Husbandry and Enclosure review

puzzling

New Member
Hello!

I became interested in chameleons about six months ago after seeing a Jackson’s at a local pet store. Those trippy binocular eyes! Those weird mitten feet! Finding good information about chameleon best practices has been a challenge, but this forum has been really helpful. I built my enclosure based on the principles described at chameleonacademy, and it has been a rewarding pandemic project.

The enclosure is basically finished and I am starting to look around for a chameleon -- most likely a juvenile male panther. My goal with this post is to get feedback about the enclosure and my planned husbandry before the little guy moves in.

Chameleon Info:

Your Chameleon -
I don’t have a chameleon yet, but I am looking to buy a juvenile male panther. I have been checking the site sponsors (especially Kammers) and also keeping an eye out for member posts about upcoming clutches.

Handling - My intention is for minimal handling.

Feeding - My dubia roach colony is just getting established and I plan to supplement with crickets, hornworms, and other goodies from the local pet store. Dubias are fed a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as Repashy bug burger. I also keep a colony of Hydei wingless fruit flies for my dart frogs -- are these a suitable feeder for young chameleons?

Supplements - Following the recommendation from chameleonacademy, I plan on supplementing with Arcadia EarthPro-A every feeding and Repashy Calcium Plus LoD twice a month.

Watering - MistKing is set to go off for two minutes three times per night.


Cage Info:

Cage Type -
This is a homemade enclosure. Technically an irregular hexagon, but close to a rectangular 5’ x 2’ x 5’. Wood frame, foam + Drylok background, screen on two sides and on top, glass doors in front. The enclosure is bioactive and currently home to springtails, giant canyon isopods, and earthworms (thanks jamest0o0).

Lighting - 12 hours on, 12 hours off.
  • UVB: 48” Arcadia ProT5 12% UVB Bulb with Arcadia hood. I wanted the more powerful light to accommodate the tall enclosure. The UVB light is suspended 8” above the top screen and 13” above the basking branch. This might be too high -- I wanted to err on the side of less UVB, but now I am second-guessing that choice. Chameleonacademy recommends 6” above the cage with this setup.
  • Plant Lights:
    • Jungle Dawn 34” 51 Watt LED Terrarium Light Bar
    • SANSI 36W Daylight LED Plant Light Bulb
    • 2x YuMei 45W 6500K LED Pool Light Bulb
The LED plant lights output significant heat and they are doing double duty as plant light + basking.

Temperature -
  • Floor: 60-70
  • Basking: 80-85, temperature is warm and pleasant on back of hand.
Temps measured with a digital hygrometer and checked with a temperature gun.

Humidity - The probe on the basking branch measures 40-45% during the day. The floor of the enclosure stays around 65%. The mister is timed to activate right before the lights turn on in the morning and plants are wet for about half an hour, then remain dry for the rest of the day.

Plants - My partner is deep in the tropical houseplant hobby and we have jammed a lot of cool plants into the enclosure. There seems to be a lot of grey area about what plants are chameleon safe. My understanding is that since panther chameleons do not generally eat them, plants that are mildly toxic to ingest might still be suitable. That said, if there are any plants on my list that are dangerous, I would like to remove them before adding a chameleon.
  • Golden Pothos
  • Grape Ivy
  • Hoya Wax Plant
  • Bromeliad
  • Spider Plant
  • Tradescantia
  • Draconis Marginata
  • Orchids
  • Tillandsia Air Plant
  • Ficus Repens
  • Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
  • Watermelon Begonia
  • Drosera (sundew)
  • Nepenthe
  • Bamboo
  • Ti plant
  • Madagascar Jasmine
  • Nerve Plant
  • Hypoestes
  • Angel Wing Begonia
  • Selaginella
  • Persian Shield
  • Honeysuckle
  • Krouton
  • Mojito Elephant’s Ear
  • Stromanthe Triostar
  • Peperomia (unknown variety)

Placement - Enclosure is located in my study -- there is moderate daily traffic. The vent in the room is sealed shut. The basking branch is about 6.5’ above the floor of the room.

Location - Coastal Northern California

Current Problem - I want to provide a good home for a reptile buddy and I am asking for a review of my enclosure and husbandry plan. My biggest questions are:
  1. Are any of my plants unsafe?
  2. Is my UVB light at a good height?
  3. Are wingless fruit flies a good feeder for young chameleons?
Thank you!
-Puzzling
 

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Thompson

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hello!

I became interested in chameleons about six months ago after seeing a Jackson’s at a local pet store. Those trippy binocular eyes! Those weird mitten feet! Finding good information about chameleon best practices has been a challenge, but this forum has been really helpful. I built my enclosure based on the principles described at chameleonacademy, and it has been a rewarding pandemic project.

The enclosure is basically finished and I am starting to look around for a chameleon -- most likely a juvenile male panther. My goal with this post is to get feedback about the enclosure and my planned husbandry before the little guy moves in.

Chameleon Info:

Your Chameleon -
I don’t have a chameleon yet, but I am looking to buy a juvenile male panther. I have been checking the site sponsors (especially Kammers) and also keeping an eye out for member posts about upcoming clutches.

Handling - My intention is for minimal handling.

Feeding - My dubia roach colony is just getting established and I plan to supplement with crickets, hornworms, and other goodies from the local pet store. Dubias are fed a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as Repashy bug burger. I also keep a colony of Hydei wingless fruit flies for my dart frogs -- are these a suitable feeder for young chameleons?
For a jury chameleon, around 8 months old, should be feeding him around 8-10 medium sized dubia, crickets, silkworms, hornworms etc. every other day. I would buy from an online feeder breeder (lol that rhymed) due to risk of parasites via pet store feeders. It is also cheeper. I buy my dubia from https://dubiaroaches.com/collection...MIhrmUuNiY8AIV2yitBh2BdQlBEAAYASAAEgJRTPD_BwE
Supplements - Following the recommendation from chameleonacademy, I plan on supplementing with Arcadia EarthPro-A every feeding and Repashy Calcium Plus LoD twice a month.
I'm not familiar with the Arcadia supplements but the calcium plus could be used every dusting.
Watering - MistKing is set to go off for two minutes three times per night.
You don't want it to go off this many times during the night. You want it to go off maybe once to raise the humidity over night back up to 80%-100% but want to allow it to dry out between each misting. Throughout the day you want to maintain a 40%-60% humidity level. To accomplish this I mist 3x throughout the day (once in the morning, once in the afternoon, once before lights go out)
Cage Info:

Cage Type -
This is a homemade enclosure. Technically an irregular hexagon, but close to a rectangular 5’ x 2’ x 5’. Wood frame, foam + Drylok background, screen on two sides and on top, glass doors in front. The enclosure is bioactive and currently home to springtails, giant canyon isopods, and earthworms (thanks jamest0o0).
Your enclosure is beautiful
Lighting - 12 hours on, 12 hours off.
  • UVB: 48” Arcadia ProT5 12% UVB Bulb with Arcadia hood. I wanted the more powerful light to accommodate the tall enclosure. The UVB light is suspended 8” above the top screen and 13” above the basking branch. This might be too high -- I wanted to err on the side of less UVB, but now I am second-guessing that choice. Chameleonacademy recommends 6” above the cage with this setup.
  • Plant Lights:
    • Jungle Dawn 34” 51 Watt LED Terrarium Light Bar
    • SANSI 36W Daylight LED Plant Light Bulb
    • 2x YuMei 45W 6500K LED Pool Light Bulb
The LED plant lights output significant heat and they are doing double duty as plant light + basking.
You should get a solarmeter 6.5 to make sure you're getting the required UVB levels at the basking branch. you want it no higher than 7.0, but aim for 3.0 at the basking branch.
Temperature -
  • Floor: 60-70
  • Basking: 80-85, temperature is warm and pleasant on back of hand.
Temps measured with a digital hygrometer and checked with a temperature gun.
Perfect.
Humidity - The probe on the basking branch measures 40-45% during the day. The floor of the enclosure stays around 65%. The mister is timed to activate right before the lights turn on in the morning and plants are wet for about half an hour, then remain dry for the rest of the day.

Plants - My partner is deep in the tropical houseplant hobby and we have jammed a lot of cool plants into the enclosure. There seems to be a lot of grey area about what plants are chameleon safe. My understanding is that since panther chameleons do not generally eat them, plants that are mildly toxic to ingest might still be suitable. That said, if there are any plants on my list that are dangerous, I would like to remove them before adding a chameleon.
  • Golden Pothos
  • Grape Ivy
  • Hoya Wax Plant
  • Bromeliad
  • Spider Plant
  • Tradescantia
  • Draconis Marginata
  • Orchids
  • Tillandsia Air Plant
  • Ficus Repens
  • Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
  • Watermelon Begonia
  • Drosera (sundew)
  • Nepenthe
  • Bamboo
  • Ti plant
  • Madagascar Jasmine
  • Nerve Plant
  • Hypoestes
  • Angel Wing Begonia
  • Selaginella
  • Persian Shield
  • Honeysuckle
  • Krouton
  • Mojito Elephant’s Ear
  • Stromanthe Triostar
  • Peperomia (unknown variety)
Holy crap that's a lot of plants lol not sure on safety but you can check on chameleon academy. They have a plant list.
Placement - Enclosure is located in my study -- there is moderate daily traffic. The vent in the room is sealed shut. The basking branch is about 6.5’ above the floor of the room.

Location - Coastal Northern California

Current Problem - I want to provide a good home for a reptile buddy and I am asking for a review of my enclosure and husbandry plan. My biggest questions are:
  1. Are any of my plants unsafe?
  2. Is my UVB light at a good height?
  3. Are wingless fruit flies a good feeder for young chameleons?
Thank you!
-Puzzling
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hello!

I became interested in chameleons about six months ago after seeing a Jackson’s at a local pet store. Those trippy binocular eyes! Those weird mitten feet!
It's the HORNS!!! (They all have the eyes & mittens!) :LOL:

Chameleon Info:

Your Chameleon -
I don’t have a chameleon yet, but I am looking to buy a juvenile male panther. I have been checking the site sponsors (especially Kammers) and also keeping an eye out for member posts about upcoming clutches.
I can recommend FramsChams without reservation. IDK if anything is currently available (email them), but IMO it would be worth the wait.

Handling - My intention is for minimal handling.

Feeding - My dubia roach colony is just getting established and I plan to supplement with crickets, hornworms, and other goodies from the local pet store. Dubias are fed a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as Repashy bug burger. I also keep a colony of Hydei wingless fruit flies for my dart frogs -- are these a suitable feeder for young chameleons?
They're not on the chart, but IDK. 🤷‍♂️

Supplements - Following the recommendation from chameleonacademy, I plan on supplementing with Arcadia EarthPro-A every feeding and Repashy Calcium Plus LoD twice a month.

Watering - MistKing is set to go off for two minutes three times per night.
Misting depends on a number of variables dealing with your local ambient climate.
What's important is whether you're hitting your targets for day & night.
You didn't specifically mention a dripper, but I would want drinking water available at (nearly) all times, which to me means either a dripper or mid-day misting (I use a noon misting).

Cage Info:

Cage Type -
This is a homemade enclosure. Technically an irregular hexagon, but close to a rectangular 5’ x 2’ x 5’.
Height of an enclosure is generally measured from living space floor to ceiling. It appears your 5' height includes the stand below, but IDK.

Lighting - 12 hours on, 12 hours off.
  • UVB: 48” Arcadia ProT5 12% UVB Bulb with Arcadia hood. I wanted the more powerful light to accommodate the tall enclosure. The UVB light is suspended 8” above the top screen and 13” above the basking branch. This might be too high -- I wanted to err on the side of less UVB, but now I am second-guessing that choice. Chameleonacademy recommends 6” above the cage with this setup.
  • Plant Lights:
    • Jungle Dawn 34” 51 Watt LED Terrarium Light Bar
    • SANSI 36W Daylight LED Plant Light Bulb
    • 2x YuMei 45W 6500K LED Pool Light Bulb
The LED plant lights output significant heat and they are doing double duty as plant light + basking.
I would just point out that regardless of what you planned, your chameleon will be drawn—and try to—bask under the brightest light in the enclosure (just in case you need to make any adjustments).

Temperature -
  • Floor: 60-70
  • Basking: 80-85, temperature is warm and pleasant on back of hand.
Temps measured with a digital hygrometer and checked with a temperature gun.

Humidity - The probe on the basking branch measures 40-45% during the day. The floor of the enclosure stays around 65%. The mister is timed to activate right before the lights turn on in the morning and plants are wet for about half an hour, then remain dry for the rest of the day.
Comment above under watering.

Plants - My partner is deep in the tropical houseplant hobby and we have jammed a lot of cool plants into the enclosure. There seems to be a lot of grey area about what plants are chameleon safe. My understanding is that since panther chameleons do not generally eat them, plants that are mildly toxic to ingest might still be suitable. That said, if there are any plants on my list that are dangerous, I would like to remove them before adding a chameleon.
  • Golden Pothos
  • Grape Ivy
  • Hoya Wax Plant
  • Bromeliad
  • Spider Plant
  • Tradescantia
  • Draconis Marginata
  • Orchids
  • Tillandsia Air Plant
  • Ficus Repens
  • Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
  • Watermelon Begonia
  • Drosera (sundew)
  • Nepenthe
  • Bamboo
  • Ti plant
  • Madagascar Jasmine
  • Nerve Plant
  • Hypoestes
  • Angel Wing Begonia
  • Selaginella
  • Persian Shield
  • Honeysuckle
  • Krouton
  • Mojito Elephant’s Ear
  • Stromanthe Triostar
  • Peperomia (unknown variety)
This may be the first time I've seen what may be too many plants! :eek:
I see that many are small seedlings in pots; you may find adjustments necessary as time & growth progress.
Personally, I stick to (and recommend) what's on these lists. Others may be OK, but as you say, finding accurate info isn't always easy. IMO, there are more than enough "known-safes" not to take chances.
These lists are chameleon-safe:
https://chameleonacademy.com/plants/
https://www.madcham.de/en/pflanzen-fuers-terrarium/
https://www.chameleons.info/l/safe-and-unsafe-plants/
https://www.chameleonschool.com/safe-plants-for-chameleons/

Placement - Enclosure is located in my study -- there is moderate daily traffic. The vent in the room is sealed shut. The basking branch is about 6.5’ above the floor of the room.
Why is the vent shut? :unsure:

Location - Coastal Northern California

Current Problem - I want to provide a good home for a reptile buddy and I am asking for a review of my enclosure and husbandry plan. My biggest questions are:
  1. Are any of my plants unsafe?
Comment above.

  1. Is my UVB light at a good height?
I would consult Arcadia's lighting guide. Enter Panther Chameleon in the window.
Note: It can take 100 hours for these bulbs to "burn in". During that initial time, UVI may be stronger than indicated.
The beat way to tell at all times is by investing in a Solarmeter 6.5 or building one DIY.

  1. Are wingless fruit flies a good feeder for young chameleons?
Answered above.

You've got a beautiful enclosure there, and you're doing things right by getting that enclosure down & balanced before getting your cham. KUDOS! (y)
 

puzzling

New Member
Thank you Thompson and Klyde O'Scope for the helpful feedback.

*I will look into alternative misting schedules and plan on misting at least once during the day to maintain the humidity target and provide another hydration opportunity.

*My UVB setup appears to be consistent with Arcadia's lighting guide that Klyde linked, and also the UVB chart from chameleonacademy. However, it still feels like there are too many variables to be confident that a cham is getting the right UVB levels, so it looks like a solar meter of some kind is necessary. Those DIY meters are interesting.

*I have been in touch with Framschams about their panther offerings -- their facebook page is pretty great.

*To answer some of your questions Kyle -- The enclosure is 6.5” tall. The habitable zone (from the top of the substrate to the top screen) is about 4.5” tall. I have sealed the heating vent in this room because I wanted to avoid blowing hot air directly into the cage… but maybe this doesn’t matter?

*As a newcomer to this hobby, hydration seems to be one of the more controversial aspects of chameleon keeping. Some people recommend drippers, others say that misting alone is sufficient. The mods on the reddit forum are all about training chams to drink from a water glass. As with the UVB question, it seems like there are a lot of variables and the best practice probably involves being sensitive to the needs of my animal. I plan to err on the side of providing more access to water, which could be a dripper or a water glass.

Cheers!
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
*To answer some of your questions [Klyde] -- The enclosure is 6.5” tall. The habitable zone (from the top of the substrate to the top screen) is about 4.5” tall.
(y) :)

I have sealed the heating vent in this room because I wanted to avoid blowing hot air directly into the cage… but maybe this doesn’t matter?
If it is blowing directly into the cage, good point. Another option is a register/vent deflector, which is just what it sounds like. They make all kinds for every type of floor, wall, or ceiling vent, and they're readily available at home improvement stores (as well as Amazon).

*As a newcomer to this hobby, hydration seems to be one of the more controversial aspects of chameleon keeping. Some people recommend drippers, others say that misting alone is sufficient. The mods on the reddit forum are all about training chams to drink from a water glass.
🤦‍♂️ Don't get us started. :rolleyes: Chameleons naturally drink the droplets off of leaves—no training required.

Misters, drippers, foggers... all optional, but they can make things a whole lot easier, automated, and worry-free. I'm able to achieve humidities with just a mister (MistKing Starter—$150, but worth it. If you're a shopper, you can find deals on both price & shipping) but not everyone can. Drippers are inexpensive, and get the drinking job done, but don't do much for overall humidity. Some need or use a fogger at night—when humidities need to be higher.

If I were to get only one, it would be the mister, then a fogger if necessary. The mister works so well a dripper is unecessary. DO NOT get a waterfall; they're petri dishes for all kinds of nasties.

As with the UVB question, it seems like there are a lot of variables and the best practice probably involves being sensitive to the needs of my animal. I plan to err on the side of providing more access to water, which could be a dripper or a water glass.
I'd be very surprised if a chameleon will drink from a glass or dish. It's possible, and some undoubtedly do/will—they're all different—but you'll never need to be concerned with a dripper or mister.
Here are some previous threads on that topic:
https://www.chameleonforums.com/search/1132675/?q=drinking+from+a+dish&c[title_only]=1&o=relevance
 
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