Help a newbie setting up a 18'' enclosure for a Panther Chameleon

I hope you are well.
I’m a newbie in this field.
Few months ago I decided to acquire a baby Panther Chameleon in a short future.

Now, I’m trying to set up the enclosure and have it in place for a while before I host the new member of the family.

I’d like if anyone could help me with the items that I should buy.

  • Enclosure: Zoo Med ReptiBreeze Open Air Screen Cage (people insist edon the open air instead of a hybrid).
The cage is 18 x 18 x 36 inches
Once he grows I am going to move him to a bigger enclosure and reuse this one.

I was also adviced to purchase:

  • Zoo med terrarium hood
  • T5 5.0 UVB lamp
  • Zoo Med Mini Deep Dome lamp fixture
  • Zoo med repti basking lamp 50 watts
  • Zoo med repti basking lamp 75 watts

However, several of these products are not going to fit well in my enclosure of 18 width.

I went to Zoo Med and searched for the hood and found a 18’’ one:

The recommendations are:
  • UVB: Use with Zoo Med’s ReptiSun® 5.0 UVB Compact Fluorescent Lamp for both UVB and UVA.
  • Daytime Heat: Use Zoo Med’s Daylight Blue™ Reptile Bulb (up to 60 watts).
  • 24 Hour Heat: Use Zoo Med’s Nightlight Red™ Reptile Bulb (up to 60 watts).

Remember that I’m totally new on this.
Even when I have been reading and watching some tutoriales I want to be sure I'm not missing something.

Would the recommendations (UVB, daytime heat and 24 hours heat) cover well the previous requirements
(listed again below)

  • T5 5.0 UVB lamp
  • Zoo Med Mini Deep Dome lamp fixture
  • Zoo med repti basking lamp 50 watts
  • Zoo med repti basking lamp 75 watts

What is the difference between T5 5.0 UVB lamp and the 5.0 UVB lamp that zoo med recommends for this enclosure:

Is anything else (important) missing for the enclosure?

I’d appreciate help.


Enjoy the weekend!
Hi and welcome to the forum. :) Kind of curious who advised you what to buy. Regardless, doesn’t matter any. I’m going to direct you to a great place to learn how chameleon husbandry basics. Not only will that save me a bunch of talking (which I already do too much of), but you’ll learn things you don’t even know to ask about yet.
The 18x18x36” enclosure is ok for a start, but you’ll be needing to get at minimum a 2x2x4’ enclosure. The type of enclosure you get usually is best determined by your environmental conditions. If you live somewhere super dry, you’d want at least a hybrid or glass enclosure to help contain adequate humidity. If you live somewhere super humid, you’d want all screen to maintain as much air flow as possible. Hybrids usually are able to meet most environments and screen can be adapted to better hold humidity. You can use a full sized enclosure for a baby chameleon. The biggest concern is that they may not be able to find their food in too big of a space. I may be wrong, it I feel that if food is provided consistently in the same area, the baby will find it. Not much gets past those cute little googly eyes.
For lights, you need at minimum a basking light and a uvb light. Any dome fixture can be used for basking. Do just check the maximum wattage it’s good for. The mini domes are usually very limited in wattage, unless you get a halogen one. I’ve no experience with halogen so can’t advise on those. I use regular either single or double dome 8” fixtures with either an old fashioned incandescent bulb or over-priced reptile basking bulb. For my conditions, I use 60w and 75w. I suggest starting with a 60w. Basking temps for babies and ladies shouldn’t exceed 80F. With babies, you’ll be needing to elevate the lights off of the screen top. They like to walk upside down on the top and can easily get burned.
For uvb, the standard is a linear T5HO fixture with either ReptiSun 5.0 or Arcadia 6% uvb bulb. This will provide your chameleon with the uvb levels it needs to synthesize vitamin D3 naturally and gives a nice gradient of levels. The screw in uvb bulbs provide the needed level only 2-3” directly below the bulb with no reasonable gradient. Your animal is either just about touching the bulb and getting some uvb, or is getting none. Another type of screw in bulb is mercury vapor. This is a heat and uvb in one and has it’s own issues. You really have no way to adjust the heat levels is one and these can cause burns very easily. The other issue is that the uvb output is not consistent and you need a solarmeter to read the uvb level and adjust the light placement. Just not worth the trouble or risks. You will be needing to get at least a 24” uvb fixture. It will hang over an 18” enclosure, but that’s ok. Here’s a link to one. It has been a bit of a challenge to find 24” T5 fixtures, especially the Arcadia ProT5. They do come with a uvb bulb and you’ll need to read the package to ensure it is indeed the 5.0 or 6%.
Other important things needed are thermometers and hygrometers to measure temps and humidity. Avoid analog ones as they are unreliable. Digital ones with probe ends are good. Some like to get temp guns and those are a nice tool, but they can only measure surface temps.
Safe live plants please and thank you! Fake plants for fake animals. While it’s a lot of fun to fill your enclosure with beautiful exotic plants, do keep in mind that some may not be safe and many will require a good plant light. will guide you. The humble pothos is imho the best plant for chameleons. You will want to provide a good plant cover for your cham to hide in/under when wanting shade or to be shy. We try to recreate a forest edge or tree. Lots of branches and/or vines are also needed. Give your cham lots of little roads to travel on to patrol its home and get exercise. Avoid the black Exo Terra vines - they shed tiny particles that can cause eye irritation.
Another thing that is good to have is a light timer. Chams need a 12 hour day/night cycle and they are creatures of habit. They will appreciate having a routine sleep/wake cycle.
You’ll need to think about how you’ll be managing water drainage. Everyone has their own method from simply placing a larger tray beneath the enclosure to catch run off or a unique and genius system created for their situation.
You’ll need a way to mist your chameleon’s plants/enclosure. Anything from a simple spray bottle to a pressurized sprayer to an automated system like a Mist King - either will work. Spraying or misting the plants is how you’ll be providing your chameleon its drinking water, so it is important.
Depending on the temps you’ll be able to achieve at night determines whether or not you’ll need a cool mist humidifier. If you can’t get temps below at least 68-70, no need for a humidifier. We only run a humidifier (or fogger) at night and when it’s cool enough.
Supplements will most definitely need to be on your shopping list. You will need a phosphorus free calcium without D3 for use with every feeding. Your chameleon will also be needing vitamin D3 and multivitamins and I find it easiest/best to use a combo product like Repashy Calcium Plus LoD or ReptiVite with D3. For a panther cham, you’d use that one feeding every other week.
Live feeder insects of the appropriate size and fresh produce to feed the bugs so that they will be healthy and nutritious. Crickets, roaches (dubia or discoid), bsfl, silkworms, grasshoppers or locusts are all good staple feeder choices.
Last thing I can think of that is needed is some sort of stand to place your enclosure on. Chams are arboreal and the higher they are, the safer they feel. ReptiBreeze has a special stand for their enclosures, which I’ve used and they are nice. Currently I use heavy duty shelving units for my super heavy enclosures. Plus, I keep my males in double sized enclosures so need the length.
I also want to guide you to Neptune the chameleon on YouTube. She has a ton of videos on all sorts of topics and it does help to have that visual on things.
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