Free-range inspiration

Some inspirational thoughts for free ranging

First, our living room is a large, bright (views on both sides) and pet free living room without small children walking around.

Second, the free-range area is at exact the same spot as where a Reptibreeze XL (24´x24´x48´) stood.

Many assume free-range as a large area you create for your chameleon and that´s probably why keepers don´t think about it. My thoughts about it, is creation a natural environment without being ´caged´. Sure, there will be boundaries to keep them in, however in no manner they should feel locked-up. This blog will hopefully give some inspiration in free-range options and the most important it´s not more expensive than a regular setup.

My starting point was creating a naturalistic environment for a chameleon (in my case a female Veiled), and that would be a tree. I wanted to give her as much as possible tree space, foliage and `miles` of climbing opportunity.
Ended up with a:

Total height of 5.7 ft (that includes 2.19 ft height planter)
Total width of 3.4 ft
Total depth of 2.3 ft

Beside the climbing space of the tree, I´ve added at least 23 extra branches around, above and through the tree for some extra`mileage`.

Available space:
40´x 24´x 80´ between wall and cough

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Full setup and its needed space

Needed materials:
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The bioactive soil with coverage (you can see monitoring well between the fern)

Reserve principal:
As the planter is designed to water your plants, I reverse this principal in dewatering your plants. The planter has a build-in water reservoir, which you can easy fill. However, if you can fill it, you can also take it out. Therefore, the water build-up from misting will be collected in the reservoir and when needed it´s easy to remove with a suction pump.

Hydration vs Humidity:
I mist the free range the same way as I´d do with an enclosure. Morning, evening, and midnight session, 3 sessions total of 1 minute each.

Further I fog a complete curtain / cloud from the middle of the free range across the complete width of the free range. This way I maintain a local high humidity during the night and make sure my chameleon keeps hydrated. Fog sessions from 10 pm till 6 am, 15 minutes each session. So far zero problems regarding hydration.

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The fixture with lighting, heating, misting nozzle and fogging tube

Feeding:
Regular cup feeding as shown in the picture or free ranging dubia on a branch, to hunt them down. Mine will not eat dubia´s out of a cup.

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Cup feeding in the morning

Poop:
This part I´ll leave to the clean-up crew unless I find residue on the leaves (this I´ll remove).

Egg Laying:
I kept in mind to create privacy at the bottom with plants that cover-up the bottom. The bottom itself will stay moisture enough due the misting and the planter watering system. For now, we had our first successful egg laying with this setup, so there´s hope.

Escaping:
In the beginning I´ve noticed some escaping behaviour, and mine did escape 3 times. So, I did some tweaking, to make it more difficult. After an 1-1.5 week this behaviour stopped, until she became gravid. This was a week of only leaving the free-range area and returning to it. This would be a period where´s best to provide the opportunity access the area again, because they come back to it for UV basking and sleeping. After egg laying, they go back to their normal routine and will not leave area any more.

Behaviour:
You´ll notice they´ll feel and become free in their environment and they´ll exposure their self more and more. Be more active and let you come closer without aggressive behaviour. I only enter their space for food and take her out. They´ll come closer trying to make contact, especially when sitting next to them on the cough. Sometimes they´ll come as close few inches from you, just to observe you. For now, I haven´t found any cons regarding this setup only pros. Hopefully this will inspire more keepers to be creative, because no animal deserves to be ´caged´.

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Pothos for extra foliage

A side note, each animal is different, and these are pure my experiences, observations with my chameleon and I don´t have any further reference nor experience. Still that doesn´t mean you can´t do out-of-the-box thinking.

Thanks for reading and please contact me for any questions or help.

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One happy resident........

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Sleeping in her cloud of fog (shows how big the free-range area is)

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Sleeping in the Pothos during her gravid period (the only period she slept every night at a different spot)



Free-range hand feeding


Old setting, however gives a clear image regarding misting

Comments

Nice job, Sonny. Will you do a free-range for Ranjo, too?
How I‘d really wish. Heard too many no-go‘s for a K. Boehmei that I don’t trust it to do and because he’s so small I believe that if he escapes, you won’t find him again. Still, it’s no permanent no 😉. Maybe I‘ll find a clever solution 😎
 

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