Custom viv reconstruction

Hey all, new(ish) here, wanted to share my plan and progress as I remodel a vivarium to suit a panther chameleon

The newest acquisition stands about 6' tall and 2' wide, and includes a ~2' cabinet space underneath. Its all wood and comes with a glass door.



Ive done a mock up on google SketchUp of what I want the final product to look like. SketchUp is infuriating 90% of the time, and I wasnt patient enough to refine it perfectly, but you get the idea:


I plan on cutting out large sections of either/both sides and a little more than half of the top and replacing the removed wood with screen mesh. The section removed on the top will allow me to place a heat and UVB lamp, and the two sides will allow adequate circulation. Not sure if Im going to just buy a mister, or attempt a DIY setup, but Im going to attempt to keep all the plumbing in the back

The cabinet space underneath the viv should be big enough to hold a small feeder colony of dubia, supplements, and a small catch for excess water. The viv already comes drilled with a hole between the main compartment and the small cabinet, so its just a matter of fitting some sloped acrylic pieces on the bottom and sealing everything up with silicone.


I toyed with the idea of keeping the dubia colony in an open bucket with the water draining directly into it...but I feel like thats asking for mold issues. Thoughts?

forgot about this

well the setup is pretty much done, and I have a juvi Ambilobe on hold, but will be away for the next week or so... Ill rifle through my picture hosting albums and see if I cant add some pics on how I set things up over the next couple days

Anyway, to start:

The background unfortunately is mirrored and was a PITA to try and remove. I opted to just do a simple 3D background instead, with some large manzanita branches coming out of what would (eventually) look like an overgrown tree trunk. The wood, live plants, and sphagnum moss on the background will serve to add some humidity, as Im in socal and live in an air conditioned house (it gets DRY!)

I used the 'pond and stone' great stuff to secure the branches/logs and cover up the mirror. Eventually I covered the dried foam in brown 100% silicone and added some dried sphagnum. Surprisingly, the foam was enough to hold up the relatively bulky logs, and provided some easy areas to add epiphytes and pothos vines. I covered the entirety of the mirrored background with varying thicknesses of foam


Ill add some more pics of the rest of the build later, but wouldnt mind hearing everyone's opinions
So Im terrible at follow ups apparently

Anyway, here are the rest of the photos, finally got em all uploaded to the same hosting site

After putting the logs in place and securing all the branches with foam:

I also added two small vertical bars on the top to hold some fake ficus vines right where the mist-king system will be spraying. This should create a nice mix between a fine mist and some dripping rainfall off the vines
Here are the vents cut out before the hardware cloth was added in and siliconed into place:



The excess mesh was cut away and it was held in place with heavy duty staples. The boarder was then caulked with 100% silicone to prevent escapees.

the hardware cloth was at a 1/8th inch spacing, hopefully thats small enough to prevent the bugs from crawling out and still allow enough UVB to get through
Finally, the dried foam was coated in 100% silicone, allowed to tack up a bit, and then covered in a mix of peat soil and dried sphagnum moss:

the soil was pressed down onto the silicone and is holding nicely. I used a loose brush to wipe away the excess soil and moss after giving it a day to cure

I added a pothos vine near the top, and placed a bougainvillea vine that I repotted in some loose/arid style potting soil so it doesnt get water logged.

This thing has been sitting in my garage for a week or so now and Im just waiting for the mist king system to get in and the chameleon comes this upcoming week.

I have a small colony of silkies growing up and a place for some roaches under the main enclosure, cant wait!

input is always welcome!


LOVE THIS THREAD!!! Thank you for this. I am also in the process of converting an armoire into a custom viv. I am going to utilize a few of your ideas. I am snapping pics of my process too, so when done, I will make a thread on the build.

Again thanks for this, you have lots of good ideas, and that will be an amazing enclosure when done!

Love the glass front door. Just put a gasket on it so its insect proof
thanks, been done for a minute, Ive just been lazy about uploading!

The bottom has a small wooden lip that was siliconed into place, and a drain hole with some mesh over it that drains into a pail in the storage space underneath...that should (in theory) take care of all the excess water from the mist king system, but I have yet to really put it through its paces

The bug issue will be interesting. I have a big feeder cup, and hope to stick to a mix of dubias, silkies, and phoenix Im hoping escapees arent going to even be a concern.

I just got my red/blue plant grow light in yesterday:

intrigued to see how it will look next to the standard UVB bulb. Its dimmable, which is a nice feature, and Im really tempted to get an X10 system for it and do a simulated dawn/dusk, but that might be a bit much

Ill try to snap some more pictures soon.
follow ups:

turns out the glow light actually adds a cool effect, particularly when I dim the red portion down a bit. I have the UVB bulb going too, but still have to set up a regular incandescent for a basking light




Avid Member
Wow that thing looks awesome so far! I would still add a big scheflerra to fill the empty space on the right and then add some more horizontal pathways but I really like how it's coming along. Great job:)
OK, so added some more horizontal bars and spread the plants out a bit:

the little cham comes in tomorrow; have 50 silkies, 50 banana roaches, and near 600 phoenix worms waitin for him! Ill post up some more pics when I get him all set up

This little guy came in today:


Ill try to post up a youtube link of him chowin some silkworms when I get home today. Still have to set up the mist king, but he's figured out the dripper pretty well, so Im not too worried :)

Anyone else find it hilarious that these little guys always look so AWKWARD. Most socially uncomfortable animal Ive seen
oh, as Im not sure if I can post it in the classified section, I got this from member Kerrek; great to deal with, awesome communication, amazing chameleons.
just got the mist king set up yesteday, have it dialed in as follows:

9am: 2.5min
11am: 1min
1pm: 2.5min
5pm: 2.5min

Too much or too little? Any residual water that doesnt end up in the planters below dries out before the next misting.

Quick phone vid of him chowing some silkworms. He's eating 6 or more a day!


New Member
Awesome thread! I'll try some of these things! I'd like the planters to be built into the wall too so they aren't just sitting on the ground. I try to keep the bottom empty do it's easy to clean off!
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