New cham-mom - Husbandry check, please :)

Hi there,

Hope all is well! I'm a new cham-mom to a charming panther chameleon and want to be able to provide the best for him. Hoping I could leverage all of your expertise!

Chameleon Info:

  • Your Chameleon - Ambilobe red body blue bar panther cham. Male. I wasn't too sure about his age, but thankfully the community took a look today and suggested that he's about 6-8 months. I've had him since Sunday so four fun days total. :)
  • Handling - Since I've only had him for four days, I was able to successfully handle him three times for five minutes each session.

    I tried the first day and he puffed up and hissed, which I'm sure he was still acclimating to his new home and didn't quite trust me yet. He also went through a full-shed the first day I got him. The second day I was able to successfully handle him without puffing or hissing, but he saw his home and wanted to head in that direction. Made a lot of progress on the third day -- well, I lured him out with a worm and he climbed around and explored a bit. Today, he explored a lot more outside his cage.
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders?
    Crickets and superworms are the main food right now. About 10-12 crickets a day sprinkled with Repti Calcium -- 5-6 crickets at 8am and 5-6 crickets at 5:30-6pm. Then four superworms the next day with three additional crickets. **I just found out he's about 6-8 months today so I'll cut back on his feeding to 10-12 crickets every other day.

    Crickets are fed with carrots, apples, and Fluker's Orange Cubes. Superworms are fed with carrots and apples.

    I'm going to try hornworms as a treat this weekend.
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule?
    Currently, I'm dusting the crickets with Repti Calcium.

    The following shipment just came today:
    Fluker's 73016 Reptile Calcium Supplement without Vitamin D3, 4-Ounce
    Fluker's Calcium Reptile Supplement with added Vitamin D3 - 4oz.
    Miner-All Calcium/Mineral Supplement, Indoor, 6 oz

    I read that I should follow this schedule:
    • Calcium (without D3 or phosphorus): Dust feeder insects almost every feeding
    • Calcium with D3 (without phosphorus): Dust feeder insects once every two weeks (weeks 1 and 3 of the month)
    • Multivitamins: Dust feeder insects once every two weeks (weeks 2 and 4 of the month)
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking?

    I have a container with a small hole that I refill three times a day. This little guy isn't shy when it comes to drinking water! I've seen him drinking a few times off of the leaves and in front of me. I've also poured water slowly creating raindrops and he would occasionally open his mouth to drink.


    I have a container to catch the water from dripping on the cage floor that I empty out pretty frequently. The container is also low enough for him to get out in case he falls in. I read that some keepers would put a mesh over that container, but I'm thinking he'll be okay to climb out. Let me know if you see a red flag!

    He gets misted at least three times a day for about 2 minutes-- I'm in San Francisco so I'm thinking he doesn't need to be misted for too long?

  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites?
    Urate is white and his dropping is a nice brown and intact-- kind of like a bloated brown worm.

    I have not tested him for parasites.
  • History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you.
    I bought him at a pet store so don't know his age, true locale, sire/dam, etc. He is about 10.5 inches from head to tail, with a body of 5.5 inches.
Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions?
    Zoo Med Repti Breeze - 16" L X 16" W X 30" H with screens **After figuring out his age today, I'll look into getting a bigger cage for him to grow into. :)
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule?

    ZooMed Tropical UVB and Heat Lighting Kit that comes with:
    Mini Combo Deep Dome Lamp Fixture
    Daylight Blue Reptile Bulb (60 watt)
    ReptiSun® 5.0 Mini Compact Fluorescent (13 watt)

    I've also been researching about the Zoo Med 26053 Reptisun T5-Ho Terrarium Hood, 24". Let me know if this is super important to get asap!

    I turn both lights on from 8:30am until 10:30pm. I've read that I should do 12hr of day and 12hr of night. He seems to be going to bed by 10:30pm so I keep the lights on until I see him crawl lower in his cage to sleep. (Selfishly, I also just want to spend more time watching him.)

    Please let me know if I need to adjust the lighting schedule.
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?

    Basking spot is 87-92 degrees, mid cage is 75, cage floor is 68. Lowest overnight temp is 68. We always have the heater on in our apartment. I use the Zoo Med Digital Thermometer.
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?
    I have an analog hygrometer coming this weekend -- stay tuned! I'll try to keep it at 50-70%.
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind?
    A pot of pothos! I have another set of vines coming in this weekend to give him more levels to roam around. Will also get more fake leaves to cover the surrounding areas so he can hide under.

    He slept near the pothos plants the first two nights, and now he just sleeps in the open.
  • Placement - Where is your cage located? Is it near any fans, air vents, or high traffic areas? At what height is the top of the cage relative to your room floor?

    The cage is located near the fireplace (the fireplace doesn't work) in the living room and out of the way of any walking path. There's an air vent nearby so that the heated air could reach him (we don't have AC in SF). It's elevated about four inches from the actual carpet so the top of the cage is about 34 inches from the ground (4in mantle thing + 30in cage height).

    I have parchment paper lining the bottom and have replaced it twice to keep his area clean.
  • Location - Where are you geographically located?
    Potrero Hill, San Francisco, CA (one of the sunniest neighborhoods in SF)
Current Problem - The current problem you are concerned about.
- What can I improve to be a better cham-mom?

I just love him so much already! Thank you so much for your time and advice! :D


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kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
Welcome to the forum!

You have the husbandry pretty well in hand. I would recommend that you feed/gutload the crickets with a wide assortment of greens such as dandelion greens, collards, kale, mustard greens, endive, escarole and veggies like squash, sweet potato, sweet red pepper, zucchini and a bit of fruit like apples , pears, melon, berries.

What you said you read for the supplement schedule is what we usually recommend.

IMHO it's better to use nontoxic well washed (both sides of the leaves) real plants and make sure the branches are non toxic too sinc Panthers tend to chew on the branches sometimes. Branches should be big enough that he can get a good grip (some of the ones you have are a little thin).


Lights should be on for 12 hours only and no lights should be on at night.
Hope I didn't miss anything...but I still use someone will chime in if I did.
 
Welcome to the forum!

You have the husbandry pretty well in hand. I would recommend that you feed/gutload the crickets with a wide assortment of greens such as dandelion greens, collards, kale, mustard greens, endive, escarole and veggies like squash, sweet potato, sweet red pepper, zucchini and a bit of fruit like apples , pears, melon, berries.

What you said you read for the supplement schedule is what we usually recommend.

IMHO it's better to use nontoxic well washed (both sides of the leaves) real plants and make sure the branches are non toxic too sinc Panthers tend to chew on the branches sometimes. Branches should be big enough that he can get a good grip (some of the ones you have are a little thin).


Lights should be on for 12 hours only and no lights should be on at night.
Hope I didn't miss anything...but I still use someone will chime in if I did.

Thank you for the speedy response, Kinyonga! :)

I'll purchase more greens and veggies to feed the crickets.

Noted on the non-toxic, well-washed plants. I'll also make sure to grab a bit thicker vines and branches for the little dude.

Adjusting the lights to just 12 hours now.

Thanks again for your help!
 

jcarlsen

Avid Member
Welcome to the forums! Not a bad idea to check in here when you're not sure about things since there's a lot to know.

Couple of things stand out to me right out of the gate. I think you should prioritize getting a linear T8 or T5 bulb for your UVB. I don't think you're screwed with the lights you have, but definitely the sooner the better.

I'd also say you might wanna add some more branches and another fake or live plant. Since you plan on updating to a larger enclosure (something I'd also look into doing sooner than later), you'll be able to plan an entirely new layout! Definitely recommend a 2x2x4 enclosure or more!

With handling, I'm gonna suggest you dial it back a bit. I know you want to hold him and get him used to you, but it's far more important that he get used to his enclosure since he'll be spending the majority of his time there. And he'll be able to do that better without being picked up, does that make sense? Believe me, I was enthralled with all the videos of the friendly panthers that were all over youtube and was equally distraught when my young panther wanted to get away from me, but over time I learned a pretty valuable truth: chameleons tolerate us at best. It's incredibly rare you'll see a chameleon that "enjoys" being picked up and handled, and more often than not if your cham is eager to get out of the cage, it might be a sign something is wrong inside the cage and he wants to get away.

There will definitely be times you have to pick him up, for cleaning, weight check etc... so I'm not saying never touch him, but if it's handling just to handle, I might dial it back for a bit. You could focus on hand feeding though! That's a great way to establish trust. Panthers love worms, but be cautious with them, especially super worms. My guy became an addict and it was all because I wanted him to hand feed.

All this said, you're off to a good start and it's great that you're here looking for more help!
 
Welcome to the forums! Not a bad idea to check in here when you're not sure about things since there's a lot to know.

Couple of things stand out to me right out of the gate. I think you should prioritize getting a linear T8 or T5 bulb for your UVB. I don't think you're screwed with the lights you have, but definitely the sooner the better.

I'd also say you might wanna add some more branches and another fake or live plant. Since you plan on updating to a larger enclosure (something I'd also look into doing sooner than later), you'll be able to plan an entirely new layout! Definitely recommend a 2x2x4 enclosure or more!

With handling, I'm gonna suggest you dial it back a bit. I know you want to hold him and get him used to you, but it's far more important that he get used to his enclosure since he'll be spending the majority of his time there. And he'll be able to do that better without being picked up, does that make sense? Believe me, I was enthralled with all the videos of the friendly panthers that were all over youtube and was equally distraught when my young panther wanted to get away from me, but over time I learned a pretty valuable truth: chameleons tolerate us at best. It's incredibly rare you'll see a chameleon that "enjoys" being picked up and handled, and more often than not if your cham is eager to get out of the cage, it might be a sign something is wrong inside the cage and he wants to get away.

There will definitely be times you have to pick him up, for cleaning, weight check etc... so I'm not saying never touch him, but if it's handling just to handle, I might dial it back for a bit. You could focus on hand feeding though! That's a great way to establish trust. Panthers love worms, but be cautious with them, especially super worms. My guy became an addict and it was all because I wanted him to hand feed.

All this said, you're off to a good start and it's great that you're here looking for more help!

Thank you so much for the feedback, Jcarlsen! Really appreciate your time. :)

Will get a linear UVB light asap!

Yes, waiting for the additional branches/vines coming this weekend. I'll make sure to add more layers for him. Thanks for the recommendation on the larger cage as well!

Noted on the dialing it back with the handling! I'll resist the urge to handle him except for when I deep clean his cage. :)

How often should I be doing a weight-check? Do you recommend monthly to lessen the handling?

Once again, thanks for your time! :)
 

Ares05

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thank you so much for the feedback, Jcarlsen! Really appreciate your time. :)

Will get a linear UVB light asap!

Yes, waiting for the additional branches/vines coming this weekend. I'll make sure to add more layers for him. Thanks for the recommendation on the larger cage as well!

Noted on the dialing it back with the handling! I'll resist the urge to handle him except for when I deep clean his cage. :)

How often should I be doing a weight-check? Do you recommend monthly to lessen the handling?

Once again, thanks for your time! :)

Honestly deep cleaning isnt nessecary unless you go away for a long time, or just rarely. As long as you spot clean every day you are good. Just pick up dead leaves, dead bugs, poop, etc. This will eliminate the stress of a deep clean.

I do a weight check every two or so weeks. If my boy is having problems I do it once a week so I can watch him closer.
 
Honestly deep cleaning isnt nessecary unless you go away for a long time, or just rarely. As long as you spot clean every day you are good. Just pick up dead leaves, dead bugs, poop, etc. This will eliminate the stress of a deep clean.

I do a weight check every two or so weeks. If my boy is having problems I do it once a week so I can watch him closer.

Ah, I see! Thank you for the added insight re: spot clean vs deep clean and how often to weigh the little dude, Ares05! :)


Dont need that Blue Bulb either

Standard Incan or Halogen light is what you want.


Thanks for the light info, Cyberlocc! :)
 

jcarlsen

Avid Member
Noted on the dialing it back with the handling! I'll resist the urge to handle him except for when I deep clean his cage. :)
And like I said, for interaction with him, I'd focus on trying hand feeding, even with tongs first. Just be careful not to get him hooked on worms. They LOVE superworms, but it's like feeding him a french fry haha
 

Ares05

Chameleon Enthusiast
I wouldn't use tongs. Ive read they can hurt their tongue on the ends of them as they go for the feeder. (Please correct me if im wrong!)
 

jcarlsen

Avid Member
I wouldn't use tongs. Ive read they can hurt their tongue on the ends of them as they go for the feeder. (Please correct me if im wrong!)
Technically anything metal, like the screen side and other rough surfaces have the potential to hurt their mouths and tongues, but I never had an issue with tong feeding. Some feeders are a bit feistier than others. I got a nasty bite from a superworm one time and decided, no more hand feeding those without tongs lmao
 
Just wanted to say thank you so much for all of your help with the husbandry check! :)

Here's the latest -- upgraded to the 2x2x4 cage, got the Zoo Med Reptisun T5-HO linear hood, added thicker branches, and added more live plants that I've well-washed and wiped down all the leaves. I don't think you can see the dripper in the back, but it's there. I'll add another one on the right-hand side. I've also added river rocks on top in all of the plant pots to reduce the chances of him eating dirt. I ran out of river rocks so folded in the brown wrapping that covers the umbrella plants on the bottom in the meanwhile.

I was able to weigh the little dude, and he's coming in at 71 grams. I have a shipment of dubias coming this weekend so will spice up his diet and will also make sure that I gutload more veggies for the feeders!


Forgot to turn on the uvb in the first pic, but the cage is open for a better view. In the second pic, the cage is closed but both lights are on. Third pic is the little dude checking out his new place.

Please let me know if you see any additional red flags. Thanks a million! :D

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Redman

Avid Member
Looking good, for sure. once those schflera grow in it will be even better for him.

Not a husbandry suggestion, but a question: How do you plan on dealing with his feeders? Are you letting them free range in the cage, hand feeding, or do you plan on putting in a feeder?

I have some that I use a feeder attached to the door that works pretty well at keeping the feeders in the feeder and not all over. Others I have used a binder clip to attach a deli cup under a preferred spot and those have worked well for me too. Just wondering what you are thinking.

You will probably get advice to raise the basking lamp up off of the cage top. There are various options for doing that and I am sure others will chime in on your question.

One other item I just noticed: Those enclosures usually aren't water tight at all. Depending on size, I do know that some manufacturers make trays that I have used in the past to sit the screen cage in and catch any water draining out the bottom. I always got a larger size than the one that goes inside the cage, because those just give a spot for feeders to hide and slowly die. But I would suggest getting a larger one, and I have seen rabbit trays that could hold even large enclosures inside them (I think Dumor was the company? I can find a link for you if you want me to.). Again, just a thought.
 
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Looking good, for sure. once those schflera grow in it will be even better for him.

Not a husbandry suggestion, but a question: How do you plan on dealing with his feeders? Are you letting them free range in the cage, hand feeding, or do you plan on putting in a feeder?

I have some that I use a feeder attached to the door that works pretty well at keeping the feeders in the feeder and not all over. Others I have used a binder clip to attach a deli cup under a preferred spot and those have worked well for me too. Just wondering what you are thinking.

You will probably get advice to raise the basking lamp up off of the cage top. There are various options for doing that and I am sure others will chime in on your question.

Thanks for checking his updated cage for me! :)

I've let a limited amount of feeders roam free in his smaller cage and watched him hunt. I've also used chopsticks to place the feeders on different leaves. Now that it's a bigger cage, I'm thinking a feeder cup would be best just so it's a bit more contained. Thanks for the binder clip attached to a deli cup idea!

Oh yeah! I heard on Bill Strand's podcast to use a baking rack. Definitely forgot about that -- how high should I elevate it? Was it six inches? Do I need to do that for the basking light too? Here's an impromptu fix with wooden stocks that are about an inch. :\

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Looking good, for sure. once those schflera grow in it will be even better for him.

Not a husbandry suggestion, but a question: How do you plan on dealing with his feeders? Are you letting them free range in the cage, hand feeding, or do you plan on putting in a feeder?

I have some that I use a feeder attached to the door that works pretty well at keeping the feeders in the feeder and not all over. Others I have used a binder clip to attach a deli cup under a preferred spot and those have worked well for me too. Just wondering what you are thinking.

You will probably get advice to raise the basking lamp up off of the cage top. There are various options for doing that and I am sure others will chime in on your question.

One other item I just noticed: Those enclosures usually aren't water tight at all. Depending on size, I do know that some manufacturers make trays that I have used in the past to sit the screen cage in and catch any water draining out the bottom. I always got a larger size than the one that goes inside the cage, because those just give a spot for feeders to hide and slowly die. But I would suggest getting a larger one, and I have seen rabbit trays that could hold even large enclosures inside them (I think Dumor was the company? I can find a link for you if you want me to.). Again, just a thought.

Anddd I'm sure he'll appreciate it when those schfflera plants grow bigger -- he's currently sleeping in one.

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jcarlsen

Avid Member
My personal recommendation with dubias is not letting them free roam the cage unless you're setting them free in front of him and he's getting them right away. They are excellent at hiding, much more so than crickets. Might be a good idea to get a feeding cup or two that you can use to keep the dubia in the enclosure without the worry of them burrowing into a plant's dirt. This nice person from the UK makes these awesome feeder cups: https://www.facebook.com/chameleonbugbar/
 

Redman

Avid Member
how high should I elevate it? Was it six inches? Do I need to do that for the basking light too?

Without measuring your light and uv output with a solarmeter, I can't give you an accurate answer on that one. For me, the basking light is of the most importance so that he can't climb the screen to get right underneath it and end up burned. It can happen with the uv exposure as well, of course.

Have you checked the resource links at the bottom of this page? Here

There is a lot there, but it's worth the read, IMO.
 
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