New keeper! Need advise !

Hytgh5

New Member
Hello everyone! I’m super exited to get a chameleon! I’ve been prepping for a couple of months for my new baby. I’ve looked only for a long time for a panther Chameleon and it was surprisingly hard to find, I will be purchasing from repticon this upcoming event in Orlando FL (Hopefully). I have a couple of questions if anyone wouldn’t mind helping me.
I’ve bought:
24x24x48 screen cage
The big dripper
Surge protector w timer
Calcium without D3 and vitamins with D3
For lighting I have the Reptison T5HO and hace both the reptisun 10.0 and 5.0 (5.0 came w fixture)
I have fluker’s sun dome (10in) and got Philips plant light for the heat. It’s Agro-Lite BR30 75w.
I got a temp gun and a hygrometer.
Im planing on putting live plants, so far I have:
Golden pothos, a schefflera arboricola, a tiny croton, and a bromeliad.
I’ve bought bamboo to make lots of climbing area for him and some zip ties.
I was planning on getting some branches from outside and Disinfecting them either through the oven or with bleach. But I’m not sure.
I also have a rope bird ladder I’m going to use to set up his basking spot. I still have 2 weeks until the show but I’m not sure how I’m going to organize everything inside. If I’m not completely ready for him I wont buy him. I want to be able to provide the best care possible. I will also be buying a mist king system soon but for the time being I’ll just mist by hand
My questions are:
-Are the heat bulbs too strong ? Being 75w I’m planning on adjusting their height depending on the temp it gives the basking spot.
-10.0 or 5.0 for uvb, I have the 22 inch ones
- for the bamboo I’m not entirely sure how to clean it. The same way as outside branches ?
- is using outside branches okay?
-should I lift the light fixtures w something so they aren’t directly on the cage or should I just let them rest on top.
- Drainage!!! I’m not entirely sure how to even go about this, I was thinking of cutting a hole on the bottom and connecting it to a tube that leads to a bucket under table. (Please help w this one) also I don’t even know how I’d be able to make the water fall into the tube..
- would it be better if I make a bioactive terrarium instead and put a deep layer of soil and planting everything ? Or would I need to drain it either way.
-how should I clean the plants, I have potting soil and I’ll be reporting the soon.
everything is kind of a mess right now because I don’t know how to go about the inside of the cage.
The cage is also located in a very low traffic area
I’m probably also gonna buy some fake plastic vines and some climbing vines.
I am eargered To hear what you guys have to say and if I should change anything. I’m willing to do what it takes to give the Cham the best husbandry possible.
 

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JoXie411

Chameleon Enthusiast
First with the bamboo you might need to sand them down they will be slippery and hard for chameleon to grasp on

With the heat I would just turn it on and test it with your heat gun to figure out the best spot

For drainage I put my cages on top of a shoe rack the but a try under to collect to water. Some ppl us a water heater drip tray

With the live plants repot them and clean leaves with soap and water to wash off film build up and then put river rocks over the soil to keep the Cham from eating dirt
 

iMi

Established Member
You are off to a good. It's clear you've done your homework and honestly that is the best way to ensure success. As for the questions.

  • Outside branches are fine. Put them in the oven at 350 degrees for a little while to bake to kill off any unwelcome hitchhikers
  • Heat is something you'll need to experiment with a little. 75W bulb should be fine. T5HO is going to provide sufficient UVB. Be sure to replace the lamp every 6-12 months, as required. You cannot really over expose them to UVB assuming you have a proper setup. Chameleon will thermoregulate and will also regulate exposure to UVB. I would recommend 10.0 due to the size of your enclosure.
  • Bamboo can probably just be wiped down with a damp cloth.
  • Outside branch is okay. See above.
  • Lifting the heat fixture is a good idea if the heat is high enough to burn them. No need to live the T5HO. In fact, the UVB output is relatively shallow as is already.
  • Drainage. You have options. If you go for a bioactive setup, you could cut a hole and create a drainage system. Plenty of youtube videos out there. I personally went with a drainage layer which is more than sufficient. Simply use lava rock or any of the commercially available drainage layers. Place it on the bottom before you put in the organic dirt and other layers. Two inches heigh layer will be sufficient.
  • Bioactive is a must if you go with a deep layer of soil. Make sure you get a good clean up crew and never clean the cage again. You want this to be a self sustained environment. Anything less in that setup will lead to trouble.
  • Wipe plants with damp cloth. When replanting them into the enclosure, remove as much original dirt as possible.
  • I would strongly recommend flexible branches. Make sure you have a lot of vertical and angled climbing space. Think of the enclosure as layers of light and heat. He has to be able to reach each level, as desired, to thermoregulate.
  • In the future, I would also suggest you invest in a light meter and consider metal halide lighting. Expensive but pretty much the best thing you can get and the closest thing to the sun itself. Plus, it's nice to have just one fixture. Long-term cost is actually comparatively low. The tried and true method you're using now is perfectly fine.
  • Plastic plants are a good idea, especially early on to offer lots of hiding areas. Live plants are better and will also serve as dinner from time to time. There is a chameleon safe list of plants here. What you listed already is safe. Add some nice vines to create a natural cover.
  • (Edit) to add one point. Invest in a good misting system. It will be the best money you'll spent. Highly recommend it.
Good luck. There are very knowledgeable people here. You're in good company. Welcome to the forum and welcome to the wonderful world of keeping chameleons. They are truly special animals.
 

SharpShooter

Avid Member
Hello everyone! I’m super exited to get a chameleon! I’ve been prepping for a couple of months for my new baby. I’ve looked only for a long time for a panther Chameleon and it was surprisingly hard to find, I will be purchasing from repticon this upcoming event in Orlando FL (Hopefully). I have a couple of questions if anyone wouldn’t mind helping me.
I’ve bought:
24x24x48 screen cage
The big dripper
Surge protector w timer
Calcium without D3 and vitamins with D3
For lighting I have the Reptison T5HO and hace both the reptisun 10.0 and 5.0 (5.0 came w fixture)
I have fluker’s sun dome (10in) and got Philips plant light for the heat. It’s Agro-Lite BR30 75w.
I got a temp gun and a hygrometer.
Im planing on putting live plants, so far I have:
Golden pothos, a schefflera arboricola, a tiny croton, and a bromeliad.
I’ve bought bamboo to make lots of climbing area for him and some zip ties.
I was planning on getting some branches from outside and Disinfecting them either through the oven or with bleach. But I’m not sure.
I also have a rope bird ladder I’m going to use to set up his basking spot. I still have 2 weeks until the show but I’m not sure how I’m going to organize everything inside. If I’m not completely ready for him I wont buy him. I want to be able to provide the best care possible. I will also be buying a mist king system soon but for the time being I’ll just mist by hand
My questions are:
-Are the heat bulbs too strong ? Being 75w I’m planning on adjusting their height depending on the temp it gives the basking spot.
-10.0 or 5.0 for uvb, I have the 22 inch ones
- for the bamboo I’m not entirely sure how to clean it. The same way as outside branches ?
- is using outside branches okay?
-should I lift the light fixtures w something so they aren’t directly on the cage or should I just let them rest on top.
- Drainage!!! I’m not entirely sure how to even go about this, I was thinking of cutting a hole on the bottom and connecting it to a tube that leads to a bucket under table. (Please help w this one) also I don’t even know how I’d be able to make the water fall into the tube..
- would it be better if I make a bioactive terrarium instead and put a deep layer of soil and planting everything ? Or would I need to drain it either way.
-how should I clean the plants, I have potting soil and I’ll be reporting the soon.
everything is kind of a mess right now because I don’t know how to go about the inside of the cage.
The cage is also located in a very low traffic area
I’m probably also gonna buy some fake plastic vines and some climbing vines.
I am eargered To hear what you guys have to say and if I should change anything. I’m willing to do what it takes to give the Cham the best husbandry possible.
Get yourself a dimming thermostat. Place the probe at the basking spot and the stat will hold the correct temperature for you adjusting autimatically. No danger of over heating or burns. Remember it's got to be a DIMMING stat and not the cheaper on/off types
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
@iMi do you have proof that metal hide is the best? What makes it better than T5HO or T8? I'm not disagreeing or agreeing, but that seems like a bold statement to make for something most people don't use, or haven't used longterm. What we do have though is chameleons living 2-3x longer than they would in the wild with T5s and T8s. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with metal halides, but I think to advertise an intense light like that as the "best" to somebody new, who may not know how to position, or have a uvi meter could be problematic. JMO, no disrespect.
 

Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
You do not need to do all that baking or sterilizing for branches, hit them with the hose and stick them in there. But if baking them makes you feel better there is nothing wrong with it.

You have a panther in a standard sized cage with minimal foliage, this calls for a 5.0, not a 10.0.

I agree with iMI that the tried and true UVB fixture your are currently using is perfectly acceptable. There is absolutely no reason to use MH, I don’t know why iMI has been so stuck on them lately. Don’t take my word for it, do a little research on this forum and I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusion. We love new keepers with enough ambition to at least attempt to teach themselves.

And great job on doing your homework first, wish more keepers did. Welcome to the forums.
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iMi

Established Member
@iMi do you have proof that metal hide is the best? What makes it better than T5HO or T8? I'm not disagreeing or agreeing, but that seems like a bold statement to make for something most people don't use, or haven't used longterm. What we do have though is chameleons living 2-3x longer than they would in the wild with T5s and T8s. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with metal halides, but I think to advertise an intense light like that as the "best" to somebody new, who may not know how to position, or have a uvi meter could be problematic. JMO, no disrespect.

No offense taken. :)

I would recommend you re-read what I wrote. I thought I made the recommendation for sticking with the tried and true method. It's the best place to start. If the objective of this hobby to deliver the best care to our animals, then I think it's a good idea to learn as much as possible about all aspect of husbandry and not be afraid to try something new.

Why do I think metal halide is the best?

Because it produces the best artificial light output possible. That is a simple fact. Exo-Terra publishes detailed light output measurements and graphs for all lighting products they sell. The proof is very easy to find with just a little bit of research. To be honest, the info on this forum is painfully outdated and should be updated. The last two years brought us fantastic new options, like the Exo Terra and the Zoo Med. I have and enjoy both.

Here is the output of a typical linear UVB lamp.

Exo_Terra___Reptile_UVB100___Tropical_Terrarium_Bulb.jpg


The output is shallow. At 12 inches we're seeing 32 uW/cm2 which is about the minimum required for vitamin D production. At 16 inches, the output diminishes even more. You can see the UV spectrum is well represented, as expected. The key advantage here is the light is disbursed horizontally quite well.

UVA is almost non-existent, again as expected, which is why we need a separate basking bulb.

Here's the light output of the new metal halide, which I will continue to maintain, delivers the best artificial light we can achieve today and is closest to the real thing -- the sun, which frankly should be the goal here. The only disadvantage is that the light is fairly focused with a flood light effect. Lifting the fixture helps solve this limitation, but again output needs to be considered, especially heat.

Exo_Terra___Sunray_Bulb___Metal_Halide_Bulb.jpg



Exo_Terra___Sunray_Bulb___Metal_Halide_Bulb.jpg


Look at the light output. It covers a wider range with a considerably better intensity. It's more natural and does not require a separate basking light. It's more efficient and the bulb lasts longer and delivers more stable output longer. With a trusty solar meter in hand, one could use it for up to 18 months.

Again, to be clear... the tried and true method of using a leaner UVB lamp along with a basking bulb is perfectly fine and delivers the results we need. I personally prefer metal halide and recommend it to anyone willing to try and invest in proper equipment and setup to do it right. I also recognize not everyone has the budget for the lighting system and the meter and that's fine too.

This is just my opinion.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
No offense taken. :)

I would recommend you re-read what I wrote. I thought I made the recommendation for sticking with the tried and true method. It's the best place to start. If the objective of this hobby to deliver the best care to our animals, then I think it's a good idea to learn as much as possible about all aspect of husbandry and not be afraid to try something new.

Why do I think metal halide is the best?

Because it produces the best artificial light output possible. That is a simple fact. Exo-Terra publishes detailed light output measurements and graphs for all lighting products they sell. The proof is very easy to find with just a little bit of research. To be honest, the info on this forum is painfully outdated and should be updated. The last two years brought us fantastic new options, like the Exo Terra and the Zoo Med. I have and enjoy both.

Here is the output of a typical linear UVB lamp.

View attachment 226949

The output is shallow. At 12 inches we're seeing 32 uW/cm2 which is about the minimum required for vitamin D production. At 16 inches, the output diminishes even more. You can see the UV spectrum is well represented, as expected. The key advantage here is the light is disbursed horizontally quite well.

UVA is almost non-existent, again as expected, which is why we need a separate basking bulb.

Here's the light output of the new metal halide, which I will continue to maintain, delivers the best artificial light we can achieve today and is closest to the real thing -- the sun, which frankly should be the goal here. The only disadvantage is that the light is fairly focused with a flood light effect. Lifting the fixture helps solve this limitation, but again output needs to be considered, especially heat.

View attachment 226950


View attachment 226951

Look at the light output. It covers a wider range with a considerably better intensity. It's more natural and does not require a separate basking light. It's more efficient and the bulb lasts longer and delivers more stable output longer. With a trusty solar meter in hand, one could use it for up to 18 months.

Again, to be clear... the tried and true method of using a leaner UVB lamp along with a basking bulb is perfectly fine and delivers the results we need. I personally prefer metal halide and recommend it to anyone willing to try and invest in proper equipment and setup to do it right. I also recognize not everyone has the budget for the lighting system and the meter and that's fine too.

This is just my opinion.

Thanks for posting a thorough explanation. So my issue isn't the metal halides themselves. I personally use mercury vapor bulbs with my free range and I know how nice they can be. They also(as you mentioned) take careful adjusting because of the powerful narrow beam. IMO they can cause more problems for the average new keeper than they help. If they replicate the sun, what benefit does the chameleon get from it? Because we're seeing captive chameleons live very long lives under T5s just fine. I don't see many people with correct husbandry, losing chams because of their t5 bulbs. You say the forum is outdated, but it might just be taking the "if it ain't broke" approach to lighting. I don't know that it's good advice throwing a potentially more complicated piece of equipment into the mix when there isn't really solid proof that it's doing more for the animal. Trust me, I'm with you on improving things, and I think it can be an improvement. I just like to keep things simple for people coming in asking for first time advice.
 

Hytgh5

New Member
Thank you guys so much! I’ll definetly be getting a dimmin thermostat! Didn’t even know those were a thing! Im exited to learn from you guys. I’ll be sticking w the lighting for now and I’ll get a mist king soon. For the drainage I’m still not sure what I want to do. I’ll definitely post more pictures once I have things actually set up!! Thank you everyone for the great advice!
 

Multivitamins

Chameleon Enthusiast
First with the bamboo you might need to sand them down they will be slippery and hard for chameleon to grasp on

With the heat I would just turn it on and test it with your heat gun to figure out the best spot

For drainage I put my cages on top of a shoe rack the but a try under to collect to water. Some ppl us a water heater drip tray

With the live plants repot them and clean leaves with soap and water to wash off film build up and then put river rocks over the soil to keep the Cham from eating dirt

@Hytgh5 you've got a solid base of information to digest here. This forum is anincredible resource and first hand I can say youll definitely want to set it all up before ya introduce the Cham.
Make sure your thermal gradient is solid and adjust it accordingly to prevent burns.
Can't stress the cover dirt part enough they can go for soil or smaller stones and it can cause some issues ... Even with 1 inch stones covering all my plants I had my chameleon going to the bottom and attempt snacking between them even though there were silk worms and crickets available to him ... Ended up using window screen to cover the entire base of the soil then added the rocks.

I know it's been said before but an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of the cure. I think you'll be very happy you did your home work and your chameleon will be grateful even if he puffs his gular and hisses at you.
 

iMi

Established Member
Thanks for posting a thorough explanation. So my issue isn't the metal halides themselves. I personally use mercury vapor bulbs with my free range and I know how nice they can be. They also(as you mentioned) take careful adjusting because of the powerful narrow beam. IMO they can cause more problems for the average new keeper than they help. If they replicate the sun, what benefit does the chameleon get from it? Because we're seeing captive chameleons live very long lives under T5s just fine. I don't see many people with correct husbandry, losing chams because of their t5 bulbs. You say the forum is outdated, but it might just be taking the "if it ain't broke" approach to lighting. I don't know that it's good advice throwing a potentially more complicated piece of equipment into the mix when there isn't really solid proof that it's doing more for the animal. Trust me, I'm with you on improving things, and I think it can be an improvement. I just like to keep things simple for people coming in asking for first time advice.

When I say the info is outdated, I am only referring to the info about metal halide, which states that it's only effective at high wattage and only recommended for "very large" enclosures. That is simply incorrect on both counts. That was the case many years go with the metal halide products popular in the aquatic trade. I don't think metal halide is complicated. In fact, it's less complicated. Again, I don't disagree that the tried and true approach is the best place to start for a novice. At the same time, I see no reason why someone shouldn't consider metal halide if they want to make the investment and take the time to understand it.

Lighting by the way is only one reason why they live longer lives in captivity but that's another story.
 

iMi

Established Member
Thank you guys so much! I’ll definetly be getting a dimmin thermostat! Didn’t even know those were a thing! Im exited to learn from you guys. I’ll be sticking w the lighting for now and I’ll get a mist king soon. For the drainage I’m still not sure what I want to do. I’ll definitely post more pictures once I have things actually set up!! Thank you everyone for the great advice!

I would absolutely invest in a misting system before anything else outside of the basics you've already covered. You'll never worry again about whether or not he's getting enough to drink. It's a must, in my opinion.
 

Hytgh5

New Member
I would absolutely invest in a misting system before anything else outside of the basics you've already covered. You'll never worry again about whether or not he's getting enough to drink. It's a must, in my opinion.
Yes! I for sure will!!
 
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