Enclosure review

ItsMike64

Established Member
Hey everyone! I have been working on my enclosure for the past few weeks and wanted to get some opinions and questions answered. I’ll attach some pics and include information below :)

Chameleon: 5 month old ambilobe panther female (no big girl colors as of yet)

Enclosure size: 18x18x36 (I would like to upgrade to the 2’x2’x4’ soon

Just want to know overall if anyone has any suggestions or ideas for things I can/should tweak. The UVB light is something I wanted to ask about - it’s about 6” from the highest branch (It’s a T5HO Reptisun) - do I need to raise it any more above the top of the enclosure?

Plants listed below:

Weeping fig
Croton
(2) golden pothos
African violets
Polka dot plant
(2) spiderwort

All have been cleaned and repotted

I’ve had moderate success with my plants. After reading up on the demands of the plants I moved them around but I’m thinking the violets and Polka dot need to be moved a little lower and away from the uvb light which seems to be frying the polka dot. Suggestions on where I can put them would be much appreciated!

As for temps, the top gets around 80° under the light and 79° throughout the rest of the uppermost area, and gradually goes down to lower 70’s as you move lower in the enclosure. Are these temps too low? I’ve been having a little bit of a tough time figuring out temps, and have seen conflicting information out there on what temps are best for female panthers.

Like I said all suggestions are welcome, just go easy on me, I’m trying my best 😆

Thanks in advance!
 

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Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
For an enclosure review, please copy/paste the questions from
https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/how-to-ask-for-help.66/
into this thread. For clarity, it may help to format your answers in bold or another color.
Photos appear good enough.

OTTOMH, is that enclosure sitting on the floor? Chameleons are most comfortable when the basking perch is at or above eye level. A 29"-30"H table/stand is just about perfect for that.
https://chameleonacademy.com/chameleon-cage-placement/

Since she's female, you'll want to be getting a lay bin in there soon. (Un-mated chameleons still lay eggs)
https://chameleonacademy.com/ep-205-creating-a-chameleon-egg-laying-bin/

Highest branch doesn't matter. Distance from basking perch to UVB matters. 8-10" should be close, though the best way to tell is with a UVI meter such as a Solarmeter 6.5x or DIY version.

Is she trying to bask under the Sansi light? If so, it looks fine; your basking light appears to be angled to shine beneath the plant light. The distance from UVB to basking site may be at an angle, and the distance should be measured that way instead of straight down.

More will depend on your answers to the questionnaire.
 

ItsMike64

Established Member
For an enclosure review, please copy/paste the questions from
https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/how-to-ask-for-help.66/
into this thread. For clarity, it may help to format your answers in bold or another color.
I didn't put these in because I just wanted general opinions of the enclosure, not the husbandry which I thought was only really necessary if there was a specific issue. See answers below.

OTTOMH, is that enclosure sitting on the floor? Chameleons are most comfortable when the basking perch is at or above eye level. A 29"-30"H table/stand is just about perfect for that.
Nope. It's on top of a plastic storage drawer system about 4' off the ground.

Since she's female, you'll want to be getting a lay bin in there soon. (Un-mated chameleons still lay eggs)
I do know this. Breeder told me to keep an eye out for her mating colors and once I see them to put a lay bin in there. Everything is set to go when she's ready.

Highest branch doesn't matter. Distance from basking perch to UVB matters.
Not quite sure what you mean here. The basking perch (which is the highest branch) is about 6-7" from UVB

Is she trying to bask under the Sansi light? If so, it looks fine; your basking light appears to be angled to shine beneath the plant light. The distance from UVB to basking site may be at an angle, and the distance should be measured that way instead of straight down.

Not necessarily all the time. She basks kind of wherever she feels like it, but I have seen her under the sansi light. You are correct that the basking light is angled to shine under the sansi - I did this per your recommendation in another thread. The two of them at the warmest spot measure about 80 degrees

Enclosure review questions:

Not going to go over chameleon info and care because I am confident in this. Breeder and I discussed it all.

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Screen Reptibreeze 18x18x36
  • Lighting - Reptisun T5HO + Sansi Light + 60W basking bulb (Household bulb not LED). Lights on at 8am lights off 8pm. Basking on at 10am off at 4pm
  • Temperature - Highest is 80 lowest 70. Measure with govee thermometer and thermometer gun. Night gets around 65
  • Humidity - 40% daytime 95% nighttime. Misting and fogger (latter only at night)
  • Plants - Live plants. Listed in original post.
  • Placement - On a plastic drawer storage bin. 4' off the ground. Low traffic, no vent.
  • Location - Upstate NY
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
Sounds good. (y)
Not quite sure what you mean here. The basking perch (which is the highest branch) is about 6-7" from UVB

1646067197818.png
If chameleon basks at/near point A, distance would be D1
If chameleon basks at/near point B, distance would be D2
If chameleon basks at different points, they usually know what they need/want, so use an average.

Without a meter, D1 should be about 6"
See: https://chameleonacademy.com/chameleon-cage-set-up-replicating-the-sun/

Hope this helps. Let me know if not.
 

ItsMike64

Established Member

ItsMike64

Established Member
So I have made just a few adjustments thinking that they may help. Here's what I did:

Moved African Violets and polka dot plant down a bit. I don't think they loved being right under that UVB light. I also angled the UVB light a little bit to get some more coverage on the basking perch spot. Also please disregard the orchid that I inadvertently slaughtered and returned to my enclosure because why not. What do we think?
 

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Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
Try to keep temps 78-80max. watch temps under your grow lights. They can put out some heat. You might even be able to do away with the heat lamp if temps below the sansi are appropriate. Right now with your entire basking level being 80 she has no way to get out of that temp if she needs to cool down. look at upgrading cage size to a 2x2x4 you will need the space to add a permanent lay bin in.

UVB you need 8-9 inches to the branch if it is a 5.0 bulb strength.
 

ItsMike64

Established Member
Try to keep temps 78-80max. watch temps under your grow lights. They can put out some heat. You might even be able to do away with the heat lamp if temps below the sansi are appropriate. Right now with your entire basking level being 80 she has no way to get out of that temp if she needs to cool down. look at upgrading cage size to a 2x2x4 you will need the space to add a permanent lay bin in.

UVB you need 8-9 inches to the branch if it is a 5.0 bulb strength.
I definitely want to get a 2x2x4 cage in the future, that's a definite thing that I plan on getting in the coming months. Just trying to get it comfortable for her while she's in it. I have actually tried just the sansi light before without the basking light and underneath the light it was about 74-79 and the rest of the top was 68-70 getting gradually lower to around 65 at the lowest part of the cage. Would this be better or is it too low?
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
I definitely want to get a 2x2x4 cage in the future, that's a definite thing that I plan on getting in the coming months. Just trying to get it comfortable for her while she's in it. I have actually tried just the sansi light before without the basking light and underneath the light it was about 74-79 and the rest of the top was 68-70 getting gradually lower to around 65 at the lowest part of the cage. Would this be better or is it too low?
Well if you are hitting basking temps with the sansi then I would not add more heat... Reason being the top should have a warm spot and then cooler. You said with all lights that the entire top is sitting at 79 which is warm still. If with the sansi your hitting those basking temps without going over 80 then if it were me I would not add more heat. Just ensure your temps are right. If your using a temp gun they will not be accurate.

How warm do you keep your house? Might want to bump ambient temps slightly to help ambient cage temps.

In the mean time work in a lay bin now for her. She should get used to it being there.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
why would using a temp gun not be accurate? Or are you referring to where the temp gun is being pointed?
The type of temp guns hobbyists use (cheap) do not take emissivity or absorptivity of the target surface into account. You can find the emissivity of many/most materials/objects/surfaces on various tables:
https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=emissivity+of+common+surfaces
https://www.google.com/search?q=emi...HZqPBm8Q_AUoAnoECAEQBA&biw=1024&bih=625&dpr=1

There are temp guns with emissivity settings (EMS) but they can run 2-3 times the cost (or more) of those without such settings. Usually, close ( ±2° ) is close enough for our purposes. Digital hygrometers/thermometers with probes are generally in the ±1°F and 2-3%RH range.

And there are workarounds.
https://www.calex.co.uk/find-correct-emissivity-setting-infrared-temperature-sensor/
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
The vast majority of the heat from a Sansi 70W will go upward unless it is in direct contact with the screen of the enclosure. There is less than 1" between my screen top and the 2 Sansis I use, but I can keep the back of my hand on the screen directly below the lights indefinitely.

If the lights do come in contact with the screen, they can heat the screen up via conduction.
I've probably linked this before, but this is how I have my 2 Sansis mounted.
https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/simple-uvb-fixture-supports.177896/#post-1600595
https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/simple-uvb-fixture-supports.177896/#post-1692470

The lights themselves are mounted to the wooden frame, which weight is transferred to the frame of the enclosure rather than sitting directly on the screen where it could (in time) deform the screen and heat it up.
 

ItsMike64

Established Member
Well if you are hitting basking temps with the sansi then I would not add more heat... Reason being the top should have a warm spot and then cooler. You said with all lights that the entire top is sitting at 79 which is warm still. If with the sansi your hitting those basking temps without going over 80 then if it were me I would not add more heat. Just ensure your temps are right. If your using a temp gun they will not be accurate.

How warm do you keep your house? Might want to bump ambient temps slightly to help ambient cage temps.

In the mean time work in a lay bin now for her. She should get used to it being there.
So just to clarify, with just the sansi on, it gets to about 78 directly under the sansi and gradually gets cooler as you get away from the basking spot but still on the top. So the front right corner is like 72. As you move down in the enclosure it ranges from 74-67. Sounds like just the sansi is the way to go for now? As long as low 70’s are okay for daytime. I thought that was too cold.

I’ll get a lay bin in there.

Ambient temps in my house are 70° btw :)
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
So just to clarify, with just the sansi on, it gets to about 78 directly under the sansi and gradually gets cooler as you get away from the basking spot but still on the top. So the front right corner is like 72. As you move down in the enclosure it ranges from 74-67. Sounds like just the sansi is the way to go for now? As long as low 70’s are okay for daytime. I thought that was too cold.

I’ll get a lay bin in there.

Ambient temps in my house are 70° btw :)
Ambient range in the 70's to high 60's in the bottom is great. Gives her lots of options for what feels best to her. 78 under the sansi is perfectly fine. If that is at the branch you have to take into account where she rises up. So she is getting slightly higher temps then what you calculate at the branch. Basking having a range of temps is perfect. Then she can move in and out of the heat.
Keeping her basking in this range and controlling feeder amounts as she matures will keep her clutch size small. Which makes it much easier for them and allows them to live a longer healthier life.

As with all lighting just make sure she is not screen climbing the top panel. Then you have thermal burn risk.
 

ItsMike64

Established Member
Ambient range in the 70's to high 60's in the bottom is great. Gives her lots of options for what feels best to her. 78 under the sansi is perfectly fine. If that is at the branch you have to take into account where she rises up. So she is getting slightly higher temps then what you calculate at the branch. Basking having a range of temps is perfect. Then she can move in and out of the heat.
Keeping her basking in this range and controlling feeder amounts as she matures will keep her clutch size small. Which makes it much easier for them and allows them to live a longer healthier life.

As with all lighting just make sure she is not screen climbing the top panel. Then you have thermal burn risk.
That’s all great to know, and it’s even better that I can take that ugly heat lamp off of the top. I’ll continue to monitor it and her behavior to make sure she’s getting the right things. Thank you for the help 😁
 

ItsMike64

Established Member
I wanted to ask you guys if I should wash the play sand for the lay bin or is that not necessary? I got a bag from lowes.
 

ItsMike64

Established Member
Another question or two. BTW I washed the play sand because why not 😆

Firstly, how do you keep water out of your lay bins? I checked after a few days and it was full of water. I tried to drill some holes for drainage but now sand just comes out of it like there's no tomorrow. The bit I used was 1/16" (I think) but it was not much bigger than this O (Yeah, that's my reference lol). Any suggestions would be great, but here's what I've come up with:

- Making a "roof" of sorts with coroplast to cover it and prevent water from getting inside, this would also allow me to have a surface for more plants to sit on, but I'm wondering if covering it like that would cause her to not know it's there? I wouldn't put it any lower than 1' above the bin

- Other option was to throw some safe sized river rocks at the bottom and then put the sand on that, so keep it from draining out of the holes. I was originally thinking of geotextile fabric but that stuff is SO expensive!

The next question was about hanging plants. I have a spool of "illusion wire" which is basically knockoff fishing line - Is this safe to use to hang plants? Like to drill 4 holes around the top of the pot and then suspend it with this string? I'm only asking because it's so thin and basically invisible, I don't know if it could somehow hurt her. Idk - maybe I'm paranoid haha! What would be some other options for safe but maybe thicker rope or string? Probably something waterproof and maybe nylon?

Thanks :)
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Another question or two. BTW I washed the play sand because why not 😆

Firstly, how do you keep water out of your lay bins? I checked after a few days and it was full of water. I tried to drill some holes for drainage but now sand just comes out of it like there's no tomorrow. The bit I used was 1/16" (I think) but it was not much bigger than this O (Yeah, that's my reference lol). Any suggestions would be great, but here's what I've come up with:

- Making a "roof" of sorts with coroplast to cover it and prevent water from getting inside, this would also allow me to have a surface for more plants to sit on, but I'm wondering if covering it like that would cause her to not know it's there? I wouldn't put it any lower than 1' above the bin

- Other option was to throw some safe sized river rocks at the bottom and then put the sand on that, so keep it from draining out of the holes. I was originally thinking of geotextile fabric but that stuff is SO expensive!

The next question was about hanging plants. I have a spool of "illusion wire" which is basically knockoff fishing line - Is this safe to use to hang plants? Like to drill 4 holes around the top of the pot and then suspend it with this string? I'm only asking because it's so thin and basically invisible, I don't know if it could somehow hurt her. Idk - maybe I'm paranoid haha! What would be some other options for safe but maybe thicker rope or string? Probably something waterproof and maybe nylon?

Thanks :)
I just drill some tiny holes in the bottom of my lay bin. A little bit of sand comes out, but once it’s in place it’s ok. I wouldn’t use river or other rocks at the bottom as they dig all the way down and usually prefer the corners. I’d try hot gluing just a small bit of landscape fabric over the holes if it’s a problem. For hanging plants I’d definitely avoid fishing/invisible line. There’s so many different ways to hang plants on the sides. There’s Dragon Ledges https://dragonstrand.com/dragon-ledges/ Some have made their own version of these with sheet metal strips I think. You can securely attach a garden trellis to your enclosure frame that you can hang light plants and branches on. You could create a scaffold type thing (also attached to frame) and whatever else your imagination can think up. I did once hang a plant from the top using a board which stretched across the frame top and used one of the cheap plastic hangers that come with some plants. I used thin wire thru the screen to attach hanger to board. As it is nice to have greenery in the middle of the enclosure, you could also get a taller ‘centerpiece’ plant like a weeping fig or money tree, schefflera or similar. Draping the pothos vines over and around your branches also creates nice center greenery.
 

ItsMike64

Established Member
I just drill some tiny holes in the bottom of my lay bin. A little bit of sand comes out, but once it’s in place it’s ok. I wouldn’t use river or other rocks at the bottom as they dig all the way down and usually prefer the corners. I’d try hot gluing just a small bit of landscape fabric over the holes if it’s a problem. For hanging plants I’d definitely avoid fishing/invisible line. There’s so many different ways to hang plants on the sides. There’s Dragon Ledges https://dragonstrand.com/dragon-ledges/ Some have made their own version of these with sheet metal strips I think. You can securely attach a garden trellis to your enclosure frame that you can hang light plants and branches on. You could create a scaffold type thing (also attached to frame) and whatever else your imagination can think up. I did once hang a plant from the top using a board which stretched across the frame top and used one of the cheap plastic hangers that come with some plants. I used thin wire thru the screen to attach hanger to board. As it is nice to have greenery in the middle of the enclosure, you could also get a taller ‘centerpiece’ plant like a weeping fig or money tree, schefflera or similar. Draping the pothos vines over and around your branches also creates nice center greenery.
Thanks for the pointers! Would you suggest that I avoid hanging plants from the top just in general?

What are your thoughts on the coroplast idea? I'm just worried she wouldn't see the lay bin if it was over it. I do have bamboo around the inner sides like little cheap dragon ledges and they work wonderfully, it's just the center places that are the problem, but I can try to get creative haha :)
 
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