Cham climbing top of cage & acting like a daredevil

GroguCameleon

New Member
New cham owner here (adopted 1-year old female 3 weeks ago) and my cham is acting unusual today.
She is climbing the walls and ceiling of the cage (see photos) and has fallen a few times due to very acrobatic moves (like Circque du Solei)
She gets up and moves along just fine, but this is different from her behavior before, which is usually very chill. Today was the first day with a new UVB bulb (owner gave me a light without this and I replaced it- 60W). I turned it off, and she seems to not be as attracted to the light (and not climbing on the top of the cage now). She's started to come out of her cage to explore in the past week (very short period of time, all supervised, on her terms.)

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon – FEMALE – 1 year old – I’ve watched her for 3 weeks now (and have adopted her)
  • Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon? Just 3 times total. On her terms
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders?
    Crickets / Mealworms
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule?
    Just started dusting her food with multivitamin because I didn’t know you had to do that. The previous owner had done that regularly.
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking?
    Mist her – water dish - yes
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites?
    No – seems to be dropping normally. Brown / white
  • History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you.

Cage Info:

  • Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions? screen
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule? 10 hours a day with the UVB (60W) - just today and red heat lamp
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?
    70-75
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?
    30% but I mist 2x day
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind? No
  • Placement - Where is your cage located? Is it near any fans, air vents, or high traffic areas? At what height is the top of the cage relative to your room floor?
    Office. 3 feet off the ground.
  • Location - Where are you geographically located? Midwest
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MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
I’m so very glad that you’re here. :) Like how many of us started out, you need to make some changes. It may seem like a lot and I hope it’s not overwhelming. The most important to correct ASAP are supplements and lights. I’m thinking your sweet little lady may be showing early signs of metabolic bone disease (mbd) which is why she fell. I don’t see any deformity in her legs, which is great, but she needs the correct supplements are uvb to prevent any bone fractures and worse.
Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon – FEMALE – 1 year old – I’ve watched her for 3 weeks now (and have adopted her)
  • Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon? Just 3 times total. On her terms
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders?
    Crickets / Mealworms Crickets are ok. Mealworms aren’t a good staple feeder. Like us, chams like variety. Attaching some graphics for you. In order for your insects to be more nutritious for your cham, you need to keep them well fed and healthy. How many are you giving and how often?
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule?
    Just started dusting her food with multivitamin because I didn’t know you had to do that. The previous owner had done that regularly. This is super important to get right. You should be using a phosphorus free calcium without D3 lightly dusted at every feeding, except those which you’ll be using other supplements. Calcium with D3 and a multivitamin each need to be given one feeding every other week. It’s best to rotate them rather than use together. What is the multivitamin that you are currently using?
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking?
    Mist her – water dish - yes Water dishes are a no for chams. Even if they do recognize it as a drinking source, there’s too much risk of bacterial contamination. It’s much better to mist for at least 2 minutes, 2-3 times a day - right before lights go on, right before lights off and you can do either a mid day misting or add a dripper for about 20 minutes.
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites?
    No – seems to be dropping normally. Brown / white Having a wellness veterinary visit along with taking a fresh fecal for parasites testing is always a good idea.
  • History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you.

Cage Info:

  • Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions? screen What is the size? Minimum for an adult is 2x2x4’ or equivalent.
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule? 10 hours a day with the UVB (60W) - just today and red heat lamp This too is very important to get right. You should have a linear T5 fixture with either ReptiSun 5.0 or Arcadia 6% uvb. The screw in bulbs aren’t able to provide adequate uvb levels any farther away than 2-3”. Lights should be about 8-9” above basking area. Since she’s climbing the top, I suggest raising the lights a few inches off the screen to prevent burns. I use dollar store wire baskets to raise my lights. Not pretty but it works. No red/colored lights ever as they can hurt sensitive cham eyes. No lights at night. Unless temps drop below 55-60, no heat at night.
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?
    70-75 This needs to come up a bit to around 80 but no higher than 82. I see you have an analog gauge. Those can be unreliable, so digital is recommended for both temp and humidity.
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?
    30% but I mist 2x day During the day, between 30-50% is ideal. At night if temps drop to at least below 70, you could add a cool mist humidifier and boost humidity all the way to 80-100%. This simulates natural hydration thru fog that they get in the wild.
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind? No Since veileds like to eat their plants, especially the ladies, it’s important to use only safe washed live plants. I use my fake ones on the outside of the enclosure for extra privacy.
  • Placement - Where is your cage located? Is it near any fans, air vents, or high traffic areas? At what height is the top of the cage relative to your room floor?
    Office. 3 feet off the ground. The higher they are, the safer they feel.
  • Location - Where are you geographically located? Midwest
Not sure if you’re aware that our ladies will lay eggs regularly even if they’ve never even seen a male. This is getting rather long, so I’ll add my version of egg laying 101 separately. :)
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MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
So after throwing all of that info at you, now I’m going to bombard you with even more! 🤯
Do you know if she’s laid eggs before?
Usually, our ladies can lay clutches of eggs up to 3-4 times a year. However, this shortens their life spans. Through keeping basking temps around 80 and limiting how much we feed, we can reduce their egg production. http://raisingkittytheveiledchameleon.blogspot.com/2007/12/keeping-female-veiled.html I have 2 veiled ladies. One has gone 2 years without laying and the other has gone one year. I feed them 3-4 feeders, 3 days a week (plus treats). Even if they do still lay, the clutch size should be greatly reduced. Large clutches can lead to laying problems such as egg binding. Since we don’t really know where your lady is in her reproductive cycle, I don’t want to tell you to start her on this plan now. If she is in the middle of producing eggs, we don’t want to decrease her nutrition. I don’t know how much you’re feeding her now or how often, so I can’t tell you exact number/frequency which would be good for her now.
You’ll need to prepare a lay bin and I suggest making it a permanent part of her enclosure. You’ll need a bin that is at least 12” long and wide. Depth isn’t as important as you’ll only be filling it to about 6”. Washed play sand is added and moistened so that it can hold a tunnel without collapsing. They dig at an angle and sometimes across, so this is important. You may want to drill some tiny drainage holes so that water from misting doesn’t create a muddy mess. If desired, you can add up to 40-50% organic soil and place a plant in a corner of the bin. Some do like to lay against root balls.
When she needs the bin, she’ll find it and start digging. It’s essential that she not be disturbed! I cover just the lower half of my enclosure with a light sheet. She may dig a few holes until she’s happy with one. She may sleep in her tunnel at night. When she’s turned around with her face showing, she’s laying her eggs. She’ll carefully cover everything up completely and return to her basking branch when she’s done. It usually takes 1-2 days for the whole process. Once she’s done, give her a good long misting and feed her very well for a couple of days. Then you’ll start the 3-4 feeders, 3 days a week diet. It may take a couple of cycles before noticing any change. You’ll want to remove the eggs and after counting, dispose of them. Usually we want less than 30 eggs.
It can be a time of anxiety for us, but if your husbandry is on point, the risks of problems are minimal. :) Feel free to ask as many questions as you may have on this or general husbandry.
Great sources of info are https://chameleonacademy.com/chameleon-basics/ and Neptune the chameleon on YouTube.
 

GroguCameleon

New Member
Thanks so much for this information! I am reviewing in detail with my husband so we can get this right. I want Grogu to be healthy and happy! I turned off the UVB bulb and she's not scaling the walls and acting crazy like she was yesterday. I also need to figure out the diet thing. I introduced freeze dried crickets that I put the vitamins on and don't know if that did it too.

She is back to being chill today. She's in my office so I am with her 8 hours a day (at least). She hears all my conference calls LOL.

The hardest part of all of this, is that pet stores are just not helpful at all with the food and knowledge. I feel like they don't even have the bugs you reference in the diet chart or the equipment at all (even though they sell chameleons!)
 

Carloscruz

Avid Member
Thanks so much for this information! I am reviewing in detail with my husband so we can get this right. I want Grogu to be healthy and happy! I turned off the UVB bulb and she's not scaling the walls and acting crazy like she was yesterday. I also need to figure out the diet thing. I introduced freeze dried crickets that I put the vitamins on and don't know if that did it too.

She is back to being chill today. She's in my office so I am with her 8 hours a day (at least). She hears all my conference calls LOL.

The hardest part of all of this, is that pet stores are just not helpful at all with the food and knowledge. I feel like they don't even have the bugs you reference in the diet chart or the equipment at all (even though they sell chameleons!)
You said she was about 1 year old I would put her on a diet what I do for my girl for feeding is Monday Wednesday and Friday I feed 3 to 4 large bugs. Chameleon need live feeder’s. the Key to feed chameleon bugs is to have different kind’s of bugs they can pick from.
 

bbyoda

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thanks so much for this information! I am reviewing in detail with my husband so we can get this right. I want Grogu to be healthy and happy! I turned off the UVB bulb and she's not scaling the walls and acting crazy like she was yesterday. I also need to figure out the diet thing. I introduced freeze dried crickets that I put the vitamins on and don't know if that did it too.

She is back to being chill today. She's in my office so I am with her 8 hours a day (at least). She hears all my conference calls LOL.

The hardest part of all of this, is that pet stores are just not helpful at all with the food and knowledge. I feel like they don't even have the bugs you reference in the diet chart or the equipment at all (even though they sell chameleons!)

Yes you're so right the pet stores usually don't sell the right feeder bugs and if they do sell crickets they usually have parasites due to cross contamination issues.

We have some great sponsors on the forum that sell crickets, silkworms, and dubia/discoid roaches. Try them and depending on what feeders she and you like you could start breeding your own to save money. I personally have two roach colonies (discoid and Surinam) a bucket of crickets from Ghanns, a tub of superworms, a cup of silkworms, and a cup of black soldier fly larvae. That way I can provide my two chameleons with variety in their diets. I do more to take care of the bugs than the chameleons now that the chameleon setups are all automated and set up.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
I do more to take care of the bugs than the chameleons now that the chameleon setups are all automated and set up.
Me too! :D

@GroguCameleon your little sweetie will only eat live insect feeders. Most of us do order our feeders on line or breed our own (roaches mainly). Some sites offer a wide variety of suitable feeders so you’ll only need to order from one place. Do check the forum sponsors. There’s also Josh’s frogs and Linda’s gone buggy, to name just a couple of others.
 

bbyoda

Chameleon Enthusiast
Me too! :D

@GroguCameleon your little sweetie will only eat live insect feeders. Most of us do order our feeders on line or breed our own (roaches mainly). Some sites offer a wide variety of suitable feeders so you’ll only need to order from one place. Do check the forum sponsors. There’s also Josh’s frogs and Linda’s gone buggy, to name just a couple of others.

Funny how that works...I'm a bug lady now I suppose.
 

GroguCameleon

New Member
I’m so very glad that you’re here. :) Like how many of us started out, you need to make some changes. It may seem like a lot and I hope it’s not overwhelming. The most important to correct ASAP are supplements and lights. I’m thinking your sweet little lady may be showing early signs of metabolic bone disease (mbd) which is why she fell. I don’t see any deformity in her legs, which is great, but she needs the correct supplements are uvb to prevent any bone fractures and worse.
Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon – FEMALE – 1 year old – I’ve watched her for 3 weeks now (and have adopted her)
  • Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon? Just 3 times total. On her terms
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders?
    Crickets / Mealworms Crickets are ok. Mealworms aren’t a good staple feeder. Like us, chams like variety. Attaching some graphics for you. In order for your insects to be more nutritious for your cham, you need to keep them well fed and healthy. How many are you giving and how often?
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule?
    Just started dusting her food with multivitamin because I didn’t know you had to do that. The previous owner had done that regularly. This is super important to get right. You should be using a phosphorus free calcium without D3 lightly dusted at every feeding, except those which you’ll be using other supplements. Calcium with D3 and a multivitamin each need to be given one feeding every other week. It’s best to rotate them rather than use together. What is the multivitamin that you are currently using?
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking?
    Mist her – water dish - yes Water dishes are a no for chams. Even if they do recognize it as a drinking source, there’s too much risk of bacterial contamination. It’s much better to mist for at least 2 minutes, 2-3 times a day - right before lights go on, right before lights off and you can do either a mid day misting or add a dripper for about 20 minutes.
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites?
    No – seems to be dropping normally. Brown / white Having a wellness veterinary visit along with taking a fresh fecal for parasites testing is always a good idea.
  • History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you.

Cage Info:

  • Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions? screen What is the size? Minimum for an adult is 2x2x4’ or equivalent.
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule? 10 hours a day with the UVB (60W) - just today and red heat lamp This too is very important to get right. You should have a linear T5 fixture with either ReptiSun 5.0 or Arcadia 6% uvb. The screw in bulbs aren’t able to provide adequate uvb levels any farther away than 2-3”. Lights should be about 8-9” above basking area. Since she’s climbing the top, I suggest raising the lights a few inches off the screen to prevent burns. I use dollar store wire baskets to raise my lights. Not pretty but it works. No red/colored lights ever as they can hurt sensitive cham eyes. No lights at night. Unless temps drop below 55-60, no heat at night.
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?
    70-75 This needs to come up a bit to around 80 but no higher than 82. I see you have an analog gauge. Those can be unreliable, so digital is recommended for both temp and humidity.
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?
    30% but I mist 2x day During the day, between 30-50% is ideal. At night if temps drop to at least below 70, you could add a cool mist humidifier and boost humidity all the way to 80-100%. This simulates natural hydration thru fog that they get in the wild.
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind? No Since veileds like to eat their plants, especially the ladies, it’s important to use only safe washed live plants. I use my fake ones on the outside of the enclosure for extra privacy.
  • Placement - Where is your cage located? Is it near any fans, air vents, or high traffic areas? At what height is the top of the cage relative to your room floor?
    Office. 3 feet off the ground. The higher they are, the safer they feel.
  • Location - Where are you geographically located? Midwest
Not sure if you’re aware that our ladies will lay eggs regularly even if they’ve never even seen a male. This is getting rather long, so I’ll add my version of egg laying 101 separately. :)
Update: I went to a wonderful reptile-specific store near my home last night to get the right equipment (particularly the UVB bulb.) I came home with a lot of new bugs and a new Repti-sun bulb (that I am going to mount higher as she still seems to immediately crawl to the ceiling of the cage when I turned it on.) It was a small fortune, but I want to make sure I’m doing this right for her.

I will also make sure to use the sponsor bugs too - this forum has been invaluable to my education. Thank you!
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Update: I went to a wonderful reptile-specific store near my home last night to get the right equipment (particularly the UVB bulb.) I came home with a lot of new bugs and a new Repti-sun bulb (that I am going to mount higher as she still seems to immediately crawl to the ceiling of the cage when I turned it on.) It was a small fortune, but I want to make sure I’m doing this right for her.

I will also make sure to use the sponsor bugs too - this forum has been invaluable to my education. Thank you!
Great news! Chameleons are expensive to get set up, but not so bad after. Just a couple of FYI s…the uvb bulb will lose effectiveness over time and need to be replaced every year at least. Some say 6 months for ReptiSun, but I’ve never tested it myself. Arcadia is good for one year. Regarding feeders, both hornworms and superworms can bite. I’ve noticed my chams usually aim for the heads of wormy feeders so they must intuitively know to be careful. Hornworms have very sticky little feet and can cling to some surfaces with more force than your cham’s tongue can grab them. This can injure the tiny little tongue muscles. I usually just place hornworms on my hand and offer to my chams that way. Also, tong feeding is another risk to tongues. Most of us have either made or bought feeding stations. There’s a few different types available. Some just use bird feeder cups. Whatever works.
I know you’re going to give your sweet lady the best life. 😊 Please stick around and share posts and pics of your progress and your cham’s beauty.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
Welcome to the forum.

Cham climbing top of cage & acting like a daredevil​

New cham owner here (adopted 1-year old female 3 weeks ago) and my cham is acting unusual today.
She is climbing the walls and ceiling of the cage (see photos) and has fallen a few times due to very acrobatic moves (like Circque du Solei)
Actually, that's just what they do—and often 40' (or more) up in the treetops.

She gets up and moves along just fine, but this is different from her behavior before, which is usually very chill. Today was the first day with a new UVB bulb (owner gave me a light without this and I replaced it- 60W).
https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/lighting-uvb.186009/#post-1716086

There are several things that can stimulate screen-climbing... Not enough UVB, too much UVB, too small enclosure, hunting, looking for nookie, others... and sometimes because they just feel like it.

I would not use the red heat lamp (or colored lights of any kind).
For basking lights, I prefer (in order of preference):
  1. Household incandescent bulb (not LED)
  2. Incandescent flood light (not LED and not spot light)
  3. Halogen flood light (not spot light)
A clamp light fixture works well for basking lights—easy to aim.

You definitely want live plants. Live plants help increase and maintain humidity.
Here are some lists of plants considered chameleon-safe:
https://chameleonacademy.com/plants/
https://caskabove.com/chameleon-safe-plants
https://www.madcham.de/en/pflanzen-fuers-terrarium/
https://www.chameleons.info/l/safe-and-unsafe-plants/

Be sure to read all the text & notes. Part of becoming a chameleon keeper is becoming a bit of an amateur botanist. Rather than just picking plants off of lists, it behooves us to research each candidate('s requirements—light, water, drainage, food, etc.) and balance them against each other and the enclosure as a whole.
 

GroguCameleon

New Member
Welcome to the forum.


Actually, that's just what they do—and often 40' (or more) up in the treetops.


https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/lighting-uvb.186009/#post-1716086

There are several things that can stimulate screen-climbing... Not enough UVB, too much UVB, too small enclosure, hunting, looking for nookie, others... and sometimes because they just feel like it.

I would not use the red heat lamp (or colored lights of any kind).
For basking lights, I prefer (in order of preference):
  1. Household incandescent bulb (not LED)
  2. Incandescent flood light (not LED and not spot light)
  3. Halogen flood light (not spot light)
A clamp light fixture works well for basking lights—easy to aim.

You definitely want live plants. Live plants help increase and maintain humidity.
Here are some lists of plants considered chameleon-safe:
https://chameleonacademy.com/plants/
https://caskabove.com/chameleon-safe-plants
https://www.madcham.de/en/pflanzen-fuers-terrarium/
https://www.chameleons.info/l/safe-and-unsafe-plants/

Be sure to read all the text & notes. Part of becoming a chameleon keeper is becoming a bit of an amateur botanist. Rather than just picking plants off of lists, it behooves us to research each candidate('s requirements—light, water, drainage, food, etc.) and balance them against each other and the enclosure as a whole.
Thanks so much. Yes - I replaced the red light immediately and got new basking bulbs (and the right UVB) from the reptile store last night. She's calming down a lot now, but I still need to move the foliage and branches around today to make it more comfortable for her.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
I still need to move the foliage and branches around today to make it more comfortable for her.
FWIW, I've found that to be a double-edged sword. A while back, I found myself in the position of having to do a major remodel (a ficus tree and some climbers had died). I got all but about half of the branches replaced when I ran out of energy for the day, but I knew a day wouldn't hurt.

Watching him the next day was one of the coolest experiences I've had with him. I could see him looking at places he wanted to go/get to, studying how he was going to get there, and then executing his "climb-plan". I had inadvertently discovered that (re)moving a few branches can provide enrichment.

He can get anywhere in his enclosure that he wants to, but some destinations are more challenging than others.
 
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