First Panther Chameleon set up (new owner) - feedback?

Lumi

Member
I got Poppy a few days ago for my birthday and of course, as my first chameleon, I've been stressing ever since. She is a female Panther Chameleon. While she's awake she's mostly dark colored, but to be fair its only her second full day in the new enclosure so she may calm down? She is roughly 6 months old, and now that I've been reading the forums I'm concerned about a few things. If I've done stuff wrong please be kind, I'm new to this and that's why I'm asking for feedback to help my chameleon.

Notes:

She's eaten both days since she's been home 6 crickets (gutloaded) the first day and 6 the second. And I've seen her drink from off the leaves after the mister goes off.

1. Is the cage just too small for her already? We figured it would be a good starter cage but now I'm worried she's already too big for it at six months old (ish).

It's 22x11.1x25 which i know is not the ideal size, but is it ok for this age? If it is when should I upgrade her?

I'd like to move it up with a higher shelf but I'm also confused because at petco she had on her happy colors and was at knee level.

2. the temperature and humidity gradient
The mister is on the left side and at the bottom of the tank on the left side the temp is about 70 degrees F and the humidity is at 80%. We live in MT and it's very dry so I have the mister go off for 1 min every 3 hours. (it can't be set to go for over a minute). Under her basking ceramic the temp is roughly 88 and humidity is 25% (the basking heater seems to dry it out). But lower on that side the humidity increases to more around 50-60%. it's just dry under the light. I have a bioactive tank so it helps keep in the humidity. I know the humidity values aren't absolutely perfect, but since she can move around the cage are they good or no? I'm unsure how to keep the perfect humidity and temp at all places in the tank, plus the chameleon academy website said 40-50% during the day + 80-100% at night which is different from other things I've read (why is all the information contradictory!)

Light(tank left side): Exoterra 26W reptile UVB 100
Ceramic heat source(tank right side): zoomed ceramic infrared heat emitter 60W

3. She doesn't spend a lot of time under the basking light. I've held my hand under there and it feels pleasantly warm and I've hidden it almost completely behind leaves (all my leaves are fake at this point). When she's dark all the time I'm worried she's cold, but then she doesn't go to the basking spot. She does move around, and does lighten up when I feed her and when she sleeps. I've included a picture of her being slightly lighter, but her "happy colors" she had on when we bought her was just mostly straight pink, and I don't see that unless she's asleep. Again, maybe it's just because she's new to her enclosure, but I'm worried i've screwed something up.
 

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NOTE: I'm working right now on replacing my bulb with a T5 24" linear fixture and an arcadia 6% bulb as I see what they recommended at the store will not work for her correctly
 
Hi and welcome! :) I’ll gladly give you some feedback.
Notes:

She's eaten both days since she's been home 6 crickets (gutloaded) the first day and 6 the second. And I've seen her drink from off the leaves after the mister goes off. You’ll want to make sure to offer a variety of feeders that have themselves been well fed a variety of healthy fresh produce. Attaching graphics for you. You’ll also want to be careful not to overfeed her. Not only does that lead to obesity, but it can increase the amount of eggs she’ll produce when mature.

1. Is the cage just too small for her already? We figured it would be a good starter cage but now I'm worried she's already too big for it at six months old (ish). Yes, sorry to say it is too small. The standard for most species of chameleon is a 2x2x4’. However, if you are able to provide larger than that, that would be awesome.

It's 22x11.1x25 which i know is not the ideal size, but is it ok for this age? If it is when should I upgrade her? Anytime, but sooner is best of course.

I'd like to move it up with a higher shelf but I'm also confused because at petco she had on her happy colors and was at knee level. Petco and other pet stores don’t do things because they are correct care for the animal, but rather to make them more saleable. A chameleon in a properly set up enclosure would be hard to see and therefore hard to sell.

2. the temperature and humidity gradient
The mister is on the left side and at the bottom of the tank Why is your mister on the bottom? Should be on the top so the water can drip down. on the left side the temp is about 70 degrees F and the humidity is at 80%. We live in MT and it's very dry so I have the mister go off for 1 min every 3 hours. Should have it run for 2 minutes, 2-3 times a day. If it won’t run for longer than one minute at a time, can you set 2 one minute sessions back to back? (it can't be set to go for over a minute). Under her basking ceramic the temp is roughly 88 Too hot - should be no higher than 80 and humidity is 25% (the basking heater seems to dry it out). But lower on that side the humidity increases to more around 50-60%. it's just dry under the light. That’s ok and actually is perfect to have gradients of temp and humidity. Gives your chameleon choices. I have a bioactive tank so it helps keep in the humidity. Awesome! I know the humidity values aren't absolutely perfect, but since she can move around the cage are they good or no? I'm unsure how to keep the perfect humidity and temp at all places in the tank, plus the chameleon academy website said 40-50% during the day + 80-100% at night which is different from other things I've read (why is all the information contradictory!) The Chameleon Academy is the most current husbandry that we have and is constantly being upgraded as we learn more. Unfortunately there’s a tremendous amount of old and incorrect info on chameleon husbandry out there. Chain pet stores will only add to the confusion. Many of the employees have little to no true knowledge of the needs of all of the animals they sell.

Light(tank left side): Exoterra 26W reptile UVB 100 Yes, you need a linear T5HO with either a 5.0 or 6% uvb bulb.
Ceramic heat source(tank right side): zoomed ceramic infrared heat emitter 60W

3. She doesn't spend a lot of time under the basking light. I've held my hand under there and it feels pleasantly warm and I've hidden it almost completely behind leaves (all my leaves are fake at this point). When she's dark all the time I'm worried she's cold, but then she doesn't go to the basking spot. Are you using a light or ceramic heat emitter for basking area? If using the emitter, switch it out for a bulb. They gravitate towards the brightest light to bask. Since she is young and panther girls are petite, I suggest raising your lights at least a couple of inches above the top. Then distance between basking area and lights should be 8-9”. She does move around, and does lighten up when I feed her and when she sleeps. I've included a picture of her being slightly lighter, but her "happy colors" she had on when we bought her was just mostly straight pink, and I don't see that unless she's asleep. It’s not really ‘happy’ colors, but more of stressed. When relaxed their colors are usually duller and not as varied. Again, maybe it's just because she's new to her enclosure, but I'm worried i've screwed something up.
All live plants is always best. Even though panthers don’t eat their plants like veileds do, having everything natural is the best...especially since you are bioactive. I do hope when you upgrade her to a larger enclosure that you keep things bioactive. Saves from having to set up a lay bin. ;) I have all screen enclosures and have been using fabric root pouches to contain my substrate layers. It’s worked very well. To prevent leaking, I do have a substrate tray at the bottom beneath everything and also have some liner beneath the whole enclosure. So far, so good.
Do ask whatever questions you may have. We’re always happy to help. ☺️

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Hi Miss Skittles and thank you so much for taking the time to reply.

In response to your mister question: The mister is at the top, when I said the bottom I was referring to where the temp/humidity gauge was. Sorry for the confusion. I can't set it for more than 1 minute, or set it for 2 minutes back to back unfortunately. She does drink after it mists though, and the humidity looks good.

Thank you so much for telling me about how the gravitate toward bright light to bask, I'm very hopeful that will solve my problem with her not basking.
 
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I did forget to tell you that at night if you are boosting humidity way up there, make sure you have a good temp drop to at least 68. Heat + high humidity = increased risk for respiratory infection.
 
Awesome thank you!

AND BIG THANK YOU because I switched the ceramic to a bulb and she figured it out. She's pink again and moving around much more and ate a cricket from my hand. So i'm thrilled. She must have been cold, poor thing.
 
Awesome thank you!

AND BIG THANK YOU because I switched the ceramic to a bulb and she figured it out. She's pink again and moving around much more and ate a cricket from my hand. So i'm thrilled. She must have been cold, poor thing.
You’re very welcome. ☺️ So glad that you’ve had such an immediate effect. Chams will darken to better absorb heat and/or uvb. Our sweet little ladies have their very own color palettes as well. I’ve had my petite panther princess for a bit over a year now and I’m still scratching my head at what all of her colors mean.
If you need any help or info regarding the egg laying process, just say the word when you’re ready.
 
You’re very welcome. ☺️ So glad that you’ve had such an immediate effect. Chams will darken to better absorb heat and/or uvb. Our sweet little ladies have their very own color palettes as well. I’ve had my petite panther princess for a bit over a year now and I’m still scratching my head at what all of her colors mean.
If you need any help or info regarding the egg laying process, just say the word when you’re ready.
I do have one more question. If gutloading with a commercial option (i see that's not preferred but it's what i have to work with atm) do I still need to dust with calcium? The petstore people told me no, but now i'm suspect of anything they've said lol. My commercial gut load says guaranteed analysis of min 8% calcium and max 9%. She was chewing on the wall a minute ago (stopped now) so of course I went down the rabbithole of mineral deficiencies.
 
I do have one more question. If gutloading with a commercial option (i see that's not preferred but it's what i have to work with atm) do I still need to dust with calcium? The petstore people told me no, but now i'm suspect of anything they've said lol. My commercial gut load says guaranteed analysis of min 8% calcium and max 9%. She was chewing on the wall a minute ago (stopped now) so of course I went down the rabbithole of mineral deficiencies.
Nevermind, I found the forum post saying I need both.
 
Yes, you’ll still need to supplement. While there are several different regimens, one that I think is easiest to follow is phosphorus free calcium without D3 at every feeding except one every other week. Then you’ll use a combo multivitamin/vitamin D3 product like Repashy calcium plus LoD or Reptivite with D3 for that one feeding every other week. Pretty much the only feeder that you can get away with not dusting with calcium is bsfl. They have the best calcium to phosphorus ratio. I don’t gutload, but I do keep my feeders well fed at all times so that they are more nutritious.
 
Yes, you’ll still need to supplement. While there are several different regimens, one that I think is easiest to follow is phosphorus free calcium without D3 at every feeding except one every other week. Then you’ll use a combo multivitamin/vitamin D3 product like Repashy calcium plus LoD or Reptivite with D3 for that one feeding every other week. Pretty much the only feeder that you can get away with not dusting with calcium is bsfl. They have the best calcium to phosphorus ratio. I don’t gutload, but I do keep my feeders well fed at all times so that they are more nutritious.
Awesome. Thank you so much, I appreciate you!!
 
Yes, you’ll still need to supplement. While there are several different regimens, one that I think is easiest to follow is phosphorus free calcium without D3 at every feeding except one every other week. Then you’ll use a combo multivitamin/vitamin D3 product like Repashy calcium plus LoD or Reptivite with D3 for that one feeding every other week. Pretty much the only feeder that you can get away with not dusting with calcium is bsfl. They have the best calcium to phosphorus ratio. I don’t gutload, but I do keep my feeders well fed at all times so that they are more nutritious.
Hi again!

When you said to make sure not to overfeed her, on the chameleon academy it said to feed young panthers as much as they will eat until they are adults, so I'm wondering if I should offer food more than once a day? I tried it today just to see what she would do and she ate 8 crickets in the morning, then another three this afternoon and two just now in the evening. I'm not sure where the line is lol
 
Hi again!

When you said to make sure not to overfeed her, on the chameleon academy it said to feed young panthers as much as they will eat until they are adults, so I'm wondering if I should offer food more than once a day? I tried it today just to see what she would do and she ate 8 crickets in the morning, then another three this afternoon and two just now in the evening. I'm not sure where the line is lol
No, just feed once a day in the morning. Panthers grow slower than veileds, but not sure at what age she’s considered adult. I’d guess to start counting/offering limited feeders at around 7-8 months old. I strongly advise to get a gram scale and keep a record of her weights every other week or so to better monitor her growth. I fed my little panther girl quite a lot until her weight and size stabilized…stopped growing. Once adult though, definitely limit feeding to help reduce egg production. I feed all of my (adult) chameleons the same - about 4 feeders, 3 days a week plus regular treats. I weigh them all at least once a month which kind of helps me know if my girls are producing eggs and if I’ve been giving too many treats.
 
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Ok so it took me a few weeks but here’s the Poppy palace! I ordered more dirt from leap so I could plant my plants and when I know when it’ll be here I’ll order my isopods and springtails. She already seems much happier with the height of this tank. I have a fogger, mister, incandescent basking bulb (digital probe therm for the basking area to keep it between 80 and 85 per the chameleon academy) and the light is an Arcadia 6% uv-b forest bulb in an H0T5 holder.
 
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