My first post! Getting my first chameleon on Saturday! Last minute questions...

For Toby

New Member
HELLO EVERYONE!
I'm about to get my first reptile ever! His name is already Toby, and I'm going to pick him out at the Scott Smith's All Animal Expo near Chicago on Saturday! I'm assuming he's going to be a panther, but I'm open to any chameleon who seems like a Toby, and will adjust my humidity/temp levels accordingly. I started this journey over 2 years ago at the beginning of COVID when I started growing my bioactive enclosure. I was going crazy and needed something to obsess about, and chameleon husbandry became my thing! I was getting very excited, and then I got a new roommate who moved in with cat, so I decided I didn't want a cat and a Toby. But now I've moved into my own place, and I'm finally ready! I've used the forum A LOT already, so thank you all so much for the treasure trove of information you've all complied! I have a MistKing 100% because you all told me not to buy cheap. So I'm going to list off everything I have, ask a few questions, and would love to hear any thoughts you all have. Thanks again in advance!!

ENCLOUSURE
2ft x 2ft x 4ft, screened on all sides. My daytime humidity levels hold pretty well with all sides screened and open, but I did just by some 'natural coconut fiber carpet' that people usually use for the floor of their reptile enclosures, and I'm going to line the sides with this to increase humidity if I need it. It retains moisture, and I think it will work well if I need it, and it looks natural and would be easy for him to climb on. I get great light in my room, so I want to leave at least 2 sides open. Has anyone used natural coconut fiber carpet to line the walls? Does this seem like a good idea if necessary?

I bought the bioactive chameleon kit from the BioDude, so I have great substrate and it is all planted in one of the natural big bags that he sells. I introduced white dwarf isopods and springtails that I bought at Curious Creatures, a reptile store near me. I planted it completely wrong and have had to redo it a couple times, haha, but I've finally got it perfect. I have an umbrella tree, money tree, hibiscus, and pothos vines growing everywhere. There is lots of room for Toby to hide. I also hung some fake vines on the outside on spots where there aren't any leaves to give him extra concealment. Since it's currently 4 sides open, I want to make sure he can be hidden from all sides. I installed some extra crossbars into the ZooMed enclosure and I've zip-tied branches all over the enclosure. He's got a great basking spot that is a little diagonal to give him a gradient. I cleaned everything and it really looks great.

LIGHTING AND HUMIDITY
I have a MistKing (misting from 2 corners of the enclosure), a few LED grow lights for the plants, a Fluker's ceramic dimmable heat lamp, and a ZooMed ReptiSun T5 HO UVB and Hood. The UVB I have is the 5% 12inch one. I saw on the 'Neptune the Chameleon' YouTube and the 'Chameleon Academy' YouTube that they recommend the longer 24inch UVB since the top of my enclosure is 24inch, do you all think this is necessary? I don't mind upgrading, I just already bought this light and hood and would like to use if possible. I don't have a Solarmeter to test UVB levels as they are really expensive. Did you all buy a Solarmeter? Is this necessary? My UVB is next to my basking bulb, they are both about 6-7 inches from where Toby's back will be. I'm hoping to get a juveniles cham, so maybe this UVB is ok for now?

My basking temp is 84 degrees. I've seen some conflicting numbers but this seems to be right in the middle of them for juvenile, male panthers. I will of course change it if I get something else. My basking, UVB, and grow lights come on at 7am and go off at 7pm. I mist for 3 minutes at 6:30am, 3 minutes at 8:00pm, and 1 minute at 1:00am just before fogging. I just bought a fogger and am planning on having the fogger start at 1:00am and run off and on until 6am. I've been reading that nighttime fogging is important for hydration and since nighttime levels can go up to 100% humidity, I'm going to set one up. I bought the Petspioneer Digital Fog Machine. My nighttime temp gets right down to about 70, sometimes a few degrees above or below. I'm going to keep the AC on in Toby's room to keep it right about there. I know the daytime humidity levels for panthers is 50-70%, and I've been noticing the humidity at the top of my enclosure stays above that until about 11:00am. Is this too much time at high humidity during the day? It steadily decreases after the 6:30am misting, but doesn't get to 70% until around after 11am. Should I mist for less time in the morning? I know you don't want high heat and high humidity due to respiratory issues, but I don't know if I decrease the morning mist time too much, perhaps I won't be able to stay above 50% until lights out and the evening misting. I've only been paying really close attention to the daytime numbers hour-to-hour this week in preparation, so I'm not really sure what they do during the day. They used to drop below 50%, but since it's been getting more humid in Chicago, they've been staying high.

Also, I have been using distilled water I've been buying at target for the mister. I want to continue doing this just to prevent problems with the misting system and give Toby the best water. It is $1-$2 per gallon, and I'm wondering if this is necessary/do you all get cheaper distilled water online?


FEEDING
I'm want to use a combination of dish feeding and free ranch insects. I know all about gutloading and vitamins. My plan is to use mainly dubia roaches, superworms, silkworms, and black soldier larvae in the dish, and then crickets maybe every other day. I want him to be able to hunt a little, I think it's cool, but of course I have heard crickets aren't great because they might nibble on him. I want to get adequate nutrition and also make sure he's eating all the food and it seems like a feeder dish is the right way to do this. I bought a little plastic bird food dish that I can hang on the side of the enclosure, and I put a lateral branch near that to eat from. The girl from Neptune the Chameleon YouTube uses this method. What are your thoughts? Can I feed crickets and just watch and make sure he is eating them all for the first couple times and then feel safe using them? Also, I feel like sprinkling vitamins on bugs in the feeding cup is easy, but how do you do a good job sprinkling crickets? I know I need a cricket container with vents and a little room, it just seems like it's going to be hard to get the right amount out of the container, and into the enclosure and dusted. How do you all do this? And do you all do a combo of feeder dish and crickets? Should I wait on crickets till he's a bit bigger?

I also plan on using hornworms as a treat and for hydration, and waxworms as a treat as well. And I want to let the waxworms and black soldier larvae pupate and become wax flies and black soldier flies. Once again, I think that would be cool and I think Toby would enjoy that. I've heard a couple different numbers for how many bugs to feed each day, and I've also heard younger chams can eat twice a day if they are eating all of their initial meals. Obviously it depends how old Toby ends up being, but how many bugs is a good placce to start for a juveniles? And if I am doing 2 feeds a day, what's a good time for those?

Well, I think those were all my questions about husbandry. Has anyone ever been to this Scott Smith's All Animal Expo? It used to be the Dupage County Reptile Show, but it's kind of evolved. Maybe this is a long shot, but does anyone know any good or bad breeders who go to that expo? If I don't find a great Toby there, I'm going to drive around to a few pet stores in the general area and try to find him. Any recs in the Chicagoland would be awesome! What questions should I be asking? I'll ask how they were kept so far, solo or with others, and what they've been fed, how long the breeder has been breeding, but I don't really know what else to ask.

Also, I don't know if anyone lives near Chicago, but I would love some real life chameleon keeper friends. Would be super down to check out your setups and meet your lizards. Maybe we could even babysit for each other one day. And I would REALLY love it if someone nearby had a Solarmeter! I would like to check what the UVB levels actually are, but can't justify paying $250 for one. I'm not on insta, but I'm going to make one for Toby on Saturday and would love to follow all of you and see your cool cham pics!

Thanks again and again for making this forum what it is,
Seth


 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hi and welcome! :) That’s awesome that you’ve been getting everything ready and as perfect as possible for a chameleon. I can answer some of your questions.
I have used coco coir sheets as backgrounds for two screened enclosures that were bioactive. I tried not to have the coco sheet touching the substrate and had a gap for chimney effect ventilation on the sides and back. I also didn’t want the risk of mold on the coco sheet. I didn’t have any problems with mold due to the full ventilation of the screen, but it can be a risk. I only used the coco sheets for about 6-8 months until I got busy and made faux backgrounds with expanding foam. The primary reasons that I use anything at all is to block my chameleons views of each other as well as prevent water spraying thru the screen. In retrospect, I wish I had used white pvc panels as the backgrounds make my enclosures so dark. Then I could have either painted the panels like a forest or attached commercial backgrounds.
Yes, you want the 24” long uvb. It needs to span the width of your enclosure. You’ll want to set up a way to elevate your lights at least a couple of inches off the screen top since young chameleons like to walk upside down on them and can get burns. I use small wire baskets from the dollar store to raise my lights.
Solarmeters are great to have, but they are expensive. As I have so many reptiles, I chose to invest in one. It’s very nice to be able to measure uvb levels for placement of basking branches as well as determine when exactly I need to change out my uvb bulbs.
For water, you may want to think about investing in a reverse osmosis system. I use this one https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DOG63OY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1 I saved a bunch of the empty distilled water bottles and periodically attach the RO system to the kitchen sink and make chameleon water. It’s very simple and easy to use…just screws on to your faucet.
For night time fogging, you really want your temps to be as much below 70 as you can achieve. I don’t use a fogger as I can’t get my temps low enough. However, I do run a couple of 15 second mistings during the night for a small humidity boost.
For feeding stations, I love the shooting gallery as it does a great job containing the bugs…except for bsfl - those are able to squirm their way out between the feeder and the screen. https://tkchameleons.com/products/shooting-gallery?variant=30018608595032
As I keep a few hundred crickets at one time, I use a large plastic bin with lots of ventilation screening added. I give them egg crate or paper tubes to hide in and when I need to grab some crickets, I can shake from the egg crate or the tubes into my tall deli style cup (putting the lid on after). I put a pinch of supplement in and as the bugs move around, they coat themselves. How much to feed will depend on the age of your animal. And here is the perfect place to advise that responsible breeders will not sell a chameleon under 4 months old. Very young chameleons are fragile and so much can go or be wrong and usually by 4 months old, they are strong enough for a new home. Even though you’ll be at an expo, do a Google search of any potential breeders you are considering buying from. Look for on line reviews if possible. I would suggest just going to the expo for fun and buy a chameleon from a known reputable breeders such as Kammerflage, Frams chams, Eye Candy chameleons, etc. These reputable breeders won’t disappear after a few days and they have demonstrated that they truly care about their chameleons and customers.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
It really seems as though you have put a lot of time, thought, and money into your set up so for.... So to avoid potential heart ache or loss of money. I am going to suggest NOT buying at the expo. Expo's are known for unhealthy chameleons. You really want to make sure you get a cham that is healthy, eating well, No RI, No parasites. I highly recommend looking into some breeders that ship their juveniles. ipardalis and framschams are great and readily have panthers.
 

Jikkermanccini

Established Member
It really seems as though you have put a lot of time, thought, and money into your set up so for.... So to avoid potential heart ache or loss of money. I am going to suggest NOT buying at the expo. Expo's are known for unhealthy chameleons. You really want to make sure you get a cham that is healthy, eating well, No RI, No parasites. I highly recommend looking into some breeders that ship their juveniles. ipardalis and framschams are great and readily have panthers.
I will have to second this. I've never been lucky enough to find a healthy chameleon of any type at an expo, they are almost all wild caught, sickly males from Florida. There are many great breeders who sponsor the forum, and at many great price points depending on what you are looking for.
Good luck with whoever you get! I can tell you've done your research and I'm sure whatever you get will thrive in your care!
 

Mark_C

Member
I know there's a ton of breeders out there and I'm sure you can get some great advice from the folks here on the good breeders and the ones to be wary of.
I personally researched what I wanted first (juvenile male ybbb panther), then went to recommended breeders until I found one.
I ended up finding mine at Chi-Town Chameleons in Illinois. He came in well packed, healthy, and safe with a 30 day health guarantee and excellent comms and photos throughout the experience.
 

For Toby

New Member
Hi and welcome! :) That’s awesome that you’ve been getting everything ready and as perfect as possible for a chameleon. I can answer some of your questions.
I have used coco coir sheets as backgrounds for two screened enclosures that were bioactive. I tried not to have the coco sheet touching the substrate and had a gap for chimney effect ventilation on the sides and back. I also didn’t want the risk of mold on the coco sheet. I didn’t have any problems with mold due to the full ventilation of the screen, but it can be a risk. I only used the coco sheets for about 6-8 months until I got busy and made faux backgrounds with expanding foam. The primary reasons that I use anything at all is to block my chameleons views of each other as well as prevent water spraying thru the screen. In retrospect, I wish I had used white pvc panels as the backgrounds make my enclosures so dark. Then I could have either painted the panels like a forest or attached commercial backgrounds.
Yes, you want the 24” long uvb. It needs to span the width of your enclosure. You’ll want to set up a way to elevate your lights at least a couple of inches off the screen top since young chameleons like to walk upside down on them and can get burns. I use small wire baskets from the dollar store to raise my lights.
Solarmeters are great to have, but they are expensive. As I have so many reptiles, I chose to invest in one. It’s very nice to be able to measure uvb levels for placement of basking branches as well as determine when exactly I need to change out my uvb bulbs.
For water, you may want to think about investing in a reverse osmosis system. I use this one https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DOG63OY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1 I saved a bunch of the empty distilled water bottles and periodically attach the RO system to the kitchen sink and make chameleon water. It’s very simple and easy to use…just screws on to your faucet.
For night time fogging, you really want your temps to be as much below 70 as you can achieve. I don’t use a fogger as I can’t get my temps low enough. However, I do run a couple of 15 second mistings during the night for a small humidity boost.
For feeding stations, I love the shooting gallery as it does a great job containing the bugs…except for bsfl - those are able to squirm their way out between the feeder and the screen. https://tkchameleons.com/products/shooting-gallery?variant=30018608595032
As I keep a few hundred crickets at one time, I use a large plastic bin with lots of ventilation screening added. I give them egg crate or paper tubes to hide in and when I need to grab some crickets, I can shake from the egg crate or the tubes into my tall deli style cup (putting the lid on after). I put a pinch of supplement in and as the bugs move around, they coat themselves. How much to feed will depend on the age of your animal. And here is the perfect place to advise that responsible breeders will not sell a chameleon under 4 months old. Very young chameleons are fragile and so much can go or be wrong and usually by 4 months old, they are strong enough for a new home. Even though you’ll be at an expo, do a Google search of any potential breeders you are considering buying from. Look for on line reviews if possible. I would suggest just going to the expo for fun and buy a chameleon from a known reputable breeders such as Kammerflage, Frams chams, Eye Candy chameleons, etc. These reputable breeders won’t disappear after a few days and they have demonstrated that they truly care about their chameleons and customers.
Thanks so much Skittles!

I was definitely thinking about leaving a little room at the bottom of the coco sheets. The ones I bought are only 36'' anyway, so that should be just about perfect. The bottom 1ft or so of my enclosure is pretty much all substrate, so I'll need to cut it a little. Glad you've had success with them. Might end of changing them out in a bit. We'll see how it goes.

I'll definitely buy the 24'' UVB. It seems like that's the direction I was heading anyway, and the reptile store near me has some anyway, so that'll be easy.

And thanks for the links! I'm going to check those out, and it seems like dusting crickets and whatnot is probably easier than I'm making it out to be. I'll let you know how everything goes!

THANKS AGAIN!
 

For Toby

New Member
THANKS EVERYONE!

I am hearing you about the expo. I've got a bunch of friends and their kids excited to go look at animals, so we're definitely going, haha, but probably won't get a Toby unless I am blown away by the seller and the health of the chams. Going to look into all the breeders you all mentioned, and am SO thankful for the help. What a great online crew! Pictures coming soon!
 

For Toby

New Member
I will have to second this. I've never been lucky enough to find a healthy chameleon of any type at an expo, they are almost all wild caught, sickly males from Florida. There are many great breeders who sponsor the forum, and at many great price points depending on what you are looking for.
Good luck with whoever you get! I can tell you've done your research and I'm sure whatever you get will thrive in your care!
Thanks for the confidence Jikker! I've become completely obsessed and I don't even have a cham yet, haha! Getting everything ready has been so much fun.
 

Mrjamwin

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hi there and welcome to the forums!! I have a QUESTION for you. Do you have a name picked out yet and if so, what is it? 😬 :)
 

Mrjamwin

Chameleon Enthusiast
Toby is a perfectly acceptable name. Thank you! :LOL: If you're scratching your head as to why I've asked. I'm sure others here on the forums will let you know why I've asked. P.S. it's long standing joke.
 

For Toby

New Member
Hi there and welcome to the forums!! I have a QUESTION for you. Do you have a name picked out yet and if so, what is it? 😬 :)
Thanks for the welcome! I've been reading the forums for a while, and finally took the plunge!

Haha, yes it's TOBY! It's been picked out for quite some time. My friends are honestly a little bored of hearing me talk about it for the last 2 years, hahaha! I'm pretty sure some of them think it's never going to happen. Husbandry can get pretty nerdy real fast, and they don't seem as excited about gut loading bugs as I am. My girlfriend DEFINITELY didn't realize there was going to be so many different kinds of creepy crawlies around the house, hahaha! TOO LATE!
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
THANKS EVERYONE!

I am hearing you about the expo. I've got a bunch of friends and their kids excited to go look at animals, so we're definitely going, haha, but probably won't get a Toby unless I am blown away by the seller and the health of the chams. Going to look into all the breeders you all mentioned, and am SO thankful for the help. What a great online crew! Pictures coming soon!
Just keep in mind you can not see parasites, early MBD, or early respiratory infections.... What is hidden with chams are often the big things to have to deal with when it comes to vets. Do what you feel is best but I do not want you to go and buy and then be surprised later because you thought something was healthy.
 

Lindasjackson

Chameleon Enthusiast
Welcome to the forum! Good on you for researching and getting everything all set up and stable before getting Toby. I second what everyone else has said about buying from reputable breeders online. Check out the ones mentioned. You’ll be happy you did!
 
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