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Over the past few years, we have become so accustomed to referring to Panther Chameleons as Nosy Be, Ambanja, Ambilobe, Diego Suarez, etc. as if those are actual names of subspecies of the species of Chameleo (Furcifer) Pardalis (Panther Chameleon).
The reality is that currently, the scientific community only recognizes one species of the Panther Chameleon. What we refer to as Nosy Be, Ambanja, etc. are only color variations of the same species based on the location of where these animals were originally collected. There maybe people new to the herp culture that may not even realize that Ambanja or Nosy Be are not names of Panther Chameleons, but are actual names of locations (towns) within the very large Island of Madagascar, located South-East of the African continent.

When the Furcifer Pardalis species first became available to the pet trade in the not too distant past, they were basically only referred to as Panther Chameleons. But because there were so many color variations of Panthers based on where they were caught, the more scientific minded people amongst us began to request the locations of where these Panthers were being obtained to keep the color phases as pure as possible when they began to breed them in captivity.

At the request of the importers, some of the exporters began labeling the Panthers based on the names of the nearest towns that these animals were being caught. This was the beginning of how we "classify" the Panthers into different color variations.

Currently, Panther Chameleons are divided into several broad location ranges including Nosy Be, Ambilobe, Ambanja, Diego Suarez, Tamatave, Sambava and to a lesser extent, Maroansetra and Ankaramy.  There are many other locations where Panther Chameleons can be found with new variation (localities) surfacing every now and then. Of special note is the Pink Panther phase, which is still rare in captivity. It is one of a few Panther Chameleons that is not named after the town (Ankaramy) where they are found.

So what does all this mean to YOU? Most consumers purchase Panther Chameleons as babies (8-12wks old), an age when they do not show any significant coloration that they will show as adults. Because of this, the purchaser is at the mercy of the seller to be honest in disclosing what location/color phase of Panthers they are buying (even the sex of the Panthers is not 100% certain at that age). Most pet shops and breeders are honest in letting the consumer know exactly what the buyer is getting. The problem is that when you purchase baby Panther Chameleons, HONEST MISTAKES can be made and ARE made, more frequently than we'd like to admit. Let me give you a very simplified example of how these honest mistakes can be made....

A local reptile collector in Madagascar wants to make some money so he goes out herp hunting (not just for Panthers but many other chameleons, snakes, amphibians, etc). He collects Panthers (male and female) near the town of Ambanja and Ankify and when he has collected enough, goes to sell them to the local reptile exporter. The exporter buys the lot and is told by the herp hunter that they are all Ambanjas (the original collector is not scientifically trained and he is not careful to properly catalogue where the animals were really caught). The exporter runs a large operation and he buys many other Panthers from other collectors that captures the chameleons from many other parts of Madagascar.

At this point, it is very easy for the exporter to mislabel (intentionally or unintentionally) the female Panthers because unlike their male counter parts, they do not differ significantly enough for us to discern their location/color phases visually. The animals can go through several more "middle man" before reaching the final importer, each of which can and do make mistakes in cataloguing the locality of the Panthers.

After shipment to the importer, a breeder happily acquires several female Nosy Bes to breed with his super stud blue morph Nosy Be. Unbeknownst to the breeder, the female "Nosy Bes" he purchased are actually Ambanjas. After successful mating, the female lays a healthy clutch of eggs which eventually hatches. At this point, the breeder thinks he has a clutch of top quality blue Nosy Bes from his star breeding stock and sells the lot of babies to a very reputable retail pet shop. He even supplies the pet shop with a picture of his star blue Nosy Be so that potential buyers of the babies can see what they will be getting. A customer walks into the pet shop and sees the picture of the beautiful blue Nosy Be and wants one of his offsprings. He carefully examines the babies and buys what he thinks is a healthy male. He takes the baby Panther home and gives him the best care possible, eagerly anticipating the time when he will achieve adult coloration.
After 6 months or so, he discovers that the Panther Chameleon has developed some heavy vertical maroon stripes although the rest of his body is turquoise. Even though this animal is beautiful, it was not what he was expecting. He was expecting a pure Nosy Be but what he got was a Nosy Be/Ambanja cross.

So who is at fault here? It is not the retail pet shop because they acquired the Panther babies on good faith that they were in fact Nosy Bes. It is not the fault of the breeder because he purchased the female Panther thinking that they WERE Nosy Bes. Is it the fault of the importer? Not likely. It may very well have been an honest mistake in labeling from the exporter, or even the original collector in Madagascar who is not scientifically trained and is not careful about noting where he captures his specimens.

No one maybe to blame but the point is, when you buy baby Panther Chameleons, there is the possibility it may not turn out to be what you expected when it becomes an adult.
THE BOTTOM LINE...It is always safer to buy c.b. adult Panther Chameleons to be sure of it's quality and to see their male/female siblings as well, to ascertain the quality of any females.
When it comes to babies, "Let the buyer beware." Don't be afraid to ask questions!!!

When the Furcifer Pardalis species first became available to the pet trade in the not too distant past, they were basically only referred to as Panther Chameleons. But because there were so many color variations of Panthers based on where they were caught, the more scientific minded people amongst us began to request the locations of where these Panthers were being obtained to keep the color phases as pure as possible when they began to breed them in captivity.

At the request of the importers, some of the exporters began labeling the Panthers based on the names of the nearest towns that these animals were being caught. This was the beginning of how we "classify" the Panthers into different color variations.

Currently, Panther Chameleons are divided into several broad location ranges including Nosy Be, Ambilobe, Ambanja, Diego Suarez, Tamatave, Sambava and to a lesser extent, Maroansetra and Ankaramy.  There are many other locations where Panther Chameleons can be found with new variation (localities) surfacing every now and then. Of special note is the Pink Panther phase, which is still rare in captivity. It is one of a few Panther Chameleons that is not named after the town (Ankaramy) where they are found.

So what does all this mean to YOU? Most consumers purchase Panther Chameleons as babies (8-12wks old), an age when they do not show any significant coloration that they will show as adults. Because of this, the purchaser is at the mercy of the seller to be honest in disclosing what location/color phase of Panthers they are buying (even the sex of the Panthers is not 100% certain at that age). Most pet shops and breeders are honest in letting the consumer know exactly what the buyer is getting. The problem is that when you purchase baby Panther Chameleons, HONEST MISTAKES can be made and ARE made, more frequently than we'd like to admit. Let me give you a very simplified example of how these honest mistakes can be made....

A local reptile collector in Madagascar wants to make some money so he goes out herp hunting (not just for Panthers but many other chameleons, snakes, amphibians, etc). He collects Panthers (male and female) near the town of Ambanja and Ankify and when he has collected enough, goes to sell them to the local reptile exporter. The exporter buys the lot and is told by the herp hunter that they are all Ambanjas (the original collector is not scientifically trained and he is not careful to properly catalogue where the animals were really caught). The exporter runs a large operation and he buys many other Panthers from other collectors that captures the chameleons from many other parts of Madagascar.

At this point, it is very easy for the exporter to mislabel (intentionally or unintentionally) the female Panthers because unlike their male counter parts, they do not differ significantly enough for us to discern their location/color phases visually. The animals can go through several more "middle man" before reaching the final importer, each of which can and do make mistakes in cataloguing the locality of the Panthers.

After shipment to the importer, a breeder happily acquires several female Nosy Bes to breed with his super stud blue morph Nosy Be. Unbeknownst to the breeder, the female "Nosy Bes" he purchased are actually Ambanjas. After successful mating, the female lays a healthy clutch of eggs which eventually hatches. At this point, the breeder thinks he has a clutch of top quality blue Nosy Bes from his star breeding stock and sells the lot of babies to a very reputable retail pet shop. He even supplies the pet shop with a picture of his star blue Nosy Be so that potential buyers of the babies can see what they will be getting. A customer walks into the pet shop and sees the picture of the beautiful blue Nosy Be and wants one of his offsprings. He carefully examines the babies and buys what he thinks is a healthy male. He takes the baby Panther home and gives him the best care possible, eagerly anticipating the time when he will achieve adult coloration.
After 6 months or so, he discovers that the Panther Chameleon has developed some heavy vertical maroon stripes although the rest of his body is turquoise. Even though this animal is beautiful, it was not what he was expecting. He was expecting a pure Nosy Be but what he got was a Nosy Be/Ambanja cross.

So who is at fault here? It is not the retail pet shop because they acquired the Panther babies on good faith that they were in fact Nosy Bes. It is not the fault of the breeder because he purchased the female Panther thinking that they WERE Nosy Bes. Is it the fault of the importer? Not likely. It may very well have been an honest mistake in labeling from the exporter, or even the original collector in Madagascar who is not scientifically trained and is not careful about noting where he captures his specimens.

No one maybe to blame but the point is, when you buy baby Panther Chameleons, there is the possibility it may not turn out to be what you expected when it becomes an adult.
THE BOTTOM LINE...It is always safer to buy c.b. adult Panther Chameleons to be sure of it's quality and to see their male/female siblings as well, to ascertain the quality of any females.
When it comes to babies, "Let the buyer beware." Don't be afraid to ask questions!!!