Hello

Bazingaed

Member
Hello! My wife is interested in getting a panther. This is not our first reptile, but will be our first chameleon. I have been doing research for a while and have so many questions, even after reading all the newbie threads and FAQ's.

Onto the fun stuff. The enclosure we have is roughly 4'x2'x4'. We are not planning on doing bioactive right now, but might add it later. The enclosure is not water proof in the bottom portion. We may decide to put a tray in the stand and take the bottom of the cage out later. The "stand" for the cage is actually the sump cabinet for the large decommissioned saltwater tank we had. I got tired of crawling under the tank, so we put the sump next to it with removable lids. It was so much better than diving under our previous setups, but I digress.

The current state of the project is staring at an empty cage and trying to envision where we want everything to go. I have a general plan for the drainage and the lighting, but I'm still researching the specific models for the lights. More on that after a lot research. We have a mist king pump and three nozzles that came with the enclosure that we plan on using. I am also debating on running a line to all the plant pots with my old ATO pumps on a timer to automatically water them. This is more to help my wife. She is currently working on a plant list from the chameleon safe list that she wants included. Again, minor problem that we have given absolutely no thought to yet is how to hide the pots if she wants a larger plant or tree sitting on the bottom of the cage. We want to go as natural looking as we can, recognizing that we may have to compromise on a few things.


I'll try to get a few pictures at a later time with some better descriptions of our plan. As I read through this it sounds incredibly vague, but we are getting there. We have a bit of a family matter contending for time this week, but I'll try to get some better information and pictures in my down time.
 

Bazingaed

Member
Welcome to the forum!

This is a good place to learn!
This is also a good place to learn...
https://chameleonacademy.com/chameleon-husbandry-program-getting-started-with-chameleons/

What other reptiles have you kept?
First, thank you! I have read through everything they have put out to date. You are right, they are a great resource.


As for pets, we recently started getting into reptiles. We had an African egg eater snake for a while. He was really fun. Now we have a leopard gecko and an AFT gecko. Leopard gecko is one of my daughters. He's the nicest leopard I've met, despite occasionally thinking my fingers look like dubias. We took the AFT because he was "little and cute", but he's been struggle. He was malnourished and dehydrated. Also on his second tail. Since we got him, he's put on weight and looks much better. He even wags his little stump when we feed him dubias.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
You said..."First, thank you! I have read through everything they have put out to date. You are right, they are a great resource"...if you have any questions just ask...there are lots of people on here who cn help you!

You said...As for pets, we recently started getting into reptiles. We had an African egg eater snake for a while. He was really fun."...that's one reptile I haven't had!

You said..."Now we have a leopard gecko and an AFT gecko. Leopard gecko is one of my daughters. He's the nicest leopard I've met, despite occasionally thinking my fingers look like dubias"...Leo's are great pets! They usually live to be older than 19 so be prepared to have it for a long time!

You said..."We took the AFT because he was "little and cute", but he's been struggle. He was malnourished and dehydrated. Also on his second tail. Since we got him, he's put on weight and looks much better. He even wags his little stump when we feed him dubias"... Good that he's putting on weight! Losing the Gil cn set them back a bit for a while...but not long.
If it's a male, you my hear him bark in the future! They can be almost as nice as Leo's are! They're a little bit more shy sometimes.
 

MzLaurie11

Avid Member
Heres a pic of mine. You need large keaf plants for cover and i love swiss cheese plants which grow great with the sansi plant light. Dont need alot of wTering due to all the mizting and fogging. I like rubber tree sticks and a few heavy ones to take the weight of plants. Get a variety of zip ties too. Heres a pic
 

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Bazingaed

Member
Heres a pic of mine. You need large keaf plants for cover and i love swiss cheese plants which grow great with the sansi plant light. Dont need alot of wTering due to all the mizting and fogging. I like rubber tree sticks and a few heavy ones to take the weight of plants. Get a variety of zip ties too. Heres a pic
Those are all on the plant list my wife has (I think) and if not, they will be added.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hi and welcome! :) I wanted a more natural look, so I created faux backgrounds with egg crate lighting panels, expanding foam and coco coir. It does darken things quite a bit for my chameleons though, which a year later I have some regrets about. I entertain the thought of redoing the backgrounds with solid panels with maybe a forested printed background. I use Sansi 70w plant lights (& a 36w) and Arcadia Pro T5’s with 6% uvb bulbs. To contain my bioactive substrate, I use root pouches set on top of ReptiBreeze substrate trays to contain any excess drainage leaking. Pothos has been my primary plant, but I also use wandering Jew, parlor palm, begonia maculata, nerve plants, polka dot plants, prayer plants, hibiscus, schefflera and various dracaena. I recently had to replace a couple of larger plants, so each of my boys’ enclosures have one side that looks a bit bare until the replacement plants grow more. Both of my boys are in 4x2x4’ enclosures and seem to enjoy having the extra space.
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Bazingaed

Member
That looks wonderful! I hope ours can look that good one day.

The information you have was very helpful. I will definitely be looking into the light recommendations. That's also in the list of things to tackle. I was considering using the egg crate like you suggested so that it could be semi-removable if we or the chameleon didn't like it. I'm not sure how exactly yet, but it's still a thought with pondering. The finishing over the top of the spray foam it's what concerns me. What is used to prevent the foam from cracking or breaking off? Drylock? I've used great stuff many times for Halloween projects, but it seems like everything I put on it eventually cracks and falls apart.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
That looks wonderful! I hope ours can look that good one day.

The information you have was very helpful. I will definitely be looking into the light recommendations. That's also in the list of things to tackle. I was considering using the egg crate like you suggested so that it could be semi-removable if we or the chameleon didn't like it. I'm not sure how exactly yet, but it's still a thought with pondering. The finishing over the top of the spray foam it's what concerns me. What is used to prevent the foam from cracking or breaking off? Drylock? I've used great stuff many times for Halloween projects, but it seems like everything I put on it eventually cracks and falls apart.
I make the background panels and then secure them to the frame with thin wire, so I can remove them if I want. Great stuff pond & stone is the preferred foam, but as it was so expensive and I needed so much, I just used the regular on most of my panels. After carving the foam down as I wanted it, I used spray on Plast-dip (or Flex seal) and quickly covered with coco coir. Some use 100% silicone instead...I just can’t stand the smell of it. One of my enclosure’s panels are 2 years in use and are just fine. The rest I did last year. The only damage is where I had to pull out some foam to replace a Mist King nozzle and one of my girls tried to dig into a spot behind a plant pot when being fussy about where to lay her eggs. You can see there’s a panel that has cork bark on it…that is an older one and between an active chameleon climbing the background, plants growing up the side and the misting, some of the coir has slowly come off. The plants have grown over and covered it again though, so no biggie. I attached branches using the Great Stuff pond & stone, but in a couple of areas where it wasn’t reinforced with anything, it has come loose. A better way is to use wire. I do wish I had angled the plant pot drainage tubing out more so it wouldn’t drip straight down.
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Bazingaed

Member
I make the background panels and then secure them to the frame with thin wire, so I can remove them if I want. Great stuff pond & stone is the preferred foam, but as it was so expensive and I needed so much, I just used the regular on most of my panels. After carving the foam down as I wanted it, I used spray on Plast-dip (or Flex seal) and quickly covered with coco coir. Some use 100% silicone instead...I just can’t stand the smell of it. One of my enclosure’s panels are 2 years in use and are just fine. The rest I did last year. The only damage is where I had to pull out some foam to replace a Mist King nozzle and one of my girls tried to dig into a spot behind a plant pot when being fussy about where to lay her eggs. You can see there’s a panel that has cork bark on it…that is an older one and between an active chameleon climbing the background, plants growing up the side and the misting, some of the coir has slowly come off. The plants have grown over and covered it again though, so no biggie. I attached branches using the Great Stuff pond & stone, but in a couple of areas where it wasn’t reinforced with anything, it has come loose. A better way is to use wire. I do wish I had angled the plant pot drainage tubing out more so it wouldn’t drip straight down.
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That was very helpful! Thank you! Now I need to get moving on ours. My wife is getting anxious.
 

MzLaurie11

Avid Member
Dont forget to do research on males vs females. Females require laying bins and can have issues like egg bound, prolapses, etc. Males can get very terratorial and grumpy or down right mean if u mrss with their home. Females can too. I stick to males as it was the first one i rescued and i know the issues. You also might want to look into pet insurance as visits are very costly. Make your you do your research and find a good vet before you get your new addition. There is a list on here with comments which might help. Also reme!b
 

MzLaurie11

Avid Member
Remember. Chams have very strong tongues. It is a total reflex to shoot it out once targetting is acquired and whatever is stuck to it goes down the gullet. So no.pepples or small stuff that can go in with the feeders. Some people put small rocks on the plant soil which i am against. Just make sure your top soil is organic dont use perlite either. If you need soil drainage use vermiculite below the top soil. Also feeding bowls will go flying so i found gluing them to flat heavy rocks work great. also since u will be misting and fogging daily you need to take into consideration mold. also i sealed the back panel and one side panel with a heavy plastic on the outside which added stabilty to the cage and allows me to spray without worrying about water. Getting to the electrical. The basking light does a grest job drying everything out too. no substrate either. Well i wish you the best of luck with your project and soon to be new addition. Keep us all posted and access Next time with your smart phone so we all can see your progress. if you decide to raise a cham from a baby dont get one under 4 months. I am raising one now for the first time and he doubles in size every two weeks. Its wild. His colors really started coming in after his last molt. He is now 6 1/2 months and is a male veiled.
 

Bazingaed

Member
That is a lot of great information. Thank you! I don't have a ton to report as I'm trying to collect needed materials. In the meantime, my wife keeps perusing various websites and forums for pictures in a not so subtle hint that I need to get my backside in gear. I believe she is only looking at males for all the reasons mentioned above.

I need to double check, but I think the vet we have for our geckos also handles chameleons. She has taken care of our snake, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, etc. She says she enjoys the exotics we bring through, so maybe this will be on the list of things she can handle. If not, there are others around we have used.

I recently purchased the egg crate and flex seal, and I have a bunch of leftover great stuff from a previous project. I am struggling a bit finding the 4" seed starters that only have one or no holes. If nothing else, I could fill the other holes with silicon or something. I think the plan is to have mostly pothos with a few other plants for variety like bromeliads and dracaena. The goal is to go with as much live vegetation as we can.
 

Bazingaed

Member
Good morning! Brief update and a couple questions. I believe I have nearly everything I need for the cage. I have a Sandi light for the plants, Acadia ballast and bulb, and a 65 or 75w bulbs for the baking light. I plan on testing the basking Beach hear before deciding as it will need to be off the screen top. I'll probably need to build a canopy or hang a fixture of some kind, so I want the option of more heat if needed. The cage I have is (I think) vinyl on three sides and screen on the fourth. The roof is also screen. Given my choice I would have had the front be the side with the screen, but that is not the case. I live in Michigan, so keeping temp and humidity consistent throughout the year is a concern. Given that the right side is screen, I was debating on stacking one side heavier with plants than the other and placing the baking light and plant light appropriately, creating more of a diagonal gradient than front to back. The UVB is 48in, so that would go straight across the back half. First, is this a worthwhile approach? Secondly, would you stack the did with the screen or the side without with the plants? My inclination would be the side without the screen and add a computer fan to the ceiling above that corner, but input is welcome.

I was planning on adding pots directly to the egg crate in the back with a foam background, but I was wondering about the drainage tube. Since it will be at an angle, do you plug the single hole in the middle (finally found some like this!) and drill a new one closer to the lowest edge, or not worry about the little bit of excess water that would remain by using the one in the middle of the cup?

It appears that I will be building my own stand, and likely adding supports for a light rack as the sump box I was going to use is roughly two inches too short on the sides. This may seem like a simple question, but how tall would you recommend for the stand? Maybe the better question should be how often do you need to need with the lights and misting nozzles on the top after initial setup, out side of changing bulbs? I was thinking as high as I could reach for the top of the cage, but I don't really want to do that if I'm going to need frequent access. Any and all input is greatly appreciated!
 

Bazingaed

Member
Unfortunately, I'll be putting this on the back burner for a few days/weeks, or at the vet least on a slow simmer. My daughter came home from the hospital yesterday, and things are difficult. I want to devote the appropriate time and energy. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, so this will continue, just at a slower pace.
 

Morpheo's Mom

Avid Member
Unfortunately, I'll be putting this on the back burner for a few days/weeks, or at the vet least on a slow simmer. My daughter came home from the hospital yesterday, and things are difficult. I want to devote the appropriate time and energy. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, so this will continue, just at a slower pace.
I hope your daughter is doing okay...😕
 
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