Meet Percy! My first Chameleon

ebclark

Member
Hi everyone! I've been reading up on chameleons for months, listening to the Chameleon Breeder podcast, and learning as much as I can before I brought Percy home. However, now that I actually have this little guy, I've got a few concerns because I want to make sure he has the absolute best care. Please also look at my cage setup and tell me what needs work. Thank you so much!

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - Percy is a male veiled chameleon who was born in December. I got him today on 3/29. He's been crawling all around his new home!
  • Handling - Not at all yet, I’m still letting him settle in. I would like to be able to hold him once or twice a week.
  • Feeding - I have gut loaded my crickets with Kale, carrots, and oranges. Since he's been home with me he's eaten about 4 crickets and there are some more in his cage.
  • Supplements - So far I’ve only dusted them with Zoo Med ReptiCalcium without D3, but I also have the Reptivite with D3 vitamin which I plan to use 2x a month starting next week.
  • Watering - Hand misting for 3 mins about half an hour after I turn the light on and 3 mins about an hour before I turn his light off. During the day he has a “Dripper” which is really just a cup with a hole poked in it. I’ve also put a tiny tiny bit amount of calcium in this water, just enough so it’s not totally clear.
  • Fecal Description - I haven’t had any fecal tests done yet, but it looks normal, mostly brown with a little bit of white.
  • History - He was born in a large litter of 48! I got him at about 4 months old.


Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Screen cage that is 18x18,x36 (I know I will need bigger in a few months, but I’d like to build a custom cage this summer.)
  • Lighting - Reptisun hood with Arcadia 12% light for UVB and 60W daytime heat lamp for basking in a ZooMed Porcelain Lamp.
  • Temperature - The top of his cage is about 80 and the bottom is about 70. At night the room can reach 65 but that’s the lowest. Right now I’m just using the little thermometers that stick to the sides of the cage (one at top near the basking lamp and one towards the bottom.)
  • Humidity - Humidity is at about 50%. I use a cup with a hole in it and 2x daily misting. I’ve just used a little humidity gauge that sticks to the side of the cage.
  • Plants - A potted Sheffler Arbicola, a real potted pothos, and fake pothos. The real pothos needs to get a little bigger before it’ll trail enough for him to climb on.
  • Placement - My cage is in my bedroom which I spend about 3 hours in at night (after his lights are off) but it is empty 11 hours of his lights on while I’m at work.
  • Location - I live in suburban New York.

Questions:
  1. Is just a plain tray that fits my cage okay to put at the bottom? Nothing else?
  2. He’s been climbing on the ceiling of the cage and I’m so afraid he’s going to burn himself. Is this a valid concern?
  3. Do I need more foliage for him to hide in? He actually hasn’t gone into the really densely covered area much at all.
  4. What is the best way to get him to trust me? Don’t worry, I know he’s not an animal that should be held a lot, but I would like to occasionally hold him (maybe once or twice a week) and I don’t want him to stress out if I put my hand in the cage.
  5. Whenever I spray in his cage he gets a little darker reddish, I try not to spray directly at him and it’s a very low powered mist. He doesn’t get this dark when I just stand in front of his cage.
  6. Is this temperature range okay? It sounds a little low from what I’ve read. Do I need a higher watt bulb?

Plans for this weekend:
  1. Wrapping two sides of his cage with a plastic material at all times (to help with humidity) and the other two sides at night so no light gets in.
  2. Adding in a few branches for more climbing.

Here's some pictures of when I first brought him home and of the cage.
P.S. the UVB light in the picture is just temporary for this weekend because the one I mentioned I have above won't be here until Tuesday.
 

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iMi

Established Member
  1. Is just a plain tray that fits my cage okay to put at the bottom? Nothing else? Yes, some people use paper towels and others create a bioactive setup. Having nothing on the bottom will make cleaning it very easy.
  2. He’s been climbing on the ceiling of the cage and I’m so afraid he’s going to burn himself. Is this a valid concern? Yes, it's a valid concern. Climbing on the ceiling is normal, but consider raising the heat lamp to avoid burns.
  3. Do I need more foliage for him to hide in? He actually hasn’t gone into the really densely covered area much at all. Yes, dense foliage will help him feel more secure. If you plan on having live plants, consider using fake ones until the live plants grow in nicely. He should always have access to 100% shade.
  4. What is the best way to get him to trust me? Don’t worry, I know he’s not an animal that should be held a lot, but I would like to occasionally hold him (maybe once or twice a week) and I don’t want him to stress out if I put my hand in the cage. Short answer -- Food. Apply basic psychology. If he becomes upset, do not retreat until he is calm. Hand feed his favorite snacks. Make the favorites only available this way. Over time move up the treat higher on your arm, so he has to climb onto your hand to get it. Be very very very patient. It will take weeks and maybe even months, but it's so worth it. Also, accept he may NEVER trust you. That's a possibility. That is just how they are...
  5. Whenever I spray in his cage he gets a little darker reddish, I try not to spray directly at him and it’s a very low powered mist. He doesn’t get this dark when I just stand in front of his cage. That is his response to the spray. Either he feels the cool water and darkens to warm up or is simply displaying stress coloring. Try spraying indirectly with warm water. Long-term, I would strongly recommend a misting system. It will make your life and his much, much easier. Also, the find mist seems to freak them out less.
  6. Is this temperature range okay? It sounds a little low from what I’ve read. Do I need a higher watt bulb? Try using an infrared thermometer and point it at the basking area. Overall range, as you describe it, is perfectly fine. At night the cage should be allowed to cool. Mid and even low 60's would be just fine. Basking temps up to the lower 90s would be fine.

Edit to add a couple more points. Cage setup looks great, but I would recommend more vertical space at various levels for him to hang out and thermoregulate. Also, a leaner T5 would be a better source of UVB. Consider upgrading at some point. There are other lighting options but this is what most people here would recommend. It's a good setup and has been proven to work well.

Edit to say -- Disregard. I realized you already addressed this in your last part :LOL:

You're off to a great start. Welcome to the hobby and welcome to the forum. You'll find lots of support here :)
 
Last edited:

ebclark

Member
  1. Is just a plain tray that fits my cage okay to put at the bottom? Nothing else? Yes, some people use paper towels and others create a bioactive setup. Having nothing on the bottom will make cleaning it very easy.
  2. He’s been climbing on the ceiling of the cage and I’m so afraid he’s going to burn himself. Is this a valid concern? Yes, it's a valid concern. Climbing on the ceiling is normal, but consider raising the heat lamp to avoid burns.
  3. Do I need more foliage for him to hide in? He actually hasn’t gone into the really densely covered area much at all. Yes, dense foliage will help him feel more secure. If you plan on having live plants, consider using fake ones until the live plants grow in nicely. He should always have access to 100% shade.
  4. What is the best way to get him to trust me? Don’t worry, I know he’s not an animal that should be held a lot, but I would like to occasionally hold him (maybe once or twice a week) and I don’t want him to stress out if I put my hand in the cage. Short answer -- Food. Apply basic psychology. If he becomes upset, do not retreat until he is calm. Hand feed his favorite snacks. Make the favorites only available this way. Over time move up the treat higher on your arm, so he has to climb onto your hand to get it. Be very very very patient. It will take weeks and maybe even months, but it's so worth it. Also, accept he may NEVER trust you. That's a possibility. That is just how they are...
  5. Whenever I spray in his cage he gets a little darker reddish, I try not to spray directly at him and it’s a very low powered mist. He doesn’t get this dark when I just stand in front of his cage. That is his response to the spray. Either he feels the cool water and darkens to warm up or is simply displaying stress coloring. Try spraying indirectly with warm water. Long-term, I would strongly recommend a misting system. It will make your life and his much, much easier. Also, the find mist seems to freak them out less.
  6. Is this temperature range okay? It sounds a little low from what I’ve read. Do I need a higher watt bulb? Try using an infrared thermometer and point it at the basking area. Overall range, as you describe it, is perfectly fine. At night the cage should be allowed to cool. Mid and even low 60's would be just fine. Basking temps up to the lower 90s would be fine.
Do you have any suggestions on raising the heat lamp? I think I could hang it from the ceiling, is just two or three inches off of the cage a good height?

I'll also try warming up the water just a little before I spray him and add some more foliage, however he does still have access to complete shade in a few spots right now. Thank you for your advice!
 

ebclark

Member
One more thing... are you sure he isn't a she?
Not totally, I asked specifically for a male but I've just looked at some pictures of 5 month old veileds and they seem to have a much bigger casque than mine does at four months old.
 

iMi

Established Member
Not totally, I asked specifically for a male but I've just looked at some pictures of 5 month old veileds and they seem to have a much bigger casque than mine does at four months old.
Take a picture of his rear legs. Yes, the casque looks on the smaller side. The rear legs will give you 100% confirmation. If there are spurs, it's a male. If not, it's a female. Pretty simple.
 

Thehippie

Chameleon Enthusiast
One more thing... are you sure he isn't a she?
good question! that horizontal line is a tell tale female trait... can you post a picture of its back leg for us?? if its a boy it will have a tarsal spur
 
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iMi

Established Member
Do you have any suggestions on raising the heat lamp? I think I could hang it from the ceiling, is just two or three inches off of the cage a good height?

I'll also try warming up the water just a little before I spray him and add some more foliage, however he does still have access to complete shade in a few spots right now. Thank you for your advice!
After looking at your photos, I would say he's got enough foliage to feel comfortable in there. 2-3" should be plenty. You can mount it form a ceiling as you suggested or you can use one of the commercially available mounting brackets. Check the temps with an infrared thermometer to determine if you need to raise the fixture and how much.
 

Thehippie

Chameleon Enthusiast
Do you have any suggestions on raising the heat lamp? I think I could hang it from the ceiling, is just two or three inches off of the cage a good height?

I'll also try warming up the water just a little before I spray him and add some more foliage, however he does still have access to complete shade in a few spots right now. Thank you for your advice!
first, zoo med sells a lamp raiser check temps to see how much to raise it, second make sure the water isn't hot because chams don't handle heat the same way we do, they're cold blooded.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
@iMi covered pretty much everything I would have. :) Please get your T5HO lighting for UVB asap
I am going to add my list of great things to have. it has links in it as well. Which will give you ideas of what is good and then you can buy similar items.
Some of the info you will already know some may be of use. Also I am including a few graphics for you.


Cage 24x24x48 like this https://www.amazon.com/Zoo-Med-Rept...&sprefix=extra+large+reptibre,aps,204&sr=8-11

Drip tray you can buy for these like a hotwater heater pan...

or you can spend more and get a better quality cage with drip tray for the water to collect in. These come in screen or clearside and are made by www.dragonstrand.com. The dragon ledges help attach potted plants higher in the cage. But he builds in a schedule so you have to pre order them unless he has some in stock. Or you can buy the drip tray from dragon strand and the ledges and get the reptibreeze cage.

https://dragonstrand.com/screen-cages-2/

It really depends on your species needs and gender. As well as how quickly you need the enclosure.

FYI When using a screen enclosure you may want to wrap at least the back and one side panel if not both of the cage in clear plastic like a shower curtain and attach with magnets so the water does not spray out. Unless you live in a high humidity area then just do the back panel.

Lighting for UVB and plant growth is dual or quad T5 HO fixture. You can look on lightyourreptiles.com These fixtures should be purchased in the length that your cage is. UVB bulb you get will depend on the species of cham you get.

Heat lamp I would recommend a: https://www.amazon.com/Flukers-Rept...&s=gateway&sprefix=fukers+dimm,aps,208&sr=8-1

bulb for it is your preference but I am partial to zilla brand day light white: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005SRUU32/ref=twister_B07C8WY1XN?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

May need timers for different fixtures as well. 12 hour on and off for lights on chams.

Dimming Thermostat for Heat lamp can be used with any dome light and ensures you will not bake your cham as it will keep your bulb at the exact temp you need it at basking. Please ensure that you are getting a dimming thermostat. Herpstat and Vivarium Electronics both make dimming thermostats.

https://www.joshsfrogs.com/vivarium-electronics-ve-200-thermostat.html

https://www.joshsfrogs.com/vivarium-electronics-ve-300-thermostat.html

https://www.pangeareptile.com/store...MIw4mU17-b4QIVENvACh0Y8g1MEAYYASABEgLusPD_BwE

Automatic mister a must have in my opinion. https://www.amazon.com/MistKing-222...=gateway&sprefix=mistking+stra,aps,206&sr=8-1

hydrometer and thermometer to measure heat and humidity, you want a few to get different levels. Most use a wired thermometer at basking level then a non wired in other areas: https://www.amazon.com/Pangea-drt-1...reptiles&qid=1552311763&s=pet-supplies&sr=1-2

and https://www.amazon.com/Alfie-Pet-Pe...eptiles&qid=1552311838&s=pet-supplies&sr=1-18

Live plants like Pothos or dwarf umbrella plants. https://www.chameleonforums.com/care/plants/

If you get a veiled you have to put large 1inch or bigger river rock in the top so they don't eat the soil. :)

Vines and branches for horizontal pathways in different sizes for grip: https://www.amazon.com/Exo-Terra-Ju...nes&qid=1552311902&s=pet-supplies&sr=1-1&th=1

And then you need a multivitamin to give 2 times a month every other week, Calcium with D3 to give 2 times a month the opposite every other week, and then a calcium without D3 used nearly every feeding. See image below.

Feeders: Need to offer variety. See image below. You can buy feeders from a site sponsor or rainbowmealworms.com

Feeder containers: I have bought my own as well as converted plastic tubs to hold them. I like these but the large size only if I buy one: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0073KOGOG/ref=twister_B06X9LKF3Z?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Feeder food: something like Repashy Bug burger, cricket crack, or insect fuel from Arcadia brand if you want a predone gutload instead of fresh veg and fruit everyday. See image below for feeder food.

Link to veiled care sheet: https://www.chameleonforums.com/care/caresheets/veiled/







Gutloading 101.jpeg
Basic Feeder pic.jpeg
 
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Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
He/she doesn't seem too happy about me being so close right now, but are you able to tell with these photos?
I can't tell at that angle. Give the little one a few days to calm down and try to get one of the foot from the side while on a branch. Also looks like she/he is shedding so it will be more stressful for it to be bothered right now.
 

iMi

Established Member
Awesome thank you!
I have these brackets. They are good, but they only go a very short distance toward the middle. You'll need to also mount it in the corner as the adhesive will not work with the screen part. It works okay though. I have a metal halide fixture which is cool enough to keep directly on the screen with strategically placed vines to keep him away from it. So, I don't use these brackets anymore but they are good. I like Exo Terra stuff in general. Good brand.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
I have these brackets. They are good, but they only go a very short distance toward the middle. You'll need to also mount it in the corner as the adhesive will not work with the screen part. It works okay though. I have a metal halide fixture which is cool enough to keep directly on the screen with strategically placed vines to keep him away from it. So, I don't use these brackets anymore but they are good. I like Exo Terra stuff in general. Good brand.
I drilled holes in mine rather then using the sticky pad. I was worried it would pull off. I think you could mount them anywhere along the edge if you do two screws.
 
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ebclark

Member
@iMi covered pretty much everything I would have. :) Please get your T5HO lighting for UVB asap
I am going to add my list of great things to have. it has links in it as well. Which will give you ideas of what is good and then you can buy similar items.
Some of the info you will already know some may be of use. Also I am including a few graphics for you.


Cage 24x24x48 like this https://www.amazon.com/Zoo-Med-ReptiBreeze-Screen-48-Inches/dp/B001PHABI8/ref=sr_1_11?crid=750TXFPLI11X&keywords=extra+large+reptibreeze&qid=1552311072&s=gateway&sprefix=extra+large+reptibre,aps,204&sr=8-11

Drip tray you can buy for these like a hotwater heater pan...

or you can spend more and get a better quality cage with drip tray for the water to collect in. These come in screen or clearside and are made by www.dragonstrand.com. The dragon ledges help attach potted plants higher in the cage. But he builds in a schedule so you have to pre order them unless he has some in stock. Or you can buy the drip tray from dragon strand and the ledges and get the reptibreeze cage.

https://dragonstrand.com/screen-cages-2/

It really depends on your species needs and gender. As well as how quickly you need the enclosure.

FYI When using a screen enclosure you may want to wrap at least the back and one side panel if not both of the cage in clear plastic like a shower curtain and attach with magnets so the water does not spray out. Unless you live in a high humidity area then just do the back panel.

Lighting for UVB and plant growth is dual or quad T5 HO fixture. You can look on lightyourreptiles.com These fixtures should be purchased in the length that your cage is. UVB bulb you get will depend on the species of cham you get.

Heat lamp I would recommend a: https://www.amazon.com/Flukers-Repta-Clamp-8-5-Inch-Ceramic-Dimmable/dp/B003H200QC/ref=sr_1_1?crid=8HVMEZI2QMV3&keywords=flukers+dimmable+heat+lamp&qid=1552311478&s=gateway&sprefix=fukers+dimm,aps,208&sr=8-1

bulb for it is your preference but I am partial to zilla brand day light white: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005SRUU32/ref=twister_B07C8WY1XN?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

May need timers for different fixtures as well. 12 hour on and off for lights on chams.

Dimming Thermostat for Heat lamp can be used with any dome light and ensures you will not bake your cham as it will keep your bulb at the exact temp you need it at basking. Please ensure that you are getting a dimming thermostat. Herpstat and Vivarium Electronics both make dimming thermostats.

https://www.joshsfrogs.com/vivarium-electronics-ve-200-thermostat.html

https://www.joshsfrogs.com/vivarium-electronics-ve-300-thermostat.html

https://www.pangeareptile.com/store...MIw4mU17-b4QIVENvACh0Y8g1MEAYYASABEgLusPD_BwE

Automatic mister a must have in my opinion. https://www.amazon.com/MistKing-22251-Starter-Misting-System/dp/B012IAK4SC/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3HEHG6S2ENP0I&keywords=mistking+starter+misting+system&qid=1552311288&s=gateway&sprefix=mistking+stra,aps,206&sr=8-1

hydrometer and thermometer to measure heat and humidity, you want a few to get different levels. Most use a wired thermometer at basking level then a non wired in other areas: https://www.amazon.com/Pangea-drt-1...reptiles&qid=1552311763&s=pet-supplies&sr=1-2

and https://www.amazon.com/Alfie-Pet-Pe...eptiles&qid=1552311838&s=pet-supplies&sr=1-18

Live plants like Pothos or dwarf umbrella plants. https://www.chameleonforums.com/care/plants/

If you get a veiled you have to put large 1inch or bigger river rock in the top so they don't eat the soil. :)

Vines and branches for horizontal pathways in different sizes for grip: https://www.amazon.com/Exo-Terra-Jungle-Vine-Large/dp/B003PB4VSS/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=exo+terra+vines&qid=1552311902&s=pet-supplies&sr=1-1&th=1

And then you need a multivitamin to give 2 times a month every other week, Calcium with D3 to give 2 times a month the opposite every other week, and then a calcium without D3 used nearly every feeding. See image below.

Feeders: Need to offer variety. See image below. You can buy feeders from a site sponsor or rainbowmealworms.com

Feeder containers: I have bought my own as well as converted plastic tubs to hold them. I like these but the large size only if I buy one: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0073KOGOG/ref=twister_B06X9LKF3Z?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Feeder food: something like Repashy Bug burger, cricket crack, or insect fuel from Arcadia brand if you want a predone gutload instead of fresh veg and fruit everyday. See image below for feeder food.

Link to veiled care sheet: https://www.chameleonforums.com/care/caresheets/veiled/







View attachment 227165View attachment 227166
I really appreciate all of your suggestions! I'm not sure if you read my chameleon info above, but this cage is temporary for a few months until I can build him a much bigger enclosure this summer when I have time and the outdoor space.

If you were only looking at the photos, than I understand why you said I need a new UVB fixture right away, but as mentioned this is only for the weekend until my T5HO lighting comes in the mail on Tuesday.

Funny, exactly what you said about wrapping the screen with magnets is what I'll be doing this weekend! (also mentioned above.)

I will definitely look into the dimming thermostat and automatic timers. Thank you!

For my live plants I have covered the soil in large river rocks already.

For supplementing - is the vitamin with D3 enough 2x a month and calcium without D3 at every other feeding? Or should I also add in calcium with D3 twice a month in addition to the vitamin?

Thank you again for all this great information!
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
I really appreciate all of your suggestions! I'm not sure if you read my chameleon info above, but this cage is temporary for a few months until I can build him a much bigger enclosure this summer when I have time and the outdoor space.

If you were only looking at the photos, than I understand why you said I need a new UVB fixture right away, but as mentioned this is only for the weekend until my T5HO lighting comes in the mail on Tuesday.

Funny, exactly what you said about wrapping the screen with magnets is what I'll be doing this weekend! (also mentioned above.)

I will definitely look into the dimming thermostat and automatic timers. Thank you!

For my live plants I have covered the soil in large river rocks already.

For supplementing - is the vitamin with D3 enough 2x a month and calcium without D3 at every other feeding? Or should I also add in calcium with D3 twice a month in addition to the vitamin?

Thank you again for all this great information!
imi had you covered so I just added in my list for additional info. I looked through everything but missed that last line that you included about the uvb fixture.
Only things I see additionally are:
You will want to do an afternoon misting as well between your first and last misting. This is where the auto misters are fantastic to have.
Basking temp needs to be 85 but you won't know what the real temp is until you get better thermometers. Be careful of the ones that stick because you don't want one coming off and getting stuck to the baby.
I am not a fan of using ropes in cages because they can be much harder to clean and the chams nails can get caught in them.
Make sure your alternating what your using for gutload week to week. You don't want to give the same things constantly. Kinda like if we eat only a banana everyday then the only nutrients are what we get from the Banana.

But you are off to a great start :)
 

ebclark

Member
I can't tell at that angle. Give the little one a few days to calm down and try to get one of the foot from the side while on a branch. Also looks like she/he is shedding so it will be more stressful for it to be bothered right now.
Okay got it! I'll check again in a few days and let him(?) be for now.
 

iMi

Established Member
He/she doesn't seem too happy about me being so close right now, but are you able to tell with these photos?
The second photo seems to show a small spur on the rear leg. He'll grow very rapidly. You'll be able to confirm in no time. Either way they are fantastic. You'll just need a laying bin if you have a female, which I don't think you do.
 
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