|Crossed panther chameleon, probably Nosy Be and Tamatave. Sold as an Ambilobe, however.|
Also, it is a controversial clutch as well.
This is because panther chameleons come in different morphs (called locales because each color variety is specific to a location on their native Madagascar and named after that area). In this case, both parents are a mix of several different locales and are considered crosses. My male Daedalus is a Nosy Faly and Ambanja cross, while the female Azura is a Nosy Be, Ambanja, and Sambava cross. The male was an accidental cross, where his mother was purchased as one locale and turned out to be another. While the female was an intentional cross, produced from a pure locale father and a crossed mother by someone who was curious. To me they are fantastic chameleons, great pets, and beautiful animals. But not everyone would agree.
In the chameleon community crossing panther chameleon locales on purpose is quite taboo, inciting very angry responses. While the the anti-cross people make good points, there is a lot of unnecessary anger and hostility towards both the animals themselves and their owners/breeders. The most important reason is that females of all locales look essentially identical - there is no definitive way to identify that a female belongs to one locale versus another, so the worry is that you buy a female for a breeding project and finding yourself with a clutch of chameleons that look nothing like you're supposed to. And sometimes not all male offspring look like a mix, so you may have some look like parent A while others look like parent B and others a mix of the two. Another good point is that dishonest breeders will sell the pure-looking male offspring and the females as pure locale animals for top-dollar, while wholesaling the rest to pet stores for them to deal with as they may. So the worries are not unfounded - the origins of two of my males are examples of mislabeled animals.
|Daedalus is a Nosy Faly and Ambanja cross.|
It is also a problem that stems at the source, straight from the importers in Madagascar that are in charge of picking out and exporting out the different locales purchased by breeders across the world. For example, for orders comprised of Nosy Faly panthers are often filled with Ambanja females to meet the quota, which results in captive hatched clutches of crosses like my male, Daedalus. This is why breeders, while they need wild blood every few generations to strengthen the lines, are cautious about using wild caught females because they may not prove to be what they are labelled as.
It's understandable that if you run a breeding program that might be your livelihood, taking all these precautions against crosses is important. Your reputation as reputable breeder may be at stake. But the anger seen in the chameleon community surrounding personal opinions on crosses is a little disproportional, in my opinion. I once saw a man go on a forum to share photos of his favorite breeder male, and after getting a few doubts regarding purity of the animal, this man was in such a terrified frenzy that he was ready to sell his beloved animal and destroy all the eggs he had incubating from this male just to distance himself from crosses. Another man also sought confirmation that his male's identity what what he thought it was and announced, when relieved that it was, that he was glad he did not have a "retarded mutt."
I have gotten plenty of attacks as well for being perfectly happy with my crosses, and for having sought to purchase/breed only crossed panthers due to several reasons including curiosity. I have even gotten hate male regarding my male, Daedalus, telling me that he is worthless and ugly. When arguing with one man about his attitude on the matter, he told me "you stick to your bargin brand crosses an leave the real business [to others.]" Besides not being able to spell very well, this man's opinion is revealing about how many people feel about crosses. It is true that due to lower demand they do not usually sell for as much, which is a plus for keepers who may not be able to afford the $250-300 a pure panther is worth. But it is unfortunate that people feel that my breeding projects and preferences, as well as those of others like me, are not of the same caliber and that they choose to demean us.
My Thoughts on the Matter
As a biologist, I believe in mixing and tinkering to see what happens. I have a lot of curiosity and a lot of admiration at the different color combinations and patterns that occur in crossed panthers that do not occur naturally. I think my crosses are the most beautiful panthers I have owned (and I have owned pures are well) and cannot wait to see what the next generation brings. Others, like me, are also interested in seeing what happens, as as long as all parties involved are responsible, there should be no harm done.
|Daedalus and Azura, both crosses.|
As a conservation ecologist, I also know that none of these panthers are ever going to contribute to a re-population effort in the wild to preserve the locales and species. None of the animals that we breed in the private sector will ever join conservation projects like those run by zoos. Therefore, there is no bigger-picture reason to keep the locales pure and only pure, as these animals are strictly for the pet trade and not for any professional genetic or conservation projects.
Also, having one does not negate the other. Like we have pure lab and poodle breeders we can have labradoodle breeders simultaneously; there will always be people breeding for purity and others breeding for curiosity. The existence of one does not negate the other.
And so I breed crosses. I and the people on my hatchling waiting list are excited to see what happens, what emerges from those 23 perfect little while eggs. Each will be different from its sibling, and how each one matures is a mystery. Some will look very blue and others may look much more red, with varying combinations of these and orange, yellow, and green. It will be exciting to see what happens. It is just a shame that they should be demeaned and despised by others in the community, for no fault of their own.
So in conclusion, to each their own. Enjoy these beautiful, amazing animals and let others do the same.
I, for one, eagerly await the mystery.