First time owner cage planning

ChameLeon_

Member
Hello! I'm new to this sub and to reptile ownership overall. For the longest time i wanted to get a pet chameleon and since I'll be moving soon there will be a chance for me to buy one!

I started planning phase and my research is fairly big at this point, and i have only few details i need to dial in with you. I quickly decided that i would like to build my own enclosure. After little browsing online i found a really cool design, I'll include a picture (sorry for the low quality, too lazy for screenshots i guess..). Idea behind this enclosure is that it can be fully adjusted to my needs and provide nice housing for all the cables and other ugly stuff.

The base is made from 5x5cm wood and I'll construct the bottom cabinet first. Size would be 55x55cm and the cabinet will house misting controls and water tank for misting, and probably my roach colony and food supplements i plan to use. I'll place water disposal tank there as well. Top of the cabinet will be a slightly tilted PVC sheet with a hole drilled in the lowest corner, that way excessive water will drain down the hole, through the tubing and into disposal water tank underneath.

On top of that I'll use a PVC/aluminium pipe as a main support beam for the top part of my cage. I'll wire electricity and misting tubes through this pipe so there are no cables visible. On top I'll construct a basic square from plywood that's used on bottom doors and sides as well. Bottom of that top part will be a wire mesh and I'll place all the lights and dripper there.

Main part will be in the middle around main support beam. I'll use aluminum L shaped profiles to line the corners of this enclosure and run an aluminum mesh on all sides except front one and maybe back side as I'll maybe use a solid background there. In front there will be doors from aluminum U shaped profile and same mesh again, hinged on one side and closed with magnets on top and bottom right edge.

My first question is, will this setup be suitable for veiled chameleon? The living area will be 55x55x110cm approximately, a little less than recommend 2x2x4 feet.

Next question is about lights for him. I'll use a regular 100W bulb in metal dome for heating. Then a kitchen T8 lamp with ExoTerra 45cm 15W UVB 100 bulb (basically a bit bigger UVB output than regular UVB 5.0) and a DIY reflector from half a pipe and tin foil. Is that suitable for a chameleon? Basking spot would be about 20cm from top mesh, is that right? Do i need more visible loght sources for him?

And last but not least, inside decorations. How can i go about placing branches and flower pots on the mesh screen? How can i attach it so it's stable? I thought about putting extra aluminum profile in the middle of one side horizontally for support and then zip-tying more branches to the main support beam and the one on side. Any other better ideas?

For misting, would a mister that goes on once every 12 hours to spray just enough to coat everything with droplets be enough? I can include shot glasses of water here and there to provide extra water, perhaps direct dripper into one of them to create water movement and catch his attention?

If you have any more questions or perhaps an upgrade for this setup, I'm open to all suggestions! :) Thank you all in advance.
 

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Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
So if you want to copy and paste the form below into your reply then fill it out with what you plan to do for the cham... That will give me a good idea on if you have gotten correct info and I can add further advice.

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - The species, sex, and age of your chameleon. How long has it been in your care?
  • Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon?
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders?
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule?
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking?
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites?
  • 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?
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule?
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind?
  • 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?
  • Location - Where are you geographically located?
 

ChameLeon_

Member
So if you want to copy and paste the form below into your reply then fill it out with what you plan to do for the cham... That will give me a good idea on if you have gotten correct info and I can add further advice.

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - The species, sex, and age of your chameleon. How long has it been in your care?
  • Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon?
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders?
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule?
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking?
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites?
  • 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?
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule?
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind?
  • 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?
  • Location - Where are you geographically located?
Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - Veiled, male, and probably juvenile as most of the sold ones here are around 4-5 months. I do not have it yet, this all is planning phase only and research first
  • Handling - I will try to bond with him gradually as much as possible without stressing him out, first get him comfy with feeding overall and my presence there while providing food into bowl, then being there while he's eating, then slowly try tweezer feeding and then hand feeding. Ideally i want him to climb for food at my hand at last, after months of the strategy i just said. Hopefully this way it wont be that stressful to him and he will get used to it. Of course i want him to leave the cage on my hand willingly and wont pull him or anything.
  • Feeding - Planning to go with dubia roaches i'll breed myself. Amounts unknown yet, but once adult maybe like 3 roaches a day or 4 every other day? I would like to gutload roaches in sepparate little container with mostly water fruits like watermelon, oranges etc.. but some greens too.
  • Supplements - Planning to dust with Repti-Zoo pure Calcium every or every other feeding and with Multivitamin from the same brand containing mostly D3 and A, but other vitamins as well. Multivitamin about twice a month?
  • Watering - Would like to mist before lights go on and shortly before they go off for humid night. Also dripper mid-day and add more if he will show too big interest in drinking that. Maybe include one or two shot glasses too just to add one more drinking option for him,of course cchage the water regularly.
  • Fecal Description - Aiming for hydrated poop and slightly orangey pee as far as i know?
  • History - Not yet, only bright future!

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - None yet, planned above in main thread post.
  • Lighting - Planning to go with regular household 100W bulb in some 19cm dome plugged to a dimmer to adjust temps. For UVB probably T8 10.0 or some stronger equiv, not decided yet, DIY reflector probably. For plant light i was thinking about LED flood light with 50W and 4000lm, not sure though if it's necessary and suitable. Schedule would be 12 on 12 off, starting around 8am ending 8pm?
  • Temperature - Aiming for 27 basking and rest of the cage woul be ambient temp, around 23 at summer. At nights depends on day, but it goes down to 20-22 if it's not during some crazy heatwave. Planning to use digital thermometer with humidity meter as well.
  • Humidity - Aiming for some 50% humidity as it should be okay for veiled juvenile (not baby), maintained by humidifier in the room overall to maintain ambient humidity and a mister with dipper as well. Measurment done by digital humidity meter combined with thermometer.
  • Plants - Definitely live ones, nothing exotic probably some photos, large leaf plant, something crawly to go up one corner of the cage to some extend and some brighter green to change the colors a bit. Maybe low maintance colorful leaf plant too. Planning to use one corner to put most of my plants and create walkways for him to hide behind them as well.
  • Placement - Probably will put it in a corner so only 2 sides will be revealed for his safety feeling, not sure yet as i do not know how my flat will exactly look like. Probably going to cover 2 walls with plant matter anyway. Not planning to have AC as its not commonly used here and is quite expensive for me, maybe some standing and desk fans but nothing aimed at the cage itself. Will try to find some quieter area where maybe i sit but i dont walk a lot, around work desk or something. Will be elevated so that top of the cage is a bit higher than me (186cm), probably aim for the basking spot to be in my eye level or so.
  • Location - Slovakia, middle Europe. Mild climate, some summer swings from time to time but nothing crazy.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - Veiled, male, and probably juvenile as most of the sold ones here are around 4-5 months. I do not have it yet, this all is planning phase only and research first
  • Handling - I will try to bond with him gradually as much as possible without stressing him out, first get him comfy with feeding overall and my presence there while providing food into bowl, then being there while he's eating, then slowly try tweezer feeding and then hand feeding. Ideally i want him to climb for food at my hand at last, after months of the strategy i just said. Hopefully this way it wont be that stressful to him and he will get used to it. Of course i want him to leave the cage on my hand willingly and wont pull him or anything.
  • Feeding - Planning to go with dubia roaches i'll breed myself. Amounts unknown yet, but once adult maybe like 3 roaches a day or 4 every other day? I would like to gutload roaches in sepparate little container with mostly water fruits like watermelon, oranges etc.. but some greens too.
  • Supplements - Planning to dust with Repti-Zoo pure Calcium every or every other feeding and with Multivitamin from the same brand containing mostly D3 and A, but other vitamins as well. Multivitamin about twice a month?
  • Watering - Would like to mist before lights go on and shortly before they go off for humid night. Also dripper mid-day and add more if he will show too big interest in drinking that. Maybe include one or two shot glasses too just to add one more drinking option for him,of course cchage the water regularly.
  • Fecal Description - Aiming for hydrated poop and slightly orangey pee as far as i know?
  • History - Not yet, only bright future!

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - None yet, planned above in main thread post.
  • Lighting - Planning to go with regular household 100W bulb in some 19cm dome plugged to a dimmer to adjust temps. For UVB probably T8 10.0 or some stronger equiv, not decided yet, DIY reflector probably. For plant light i was thinking about LED flood light with 50W and 4000lm, not sure though if it's necessary and suitable. Schedule would be 12 on 12 off, starting around 8am ending 8pm?
  • Temperature - Aiming for 27 basking and rest of the cage woul be ambient temp, around 23 at summer. At nights depends on day, but it goes down to 20-22 if it's not during some crazy heatwave. Planning to use digital thermometer with humidity meter as well.
  • Humidity - Aiming for some 50% humidity as it should be okay for veiled juvenile (not baby), maintained by humidifier in the room overall to maintain ambient humidity and a mister with dipper as well. Measurment done by digital humidity meter combined with thermometer.
  • Plants - Definitely live ones, nothing exotic probably some photos, large leaf plant, something crawly to go up one corner of the cage to some extend and some brighter green to change the colors a bit. Maybe low maintance colorful leaf plant too. Planning to use one corner to put most of my plants and create walkways for him to hide behind them as well.
  • Placement - Probably will put it in a corner so only 2 sides will be revealed for his safety feeling, not sure yet as i do not know how my flat will exactly look like. Probably going to cover 2 walls with plant matter anyway. Not planning to have AC as its not commonly used here and is quite expensive for me, maybe some standing and desk fans but nothing aimed at the cage itself. Will try to find some quieter area where maybe i sit but i dont walk a lot, around work desk or something. Will be elevated so that top of the cage is a bit higher than me (186cm), probably aim for the basking spot to be in my eye level or so.
  • Location - Slovakia, middle Europe. Mild climate, some summer swings from time to time but nothing crazy.
I have to run my daughter to her senior registration day. When I get back home I will go through everything and give you resources as well.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
Sorry for the delay. Have kids they said.... It will be fun they said :LOL:

Ok so see my feedback in bold

Chameleon Info:

  • Your Chameleon - Veiled, male, and probably juvenile as most of the sold ones here are around 4-5 months. I do not have it yet, this all is planning phase only and research first
  • Handling - I will try to bond with him gradually as much as possible without stressing him out, first get him comfy with feeding overall and my presence there while providing food into bowl, then being there while he's eating, then slowly try tweezer feeding and then hand feeding. Ideally i want him to climb for food at my hand at last, after months of the strategy i just said. Hopefully this way it wont be that stressful to him and he will get used to it. Of course i want him to leave the cage on my hand willingly and wont pull him or anything. Read my blog it can help. No tweezer feeding... IF they hit the tongs instead they can injure their tongue. Hand feed only when trust building. https://www.chameleonforums.com/blogs/building-trust-with-your-chameleon.2396/
  • Feeding - Planning to go with dubia roaches i'll breed myself. Amounts unknown yet, but once adult maybe like 3 roaches a day or 4 every other day? I would like to gutload roaches in sepparate little container with mostly water fruits like watermelon, oranges etc.. but some greens too. So you will need to feed more than roaches. They are a great staple but should not be the only feeder. See gutload image below. You want the base to be mostly greens. Now for feeding amounts. With a 4-5 month old you are feeding them as many as they want every day. This can mean 2 dozen small feeders every day. Once they hit the 9 month mark they tend to curb back on their own to roughly a dozen a day. I take my males down from there starting around the 10 month mark to the same amount every other day. Slowly reducing them to be on 3-4 feeders every other day by 12 months old. Watching the casque size because some need to be taken to 3 days a week only so they do not get fat.
  • Supplements - Planning to dust with Repti-Zoo pure Calcium every or every other feeding and with Multivitamin from the same brand containing mostly D3 and A, but other vitamins as well. Multivitamin about twice a month? So this is not a brand I am familiar with in the US. can you give me links to the two you are thinking about getting? You want a phosphorus free calcium without D3 for your everyday feedings then you want a calcium with D3 and A (multivitamin) for 2 times a month say the 1st and the 15th.
  • Watering - Would like to mist before lights go on and shortly before they go off for humid night. Also dripper mid-day and add more if he will show too big interest in drinking that. Maybe include one or two shot glasses too just to add one more drinking option for him,of course cchage the water regularly. So with this.... Some chams will only drink when they see moving water. I prefer to mist 15 minutes after the lights kick on when the cham is up and moving and then when the cage starts cooling down in late afternoon and evening I mist as well. I would recommend getting an automatic misting system as some chams do not tolerate hand misting. Now misting length should be at least 2 minutes long or longer depending on your ambient humidity levels. A plastic cup with tiny pin holes in the bottom set on top of the cage then add ice cubes will provide a slow drip as well during the day. Hydration is very important for chams. They can suffer long term effects such as renal issues and gout from improper hydration.
  • Fecal Description - Aiming for hydrated poop and slightly orangey pee as far as i know? So your looking for no more than 50% of the urate to be orange to be considered hydrated still.
  • History - Not yet, only bright future!

Cage Info:

  • Cage Type - None yet, planned above in main thread post.
  • Lighting - Planning to go with regular household 100W bulb in some 19cm dome plugged to a dimmer to adjust temps. For UVB probably T8 10.0 or some stronger equiv, not decided yet, DIY reflector probably. For plant light i was thinking about LED flood light with 50W and 4000lm, not sure though if it's necessary and suitable. Schedule would be 12 on 12 off, starting around 8am ending 8pm? We spoke about this. I still prefer the T5HO fixture and 6% bulb for UVB. Dimming the 100 watt bulb. and make sure it is not a focused heat bulb or a spot heat bulb.
  • Temperature - Aiming for 27 basking and rest of the cage woul be ambient temp, around 23 at summer. At nights depends on day, but it goes down to 20-22 if it's not during some crazy heatwave. Planning to use digital thermometer with humidity meter as well. Really need a temp drop at night down to at leat 18 or 19c.
  • Humidity - Aiming for some 50% humidity as it should be okay for veiled juvenile (not baby), maintained by humidifier in the room overall to maintain ambient humidity and a mister with dipper as well. Measurment done by digital humidity meter combined with thermometer. 40% Daytime humidity is good. I would not let it exceed much over 55% consistent level. spiking and then dropping is good. And when you build your cage make sure the front and the top are screen. They need the airflow.
  • Plants - Definitely live ones, nothing exotic probably some photos, large leaf plant, something crawly to go up one corner of the cage to some extend and some brighter green to change the colors a bit. Maybe low maintance colorful leaf plant too. Planning to use one corner to put most of my plants and create walkways for him to hide behind them as well. See the image below for plants... You want to use the veiled tested plants only since they eat their plants. They will also go after the dirt so make sure it is organic dirt. Consider covering the top of the dirt with 1 inch or larger stones to keep the cham from eating it.
  • Placement - Probably will put it in a corner so only 2 sides will be revealed for his safety feeling, not sure yet as i do not know how my flat will exactly look like. Probably going to cover 2 walls with plant matter anyway. Not planning to have AC as its not commonly used here and is quite expensive for me, maybe some standing and desk fans but nothing aimed at the cage itself. Will try to find some quieter area where maybe i sit but i dont walk a lot, around work desk or something. Will be elevated so that top of the cage is a bit higher than me (186cm), probably aim for the basking spot to be in my eye level or so. Sounds good. Just make sure your ambient temps are suitable. Adding lighting adds heat. Basking should be no lower than eye level. They like being higher than everyone else. Note babies will screen climb... This becomes a concern when it comes to the lighting on the top of the cage. Due to this we have to lift the lights up and off the cage certain distances to avoid thermal burns and exposure to UVB levels that are too strong.
  • Location - Slovakia, middle Europe. Mild climate, some summer swings from time to time but nothing crazy.
This is a great accurate site https://chameleonacademy.com/

chameleon-gutload.jpg
chameleon-food(1).jpg
Screen Shot 2022-06-27 at 11.41.38 AM.png
 

ChameLeon_

Member
@Beman Allright then, thanks for all the feedback and advice! So for feeding, no tweezers, got it. Thank you for feeding schedule, and i am planning to be buying some other food here and there too, not strictly roaches only, so I'll try to provide as much variety as i can without breaking a bank.

For food supplements, the brand is Repti Planet and i couldn't find some English sites for you to read. Basically the Calcium should contain pure calcium carbonate, and the multivitamin has calcium too, D3 and vitamins like vitamin A, C, E, B1, B2, B6, B12 and some minerals as well. The dosages you said were on my list too, thanks for confirming that!


For watering i would try misting before lights on, and if the poop will show dehydration I'll move the mist after lights. Also the for the dripper i will use my gf's empty protein bottle which is fairly large, drill a drip valve and glue it in and then tube it where i want it to drop slowly, adjusting drop intervals with valve.

About the UVB I'll still have to check that, and for heat it will be basic bulb, nothing spot or anything like that.

For the temps I'll try to get it as low as possible, we will see once i move to the new place and see temps and everything there. Thanks for the dirt trick as well, I'll choose safe plants only for sure!

Great to hear that I wasn't that much off the ideal care, I'll make the necessary changes and implement them once i get to building it! Thanks again :)
 
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