Help with taming panther?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by zelink14, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. zelink14

    zelink14 Member

    Hi all!

    I've had my 7 month old male panther for three months now, and I've been working on getting him more familiar with me. For awhile I was only pulling him out twice a week to bask in the sun, and he seemed sort of okay with that. An acquaintance of mine, who used to breed panthers, noted that he is still a bit jumpy and that I should get him more comfortable outside the cage: let him sit up high out in the open, offer food, etc.

    This has worked well for a little while - I've been attaching a branch to the table and offering him food. This week, though, he's been exceptionally moody and seems nervous of me.

    Right now, I put him on a tall room divider in my office with me, with other pets locked out. He seems to be climbing around happily. :)

    I'm wondering if anyone has any taming advice? I know getting him used to this will be better in the long run (for both of us!) and I'm not sure if I'm doing it right. What have other people done?

    Ambrose right now - he's not too happy with me. BRIGHT!

    Other notes: I recently upgraded his cage from a 17"x17"x30" Reptarium to a 24"x24"x48" aluminum cage, which he's VERY happy in. I could tell he was starting to feel cornered in his smaller cage as his body is almost 5" long now. Pulling him out of the cage is also nerve-wracking because he tries to get away from me and I don't want to use force.
  2. JJchameleon

    JJchameleon New Member

    I am very sorry, I am not much of an expert at the moment so I cannot help you! I just wanted to compliment you on a beautiful chameleon, I love the colors, I hope my one will turn out like that!
  3. carol5208

    carol5208 Chameleon Enthusiast

    It sounds like he is coming around little by little. 3 months is not that long and some chameleons will tolerate handling, but not enjoy it even after years of ownership. I would just keep doing what you are doing. I am raising a little runt panther right now that I have had for 5 months and he is still really scared of me. He is just starting to come towards the front of the cage when I open the door. I have to pick him up to move him out of the cage to other areas because he will joty climb on my hand. He does not like it too much! Try having him climb onto a branch and move him out of the cage that way.
  4. zelink14

    zelink14 Member

    Yeah, I've been told to try the branch thing. Honestly, I'm not sure if it would work because the large aluminum cages have a "pocket" up top that I think he would climb right off into. But I'll try!

    I know he at least TOLERATES me. When I took him to the vet awhile back he turned pitch black when the vet was inspecting him. The vet put him back on my hand and within 2 minutes he was back to normal colors. I was quite flattered.

    Anyway, I'm glad to hear it's gradual. Another question I have, actually, is "grabbing". For awhile I've done the "push hand under chin and ease him onto my hand' trick, but it doesn't always work - especially when he tries to turn around and climb away. It's much quicker to gently put my thumb up over his back and "grab" him - he doesn't like it, but it's much more efficient. Is this a quick way to alienate him from me, or will he get used to that? I stress that I'm GENTLE, it's just that I figure it's better than chasing him around the cage! lol
  5. zelink14

    zelink14 Member

    Does no one else have any feedback on this? I'd really love help with this.
  6. jajeanpierre

    jajeanpierre Chameleon Enthusiast

    By putting your hand on his back, you are grabbing him, a prey animal, as a predator would. He is hard-wired to respond as if he is about to be killed. It won't matter how gentle you are, he's still hard wired to think he is about to die. Keep that in mind. Efficient, yes; trust building, no.

    Looking at it from the point of view of the science of animal behavior, there are a few different things going on when you grab him up like that.

    By grabbing him, however gently, and holding him, you are putting him in a helpless situation and flooding him with an averse stimuli. No matter what he does, he cannot escape. He has several possible responses.

    In general, an animal (human or not) responds in pretty predictable ways to adverse stimuli, which grabbing is.

    Some of the unwanted side effects might be an increase in aggression, fear and rage directed towards you. There will likely be an increase in escape/avoidance behaviors where he now more actively avoids contact with you. He might simply submit (learned helplessness) which is when the animal just shuts down and takes it. There is a lot of stress on the animal involved in learned helplessness even though you won't see it.

    That's some of the science of what is going on.

    He's an individual and will respond in his own way. Some are more adversely effected by these kinds of interactions than others are. If you do it slowly enough and gently enough and if he has a laid-back, forgiving temperament, you might end up desensitizing him to being grabbed up.

    I am currently acclimating some wild-caught adult chameleons that have needed a lot of medication, which means a lot of handling. One is a pretty laid back soul and doesn't appear to be too stressed by his ordeals at my hands. The other is not taking it so well and views me as the devil incarnate. I have done irreparable damage to any relationship we might have had. To try to mitigate his stress, I've now completely blocked his cage off so he cannot see any human unless I am opening the cage to service it or taking him out to medicate him. He is now more stressed by my presence than he was when he first arrived a few months ago.

    Hope that helps.
  7. zelink14

    zelink14 Member

    Thanks for the response. Yes, I haven't felt great about putting my hand over his back. He does get jumpy and puffed up when I do so. Luckily, I think I can still salvage our relationship if I don't do that anymore. Whenever I put my fingers under his chin to pick him up he remains calm - I'll take that as a good sign.

    I'll just have to be patient with him... and wait for him to be sitting at the front of the cage before I decide to take him out.

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