Cleaning/disinfecting “dirt” background walls?

Jsanfig

Member
Hello wonderful peeps!

I’ve recently built a custom-made enclosure 20x20x37 for a panther Cham, I’ve decorated it awith “naturalistic” background made with great stuff, silicone, peat moss and orchid bark together with some sphagnum moss and live plants. Looks awesome, my only question remaining is how to keep it clean/free of bad bacteria? Is not all about the looks! I haven’t introduced any chameleons in it yet, just observing it over time and making sure parameters are good for its future inhabitant. How do you guys clean such things?
I appreciate any answers you guys can offer!
here’s a photo of it:
 

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Jsanfig

Member
Worth saying, it does not accumulate any water, as the cage is mesh bottom
And drains to a pan with holes underneath, separated by 10” and subsequently it drains to a 5G bucket underneath it all.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
I’ve recently built a custom-made enclosure 20x20x37 for a panther Cham, I’ve decorated it awith “naturalistic” background made with great stuff, silicone, peat moss and orchid bark together with some sphagnum moss and live plants.
I hate being the bearer of bad news, but I wish you'd kept more active. The minimum recommended size enclosure for an adult panther is 24x24x48. Considering the foam, silicone, moss, bark, etc. and judging from the picture, the true size of your enclosure is likely closer to 16x16.

OTOH, building an enclosure out of the frame yours is sitting in/on could be awesome.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hello wonderful peeps!

I’ve recently built a custom-made enclosure 20x20x37 for a panther Cham, I’ve decorated it awith “naturalistic” background made with great stuff, silicone, peat moss and orchid bark together with some sphagnum moss and live plants. Looks awesome, my only question remaining is how to keep it clean/free of bad bacteria? Is not all about the looks! I haven’t introduced any chameleons in it yet, just observing it over time and making sure parameters are good for its future inhabitant. How do you guys clean such things?
I appreciate any answers you guys can offer!
here’s a photo of it:
There really is no way to clean the sides. However, I wouldn’t worry about it. The poop is the main source of bacterial growth and will follow gravity and fall down to the bottom. We also need to keep in mind that in nature, chameleons don’t have a sterile environment. Keep an eye on your temps and humidity levels and make sure you have adequate ventilation…all things that will help inhibit bacterial growth.
 

Jsanfig

Member
I hate being the bearer of bad news, but I wish you'd kept more active. The minimum recommended size enclosure for an adult panther is 24x24x48. Considering the foam, silicone, moss, bark, etc. and judging from the picture, the true size of your enclosure is likely closer to 16x16.

OTOH, building an enclosure out of the frame yours is sitting in/on could be awesome.
Not bad news at all! We’re all here to learn and keep learning. This cage can be used for another specimen that doesn’t require such large space, no problem, but what I’m aiming to is the cleanliness of such an environment regardless size. I’ll consider it for my next enclosure to be bigger!
 

Jsanfig

Member
There really is no way to clean the sides. However, I wouldn’t worry about it. The poop is the main source of bacterial growth and will follow gravity and fall down to the bottom. We also need to keep in mind that in nature, chameleons don’t have a sterile environment. Keep an eye on your temps and humidity levels and make sure you have adequate ventilation…all things that will help inhibit bacterial growth.
I see! I’m on that nature-isn’t-sterile mindset but considering that this is a closed habitat, but not hermetically sealed either, it does ventilate good tho. I think for a next one instead of the moss etc, I’d try to sculpt realistic textures rather than applying natural materials… I think they kinda hold humidity well but I’m concerned about it and my chams respiration and hygiene
 

Jsanfig

Member
I hate being the bearer of bad news, but I wish you'd kept more active. The minimum recommended size enclosure for an adult panther is 24x24x48. Considering the foam, silicone, moss, bark, etc. and judging from the picture, the true size of your enclosure is likely closer to 16x16.

OTOH, building an enclosure out of the frame yours is sitting in/on could be awesome.
Also I’ve read a thread here where members point to the fact that major breeders do keep their chams healthy in 18x18x36 without problem… here’s the link

https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/cage-size-debate-kinda-experts-please-read.150737/

I’ve found -my chams don’t use that much- it’s a total waste of space, energy and resources to pull out such a large enclosure in a weather like mine, I’m in Vegas, and I started with a 24x48, but turned out nearly impossible to keep parameters stable, causing the cage to be always dramatically dry in spite of misting… AC plays another problem as well here at home so I try my best! But I do hear you, maybe an enclosure that ENDS UP being 18x36 after all the mambojambo would be a better bet, right?
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
OK... a few things going on here.

Cleanliness:
There is a smell factor. The best way I've found to deal with it is Nature's Miracle for Stinky Reptiles. I use the Cage Cleaner for both my chameleon and Bearded Dragon. If it can kill Bearded Dragon stank (which it DOES) it'll probably kill any reptile odor. It's enzyme based, and also disinfects.

Other folks use white vinegar, peroxide, etc. I've tried those, but I prefer the NM.

Enclosure size:
Current feelings in general for reptile housing is "As large as you can afford, but a minimum of..."
The thread you cited seems to be more concerned with height. The reason for 48" (as I understand it) is that if put on a standard height table (29-30") it puts the basking height at or above most folks' eye level where a chameleon is more comfortable.

Height is security to most chameleon species found in captivity. But height to a chameleon is not how far their basking branch is to the floor of their cage, but how high their basking branch is relative to the people and creatures walking around them. This is why wide format cages can be shorter in height and be effective. A 30” tall cage on top of a dresser will give more security than a 48” tall cage on the floor.
https://chameleonacademy.com/selecting-chameleon-cage-size/

Farther down on the page, Bill includes a chart, and recommends 24 x 24 x 48 for an adult male panther.

If you want to use a shorter height, I would just put it on a higher table or stand so that the basking height is still at/above eye level.

One of the most effective ways to give security to a chameleon is to arrange it so they can perch high up. If you are able to set their cage on a platform where their perch is at or, better, above eye level of the humans walking around, your chameleon will feel much more secure.
....
Perch height will determine how well your chameleon will tolerate people and pets milling around. It is amazing the difference being above the action will make.
https://chameleonacademy.com/chameleon-cage-placement/

I agree horizontal space is also important, and I generally try to go bigger than minimums, so my male panther chameleon is in a 48 x 24 x 48H hybrid enclosure on a 29"H table. This size is now being offered by both Dragon Strand and Zen Habitats. Both are also moving toward hybrid enclosures, which is what you've essentially built, and will be much easier to control the humidity in than all-screen.

To put it another way... In place of "Flair", think "enclosure size" 😁



Another option is hammering out your own dimensions by these guidelines:
http://www.anapsid.org/enclsize.html
Again, I would lean toward the larger numbers.
 
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Jsanfig

Member
OK... a few things going on here.

Cleanliness:
There is a smell factor. The best way I've found to deal with it is Nature's Miracle for Stinky Reptiles. I use the Cage Cleaner for both my chameleon and Bearded Dragon. If it can kill Bearded Dragon stank (which it DOES) it'll probably kill any reptile odor. It's enzyme based, and also disinfects.

Other folks use white vinegar, peroxide, etc. I've tried those, but I prefer the NM.

Enclosure size:
Current feelings in general for reptile housing is "As large as you can afford, but a minimum of..."
The thread you cited seems to be more concerned with height. The reason for 48" (as I understand it) is that if put on a standard height table (29-30") it puts the basking height at or above most folks' eye level where a chameleon is more comfortable.



Farther down on the page, Bill includes a chart, and recommends 24 x 24 x 48 for an adult male panther.

If you want to use a shorter height, I would just put it on a higher table or stand so that the basking height is still at/above eye level.



I agree horizontal space is also important, and I generally try to go bigger than minimums, so my male panther chameleon is in a 48 x 24 x 48H hybrid enclosure on a 29"H table. This size is now being offered by both Dragon Strand and Zen Habitats. Both are also moving toward hybrid enclosures, which is what you've essentially built, and will be much easier to control the humidity in than all-screen.

To put it another way... In place of "Flair", think "enclosure size" 😁



Another option is hammering out your own dimensions by these guidelines:
http://www.anapsid.org/enclsize.html
Again, I would lean toward the larger numbers.

Thank you for such an in depth answer! Rally appreciate it! Ok… I know what I’m going to do now, back to 24x48. This product you’ve mentioned also seems to be my solution. I have a product here I have not used yet, maybe you could identify if it’s convenient to use as its clinical, animal and food safe, here’s a picture of the label:
 

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Jsanfig

Member
It is a hospital grade disinfectant that is safe to use in food processing facilities, veterinary clinics and such, haven’t used it due the smell is very bad, I’ll go with the one you’ve suggested
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
It is a hospital grade disinfectant that is safe to use in food processing facilities, veterinary clinics and such, haven’t used it due the smell is very bad, I’ll go with the one you’ve suggested
It has a mild scent. I wouldn't call it bad or unpleasant. If you're in a pet store, you might ask if you could give it a spritz.
 
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