cage floor thoughts


New Member
im curious has anyone ever planted their plants right in the cage i was thinking of having 6-8 inches of potting soil on the floor and plant directly into it
rather then having a bunch of pots. i know substrate ia somewhat of a no no
but wouldnt this be almost natural?
anyways hoping to hear some input thanks
I see a few potential problems:
First your going to have issue with too much moisture in the soil.
With all the misting and drip system watering required moisture will build up under your soil causing the roots of your plants to rot and encouraging mold.
Secondly your going to have a problem with cleaning the cage effectively, and your going to lose feeders in there.
Finally I think this will encourage your cham to eat too much soil and you run the risk of impaction. Yes, if you haven't witnessed it, they do eat dirt. And unless the branches are several feet above the soil substrate (as in nature) the soil will be in front of the cham constantly and he will consume it.
Why not just place some low level potted plants on the floor of the enclosure to give the appearance of a lush jungle floor. These can be removed for cleaning and replaced if you lose one.

Hey Newf,

I have always thought this would be an ideal situation as well, but have never been able to figure out how to keep the soil from becoming soup. I believe Will is playing with this, and has set up a drain so that excess water can drain out of the soil. Hopefully, he will chime in. I suppose if it was set up with a drainage layer of hydroton or gravel and a layer of charcoal to keep it fresh, it could work. Without a drain, my guess would be that it will hold enough water to create a pretty good load of bacteria. If you decide to do it, I would be interested in hearing how it goes.

I know a few experienced keepers who do this successfully however I really feel that the risks far outweigh the benefits – if there are any.


...and also you'll run a higher risk of parasite re-infection that may be shed from your chameleon in his poop and into the soil, then either directly back into him or indirectly through feeders becoming carriers by eating/exposure to poop... We'd all love to duplicate a more natural look but that would also need "real" outdoors to keep things in balance.
Beneath the soil should be a layer of rocks and below that a drain. Really though you still get a lot of run off. I personally do no not think it is worth the extra time and effort.
I am working with very densely planted cages with 'substrate' as Heika said.

The whole motion for me was to create cages for my breeding females to both live- and lay in- minus the stress from moving into new caging or rearanging the cage just to add in bins to dig.

I also feel that there is just as much risk using 3 large plant pots bunched up together at the bottom of the cage than to add maybe a square feet of surface space with soil, than to have an area beneath the lips of the pots where fallen or wandering chameleons can become trapped and crickets will die and rot, unable to ascend to where the chameleons can eat them once more (keeping in mind that I use partial screened solid sided cages because of my climate).

I'd chime in, however at this time I don't have photos prepared to document how the cages were constructed. My cages are in constant evolution and each new unit is scrutinized and redesigned and hopefully more improvements are made than faults. I draft up new designs almost every months and my recent rate has been to build a new unit of between 3-4 cages every couple months.

Here is a unit of 4 in a partially completed state. Alspo keep in mind that I build my cages in consideration that I am keeping a larger amount of chameleons. Female pardalis receive cages about 18x18x36 with 14 inches to dig into- replacing the trash can method that I had previously used. Both have been successful for me.

But enough random details, youll have to wait until I organize myself enough to post a comprehensive write-up.

Are you doing any special soil layering?

I guess what I mean is that I have been looking into building a natural pond for my mother at her house and have ran into alot of ideas as to layering to retain the water. Just was not sure if there were some opposite type plans for relief of the water underground.

The cages look nice and professional I must say Will. Look forward to hearing some more about this in the future.
Jordan, thought I would post some new photos. Havent had time lately to be much of a shutter bug. (Also, I didnt get the last post you made, so I didnt reply, sorry).




I'm extremely envious of your set up. I would love to keep a number of cages, if only for keeping males (no breeding right now.) My wife,(also a veterinarian) has told me that I will have to look my dog and two cats in the eyes and tell them "I will have no time for them anymore because I love chameleons more..."

Needless to say, at present, I am limited to what I can stuff into my office at work. (Maybe I'll move my two associates into a closet and convert their space to chameleon quarters.)

Back to your cages. They are pretty much what I would convert to in the future if I win the lottery, or my wife gets a concussion and loses her memory:rolleyes:

Personally, I would have little trouble telling my dogs and cats that... Though I suppose I am a bit biased having fur alergies.

Thank you very much for the kind comments. These cages are working up to my expectations, but with each new unit I build there is a modification. I call these Version :) I have begun plans to make cages and sell them, but time hasnt been permitting lately.

If you win the lotery, I hope you would have nicer cages than these! Think more along the lines of, green houses.
If you win the lotery, I hope you would have nicer cages than these! Think more along the lines of, green houses.[/QUOTE]

My dream house will have a large green house in the backyard where a dozen chameleons can live and breed like they do in the wild. With little interference as possible from humans. That would be my ideal enclosure..:D
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