Mark's build, critiques welcome and encouraged

Mark_C

Member
Don, thanks much. Growing out a pothos atm, and picked up an artificial atm to hang above the basking and perch areas for water flow.

Mend, thanks for the advice, will dust with Flukers Ca sans Vit D and have ordered Reptivite with D3 as bi-weekly.

Klyde, yep, have experienced this often in reef keeping, buy a beautiful anemone and it decides the lighting it likes best is behind the rockwork, will adjust as best I can to keep him sunbathed, optimally heated, and with adequate UV.

Further update...

Wasn't happy with the cheaper misting system so installed the Mist King. Only came with one head, but as I plan on having quite a bit of foliage coverage on the left, ordered 2 more heads.

Found a few Panthers at a semi-local Petco for a fairly steep price (for Petco). In speaking with the guy who works there he had no clue. All he knew is that one has been there for 6 weeks and one for 4 weeks, in a small enclosed cage, no basking, no misting, small drip into a waterbowl.
F'n terrible. i so wanted to buy one to save it but thought the undoubtable respiratory infection might follow.

So, ordering a 3 month male Ambilobe tomorrow through breeder. We decided to ship Tuesday night instead of tonight or tomorrow, due to milder weather.
Quicker than expected, but he's a healthy ybbb at a decent price, delivered, and with a good guarantee.
Plus my wife said I've been researching for months on end, have been tinkering with enclosure parameters for a week, and its time to just do it before I overanalyze it for a half a year.

Question...

Last bit is the 'substrate'. Tomorrow I'm planning on repotting in organic indoor soil, then covering the dirt with river rock to prevent accidental ingestion.
The plants cover a major portion of the cage bottom and little water gets through.

My initial thought was sponges placed between the planters that could be squeezed out each night. It would eliminate the little standing water that missed the planters while maintaing some humidity at night.

Option 2 is a semi-big overhaul of cage bottom, lining it with pond liner built up at the edges to drain toward the middle, with drainage through the bottom of the cabinet into a bucket.

Regardless of sponges or pond liner, I'm planning on taking out all plants once per week and rinsing. I'm guessing chameleon feces isn't the best long term beauty lotion for plant leaves.

Thought on these, as always, appreciated.
 
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LukeTheLizard

Avid Member
Not sure about the substrate, but one thing I saw in the cage is that there is a little ladder at the back of the cage. They look cool, but they aren’t really made for chameleons. If your chameleon decides to climb on the ladder, he/she could get their nails stuck in the rope holding the ladder together, and rip them out. Generally we don’t use rope in chameleon enclosures for that reason, but other than that, your cage looks amazing.

Just wanted to say how glad I am that you are one of the few people who have actually studied and double checked here to make sure that you are doing everything right. We see lots of people on here who go to Petco or Petsmart, see a chameleon, and decide, that looks cool, I’m gonna buy it, without doing any study. They then find out they don’t have the right husbandry, and then their chameleon gets sick, and then they are unwilling/don’t have the money to fix their husbandry or take their chameleon to a vet, which unfortunately leads to their chameleon passing away. Anyways, just wanted to say good job.☺️
 

Mark_C

Member
Thanks Luke. Appreciate the compliment and the advice.
Been in reef tanks for a while, different needs, but similar learning curve. Know to learn from those more experienced so I can give the future little guy a decent life.
And ladder is gone after I type this post. Will replace with horizontal zigzagging vine for back wall climbing. :)
 
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Ace

Avid Member
Don, thanks much. Growing out a pothos atm, and picked up an artificial atm to hang above the basking and perch areas for water flow.

Mend, thanks for the advice, will dust with Flukers Ca sans Vit D and have ordered Reptivite with D3 as bi-weekly.

Klyde, yep, have experienced this often in reef keeping, buy a beautiful anemone and it decides the lighting it likes best is behind the rockwork, will adjust as best I can to keep him sunbathed, optimally heated, and with adequate UV.

Further update...

Wasn't happy with the cheaper misting system so installed the Mist King. Only came with one head, but as I plan on having quite a bit of foliage coverage on the left, ordered 2 more heads.

Found a few Panthers at a semi-local Petco for a fairly steep price (for Petco). In speaking with the guy who works there he had no clue. All he knew is that one has been there for 6 weeks and one for 4 weeks, in a small enclosed cage, no basking, no misting, small drip into a waterbowl.
F'n terrible. i so wanted to buy one to save it but thought the undoubtable respiratory infection might follow.

So, ordering a 3 month male Ambilobe tomorrow through breeder. We decided to ship Tuesday night instead of tonight or tomorrow, due to milder weather.
Quicker than expected, but he's a healthy ybbb at a decent price, delivered, and with a good guarantee.
Plus my wife said I've been researching for months on end, have been tinkering with enclosure parameters for a week, and its time to just do it before I overanalyze it for a half a year.

Question...

Last bit is the 'substrate'. Tomorrow I'm planning on repotting in organic indoor soil, then covering the dirt with river rock to prevent accidental ingestion.
The plants cover a major portion of the cage bottom and little water gets through.

My initial thought was sponges placed between the planters that could be squeezed out each night. It would eliminate the little standing water that missed the planters while maintaing some humidity at night.

Option 2 is a semi-big overhaul of cage bottom, lining it with pond liner built up at the edges to drain toward the middle, with drainage through the bottom of the cabinet into a bucket.

Regardless of sponges or pond liner, I'm planning on taking out all plants once per week and rinsing. I'm guessing chameleon feces isn't the best long term beauty lotion for plant leaves.

Thought on these, as always, appreciated.
First of all, you have an awesome set up! Congrats on your new Cham! Does he have a name yet?

And as for personal thoughts. I believe the option #2 would be the beneficial long term route you should take for maintenance and upkeep. In terms of standard drainage.
However I am not familiar nor experienced with the bioactive enclosures that have become popular. So someone else might have better insight on drainage.
 

DonKeesh

Chameleon Enthusiast
@Mark_C drainage is a highly debated topic as well. In my mind there are really only two options... Full bioactive with drainage layer that can be drained periodically or a cage floor with holes drilled (or dragon strand screen bottom) that allows water to flow out of cage into a drainage tray. I personally take it one step further on my indoor cage and use the chameleon academy floating garden style where the cage floor is completely bare with plants attached to sides of cage, allowing easier cleaning and ability to dry out between mistings.
PXL_20210918_125458386~2.jpg
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
Question...

Last bit is the 'substrate'. Tomorrow I'm planning on repotting in organic indoor soil, then covering the dirt with river rock to prevent accidental ingestion.
The plants cover a major portion of the cage bottom and little water gets through.

My initial thought was sponges placed between the planters that could be squeezed out each night. It would eliminate the little standing water that missed the planters while maintaing some humidity at night.

Option 2 is a semi-big overhaul of cage bottom, lining it with pond liner built up at the edges to drain toward the middle, with drainage through the bottom of the cabinet into a bucket.

Regardless of sponges or pond liner, I'm planning on taking out all plants once per week and rinsing. I'm guessing chameleon feces isn't the best long term beauty lotion for plant leaves.

Thought on these, as always, appreciated.
I never thought of it as highly debated, though there are 2 schools of thought about substrate—either full bioactive or nothing. Either way you're going to need some kind of drainage system.

There are plenty of ideas in the Drainage thread.

My enclosure is similar in that the foliage is thick enough that mist water never finds its way to the plant pots. This is fine; we water them separately according to individual needs, and excess water drains down through and eventually into a drain bucket (emptied monthly).

Feces... are actually decent (minor) fertilizer (if things progress that far). I usually flick any off of the leaves and spot clean w/ Nature's Miracle. Over time, mist water breaks down any residue and rinses it down.
 

Mark_C

Member
In a rush now.

FOUND THE GUY WE WANT! :)
Via Chi Chameleons.
Looked online after weeks and the perfect fit was posted same day.
Shawn is excellent to work with.
Will post pics and full review soon.

So...

Stopped mucking around with experiments and picked up a 24" T5 unit.
Between Amazon and local options Arcadias were had to find, picked up a Retisun 5 and 10 in the interim while sourcing the Arcadias.

Programmed the Mist King and installed a few extra heads to ensure full cage coverage.

Then drainage - AAARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!
Major PITA.

I had picked up the cage pre built then added the bells and whistles (or vines, sticks, plants, and climby things).
Problem is that guy that originally built the unit was so damn good everything is perfectly flat.
Like, this level...

And he glued the plastic tray to the enclosure bottom.
I could pour in 5 sections of water and they all stayed exactly where they were poured.
So I angle the cabinet itself a bit.

After numerous attempts of pond liners, plastic angles, etc all was failing.

Then, GENIUS!
I got out old pool foot washer and a soild drain.
Would cut it down to fit the cage and all will be fantastic...
IMG_4304.jpg

Total failure.

So, Home Depot at 8pm last night.
After an hour wandering, come up with this system where I'll modify some drain plugs by adding spa tubing and a 3/4" PVC fitting.
Drilled the holes, built the plugs. This looks F'n GREAT!
IMG_4305.jpg
IMG_4306 2.jpg

Total failure.

So, Home Depot this morning at 7am.
Big paint tray, screw in hooks, shelving brackets.
Disassembled the drain plugs and took the plug itself and inserted it from the bottom of the holes up.
Sealed the rims with pet safe silicone.
Then mounted the giant paint tray underneath, angled to the front right corner, where I installed an aquarium bulkhead and a bucket.
IMG_4308 2.jpg
IMG_4321 2.jpg

Not the optimal look I wanted, but it works.

Put a couple of blocks in the bottom of the cage base and then some light diffuser (egg crate) to put the plants on.
Gives me a 3" clearance betwen plants and cage bottom.
Should be easy enough to clean and change up if needed.

NOw to introduce the new guy, monitor, and adjust thingies.
 

Mark_C

Member
Well, the last few days have been a hurricane of activity trying to finalize the build.
All seems to have gone well, just need to set a few solid schedules.

And, please meet Special Agent Fucifer Pardalis!

SAFP.jpg


Male Ambilobe YBBB Panther, 3 months old.

Got him through Chi-Town Chameleons, in Illinois, and it was a fantastic and worry free experience.
Shawn was excellent to deal with. Big on communications, responsible for ensuring safe delivery (and he was packed fantastically), and happy to respond to any questions within an hour at most. He dropped me his cell number in case anything comes up in the future, from concerns about the chameleon to just asking for general advice.
This was one of the best pet purchase experiences I've had, maybe even arguable that it was the most worry free purchases ever.

SAFP is taking to his new home, and, as you folks warned, was immediately hanging on the roof.
But, as said, I took advice and the CFL bulb experiments are done and the T5 unit is up.

He's eaten twice already (sitting 1 was a small cricket and small hornworm, sitting 2 was a small to med superworm).
Just have to figure out how to encourage him to drink a bit more.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
And, please meet Special Agent Fucifer Pardalis!
LOVE it! :love:

SAFP is taking to his new home, and, as you folks warned, was immediately hanging on the roof.
But, as said, I took advice and the CFL bulb experiments are done and the T5 unit is up.

He's eaten twice already (sitting 1 was a small cricket and small hornworm, sitting 2 was a small to med superworm).
That's great—should be a quick easy relocation w/ little/no stress. Same here.

Just have to figure out how to encourage him to drink a bit more.
If water droplets are available, he'll drink. You may not see it—some chameleons are shy drinkers—but there are many ways to monitor hydration... 💩 & urates, skin, eyes, & general appearance.
 

Mark_C

Member
Todays question... Misting an fogging.

Yep, did a lot of reading (including the academy chart), did a lot of research, would like to know if this seems feasable as a starting point to wok from...

8am - Lights on and 90 second mist
9am - 90 second mist
7pm - 90 second mist
8pm - Lights out
Mdnt - 90 second mist and start fogger
5am - 90 second mist and stop fogger

Obviously will modify to keep humidity between 60% & 70% during daylight and try to maintin slightly higher at night.

And...good news. SAFP has found a few nice basking and hiding areas, seems pretty chill when anyone is around and...
As i pulled a hornworm out of the shaker bag he approached me on a vine. No hissing, puffing, or side turning.
Put the worm on my fingertip and he was happy to shoot for it from 6" or so away.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
Todays question... Misting an fogging.

Yep, did a lot of reading (including the academy chart), did a lot of research, would like to know if this seems feasable as a starting point to wok from...

8am - Lights on and 90 second mist
9am - 90 second mist
7pm - 90 second mist
8pm - Lights out
Mdnt - 90 second mist and start fogger
5am - 90 second mist and stop fogger
The proof will be in the results, but we all have to start someplace.
  • Curious: How did you arrive at the 90 sec. session?
  • 8 and 9am are too close together to allow complete dry-out between (recognizing it will dry out after the 9am mist), and unless you also use a dripper, you'll have a 10 hour gap with no drinking water available.


Apologies if I've bored you with this before... When I set up my enclosure, I ran the mister manually to see how long it took to wet everything down and until water began running down the drain. IMO, anything longer would just be wasting water. For my enclosure, this was/is 2 min. Then I timed how long it took for the enclosure to dry out completely—3 hours (YMMV).

Then I looked at climate data, what Chameleon Academy suggested, and what other folks here are doing.
https://chameleonacademy.com/basics-hydration-for-chameleons/
https://chameleonacademy.com/chameleon-cage-set-up-naturalistic-hydration/
https://www.chameleonforums.com/search/1611499/?q=misting+schedule&c[title_only]=1&o=relevance

From that, it appears that most—if not all—mist at or near lights-on and lights-off (anchor points). I don't use a dripper or fogger, so I mist at noon (halfway between lights-on and lights-off) to assure available drinking water during the day.

I find, in my set-ups, that I am ore and more misting during the night in conjunction with fogging to have the chameleon wake up to a wet world.
https://chameleonacademy.com/basics-hydration-for-chameleons/

During the night, I mist at 9, 12, and 3, so every 3 hours between lights-off and lights-on, which gives my enclosure time to dry out completely between. It also (when combined with the natural lower nighttime temperature) raises RH enough that I don't need a fogger.

This may be completely different for someone with a different type enclosure, the climate where they live, species, and other variables.

Like establishing a basking site and bulb wattage and distance, establishing a misting/fogging schedule may involve some trial & error, but once you've got it, it should be good for that enclosure.
 

DonKeesh

Chameleon Enthusiast
Yes that sounds good, it's all fluid and variable based on the environment, with the chameleon academy schedule as a foundation. I would increase misting sessions to 2 min.

Here's mine roughly I have screen on 2 sides:
650a mist 2min
700a lights on
715a mist 2 min
745a mist 2 min
(I want to give him plenty of time is the morning dew)
Dripper during late afternoon optional
6pm mist 2 min
7pm lights off
11p mist 2 min
3am mist 2 min
3am-630am fogger

It seems like a lot but with 2 screen sides and two solid sides it evaporates rapidly especially in winter. Cage dries out completely multiple times a day.
 

Mark_C

Member
So, from a 2 minute mist it takes approx 3 hours for the enclosure to dry out. The 90sec mist time was just estimated by me before I added all the foliage.

Post the 3 hours, when plants and encloseure are ‘dry’, the top of the cage (exposed) is at 40% humidity (approx house humidity), while 2/3rds down under the canopy humidity was approx 65%.
He is basking from around 9-11, then heading under cover.

I am not using a dripper, so, like Klyde, I’ll be misting mid day for drinking water.
I also like Don’s advice on multiple morning waters, as it takes this guy a few minutes to start drinking.

Revised Donklyde Frankenstein schedule:
7:45am - 2 minute mist
8:00am - lights on
8:15am - 2 minute mist
2:00pm - 2 minute mist
7:45pm - 2 minute mist
8:00pm - lights out
11:00pm - 2 minute mist
12:00am - fogger on low
6:00am - fogger off

Looks like this may cover the bases but I’m sure theres still minor tweaking to do.
Thanks again folks.

Per SAFP, he seems to be drinking and is eating 2 crickets and a hornworm per day (dusted, of course).
For the second day in a row he perked up when seeing the horn worm and took it out of my fingers when I offered it.
 
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Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
So, from a 2 minute mist it takes approx 3 hours for the enclosure to dry out. The 90sec mist time was just estimated by me before I added all the foliage.

Post the 3 hours, when plants and encloseure are ‘dry’, the top of the cage (exposed) is at 40% humidity (approx house humidity), while 2/3rds down under the canopy humidity was approx 65%.
He is basking from around 9-11, then heading under cover.

I am not using a dripper, so, like Klyde, I’ll be misting mid day for drinking water.
I also like Don’s advice on multiple morning waters, as it takes this guy a few minutes to start drinking.

Revised Donklyde Frankenstein schedule:
7:45am - 2 minute mist
8:00am - lights on
8:15am - 2 minute mist
2:00pm - 2 minute mist
7:45pm - 2 minute mist
8:00pm - lights out
11:00pm - 2 minute mist
12:00am - fogger on low
6:00am - fogger off

Looks like this may cover the bases but I’m sure theres still minor tweaking to do.
Thanks again folks.

Per SAFP, he seems to be drinking and is eating 2 crickets and a hornworm per day (dusted, of course).
For the second day in a row he perked up when seeing the horn worm and took it out of my fingers when I offered it.
As I said previously,
The proof will be in the results, but we all have to start someplace.
😁 Looks like you've got it except for possible minor tweaking. (y)

Per SAFP,
Ya got me. I had to (re)search the thread a couple times to figure that one out.
Don't bother—I got it. 🤦‍♂️
 
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