Getting ready to take the plunge

Gordo

New Member
Hey everyone, I'm getting ready to purchase my first Veiled Chameleon in the next few weeks but before I do that I wanted to run past you what I plan on doing and I'm hoping you can set me straight if my research has lead me to some wrong conclusions. Here goes.

Chameleon:

I'm looking for a 4 - 6 month old male Veiled Chameleon. I have found an excellent breeder in the Ottawa area that I'm going to purchase one from.

Cage:

This will be a home made one. The dimensions will be approx. 27" X 30" X 60". There will also be a cabinet that this will sit on, but for now I'm planning to have it sit on my office desk.

Question(s): Is this too big of an enclosure to start with? Should I be concerned with the type of stain or clear coat that I use? Is chicken wire most commonly used or is there a decent mesh screen available?

Lights:

1 - 24" Repti Glo 5.0
1 - Sun Glo 100W (Tight Beam Basking spot lamp)

Based on the dimensions of the enclosure is this too little light? I was debating on adding another 24" fixture and a Repti Glo 2.0, but I'm worried it will be overkill.

Plants:

This is where I've read so much contradictory information. Many sites say only go with fake plants, while just as many other say go with real plants. My biggest concern is the pesticides that would be used on live plants.

Question: Live or fake?

Substrate:

I've seen quite a few setups and the one thing I've noticed is alot of them don't have any substrate on the bottom. I was planning on purchasing forest bark and putting that on the bottom of the enclosure.

Question: Make sure I have substrate or don't put any in? Also can that substrate get wet?

Food:

My plan is to make sure that I vary his diet as much as possible. The plan is to have crickets as his staple, bit to add silk worms, butter worms, and meal worms throughout the week. My plan is to feed him approx 3 - 4 times a week. My breeder has some supplements that he suggested (I can't find my notes right now) that I will post once I find my notes.

Question: I've been told you can't over feed. Is this true? Should I be adding anything else to his diet?

Misting:

My plan is to purchase a misting system. I checked some of the local pet stores and they suggested a waterfall instead of a misting system. I've also called a couple of hydroponics stores and they sell fogging system as well as misting systems.

Question: What is the best way to go? Misting, fogging or waterfall?

Misc Items:

I plan on making sure that the enclosure has lots of hanging vines, branches and hiding spots for this little fella. I also say some enclosure that had some rock type formations on the walls of the enclosures. I assumed these were homemade or perhaps they were pieces of bark like I saw in the local pet store.

Question: Is there anything else I should add to the enclosure?

Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. I would like to try and avoid any rookie mistakes as much as possible. Thanks.

Gordo
 

Jordan

New Member
Chameleon:

I'm looking for a 4 - 6 month old male Veiled Chameleon. I have found an excellent breeder in the Ottawa area that I'm going to purchase one from.

Good age range to look for, and species for a first time chameleon owner.

Cage:

This will be a home made one. The dimensions will be approx. 27" X 30" X 60". There will also be a cabinet that this will sit on, but for now I'm planning to have it sit on my office desk.

Question(s): Is this too big of an enclosure to start with? Should I be concerned with the type of stain or clear coat that I use? Is chicken wire most commonly used or is there a decent mesh screen available?

Yeah I would say that is a little to big to start with for a 4 month old. Now a 6 month old with good size could probably handle that okay. Not really to good a of cage builder I am sure someone can give you better answers on specifics.

Lights:

1 - 24" Repti Glo 5.0
1 - Sun Glo 100W (Tight Beam Basking spot lamp)

Based on the dimensions of the enclosure is this too little light? I was debating on adding another 24" fixture and a Repti Glo 2.0, but I'm worried it will be overkill.

Honestly, I do not like the tight beams. They do not seem to spread the heat around well. Normal incandescents heat better and give a nice gradiant away from the dome reflector. With a 60" tall enclosure you may need more then that or a different method perhaps one or two wall to cut off some of the heat lose. As far as another 2.0, no that is not over kill at all. Really I would suggest adding another 5.0. This would still not come close to the output of the sun so do not sweat that.

Plants:

This is where I've read so much contradictory information. Many sites say only go with fake plants, while just as many other say go with real plants. My biggest concern is the pesticides that would be used on live plants.

Question: Live or fake?

Live,live, live. Veileds will eat vegatation. On top of that you are talking about a huge enclosure. The bigger the cage the harder it will be to maintain humidity, the real plants will help this. I would suggest Schefferella Abricola, look for it by this name. It has relatives that are toxic. The abricola as rounded leaves and yellow. I will post a picture if you want to see what they look like. Additions like pothos will help fill in bare spots and it grows quick.

Substrate:

I've seen quite a few setups and the one thing I've noticed is alot of them don't have any substrate on the bottom. I was planning on purchasing forest bark and putting that on the bottom of the enclosure. Washing plants well with soap and water will remove pesticides.

Question: Make sure I have substrate or don't put any in? Also can that substrate get wet?

Yes, you could use substrate. For a starter chameleon owner you will have enough on your plate so I would say away from it. This will just minimize some risk and save you time on cleaning. With the potting soil you will want to make sure this is safe. No perlite (white balls), no chemical fertilizers, and try to remove any sticks when repotting them. Chameleons do eat soil from time to time and you do not want them to become impacted.

Food:

My plan is to make sure that I vary his diet as much as possible. The plan is to have crickets as his staple, bit to add silk worms, butter worms, and meal worms throughout the week. My plan is to feed him approx 3 - 4 times a week. My breeder has some supplements that he suggested (I can't find my notes right now) that I will post once I find my notes.

Question: I've been told you can't over feed. Is this true? Should I be adding anything else to his diet?

I would throw some superworms in there before meal worms. I use Rep-Cal phosphorus-free powder with vitamin D3 and rep-cal multivitamin. How much will depend on age. You can also catch some moths, grasshoppers, locust once he gets bigger.

Misting:

My plan is to purchase a misting system. I checked some of the local pet stores and they suggested a waterfall instead of a misting system. I've also called a couple of hydroponics stores and they sell fogging system as well as misting systems.

Question: What is the best way to go? Misting, fogging or waterfall?

Misting with hot water. Waterfalls tend only to get used to take a crap in for most chameleons as they do love target practice for some reason. There have been some recent threads on which types are best I would research there on making a descision.

Misc Items:

I plan on making sure that the enclosure has lots of hanging vines, branches and hiding spots for this little fella. I also say some enclosure that had some rock type formations on the walls of the enclosures. I assumed these were homemade or perhaps they were pieces of bark like I saw in the local pet store.

Question: Is there anything else I should add to the enclosure?

This type of stuff is mainly decorations. These methods are commonly used when setting up dart frog terrariums. There are a couple how toos in here if you are interested.


Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. I would like to try and avoid any rookie mistakes as much as possible. Thanks.

Gordo
I forgot how to make this look right when using quotes. Oh well.
 

Stuey!

New Member
welcome to the forums gordo!

good idea getting a veiled, they r best for beginers because they can take wide ranges of temperatures.

u should use live plants. u can use fake vines hanging down the sides but i prefer to use live plants.

make sure tho that u clean any plant thuroughly because pesticides and fertilizers can poison ur cham.

its best not to use substrate. if they swallow a big enough piece they could die.
you should mist ur cham. standing water can atract bacteria.

i dont think u should use 100wat light bulb, i used a 75 wat and it got 100+ degrees in the cage

yea u cant overfeed as it can cause some problems like overwieght cham, with females they will lay to many eggs.
 
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Heika

New Member
Hi Gordo,

Welcome to the forums.

The cage you are talking about would probably be alright for a 6 month old veiled, but anything younger than that it would be better to get a smaller enclosure first. This is mainly so the little guy can find his food easier.

I used water based Thompson waterseal on my cage. It has worked out great.

Chicken wire and hardware cloth are both dangerous IMO, mainly due to the fact that they are both coated in zinc galvanizing. Zinc produces a white rust, and when ingested, can lead to low level zinc poisoning. Considering that a chameleon's cage should be wet and humid, this isn't the best combination. There are several good options for screening. Aluminum window screen is used pretty commonly. The drawback is that chameleons can get their toes stuck in them. Positive is that it is easy to see through and crickets can't chew through it. Another option is plastic coated hardware cloth. The disadvantage of this is that it doesn't seem to come in mesh smaller than 1/4" and you will lose some of your bugs through the mesh unless you cup feed. Another option is shade cloth or pet screen. The disadvantages of this are visability and that crickets can chew through it. I used a black plastic mesh made for fish ponds on my panther's cage, and have been very happy with it. It is 1/8" and even bluebottle flies can't get out of it. It is soft on the feet and, while it doesn't offer complete visibility like aluminum screen, it is still easy to see through.

I prefer the Zoomed Reptisun 5.0 for my cages. You can take a look at this page and see why: http://www.uvguide.co.uk/fluorescenttuberesults.htm

The basking lamp you are looking at is fine, but so is a regular 75 watt house bulb. It just needs to produce heat. You may find that the 100 watt is too much heat. Chameleons aren't always real good about moving themselves away from a light when they are burning, and so you want to make sure the basking temperatures can't harm your animal. BTW.. if you decide to use the plastic mesh I was talking about, the heat lamp will warp the plastic mesh. I finally replaced mine with aluminum a while back.

Live plants help to filter the air and also hold moisture that will increase your humidity. I am not too keen on fake plants.. maybe someone else can help you out with that. As far as pesticides go, when I put a new plant in my chameleon's cages, I wash it in the bathtub with dishsoap. I also dump the soil, rinse the roots, and then repot it in organic, clean soil that doesn't have any fertilizers in it. This also helps to cut down on things like millipedes and gnats that tend to live in the soil on houseplants.

Substrate can be dangerous. Feeders hide in it and your chameleon can accidently ingest it leading to impaction. I don't use any. I like a plain plastic surface with a drain installed. If your chameleon stays healthy, he won't be on the floor of the cage much anyhow.

Variety is a good food plan. One thing that is just as important as the variety of feeders you feed is a good gutload. http://www.wildeyereptiles.com and http://www.cricketfood.com/http://www.wildeyereptiles.com both sell a high quality one. Adcham also has a recipe if you feel industrious: http://www.adcham.com/html/husbandry/gutload.html

Chameleons tend to aim their poo at waterfalls, and feeders tend to drown in them. Unless you are willing to clean it at least once a day, I would skip the waterfall. They are great bacteria breeders and are just asking for trouble. Foggers aren't as effective as misting systems. There are lots of good options for misting systems, though. The Rainmaker I and the Promist seem to be the most popular choices. I use a DIY misting system that I built using a garden sprayer. That said, I am going to upgrade to the Promist PM-70 here shortly because I am expanding my collection. Watch out.. chameleons are addicting, and pretty soon you may have a house full. One thing you haven't addressed is how you plan to keep your cage drained. This is a subject that needs serious consideration. It gets really old using a syphon to pull water out of a cage bottom. Since standing water breeds bacteria, it is also imprerative for the health of your chameleon to get that water out of the cage bottom. Here is a good article on making drains for your cage: http://www.chameleonnews.com/watering.html Check out the drains on this rack system.. pretty cool stuff.. I plan to give this a shot on my next cages: http://www.chameleonnews.com/diycage.html

There are lots of ways to make a good chameleon cage, and if you decide to go with a rock wall etc. just make sure that your cage still offers good air flow. A lot of Europeans use vivariums with their chameleons and have good success with them as well. Regardless of what caging method you choose, make sure you do lots of research and know what the advantages and disadvanteges will be so you can look for health issues in your chameleon.

Good luck and keep us up to date!

Heika
 
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hybrid

New Member
Great post H!!!!

I built mine after reading alot of the posts here! I can say Im pretty happy with them and I know that my next ones will be even better!
 

Gordo

New Member
Man this is stellar information! Thanks so much. One of the troubles I'm running into is finding some of the products listed. I'm wondering if I should buy a smaller cage and then upgrade into the new structure once he is a little older (advantage is now I would have 2 cages, see where this is going :D ) or perhaps getting an older one instead. So many decisions. I like the idea of the live plants and the good news is my wife definetly has a green thumb. Has anyone from Canada found it hard to find good plants in the winter? I went to home depot today and their selection was great.

Gordo
 

Gordo

New Member
Yes I have another question. Does anyone out here use mercury vapor (metal halide) lighting in their setup? I was reading that you can use one of these systems for not only a heat light but it also replaces your reptiglo 5.0 light. I used to use metal halide lights in my aquarium business for the reef aquariums and they were awesome.

Gordo
 

Jordan

New Member
Now "Zoo Med" sells some mercury vapor bulbs with the idea of the all in one purpose light. The are called "Power Sun" I believe. Now I have never used any but one of my friends does (I believe several other members on here do to). They have two one 100w and the other 160w. These will have a little to much heat build up at times but nothing you can not work around with some tinkering. Elevating it higher off the cage or an angled mount. I am sure someone else in here could tell you more that has messed with these products. They sell for $30-45 from what I have seen and have a one year warranty. I believe that the link that Heika provided has a section of interest on these lights to. May have to look around the site for a minute to find it.

Now whether you want to get a smaller cage and work the chameleon into a bigger one is really going to depend on size, or at least that is my opinion. At 4-6 months you can have some substainal size differences. Say something like a veiled with an overall length of 8", I would put in a cage maybe 20"x12"x18". Say one in the 10-15" range a cage 30"x30"x18". Any large the standard 24"x24"x48" or bigger will suffice. Really though with them being half grown skipping the medium cage can be done, I suppose. These are just kind of opinionated examples.
 
I'm on my way to work, so I don't have time to post qa lengthy reply, but I'll catch up with your conversation later gordo.

Jordan, just a note that the MV bulbs and also the newer Halogen bulbs are built so that they shutoff if the bulb is tilted to the side at all- thus making angled mounts unlikely. Also, recently MV have been offered at lower wattages aswell, 60, 75, 100, 150, 200, 250.
 

Stuey!

New Member
who would use a 250 wat bulb? that probobly gets up to at the most 300 degrees. except zoo's with big cages or some animal from hell
 

Gordo

New Member
I'm on my way to work, so I don't have time to post qa lengthy reply, but I'll catch up with your conversation later gordo.

Jordan, just a note that the MV bulbs and also the newer Halogen bulbs are built so that they shutoff if the bulb is tilted to the side at all- thus making angled mounts unlikely. Also, recently MV have been offered at lower wattages aswell, 60, 75, 100, 150, 200, 250.
I checked with a local supplier today and they stock 100W, 160W. If I want to go higher (or lower for that matter) they are special order which takes about 2 business days to get in. I'm starting to lean towards this style of lighting for ease of use (1 bulb does it all). There is some pretty good debate over the UVB content in Mercury Vapor vs fluorescent vs Incandescent. I thought this was only in the aquarium trade for K ratings. Makes me believe there really is no wrong answer (much like the aquarium trade). I can't thank everyone enough for their advice and experiences. I'm getting ever so closer to making my final plans.

I did settle on my style of enclosure (Thanks Heika for your design). I will be going to my local building center to purchase the lumber on Saturday. I start my holidays tomorrow @ 3:00 PM EST (not that I'm counting) and my plan is to have the enclosure built and ready for its new owner by next weekend.

I'll start another thread with pics if I can figure out how to post them of my build. Please keep the advice coming. So far I have changed my mind on a few things based on everyones advice. Thanks so much.

Gordo
 

Jordan

New Member
Will I did not know that. I have heard this before some where and perhaps some one could clear this up for me. Do these types of lights produce UVC?
 
who would use a 250 wat bulb? that probobly gets up to at the most 300 degrees. except zoo's with big cages or some animal from hell
They really don't get that hot... and they are meant to be used slightly farther away from the basking points. Useful for reptiles like Monitors, Uromastyx, Tortoises, desert species etc.
 

Stuey!

New Member
i got a 75 watt bulb fmro them and it got up to 125 degrees. im pretty sure it would get around there. unless i read the name wrong witch i somtimes do :eek:
 
Will I did not know that. I have heard this before some where and perhaps some one could clear this up for me. Do these types of lights produce UVC?
No worries. Just an FYI.


As to you query, can't anser for sure, but they do not produce any largely measurable amount of UVC wavelengths to my knowledge. The more intense Metal Halides may produce slightly more...


i got a 75 watt bulb fmro them and it got up to 125 degrees. im pretty sure it would get around there. unless i read the name wrong witch i somtimes do :eek:
Well it definitely depends you ambient temperatures...
...but you're missing the point Stu...
The determining factor is the distance that the basking point (and thermometer) is away from the bulb.
If you scanned the temperature of the filament of a 75watt bulb, it would be more than a couple hundred degrees, however, it just wouldn't radiate the heat as far as a higher wattage bulb would.
 
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