New Chameleon Questions

k8shm8

Member
Hello Everybody!

My name is Kate and I am new to these forums. So I am posting this thread in particular because I want all the advice anybody has to offer! Unfortunately, my boyfriends house caught fire the other day and is now unlivable. My boyfriend had many pets including 2 lizards, a corn snake, pit viper, ferret, dog, and a chameleon. Due to the fact his house is unlivable, he needs to re-home his pets. I offered to take care of the chameleon because I have always loved them/wanted one. My personal experience with caring for exotics is from owning dart frogs and reading articles about pet care.

The chameleon is a male, 6 month old panther chameleon (pictured below), named Azul. I believe right now he is in a Zoo Med ReptiBreeze 16x16x20 cage (I think its bigger but I don't have the exact size). The plants are fake and my boyfriend sprayed the cage multiple times per day to keep up the humidity. He was eating mainly crickets with a few meal worms here and there (coated with calcium with D3). Now that I am being entrusted with Azul's care, I wanna make sure he lives a long and healthy life. I did some research on this website, among others about care sheets; but I still have a ton of questions which I am hoping some of you can help me answer.


How often do you guys take your chameleons to the vet? Annual checkups or just when they are sick? What are some warning signs of illness in chameleons? How much should a healthy chameleon ideally weigh? Etc... Etc...
Basically I really wanna know what are good signs of a healthy chameleon versus what are bad signs.


What brand of cages and lights do you recommend? Obviously he can't stay in this small enclosure for much longer so I wanted to purchase a bigger one. I was thinking of a Zilla Fresh 18" by 30" screen cage but im not sure.

For the enclosure, I am going to keep the chameleon in my basement with my fish tank. I picked this location because it is the most stress free environment for him until I get my own place in a few months. I live in Pennsylvania so it can get cold here, so I was thinking of getting a heat lamp with NO LIGHT for nighttime to keep the terrarium warm. I am not sure how cold it truly gets in my basement, but during the winter I think it is cutting close to 60 degrees.
I know that a weather drop at night is good for chameleons but how cold is too cold?


Also what is the best method for keeping the terrarium humid? I was thinking of getting a standard humidifier from like CVS or something, then figuring out the best way make it work for Azul's needs. I also wanted to buy a temperature and humidity gauge so I can monitor everything for him. What % of humidity should his terrarium be kept at, especially so he can shed smoothly. What are the ideal temperatures for his terrarium as well?



All in all, please give any advice you have to give me is truly appreciated. Relating to what I asked about above or anything you wanna throw out there. I wanna take the best care possible of him. Please no judgement for my lack of experience either! I am just trying to learn.

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44gsus

New Member
k8shm8,

At least an annual vet visit ensuring your vet has experience with exotic pets, specifically chameleons. Ideal weight is dependent upon the age and type of chameleon. I'm new at this too and have a Veiled Chameleon and Jackson Chameleon, so my suggestions are general guidelines:

  • If you can see their ribs most of the time, you might want to have him checked by your vet.
  • Loss of appetite for more than a day or two would be another indicator something isn't right.
  • Dull and/or sunken eyes is a sign of dehydration. A good appetite (taking food shortly after being offered food) is a good sign.
  • Active movement, assuming enough room to roam and climb, is a good sign but not always the best indicator of health.
  • Your chameleon is currently displaying good color and looks to be a good weight.
  • Be careful housing in the basement. You'll want to ensure you have a good UVB 5.0 light on for about 12 hours a day since natural sunlight is probably not abundant in the basement. This is essential to their digestion. Only feed in the early part of the day so they have all day to digest under basking lamp.
  • Ceramic no light heat lamp at night is a good idea if the temperatures can go below 60 degrees F.
  • Definitely get a good hygrometer to monitor the humidity and follow the ranges provided on the care sheets on this site.
  • You may want to vary the diet occasionally. A strict cricket diet is NOT enough nutrition. Consider a vitamin supplement to compliment the calcium with D3. I've heard you shouldn't combine them, but rather do vitamins one day and calcium on other days.
  • Be careful using a humidifier especially if it doesn't have a hygrometer to maintain a certain humidity level. Too much of a good thing can cause respiratory issues (bacteria and mold love moist places). Misting several times a day may be enough to maintain the required humidity levels. However, running the heater in the winter, especially in cold areas, can cause low relative humidity (RH). If you suffer a lot of static shocks, chances are it's too dry (I used to live in Pennsylvania and remember those winters)!
  • You've got the right idea about a screened terrarium versus a glass enclosure, but some will argue for glass. As far as size, your current 18"x18"x30" should be good for several months.
Hope this helps and welcome!
 

Syreptyon

Chameleon Enthusiast
I'm at work so don't have time to answer this as thoroughly as I would like, but here are a couple things that stand out:

(1) Never ever feed chameleons mealworms. They are hard to digest and almost completely lacking in nutrition, which can cause compaction
(2) 18x18x30 is way too small. He needs to upgrade to 24x24x48 right away at his age/size
(3) calcium with D3 should be used no more than twice a month. Calcium WITHOUT D3 is what you should use at every feeding. D3 overdose is a very real thing that you definitely want to avoid. Also add in a multivitamin twice a month
(4) 60 degrees is fine for overnight temps
 

k8shm8

Member
I'm at work so don't have time to answer this as thoroughly as I would like, but here are a couple things that stand out:

(1) Never ever feed chameleons mealworms. They are hard to digest and almost completely lacking in nutrition, which can cause compaction
(2) 18x18x30 is way too small. He needs to upgrade to 24x24x48 right away at his age/size
(3) calcium with D3 should be used no more than twice a month. Calcium WITHOUT D3 is what you should use at every feeding. D3 overdose is a very real thing that you definitely want to avoid. Also add in a multivitamin twice a month
(4) 60 degrees is fine for overnight temps
Thank you so so so much! I double checked and the enclosure is actually a 24x24x28 but I still plan on getting a bigger on at the next expo on Feb 2nd. Tomorrow im gunna pickup some silkworms or horned worms with normal repticalcium for him to eat! I just got him settled in today and wanna get him on a routine schedule.
 

k8shm8

Member
k8shm8,

At least an annual vet visit ensuring your vet has experience with exotic pets, specifically chameleons. Ideal weight is dependent upon the age and type of chameleon. I'm new at this too and have a Veiled Chameleon and Jackson Chameleon, so my suggestions are general guidelines:

  • If you can see their ribs most of the time, you might want to have him checked by your vet.
  • Loss of appetite for more than a day or two would be another indicator something isn't right.
  • Dull and/or sunken eyes is a sign of dehydration. A good appetite (taking food shortly after being offered food) is a good sign.
  • Active movement, assuming enough room to roam and climb, is a good sign but not always the best indicator of health.
  • Your chameleon is currently displaying good color and looks to be a good weight.
  • Be careful housing in the basement. You'll want to ensure you have a good UVB 5.0 light on for about 12 hours a day since natural sunlight is probably not abundant in the basement. This is essential to their digestion. Only feed in the early part of the day so they have all day to digest under basking lamp.
  • Ceramic no light heat lamp at night is a good idea if the temperatures can go below 60 degrees F.
  • Definitely get a good hygrometer to monitor the humidity and follow the ranges provided on the care sheets on this site.
  • You may want to vary the diet occasionally. A strict cricket diet is NOT enough nutrition. Consider a vitamin supplement to compliment the calcium with D3. I've heard you shouldn't combine them, but rather do vitamins one day and calcium on other days.
  • Be careful using a humidifier especially if it doesn't have a hygrometer to maintain a certain humidity level. Too much of a good thing can cause respiratory issues (bacteria and mold love moist places). Misting several times a day may be enough to maintain the required humidity levels. However, running the heater in the winter, especially in cold areas, can cause low relative humidity (RH). If you suffer a lot of static shocks, chances are it's too dry (I used to live in Pennsylvania and remember those winters)!
  • You've got the right idea about a screened terrarium versus a glass enclosure, but some will argue for glass. As far as size, your current 18"x18"x30" should be good for several months.
Hope this helps and welcome!
Hey thanks soo much! I purchased a misting bottle and plan on using that to keep the humidity high, eventually ill get live plants to help with that as well. The ceramic no light nighttime heat lamp is a live savor! His cage is at 65 degrees right now and I probably wont need it in the summer.
 
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