Has any one ever used live moss as a base/flooring for their cham cage?

mary prefontaine

New Member
I'm In the process of having a custom wood and screen cage built and sent here in about 6 weeks, (where by the way, I will be looking for either one nice young colorful male or a unrelated young and handsome pair of panthers to buy!!)
Anyhow I was wondering about how to make this nice cage look as natural as possible and wanted to know if anyone can think of any reasons for why I should NOT use a nice moss as flooring along the bottom of the whole cage.
I'm kind of picturing using like a piece of either plastic sheet, vinyl or landscape mesh for the bottom liner, then putting a layer of rich black soil to lay a nice flat layer of moss on top of, then of course adding a few ferns as well as a nice climbing ficus tree and pothos hanging from the top along with vines of course.
Im figuring by the time I use the misters and drip systems that should keep the moss moist enough and then I'm not sure if the chameleons lighting needs would be enough to keep the moss alive and healthy, but also figure the droppings would act as a fertilizer for the moss and yet easy to collect a dropping from if needed for vet checks. But ill probably be able to collect that from the tree leaves as well.
Im hoping it would make for a nice flooring as i never heard of anyone trying this before and cant picture how it would hurt the chameleon seeing as they rarely, if ever go on the ground and bugs/feeders I can always use a cup feeding system if needed.
The cage itself will be a 40"Lx48"Hx18"W and have a solid wood divider in between the center if I choose to use it for a pair, or can be removed for more room, if I only have a single chameleon.
Please feel free to leave posts on this idea if for any reason you feel this would not work.
thanks
mary
 

Meow Kitty

New Member
i read some where that moss isnt good since they can eat it and its not good for them it causes like impaction or somthing avoid substrate and poisonous plants other wise your set up sounds perfect
 

EvilLost

New Member
it depends on the species you get (both of chameleon and of the moss)


as a whole, i dont see why it woudl be an issue with panthers since they dont tend to eat their greens; veiled on the other hand, are much more likley to munch away.


I don't know what exactly you mean when you say you are having a wood and screen cage built for you. These are things you really need to ask the designer, to be honest.

How is the floor of your cage laid out? Will you get proper drainage? Many mosses require highly moist soil....

as for your other plants, pothos ficus and ferns should all be fine. I dont know your level of skill in this area, but (ESP if you are setting up a misting/automated watering system) you must take care in the LOCATIONS in which you plant these. Many ferns need to be kept pretty moist, while you can drown out other plants by keeping them too wet (esp true with airplants, they need to fully dry out between waterings).


The things you listed should all work fine, but to some extent it does depend on your planting arrangement (for how well your plants will thrive) and your cage design in terms of the floor/drainage setup.


Lastly, in terms of lighting, since your cage is 48" tall your lights will almost guaranteed not penetrate to the bottom of your enclosure sufficiently to grow that moss. I have personally encountered this problem in an 8' tall enclosure I am building and have solved it by installing a landscaping light in the wall for supplemental lighting on my ground floor...but if you do this make sure you use something waterproof!

I'm not sure what "rich black soil" is but I would highly recommend sticking to clean, pure soils commonly used in dart frog and other viv setups as opposed to chemical/fertilizer heavy soils for outdoor or potted plants. I use a coco coir/peat moss/sand mix myself and add various springtails/bugs for microfauna.
 

mary prefontaine

New Member
Thanks for you're responses

Well what I mean by wood/screen enclosure is that it will be a wood framed cage (stained and probably varnished, by professionals who build for these animals all the time) with screening all the way around it.
I am indeed thinking of getting a panther chameleon and I'm speaking to a moss expert now, who happened to have had a chameleon as a child herself, so I think she may know which moss should work best in this particular situation. (but before ordering any moss I will do as you suggest and check to see if it could even possibly be harmful to my new chameleon.
I explained that it would be a wood flooring and would have to use a plastic as a base before the soil goes on in order to protect the wood and then, she suggested a carpet type moss, that grows by spreading across, rather than up.
As far as drainage for the water goes, I would think between the moss (3'.5"x18") and the plants, they should be able to absorb most of the water without drowning as long as I don't over mist or create too much dripping. I will do more research on how long and frequent the mister needs to be on for the panther, and ask the moss lady how much dripping/misting, the moss should be able to absorb. And consider having the dripping water end up in a catch pan that can be emptied every day or on one of the larger plants that can tolerate being watered daily.
I mean are we talking gallons of water throughout the day or maybe a cup or two? I'm pretty sure with all the lushness That I will have in there, It's possible I wont even have enough water to maintain it all.
Either way, I would like to try both a misting system and a drip system combined to give the chameleon an opportunity to choose which way he wants to drink, then decide the water plan, this should allow the moss, and plants to get plenty of needed moisture. The cage will be 48" high and about 42"long by 18"wide if i keep one.
I can also look as I will have a hygrometer/thermometer in there to be sure he's not getting too much or too little humidity. The cage will also come with a SOLID wood divider, in case I wanted to try to keep a pair, which can also be removed, but I don't know if that would be enough room? 21 inches across?
I can avoid bringing any climbing vines near the bottom, which would discourage the chameleon from wanting to get on the moss itself. And if I choose to use a feeding cup, there should be no reason for the chameleon to go to the floor to feed. The droppings should be easily picked up off the moss, or plant leaves for vet checks and yet also act as a fertilizer for the moss if they hit the ground.
I'm pretty sure, where the panthers come from (Madagascar), there must be moss on the ground in their rainforest, so this should be a pretty natural setting for him.
I do have experience with a panther male a few years back, that I had for about a year, who was extremely healthy (per my vet). Unfortunately due to my financial problems I had back in those days, I had to sell him. But I really miss having had him, and I'm ready to get another one, without money issues this time. And I would love to create a real natural setting for both of us to enjoy!
Did I cover everything? LOL If not , feel free to keep up the suggestions, I want to do this right and its been a couple of:D years for me!
 

ferretinmyshoes

Veterinarian
Staff member
You will not have success with live moss. I've tried it, does not work. Mosses need about 100% humidity, which is not suitable for a chameleon. It will look green for a week or two and promptly die. You will have a nice brown layer of carpet when it dies so if that's what you're looking for go for it! I wish it would work, it would look so cool. Unfortunately mosses have different environmental requirements than our chams and it's not meant to be. Trust me...I've tried several different mosses in my pygmy habitats (more suitable with higher humidity and lower temps) and nothing stays alive. The dart frog people laughed at me for trying in a cage that wasn't fully enclosed because they need it to be as humid as humid gets. No amount of misting will suffice.
 

Zen Reptiles

Avid Member
You'll need the right lighting (not just UVB), and an automatic misting system.

You want about 5500-6400 K color temperature and a CRI of 85-95.

Top 3/4 screen, bottom 1/4 glass might help keep the humidity where you want it.

Hydroton clay pellets on the bottom, moss on top. The moss will grow on the hydroton.

Seed with tropical sow bugs, springtails, and whatever other little bugs you want, and they will take care of the poop pretty quickly for you.

Doing it right would be more sanitary and less work for you. But, that's doing it right.

The chameleon poop and bugs will be enough to keep your moss alive, and frequent MistKing mistings throughout the day will help keep it moist enough to survive.
 

mary prefontaine

New Member
oops forgot something

yes i agree to use the proper soil as would be use if i were raising frogs(which i have lol). and I also will need time to be sure the misting system is set up properly so as you said that all the plants get enough moisture. As far as the lighting condition goes, this is starting to get a little confusing, but, all will be thought about and determine wether I go this route. After talking to the moss grower, she explained that moss would probably not need much more lighting than im using as it generally grows under shade conditions anyway. But i will take all this into consideration before i put my chameleon in there of course. I will check the humidity levels and temps to ensure the panther is getting the right settings prior to bringing one home of course and that the moss/plants will be getting enough moisture as well. I will of course be watching everything carefully once it is set up to ensure all is doing well for quite a while before I become too complacent. Thanks for all this great advice!
 

mary prefontaine

New Member
hmm interesting replies from zen and ferret both!

perhaps the glass base would be a good idea and might work, but yet on the other hand It may be the proper kind of moss that may take better than another. I'll keep all this in mind before I decide, and thanks again for the great responses!! Lots to think about!!
 

ChameleonNerd

New Member
i used the moss once. after about a month i had gnats galore, and i realized that whenever my cham got hungry in between feedings she would munch on it. i don't recommend it.
 

EvilLost

New Member
I have to agree wtih everyone else ehre that although moss grows great in my frog tanks, I have tried and failed many times in my non-90%+ humidity tanks.



I can't really tell by your description; I'd have to see schematics honestly. If you do intend to put moss and keep it alive, you will need to design around it extensively...if someone si building your tank for you, then they should know this ahead of time otherwise they may not be able to incorporate features adn you will have to half-ass it later.

its really impossible to tell you wihtout species and schematics :)

it will be difficult
 

SliK JiM

New Member
Wish I'd got involved earlier!!!

Well, where to begin! Literally! I must confess that i skimmed the other posts! I'm not feeling all that well at the moment!

Anyway, here is a picture of one of my setups:



There are guides floating around about my builds. This is my newest one: https://www.chameleonforums.com/my-latest-build-progress-40191/

I use moss at the bottom of my enclosures (having done so for the last 2 years) and it has worked a treat! I don't know what people do with theirs or what type of moss they use, but the thing to do is go out and forage in from somewhere! Don't take it from trees etc, remove a good chunk of ground lying moss (including the soil it is bedded in) and use this for your enclosure base. I have recently started to put grass seed under the soil and moss so that it grows through and binds it in place. This way it will stay where it is meant to. It is never going to grow like it does naturally and the colour does fade but mine has been fine! I water it once a fortnight directly but other than that it just collects water from various mistings. I regularly have growth in it which needs to be maintained and trimmed but it is never an arduous task.

I have never had much luck with ferns I must confess. Probably because my setup works for the moss it doesn't for the fern! The best thing I used was pothos which grows like wildfire! You can barely see it in this photo but now it has created a good jungle effect (one of the vines is seriously thick, i'd guess 3/4" thick!).

I read Zen's post (in the most part) and agree that it's the other things you add that really help the moss survive. I use earthworms to help keep the nutrients moving and churn the poop around. I also have 3 tube lights...
1 UVB
1 plant growth (can't remember the wavelength and it will take me a while to dig out the box)
1 standard tube (other wise the light looked quite blue!)

I use this approach for both my veiled and panther, neither have had any issues. People will scare monger A LOT but at the end of the day they are wild animals and they will encounter moss and other such things in the wild!

I hope that is useful! Post back any questions!

p.s - I'm in the UK, so i can come across moss pretty quickly, i don't know if you can where you are!
 

EvilLost

New Member
I don't know what people do with theirs or what type of moss they use, but the thing to do is go out and forage in from somewhere! Don't take it from trees etc, remove a good chunk of ground lying moss (including the soil it is bedded in) and use this for your enclosure base.
Are you not afraid of contaminants? Or do you have other cleansing method?

I personally QT all my animals and plants as well as washing all my plants and baking all my sticks....I don't dare stick anything "wild" into my "closed" environments. Although I am more lax on this rule with my free-ranged chams, but I'd never do it to my frogs or pygs

I admit the risk is small, but if something breaks out the results are drastic...
 

SliK JiM

New Member
Are you not afraid of contaminants? Or do you have other cleansing method?

I personally QT all my animals and plants as well as washing all my plants and baking all my sticks....I don't dare stick anything "wild" into my "closed" environments. Although I am more lax on this rule with my free-ranged chams, but I'd never do it to my frogs or pygs

I admit the risk is small, but if something breaks out the results are drastic...
Not really! I forage from the local woods behinds me which are pretty much untouched by anyone! So no real worry about chemicals/pesticides. Anything that's natural is natural and doesn't really concern me. I still clean my sticks with boiling water, but that's mainly for aesthetics to keep it looking clean.

I like to keep things as natural as possible! :D
 

mary prefontaine

New Member
ok cage is in, and now to try moss experiment

I tried to ask my cage designer, what he had for flooring as he sent me pics, and it had like a somewhat shiny black flooring, but he forgot to answer that question, so now the cage is here, and it looks like a somewhat shiny type black waterproof coating, on both sides , as I looked underneath, It reminds me of a piece of nice shelving that you would buy at home depot. and he has sealed all the edges with silicone of sorts. And he also painted the whole interior with polyurethane so the wood will not absorb the moisture.
So with all this in mind, I may have no choice but to try the moss as I will not have anything but the sham wows for the moment and after 5 minutes of misting these seem to be absorbing the moisture pretty well. and has dried after a couple of hours. Now the question is will that be enough misting for the chameleon. I was thinking to have the system come on around every 2-3 hours for about 3-5 minutes.
Thank you for you're Ideas as they all sound great for the moss experiment. No worries to the person about stomach compaction, As I am not only hearing from others and through my own personal experience with my last panther cham, that they rarely go to the floor and if they do, they are not much for plant eating unless they are starving, (which would never happen!) And I can use a cup for feeding to avoid them eating the moss by accident.
Anyway I need to ask also... should I lay a piece of plastic under the hydrotone clay pellets, so it doesn't get too much moisture build up on the this flooring? And the bugs you suggested, will they be too small and end up outside my cage? LOL. What if I also add the plastic lining to go up around 6 inches against the screen to keep everything in the cage, water, bugs, ect?
 

mary prefontaine

New Member
I got a video to show you, showing the live moss and how I have it set up, as I wanted to get your opinion. Let me know if you can see it


MVI_0416.AVI
 

Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
It reminds me of a piece of nice shelving that you would buy at home depot. and he has sealed all the edges with silicone of sorts. And he also painted the whole interior with polyurethane so the wood will not absorb the moisture.
No worries to the person about stomach compaction, As I am not only hearing from others and through my own personal experience with my last panther cham, that they rarely go to the floor and if they do, they are not much for plant eating unless they are starving, (which would never happen!) And I can use a cup for feeding to avoid them eating the moss by accident.
Anyway I need to ask also... should I lay a piece of plastic under the hydrotone clay pellets, so it doesn't get too much moisture build up on the this flooring? And the bugs you suggested, will they be too small and end up outside my cage? LOL. What if I also add the plastic lining to go up around 6 inches against the screen to keep everything in the cage, water, bugs, ect?
The bottom sounds like melamine board which is fairly moisture resistant. It is not completely waterproof and will break down over time. Polyurethane doesn't last forever either especially if it is constantly wet, so plan on refinishing it periodically.

The danger in SOME types of moss isn't from the cham choosing to eat it directly, but if it gets loose dried sharp spicules on its tongue while shooting at prey and swallows it. Sphagnum and some other types do have hard sharp spines. Other types of moss (I'm no expert here but there are some terrarium mosses that seem very soft and delicate) don't.

Yes, I'd put a liner under your planted substrate. Even melamine won't stand up to constant moisture forever.

Another concern for live moss...cleaning products may damage or kill it, even vinegar. Light penetration will affect it, pH of the board, your water, can all affect it too. No reason not to play around with it but you may end up doing what many of us did...opting for simpler setups that are easier to keep clean.
 

Canny Chams

New Member
i used the moss once. after about a month i had gnats galore, and i realized that whenever my cham got hungry in between feedings she would munch on it. i don't recommend it.
Ive found that chams (panthers and other insect only chameleons) wont eat the soils unless they are missing some nutrient that they sense is in the soil. Ive never tested it with moss though, but i stongly support the substrate is fine arguement, ive raised chams in them, and as long as they are being properly and carefully supplemented they are great, you dont even have to deal with the stench of the water thats trapped in plants
 

Canny Chams

New Member
You will not have success with live moss. I've tried it, does not work. Mosses need about 100% humidity, which is not suitable for a chameleon. It will look green for a week or two and promptly die. You will have a nice brown layer of carpet when it dies so if that's what you're looking for go for it! I wish it would work, it would look so cool. Unfortunately mosses have different environmental requirements than our chams and it's not meant to be. Trust me...I've tried several different mosses in my pygmy habitats (more suitable with higher humidity and lower temps) and nothing stays alive. The dart frog people laughed at me for trying in a cage that wasn't fully enclosed because they need it to be as humid as humid gets. No amount of misting will suffice.
lol off topic, i had a cactus with a tiny bit of moss in a plant pot that i moved beside my shower, it was so humid in there that the moss literally grew a half inch thick layer on the whole cactus.
 

mary prefontaine

New Member
you tube account needed I guess.

no but i do have a photobucket account and just realized after trying several times. That it doesnt take videos lol. so i will check on getting a you tube account, so when I have time I will redo my post in here and set up a you tube account, thanks
 
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