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acrylic on illustration board 10 x 8
Of the 57 or so species of chameleon found on Madagascar, perhaps none is more spectacular than the Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis), which ranges in lowland scrub throughout the northern part of the island, as well as on several nearby islets, and on Réunion. They prey on large arthropods and small vertebrates, which are captured in the typical chameleon fashion, with a projectile tongue. Since the species thrives in degraded forest, it is one of the least-threatened of all Madagascan reptiles. Reaching nearly two feet in length, the males are among the largest members of their family. The much smaller females are usually colored a drab pinkish-brown, but the males can be incredibly colorful. The island of Nosy Bé is famous as the home of a population of turquoise blue Panther Chameleons, while on the smaller islet of Nosy Mangabé, the males are mostly a stunning claret color, like the individual in this painting.