New cage design

AP711

New Member
Hi everyone,
Looking forward to enjoying a new panther cham in a couple months, and since I have experience with DIY projects, I thought I would give building a cage a shot. Of course, I'm still in the research stage, so nothing is final. I made up a design on sketchup, so I am looking for more experienced people to critique it.

The dimensions of the cage itself are 2x2x6ft.







Now, under the cage is a drain, which leads to a bin underneath, much like Heika's cage.



A few questions that I have include:
1)Is 6ft. too tall for a panther? I have heard different opinions, some saying that 6ft. is perfect, and others saying that it is too much.
2)What is the prefered type of screening used?
3)If possible, should I integrate an automatic misting system?

Thanks everyone!
 

MWheelock

Veterinarian
Cage design

A few questions that I have include:
1)Is 6ft. too tall for a panther? I have heard different opinions, some saying that 6ft. is perfect, and others saying that it is too much.
2)What is the prefered type of screening used?
3)If possible, should I integrate an automatic misting system?


Like a few others on the forum, I am presently making a new cage for my chameleon to move into in a month (Manga is @ 4 months old.) I cannot definitively answer your questions, but let me summerize what has been told to me.

1) I have heard that panthers will primarily stay in the upper portion of the cage. They may do this due to security and having a vantage point from above. They may also be closer to heat sources and water sources. . .This being said, my cham utilizes the whole cage most of the time. I provide more cover on the bottom of the cage, and he investigates constantly. When I put him on my office ficus he will investigate the top portion, but then hang out at the lowest branch trying to get down to a nearby pot of ivy. (Perhaps I just have a very investigative cham.)
Perhaps it is individual. Manga likes it when I change the "furniture" around his cage and will spend an hour or so investigating top to bottom before he goes back to his hangout spot that I try not to change.
I plan to have the interior of my new cage to be 5'Tx 39"Wx 27"D. I think he will use it all. I plan to have various tiers of potted plants and various vines and branches at all levels. I may even have a secondary basking light on a lower tier (the cage will be large enough to allow for cooler places to hang out.)
Will your panther use this space. . .I don't know.

2) I think most people will tell you that vinyl coated aluminum is the best. If you are able to find it, let us know. I think more than a few of us are looking for a place that supplies it. It is easy on the feet, can usually withstand higher heat and easy to clean. The smallest I've heard of is 1/8"x 1/8", but I've never actually seen it.
Next is aluminum. Easy to clean, sturdy. If your cham likes to climb cage walls (not all chams do) this may be an issue as toe nails could get caught/torn/infected if too small of mesh is used. Here's the rub. . .1/8" may be big enough to prevent this, but may be too small to keep smaller insects in your cage (many families frown on this.) If your cage is outside, and you cup feed, larger gauge can be readily used. (Your structure looks like an inside job.)
I think Heika is using a hard plastic material used for fish ponds. This sounds really promising and I'm watching to see how it holds up for my own future projects.
There are probably more, but I think the last option is nylon. This is definitely a valid choice, though it may tear easier and many a cricket has been known to chew through nylon. I personally believe that nylon is harder to really get clean when disinfecting.
Again, which is best. Probably vinyl-coated aluminum. Besides that, I think it depends on you and the personality of your cham. (I am going to use 1/8" aluminum for Manga since I see him climbing on everything.)

3)I have just recieved the ProMist system for my office set up. My cage is near many computers so rigging up a home-made system that may leak was not an option. It's been the busy season so I go to the office every day and can hand-mist and fill the drip system, but things are slowing down, so I wanted a system that would take care of itself for the day I wasn't there. My lights are on a timer too.
I think there is a really great comparison chart for misting systems(check other links in the forum.) I think the top 3 are ProMist, MistKing, and RainMaker through Ecologic Technologies. There is also a great site with pictures and very specific instructions on how to make your own on wwwbaskinglizards.com. I ended up going with ProMist for 2 reasons- 1)the nozzles seem to be sturdier and a very fine mist, 2) it really seems to be the quietest of the systems. Be prepared, these mist systems are not cheap...

-----As for other things to think of -
A) Is the space for drainage going to be big enough to manipulate a bucket or tub underneath? Will there be room for other items, such as your misting system or bug containers? (I think a painter's/construction bucket is @15inches tall. With 2-4 inches additional clearance to manipulate the bucket, your looking at a minimum of 17" on the inside. My stand is 27" tall without wheels.)

B) Do you want wheels? With a cage that tall and solid (heavy), it will undoubtably be a pain to move once its there.

C) Do you want it to be easily broken down into sections for cleaning? (My new cage will have the top half easily pulled off to be hosed and scrubbed outside.)

D) Do you have enough clearance on top to easily deal with lights?
-----------------------------------------
Like I've said before, I've heard a lot of differing opinions from breeders/hobbyists/vets. For the most part, the cage you are proposing seems more than functional. The nice thing is that you are asking all the right questions
 

Heika

New Member
That was a really great post, and the only thing I have to add is my own personal experience with moving a panther from a much smaller cage to a very large cage.

I have heard that panther chameleons won't use a lot of space, but what I have seen is that they appreciate the extra space anyhow. My chameleon does stay in the upper portion of the cage. In fact, he seems to be very content with hanging out in the top 2 feet of the cage, and rarely explores. I have seen him climb down to the bottom of the cage a few times, look around, and then climb back up to his favorite spots.

The differences I have seen between what I view as his overall contentment level from the old cage, which was approximately 34" X 18" X 24", give or take a few inches, to the new cage have been pretty extreme. I can't say it all has to do with the new cage. I am simply not sure. He now eats readily, something he didn't do in the smaller cage. He doesn't try to run out the door when I open the cage. In fact, getting him out is a small chore. He has gained a significant amount of weight, has grown in length, improved in color, and seems much healthier than he was in his old cage. Like I said, I will not try to claim that it is all the new cage... but I really believe it is a contributing factor. No, he doesn't use every bit of space that is provided. However, the space seems to give him a higher level of security, which I believe has improved his overall health. He is a pretty happy camper, and this cage will last him for the rest of his life.

Heika
 
i was wondering with a six foot tall cage were are you goining to put the lights. i would suggest turning about a foot from the top to a compartment to house the light fixture. for easier access to them. it will look better to
 

Chamomile T

New Member
I have a 4 foot cage but it is on a base that makes the whole thing around 6+ feet. I have a really hard time attending to the lights and drip container. It is better now that I have everything the way I want it, but it took a little over a week to get it that way. I fumbled with the lights a lot trying to get just the right temps ( I had the burns to prove it..ouch:eek: ). I am dreading the next bulb change! I have a little step stool I use for now but I will probably change the base size in the near future. Good luck!
 
AP711 said:
A few questions that I have include:
1)Is 6ft. too tall for a panther?
2)What is the prefered type of screening used?
3)If possible, should I integrate an automatic misting system?
Since you are looking for personal opinions:

1) I use 3ft enclosures raised to the ceiling.
2) I use solid sides/back, & heavy duty vinyl on the front and top.
3) If you have more than one chameleon, Automated systems are amazing.

What program did you use to draft your sketches?
 
Ive been looking for hack copies of Autocad, I love using that program, but it has an unbreakable system it seams... and one copy alone is $2000USD or something with additional lisences being only a mere $800.
 

AP711

New Member
Thanks for all the responses! Still soaking in all the info. and suggestions. It would probably be more convenient to have the cage 4 or 5 ft. tall instead of 6ft. due to the lighting and draining underneath. Adding wheels is a great idea because I hope to have the cage outside half of the year in hot florida weather.

Will and Brad, I used sketchup for the diagrams. Google offers it for free now, and its a great program to have! Very easy to use!

THANKS!!
 
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