a variety of insects in the wild. Chameleons are stealthy hunters, using a sticky, mucus-covered tongue to strike their prey and pull it back into their mouths.
This Friday, October 21 is Reptile Awareness Day – a day to celebrate reptiles and to highlight the challenges and threats they face in their natural habitats. According to a study published by the Zoological Society of London in conjunction with the IUCN Species Survival Commission, nearly one in five reptile species is struggling to survive in the wild.