Good starter species and other questions?


New Member
My wife and I are looking inot getting a chameleon. I have been researching and getting more and more excited about it. I live in Colorado however and the selection is very poor here. In fact I went to a local petstore that has (veiled, jackson's and fischer) the other day but they all looked very sickly and the store only has a 48 hour policy. Very sketchy!!! Anyway I thought I would start trying to pick some of your brains for either a better store in Colorado or a breeder that you have recieved your chameleons from. We are both very responsible I have done a lot of expereince with bird, fish and amphibian husbandry and my wife is in her senior year in vet school. So we would be great chameleon owners. Also any tips for making a cage or saving moolah are much appreciated.

Cages can be rather easily constructed from window screen framing (cut to size), they sell L end pieces (avoiding miter cuts), rubber splines, and screening. Build each side and attach with small screws. Hardware can be bought for the doors.

A couple of things about screening.

Fiberglass constructed screening looks great. Over time it will shred apart and can become londged in feet and toes of chameleons. Bugs can chew through fiberglass rather easily.

Aluminum screening is better but still has big problems. It is hard and can trap large (adult) chameleon toe nails. When they try to dislodge them they can break off. This can lead to complication depending on how it breaks. Insects could get through this but it is very unlikely. This can be used on juvinilles with no worries. Their nails are not big enough. I have found this before in a coated variety before and it would be pretty safe. You can use this with adults but hole sizing is crucial.

Polyester coated with vinly. It is a little darker as far a visibility goes. It comes with nice sized holes and is flexible. I have posted something on this semi recently and the point that it could be a fire hazard under a heat lamp was brought up. You could just use aluminum on the top it would be safe and light up the cage better for visibility. I could be chewed through.

These are the only ones available in my area. Pieces could be bought at Lowe's, Home Depot, and some peices at Walmart. A tub for motar could be bought for a bottom, with wood framing around to stabilize the tub, a hole cut in the bottom for drainage, a drain cover (with small holes), a bucket to catch water, and the screening part could just rest on top. You could also build around the frame to hide the bucket and give it more of a counter look. The bottom could be constructed from thin 1/8 pvc plastic and use paper towels to soak up the mess. I have seen some one use a dryer piece in here. Some people use real substrate and still isolate the plants from the rest of the substrate if matianance is required to the plant. A substrate recommendation is "ify" with a lot of people.

I personally like veileds. Panthers are not bad for beginners. There is a huge price differences. There are a couple links at the top of the home page with breeders.
Chameleon Breeder

I have experience with panthers and veiled chameleons, and I definitely prefer CB panthers. Panthers are much more expensive than veileds, but in my opinion are worth the money. They are smarter, more gentle and the males show the most amazing colors. Veileds are fascinating to watch and I like that they are lower maintenance but they can get grumpy and agressive as adults.

One of my favorite breeders is "Amazing Blue Reptiles". Their prices tend to be a little cheaper with matched quality to the more expensive breeders. I bought my female Picasso from them and she has produced some gorgeous offspring. Not to mention that she is the sweetest chameleon I have. Friendly, gentle, clean and smart.


That's a good question and I guess I have to take that one back. I don't know if my female panther is smart, all I know is that she does things that I like and I trust her judgement. She's careful in what she does. When I offer her food, she carefully takes it from me. When I offer to carry her, she carefully walks on my hand. When I put her back in her cage, she carefully walks back into her cage. She poops in a place that is easy for me to clean. When she lays her eggs, she digs her nest and covers up the site so neatly that I can't even tell she's been there.

This is in contrast to my female veiled, who makes a huge mess when she lays her eggs. And when I offer her food, she'll get so excited that she'll fall off branches trying to get to it. Once I was trying to feed her a silk worm and she shot at it so quickly she missed the worm and her tongue got stuck on my hand and she walked up and bit me. :eek: Normally she's a great shot, but I don't trust her anymore. When I try to remove her from her cage, she hisses and runs from me and if I pursue her she'll strike.

:rolleyes: I guess when I add all that up, I should just say that my panther is careful and my veiled is not.

Thanks for keeping me honest.
Thank you guys so much for your help. I am leaning more toward a panther. The veileds sound like they get a little too tempermental when they get older- I am not sure that is something I want to deal with as of yet. What is the frame made of wood and what kind (not pine im sure)? What do you use to attach the screen to the frame (screws, staples)? The drain sounds like a great idea. I have heard of using moss as a substrate- just to cover the bottom is that a possible health hazzard? Let me know.
I may not be on here again for a couple of days I am going to go do some wetlands/riparian delineation so I will be away from computers. Thanx a lot again. It is refreshing to have found a site with people who actually care and are concerned about proper care!

The screening talked about earlyer is for your windows, I beleive they are aluminum. You can buy kits to make the screen a custom size. This would use the frame and brackets to make the square screen. You would then use screen material and the rubber and wheel to install the screen into the groves.
You can also do a Wood Frame. I used pine for my Frame work and then stapled 1/8" hardware cloth to the frame.
Substrate is not recomended. I personally went a diffrent route. I have the substrate sytem described above. The potted plants are buried in the substrate (Organic Soil) and covered with Sphagnm Moss. I have not heard of any ill effects of using this moss, however I may be wrong. Like I said THIS IS NOT RECOMENDED. I use this as a personal choice, I have not had any ill effects from it YET. This doesnt mean something bad could happen, it just hasnt yet.

Make sure you make educated decisions on what ever you do and buy. Good Luck

I don't like using any substrate. I line the bottom with newspaper. Easier to keep an eye on their fecal matter. Easier to keep clean also.
I think Im gonna make a mesh floor with a bucket beneath built into the from to catch it. Thanks for the great ideas.
Mesh floors are incredibly difficult to clean up. The poop makes a mess on it. Leaves falling on it get stuck in it. I personally will avoid mesh bottom cages from now on. I still dispise the few I have now.
They sell really thin pvc plastic at alot of places. Depending on the actual size of the enclousure maybe a storage bin lid. It could be secured to the cage and a hole for drainage. Some of the designs already have slopes to them and could dispose of the water pretty quickly. You would have to look around on that idea to see if anything catches your eye and is workable. I have seen people attach plastic bottoms with a slight slant and use a gutter peice to dipose of the water in to the bucket. You could buy a shower bottom and build the cage around that. These are kind of pricey at times. Perhaps at a salvage yard. I have seen alot of shower designs the last time I was in Home Depot that where all fiberglass and came in sections. Do not instantly be scared away by the sticker. You have the option to just buy the bottom. You can also buy utility sinks for around $35-50. These are hard plastic and usually white. Again you would have to design the rest of the cage on those measurements. The appealing part is they are sloped to the drain and usually have the drain and adaptor piece for the sink included. You could then just put a bucket underneath that. They also sell garage shelving. It is hard plastic and is capable of holding tremedous weight. They sell these usually in 4 to 5 levels. You could build the whole cage around one of these omiting the top couple of shelves where the chameleon is to be kept. With the first and second shelves in place you can put a hole throught the bottom of the second shelf and the bucket on the first shelf. This would only work if the shelving was solid not the holey kind. The four holes that would be present on the inside of the cage could be covered with the top caps so that nothing could escape. These are very sturdy and cheap. The usually only come in depths of 14" to 18" which is the least appealing part. I have seen them in 24" but that was before I had the idea now I cannot find them around. You maybe able to in your area. If you use a solid mesh bottom you can use a garden type mister, turn the nozzle to a straight stream and just blow it off into the bucket.
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