Hunger Strike, 5 month old F. pardalis male, please help!

Hello again, everyone. I made an earlier post regarding my wandering male panther (see post : "Is my wandering panther chameleon stressed out?"). As a recap, he was housed on an unscreened/ unenclosed Ficus tree in a tall glazed pot. After about 1.5 months of cricket crunching and three sheds, he learned that he could escape the pot, and started wandering all over the room. I was concerned about him being away from the humidity/ heat/ light of the tree. His food intake also decreased after he began to wander. This may have been due to increased handling as I manually returned him to his tree 1-3 times per day.

To prevent the problem, I moved him from the bedroom to the lowest traffic room and corner of the apartment (the office). His tree is now situated in front of a large south facing window. The ficus pot now sits in a large custom made acrylic box (36L" x 36W" x 24H" by Melev's Reef). He can climb up and down from the pot to the bottom of the box, but cannot leave the box or tree area now. A 24H" aquarium backing sheet now covers the outside of the box to prevent clear barrier confusion for the chameleon. No more escaping.

He has been in this new setup for three days, but has only eaten 1-2 insects per day for the last three days. Previously, he had eaten 7-12 feeders per day before the wandering occurred. He is still very active, drinks frequently (in addition to the Exoterra Monsoon spraying for 90 secs every 90 min, I spray twice per day to verify hydration), and has bright and full eyes. I haven't observed any eye rubbing or gaping/ popping/ mucus. When I had picked him up three days ago, no oral redness, missing teeth, or other mouth distortions were visible when he made a threat display at me. He utilizes every inch of his setup, from the top of the tree to walking around the bottom of the box. He basks at the top of the tree in the mornings, but then wanders at will for the rest of the day.

I'm concerned that he will be stunted or even slowly starve to death if I cannot fix this feeding issue. A vet will be making a house call on Friday. Any help that anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated!

PS: I had successfully kept a C. (T.) melleri for three years in the late 90's both indoors and outside before giving him to a Galveston member of Chameleon Information Network. My husbandry is similar today to the way I kept my meller's years ago, except that I keep the basking area warmer for the F. pardalis and my humidity was higher for the melleri. Strangely, my melleri :rarely: left his potted Ficus. This guy is a bloody nomad in comparison. I've always heard that F. pardalis was a much easier species than melleri. I'm SO worried and frustrated!!!

Chameleon Info:
Your Chameleon - F. pardalis, male, 5 months (3 months old when shipped from FL Chams), named Warpaint. He has shed three times in the two months that I've cared for him. This is my first experience with F. pardalis. I have previous experience and great luck with C. (T.) melleri in shaded outdoor enclosures in Galveston, Texas during the late 1990s. This panther seems far more active then the melleri were....

Handling - was once per week at most, now its increased to 1-3 per day to return the panther back to the tree.Update: Now that he is confined by the acrylic box, I haven't handled him in three days. I plan to avoid handling at all to lower his stress levels.

Feeding - Has consistently refused to use feeder cup. Must be tong fed or food items must be placed on tree near the chameleon.
Live prey includes 3/4"-1" crickets, B. dubia nymphs, small hornworms, silkworms, Zoophobias mealworms, Phoenix worms, and occasionally wild moths/ flies/ green grasshoppers from fallow fields. He was eating 7-12 insects per day. 50-60% of the diet was crickets, with varying amounts of the remaining feeders each day. No more than one Zoophobias per day. Hand fed from 9am- 2pm. One semi fasting day (only 1-4 insects) on Fridays.
Homemade gutload (Green Vibrance powder from Green Health (, powdered dried coconut, powdered organic skim milk, bee pollen, wheat germ, ground flax meal, marine fish spirilina kelp fish food, pure astaxanthin powder, green tea, almond meal, pumpkin seed meal, sesame seed meal, paparika, dried sweet potato, dried blueberries, dried turnip greens, dried mustard greens, dried parsley, dried savory, dried apricot, sundried tomatoes, dried carrot, tumeric, dried ground turkey liver meal) for crickets and B. dubia roaches. Roaches and crickets hydrate via Flukers Ca2+ fortified cricket quencher dusted with astaxanthin powder. Silkworms and hornworms eat the foods from their shipping buckets. Superworms are fed on steel rolled oats, wheat germ, carrot, and Green Vibrance powder.

Supplements - old dosing: Flukers calcium/ D3 powder twice per week on crickets. Reptivite vitamin powder dusted on crickets twice per month.Update: Now supplementing with calcium powder every day, d3 + calcium twice per month, and a multivitamin twice per month.

Watering - Exoterra Monsoon with two nozzles, spraying water from 7:30am-7:30 pm for 90 seconds once every two hours. Ultrasonic humidifier pointed at mid section of tree. Gentle handspraying twice per day to wash out eyes and verifiy drinking.

Fecal Description - Black with a white uric acid tip. Solid texture. Bowel movements have become less frequent (every other day?), possibly due to lower food intake. Before he started wandering, he defecated 1-2 times per day.

Cage Info:
Cage Type -6' tall rapidly growing potted F. benjamina, with a small Rhaphis lady palm and ferns growing in the base of the pot. Tree is liberally festooned with repti-vines. Tree is located next to an east facing window and receives morning glass filtered sun light. Update: Potted tree as now been moved to a lower traffic room in front of a south facing window. The tree pot sits in a 36" x 36" 24" acrylic box. The bottom of the box contains a shallow layer of course Reptibark.

Lighting - A retasked HO t5/ metal halide/ LED reef aquarium light that is suspended from the ceiling via cables. AdvPlus fixture (36") includes HO T5 Daylight Bulbs 6500K x 3, HO T5 Reptisun 5.0 UVA/ UVB bulb x 1, 250W metal halide bulb 6500K x1 (provides bright light and heat), and three blue light low wattage LEDs. T5 bulbs/ LEDs run from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. Halide runs from 10:30 am to 5:30pm. Light suspended 12" above the highest point of the tree.

Temperature - Basking site 95F (directly under the bulb), 85- 88F average across the top of the tree, 75F at the base of the pot in the bottom of the box (the cooling mist from the ultrasonic humidifier tends to gather there). 79F ambient room temp. Night low temp. of 70-74F, depending upon the weather.

Humidity - 50 to 60% with a hydrometer. Humidity reads 95%+ from the center of the mist cloud that flows to the vertical mid point of the tree.

Plants - ficus (1) and maidenhair fern (3) lady palm (1)

Placement - near a south facing window in our office.

Location - Dallas, Texas
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Also, I've noticed that when he leaves the top of the tree after a basking session, he sometimes does the "rocking-walk". I've read that this is a stressed behavior.

Furthermore, he did something strange when I offered him a grasshopper with the feeding tongs. He wandered straight over to the tongs, ignored the insect entirely, and then climbed onto the tongs and walked up my arm. :confused: Upon reaching my shoulder, he had the temerity to hiss at me. I positioned my shoulder near the tree, and he hopped back onto the Ficus. WTH?
If he's roaming around in there alot, he's probably just exploring, creating a mental map of his new home. My nosy be did this in his 2x2x4 for a few days when I first got him too. In this period he didn't eat much either. Once he got settled in and knew where everything was, he began to explore less, and started bask and eat a lot more. Most likely, your little fellow will start eating more once he gets more comfortable in his new enclosure.
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