Bad smell...standing water

Anyone else experience this?

I have my cage resessed into my closet in my office. Two of the three cage walls are lined with plastic that block the misting from getting into my closet and causing a mold issue.

I have a dripper system going in the top of the cage, and a big potted plant pan that catches access water. This fills with water, and I empty it every other day or third day. If I didn't have that, I'd definately have flooding issues. I don't know how you guys don't have flooding issues if you don't have a big water resevoir in the bottom of the cage. 15 minutes of misting twice a day with constant dripper system...there's a lot of water pouring through that place.

There is a live pothos hanging in the center of the cage that also catches water and leaks it out into the pan underneath.

Lately my office has been starting to smell bad. Like stale water or something. Does anyone know what this could be? Would a fan help? Something to circulate the air in and out of the cage so it doens't get stale? I can open the window in the office now, but I can't do that when winter comes.

Wife is not happy.

Especially since I balked at the idea that a chamleleon would smell bad. I was like "you're crazy, lizards don't stink! Just trust me on this one."

The logical solution would be to reevaluate your chameleons need for such a large quantity and duration for this much water. Is the dripper used for the 12 hours a day that it is potentially wasting water? Does the chameleon utilize the misting periods for all 15 minutes, both times per day?

If you are using it to keep humidity up then perhaps a 15 minute shower would be ok, with 10 intervals of 30 second mistings would be enough to keep the humidity up. Or maybe a humidifier placed in the room to raise the ambient humidity without creating actual water collecting to fester. Also remember that veileds are highly adaptable chameleons, and in the wild come from a wide range of habitats, from drylands to tropical forests- and may not need the amount of water you are offering.

Maybe you can route a drain pipe from your reservoir out of the room into a sink, or out of the house. One of our members who also kept chameleons in his office, had a drain system that exited the room and watered his garden. Inventive, no?

Although the best solution is to eliminate the route cause of the problem, you may consider an air purifier. I highly recommend the Oreck Air Purifiers. Selling mine to pay off a bill was the worst idea Ive had since eating mealworms for money.
That dripper needs to drip into a clean empty bucket with mesh stretched over it to keep your cham and the feeders out of it.
It's easy to dump this daily.
Having the water drip into a plant is going to cause rootrot...excessive bacteria, etc.
Like when you keep that vase of flowers too long.
Take the offending plant outside for a few days to "dry out" and start a more
sterile system for collecting the water.
The smell should go away quickly....and you're right...Chameleons don't stink!

Chameleons don't stink!

no, but their poop sure does. Do you clean this out daily? They often tend to go in the same place (some, not all) and if it is sitting in one of these wet pots it will smell and create breeding ground for bacteria and fungus.

I agree with Will and Brad's thoughts and suggestions. As you may recall I have a similar setup (closet/office) but my closet is a free standing one so more air circulation. I use 8-10" diameter (or approx size) container and place it under wherever it is dripping. When I run his humidifier (always same place) I put two layers of paper towel down and place the container under the area so as the water builds up on top of screen, plants etc. it will drip in there. I just move this container to one or two different places as needed. EVERY evening I wipe the bottom of the cage with the now wet or damp PT, rinse out the container and wipe dry. if you let water sit in it for even a couple days it can get slimy and will stay yucky if you never dry it. Once week I wash all easily removable items and let them air dry. I try not to let water drip into a large pot as it will invite a nice brood of fungus gnats.

OK, speaking of smelling I have to go dump the litter box - that's in here, too

Good luck!
Thanks guys!

It's totally root rot. I know it.

Because the wife and I went shopping for plants at flower world yesterday and I walked passed a plant and caught a wiff of a similar smell.

Ok, gotta keep the dripper from dripping into the plant.

So, I work from 10:30am - 7pm, so nothing can really change in between those times. Would it be wise to turn it on in the morning for a half hour, and then turn it on again in the evening, and get him to learn that those are his drinking times?

I know his humidity drops below 30% while I'm away at work, but after a misting it spikes above 90% and then stays around 35-40 throught the night since the lamps are off.

Do humidifiers cause moisture to build up? Is there a risk of mold at all?

His poop tends to pile up, but I just scoop it into one corner of the cage.

Poop is cleaned up daily.

thanks a ton guys. This forum is freaking awesome. I don't think I'd be able to keep up this hobby without the folks on here.

Can't you just re-direct where the dripper is dripping?
My cham drinks right out of the end of the drips from there straight into the collection bucket without hitting one leaf.
The moving water is the attraction and I think it should go for as many hours in the day as possible.

Hey Brad,

When I first installed the dripper, the drips of water ended up running down different leaves and vines of the pothos to eventually drop outside of the resevoir on the bottom of the cage.

With a 1 gallon dripper this eventually flooded the cage and my office, drop by drop over a period of a couple hours.

So when I get home, I'll maybe look for a way to get the drops to run straight into the resevoir. I'll also mesh over the resevoir too as per the suggestions here. (anyone know where I can buy mesh sheets or screen online?)

I thought it was good to drip down different leaves and vines so he could get a chance to drink.

To date I've seen him drink...twice, maybe three times, so I'm still not positive where he's getting his water from. I've had him for about 6 weeks. One time he licked his lips and gaped his mouth after a misting. One time from across the office I saw him lick a leaf, and then another time I saw him lick a drop from the top of the cage after a misting. That's about it.

I'll figure out a new system tonight, and get rid of the root rot. I may need to purchase a humidifier this summer.
I highly recommend the Oreck Air Purifiers. Selling mine to pay off a bill was the worst idea Ive had since eating mealworms for money.

EWWW. Will that is gross, now I have a mental image of you eating the mealworms, yuck, yuck, yuck.
I would agree with Brad. It could very well be root rot. If nothing else some soils can become quite pungent if it is wet and warm.

How are you misting your chameleons?
Thanks Jordan,

Well, I'm not sure I have a particular misting method. I mist him before I leave for work and when I get home. I use a spray bottle on mist setting, and I just hit the cage from all angles. Above, the side, the bottom, I try to get every leaf wet, I try to get the pothos soil moist, and I try to hit Otto at a certain point to see if he's interested in drinking. He usually runs and hides. Sometimes he sits in the spray for a bit but not long. One time he stepped right into the spray and seemed to be talking mouthfuls of water. Now that I think of it, that was right before he shed.

But usually if he's green before the spraying starts, he's dead brown when it's over. I use very warm water and test it on my hand before I spray.

Get a whiff of your critter's fresh poop. If it has a strong, bad smell then he may have a parasite problem that needs treatment. I was rehabbing a chameleon a couple of years ago and its poop smelled really bad and it had a parasite problem. Treated the problem and the smell went away. A healthy chameleon's poop usually doesn't stink enough to evoke a strong gag response :eek:. But when it's bad, it's bad enough to stink-up the whole enclosure :eek:.
I will whiff the poop. But I'm pretty sure it's the root rot, based on the experience I had at flower world.

Re-routed his dripper last night, I think it's going to work just fine.

In other news - I caught Otto shooting his tongue into the soil of the pothos last night :eek: blocked that off right away!
If you have re-potted your plants using organic (fertilizer/pesticide free) sifted soil this should not be too much of a worry.
I actually think they need it.
But you have to make sure it's not going to poison them and that there are no big chunks that could cause impaction.
My veiled eats dirt every day.

Serious? I thought that was a big no-no.

Makes me think they're like iguanas that need gravel to aid digestion. Interesting. Thanks Brad.
Please be aware that this is my observation, speculation, opinion.
No substrate is the rule and impaction is a real danger.
That being said....I stand by my above statement and have had no issues.

I would not keep them in the closet. I would recommend keeping them somewhere when cross ventilation could properly occur, both to prevent bad odor and for the health of your chameleon.

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