Petters Chameleon care means high enclosures, lots of plants for climbing, multiple daily mistings, and a home that is just right for them to live a happy, healthy life. Since their care is so particular, we don’t recommend chameleons for absolute beginner reptile keepers.
If it will be your first time keeping a chameleon, it is recommended that you really do your best to research everything about their needs since it is crucial to their health and wellbeing. They are very sensitive, delicate creatures, so please treat them in that way.
If you are planning on getting this pet for a child, we think it is best that an adult takes care of the chameleon and that the child is always supervised if they are going to attempt to handle it.
Many people find chameleons interesting because of their ability to change color, although few people understand the concept as to why or how they do it.
There is a common misconception that they change color to camouflage themselves against their environment, but that is actually not the case. Chameleons will mostly change their color to regulate their body temperature or communicate.
In order to maintain a favorable body temperature, chameleons may turn a darker color in order to absorb more heat in cold temperatures and will turn pale to reflect the sun’s heat in hotter temperatures.
This is also known as thermoregulation.
They might be changing color to woo a potential mate, males might do it to indicate to other males to stay away, and females might use their color change to show interest in mating.
So how do chameleons change color?
Under most chameleon’s transparent outer layer of skin sits two laters of specialized cells. The layer beneath the outermost layer contains chromatophores and the layer below that are guanophores, the second cell layer.
Chromatophores contain yellow and red pigments, whereas guanophores have a colorless crystalline matter we call ‘guanine’. Guanophores reflect the blue of incident light meaning that if the upper layer of chromatophores is yellow in color, the reflected light will be green.
They also have a layer of dark melanin-containing cells called melanophores located even deeper below the two layers of cells we just explained. These will influence the color and lightness of the reflected light.
Now that we understand more about chameleons, let’s get into the important points and how to care for the Petters Chameleon.
Petters Chameleon Facts
- Experience Level: Intermediate
- Scientific Name: Furcifer petteri
- Family: Chamaeleonidae
- Size: 6.3 to 7.1 inches
- Weight: About 1 Ounce
- Diet: Carnivorous
- Lifespan: 4 years +
They can only be found in 2 national parks of northern Madagascar.
Chameleons can rotate their eyes separately on a 180-degree arc, giving them a 360-degree field of vision.
When female Petters Chameleons are excited, they change color, turning lemon yellow with two light blue spots and one red.
Petters Chameleon Appearance
Typically, Petters Chameleons are a deep leaf green with lateral white stripes along the side of their body and seemingly white lips. Some individuals may have some bright orange markings on their heads and feet as well.
Some may have light faded brown spots throughout their back, depending on the individual. Females will also change color when they are excited, turning lemon yellow with two light blue spots and one red.
It is important to note that females will usually be slightly smaller than their male counterparts as well.
Petters Chameleon Location and Natural Habitat
The Petters Chameleon is a very rare species that is endemic to Northern Madagascar. You can only find the species in Ankarana and Joffreville National Parks. They are considered a vulnerable species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature since their range is so limited.
Their range is so limited that their geographic range only covers around 4250 square miles of northern Madagascar’s area and they only live up to half a mile above mean sea level, which is threatened by mining in this area where they lumber charcoal, and rosewood.
Petters Chameleon Diet
Petters Chameleons feed on insects like locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, and some larger individuals will even consume other lizards or smaller birds.
In general, chameleons cannot hear very well, so they will use air vibrations and low-pitched noises to figure out where their prey is.
Many reptiles possess the Jacobsen’s organ, which is right where you’d expect their nose to be and gives them the ability to smell chemical particles. In chameleons, however, this organ is a lot more reduced in its ability to smell. This leaves them to use their other senses when catching their prey.
When prey is in sight, they catch it by first focusing their eyes on their target, then shooting their sticky tongue out of their mouth to grab it, then retract it back in to eat it.
Petters Chameleon Lifespan
Little is known about Petters Chameleons and their lives due to their rarity. There have not been many studies of the species, whether it be in the wild or in captivity.
Petters Chameleon Breeding Habits
As little as we know about Petters Chameleons, it is said that they are a little harder to breed, producing some infertile clutches.
Chameleons possess the Jacobson’s organ, which can also be used to communicating readiness for mating between the same species through the release of chemical messages.
If you are attempting to mate your chameleons, it is important that you remove the male as soon as copulation is completed because the female is highly likely to attack the male right after mating.
Check out these adorable Petters hatchlings:
Predators of the Petters Chameleon
Common predators of chameleons in these areas include birds, snakes, and other mammals.
Petters Chameleon Legality
Most chameleons are illegal to take from the wild, especially those classified as a Prohibited Dealing animal under the Biosecurity Act 2015, specifically listing Veiled Chameleons, Panther Chameleons, Jackson’s chameleons, and other common chameleon species.
However, most are allowed to be kept as pets, bred, and sold in all states except Maine as long as you have a permit, also known as CITES papers.
Where to Buy Petters Chameleons
It is important that you find captive-bred chameleons because most wild-caught chameleons will, unfortunately, carry parasites and may also have stress-related illnesses. We recommend that you avoid getting a wild-caught chameleon.
It is crucial that you are doing your research and finding a reputable breeder or pet shop. Take your time to watch its movements and actions before going through with the deal to make sure that it is a healthy chameleon.
Indicators of an unhealthy chameleon you might want to keep an eye out for are if it is refusing food, has excess mucus around its mouth or nasal passages, or cloudy eyes. These could be signs of infection or just an overall unhealthy lizard.
You should also pay attention to their skin and color. If you see many dry patches, it could be an indicator that the breeder or shop is not taking care of them well or that the chameleon is sick.
We hope that before you purchase your chameleon that you are mentally and financially prepared to take care of all their needs.
A chameleon may be priced anywhere from $30 to $300 depending on the shop you’re buying from, age, and its species.
Petters Chameleons are typically around the range of $200 to $300 per lizard.
Petters Chameleon Care Guide
For this chameleon, a mesh or screen enclosure is the best option since they need good ventilation, but also need high humidity to stay healthy.
A single adult Petters Chameleon should not be housed in an enclosure any less than 18 inches wide by 24 inches tall. As always, when it comes to picking an enclosure for your beloved pet, the more room, the better.
They should be housed on their own until they reach sexual maturity.
While they require do high humidity, which can be hard to maintain with a mesh cage, but they also must have proper ventilation. This is where foggers, drippers, and automatic misting systems come in handy.
If you decide to spritz manually with a spray bottle, you should try to do so about 3 times a day and get the leaves really good.
In order to keep your pet chameleon healthy, you should put the effort into daily cleaning and upkeep to maintain a fresh environment.
There is something call spot cleaning, which you should be doing daily like cleaning out any fecal matter, leftover food, and such.
Here is a good video that you can use as an example:
Any substrates or other decorations should be changed or cleaned on a weekly basis and you should do a full deep cleaning once or twice a year. A full cleaning consists of emptying out their whole enclosure and disinfecting it completely.
While most owners will simply use newspaper or reptile carpet, which is totally suitable and a lot easier to clean, a substrate is not required for any pet chameleon.
While they do need lots of foliage to climb around, you don’t need to bury them in a substrate. You can just pot them and put them right in there for your chameleon to climb onto.
While no substrate is required, female Petters will require an egg-laying bin to deposit their eggs. This bin should be full of a sand-soil mixture of around a half foot deep.
When the female lays eggs, she will dig a tunnel to deposit her eggs into. You can help her by patting down the soil gently after she is finished.
Petters Chameleons thrive in hotter, more humid climates of Northern Madagascar. You want to replicate the temperatures of their natural habitat as best as you can.
Install good thermometers that can help you measure and make sure their temperatures are at the optimal range for their comfort.
Their overall cage temperatures should be around 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Their basking spot can be somewhere between 85 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
At night, you should make sure to leave them at an ambient temperature of around 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Be sure not to let their tank go anywhere below 70 degrees.
The average humidity in Northern Madagascar, where these chameleons come from, is around 80% to 90% during the day and about 60% at night.
They require higher humidity, which can be troublesome to maintain with a mesh cage, but since they also need proper ventilation, foggers, drippers, and automatic misting systems can be installed to achieve these humidity levels.
A hygrometer should be installed into your pet’s enclosure so that you can check their humidity instantly.
Just like any other chameleon, Petters Chameleons need full-spectrum UVB lighting.
Your heat lights will be responsible for keeping your enclosure at appropriate temperatures and your basking light will give your chameleon the UVB rays they need for good health. Chameleons will require both heat and full spectrum UVB lighting in their enclosure.
Depending on the room temperature, enclosure size, and type of enclosure, you should figure out which heat lights and what wattages will allow you to achieve the temperatures you need.
Let’s talk about the importance of UVB lighting, shall we?
This special light is crucial for your chameleon’s health since it will technically be a substitute for natural sunlight. UVB will help increase your pet’s metabolism, activity, appetite, and will also synthesize Vitamin D3, a crucial vitamin needed for proper calcium absorption.
Without UVB lighting, you run the risk of your chameleon developing Metabolic Bone Disease, which will stunt their growth, causing them to suffer from weakened bones.
Be sure to keep their UVB lamp unfiltered and at least 12 inches away from the highest point in their cage to prevent thermal burns.
They will need plenty of UVB so get yourself a UUVB fluorescent bulb and install it for them. We suggest you keep this on for 12 hours a day then off again for 12 hours at night to keep your pet on a natural routine.
Live plants are highly recommended to give your chameleon plenty of foliage to climb and hide behind.
Petters Chameleons feed on bean beetles, fruit or house flies, and crickets. It is important that you gut-load and dust them with calcium powder before feeding them to your pet to supplement these much-needed vitamins.
Be sure to remove any uneaten prey after about 10 minutes because leaving them in the enclosure can cause them to bite your chameleon, which can lead to bites susceptible to infection.
Chameleons don’t drink from water bowls and prefer to lick droplets from leaves, other foliage, and even the sides of their cage.
Whether you decide to go with a drip system or the manual spraying method, make sure you get the leaves really good.
Your Petters Chameleon cage should be sprayed a minimum of 5 minutes about 3 to 4 times a day. You want your pet’s cage to have time to dry out a bit before you shut off their lights for the night.
You can tell that your chameleon might be dehydrated if their feces are dry, their urate is orange or yellow, their skin seems to be folding, their eyes look sunken, they are acting lethargic, and are showing signs of a loss of appetite.
Again, there is little to nothing known about their behavior, but they seem to be somewhat active, slow-moving, creatures that tolerate human handling and other activity.
Check out this cool-looking Petters Chameleon in this video here:
Since these species are on the smaller side and chameleons are typically easily stressed, handling is generally not recommended.
While they will tolerate being handled for short periods of time, we do not recommend you take them out of their environment or messing with them.
Allow them to hang out and chill on their own. Leave them be!
Petters Chameleon FAQ
What do Petters Chameleons eat?
Petters Chameleons feed on bean beetles, fruit or house flies, and crickets both in the wild and in captivity. If you are keeping one, be sure to gut-load their prey and dust them with calcium before feeding it to your pet.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about this rare creature, the Petters Chameleon. While it is hard to find information on how to care for this species, we still hope that we gave you the information you need.
If you have any suggestions or have any experiences with caring for this unique chameleon, please leave a comment down below!