New member (& Cham owner), please rate my setup

BrittBepler

Member
Hi all!

I am new to this forum and new to chams. Leading up to the point my lil' guy Cosmo Kramer arrived (check out his IG account: cosmokramerthechameleon), I did about 40 hours of research and reading. In general, he seems quite content. He was born 9/2019, and hasn't shed yet. He's hissed a handful of times, normally when my head gets too close to him when I'm cleaning his enclosure. But, recently he has started reaching for my arm and my head and insists on walking on me and at times stays calm and still on my hand. I don't force interaction, and I've actually been quite surprised he's started to do this and engage with me more. Anyway, wanted all you pros to give your honest opinion on my current set up. All feedback is welcome.

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon: male ambilobe panther, about 8 months, It'll be a month with him on 5/23. Got him from highlighter chameleons, he is a YBBB and they labeled him a "candyland x lem chem" mix. Don Nguyen was great and responsive to work with. In fact, I originally bought a chameleon from one of this site's sponsors (FL Chams), but the owner went totally AWOL on me, and I was very communicative with him on timing, my setup, when my insects arrived so I could coordinate the overnight shipping of the panther, and he totally dropped the ball, and hence how I found Don.
  • Handling: ~ 4 times per week (I leave it up to Cosmo); I know handling is frowned upon but I do not force him out of his cage as stated above. I may have been blessed with a friendly lil' guy who climbs onto me on his own free will. A couple times, I've put him in our backyard on the dead kousa dogwood tree that no longer has leaves but a lot of fun branches to climb, it is high up (not too high that I can't retrieve him) and is in direct sunlight, the times he's been out has been in roughly in low 70s weather, and mid humidity for about 5-10 minutes during these backyard excursions.
  • Feeding: I feel as though I've become an insect overlord. I keep a healthy stock that I rotate for him daily, each feeding I try to give him a mix of 4 insects: crickets, dubias and silkworms are his staples. Hornworms and superworms are a few times a week. I just got isopods, so will add those to the mix; mealworms, calcigrubs and wax worms are seldom treats. Because he's a growing juvenile, I let him eat as much as he wants (he's not a big pig), so he eats about 10 insects a day; I feed him between 9-10am (will be closer to 9am once COVID is over and I go back into an office), during which he'll eat a few insects, then basks, wanders around a little, then he goes back to the feeder and eats the rest (or leaves some uneaten) by around 1pm. Will limit him in quantity and frequency as he gets older. For gut-loading I use some spinach, oranges, apples, broccoli, sweet potato and yams, plus fluker's Hi-Cal. Cricket Diet, and repashy superload, which they eat daily. I use Josh's Frogs watering gel and regular water dishes w/sponges. I drop the insects into the feeder cup, hand feed him, and also place worms on the screen so he hunt them a bit. I never leave insects in his cage overnight, and keep the insects cleaned up. I clean all bug cages 2-3 x week.
  • Supplements: 6 days/week with each feeding I dust with fluker's reptile calcium without D3, on the 7th day I use calcium with D3 (BUT I only do this on the 7th day every other week), on the other 7th day (every other week) I use herptavite multivitamins w/beta carotene (no D3).
  • Watering: I only use filtered/bottled water in my hand mister (as a backup system) and for the reservoir that my MistKing auto system pulls from, it has 2 valves/nozzles in the corners of the enclosure, it goes on 4 times day: 2 mins. at 8am (when lights go on), 1 min. at 11am, 2 mins. at 2pm and 1 min. at 5pm. Occasionally I see him drink, but he shows no signs of dehydration, so perhaps he's a shy drinker.
  • Fecal Description: Urates and poop have been normal (except when I gave him too many hornworms, then it got runny - won't be making that mistake again). Have not tested for parasites as he was captive bred and hasn't shown any signs of medical issues. I clean his cage immediately when I spot the excrement and wipe down any leaves, wood, vines, liner or screen that looks dirty on a daily basis.

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type: a 24" x 24" x 48" ZooMed ReptiBreeze open air/screen aluminum cage. The bottom has a ZooMed substrate liner (makes it easier to take out and clean the bottom). I added DragonStrands ledges on the sides. The cage sits on top of a table that is 2 ft. high, so top of cage is probably around 6 ft. or so.
  • Lighting: Both lights are on for 12 hours a day (8am-8pm), then they turn off for 12 hours (the lights are on an auto timer), they sit directly on top of the screen. I use a ZooMed Repti Basking 75W bulb (about 8" above his basking branch), and a ZooMed Reptisun 5.0 UVB Fluorescent 24" T8 17W bulb (this is on the right of the cage in case he only wants a certain type of light each time).
  • Temperature: Bottom/lower center of cage about 70-73F, basking temp is high 80s to 91. Lowest temp at night might hit 66-68 in my house. Temp is measured with a AcuRite 01080M Pro Accuracy Temperature and Humidity Gauge with Alarms. It tracks the high and low temps and humidity levels over a 24 hour period. I place this around the middle of the cage. For the basking spot I use a ZooMed Digital Thermometer with the sensor on the spot of the vine he basks on.
  • Humidity: Day humidity hovers around 70-74% during the day (except when the mister goes off it increases to around 85%). Night time is a bit lower (50-65%).
  • Plants: I have a bromeliad, a calathea, a croton and scheflerra plant (dwarf umbrella). I use fake vines (Exo terra moss, fluker's bend a branch) and also manzanita branches, as well as local branches I found in DC, which I washed and baked. I have 2 pieces of wood on the stands about a foot up from the bottom that I placed the 3 plants on (the scheflerra is on the bottom floor). The vines go below the wood if he feels like going to the lower part of the cage.
  • Placement: He is in our bay window, there's a tree in front one of the windows, but I tend to keep the blinds halfway shut in case the view freaks him out. I have a small dog that doesn't seem interested in him at all, she'll wander over from time to time, but I just call her over to me and she moves away from his cage. She tends to sleep on the same level of the house as him during the day but 2 rooms away. There's only me and my husband as the humans in the house.
  • Location: Where are you geographically located? Washington, DC
  • Other: He sleeps in the same spot each night, starts tucking in around 6:30/7pm even though lights go off at 8pm. He poops in normally the same place each time.
Thank you in advance for any suggestions this amazing community may have and for reading this long post! Some pictures to give context :) You can also see a bunch on his IG account.
 

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Thehippie

Chameleon Enthusiast
Well, I would fix up your humidity to around 40% Day time and 80-100% night time and maybe put some more branches up at the top so he can bask but other than that, you're more thorough than me!! I clean bug bins like once a week or two... He's a beautiful boy btw!
 

Prince of Duval

Avid Member
Hi all!

I am new to this forum and new to chams. Leading up to the point my lil' guy Cosmo Kramer arrived (check out his IG account: cosmokramerthechameleon), I did about 40 hours of research and reading. In general, he seems quite content. He was born 9/2019, and hasn't shed yet. He's hissed a handful of times, normally when my head gets too close to him when I'm cleaning his enclosure. But, recently he has started reaching for my arm and my head and insists on walking on me and at times stays calm and still on my hand. I don't force interaction, and I've actually been quite surprised he's started to do this and engage with me more. Anyway, wanted all you pros to give your honest opinion on my current set up. All feedback is welcome.

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon: male ambilobe panther, about 8 months, It'll be a month with him on 5/23. Got him from highlighter chameleons, he is a YBBB and they labeled him a "candyland x lem chem" mix. Don Nguyen was great and responsive to work with. In fact, I originally bought a chameleon from one of this site's sponsors (FL Chams), but the owner went totally AWOL on me, and I was very communicative with him on timing, my setup, when my insects arrived so I could coordinate the overnight shipping of the panther, and he totally dropped the ball, and hence how I found Don.
  • Handling: ~ 4 times per week (I leave it up to Cosmo); I know handling is frowned upon but I do not force him out of his cage as stated above. I may have been blessed with a friendly lil' guy who climbs onto me on his own free will. A couple times, I've put him in our backyard on the dead kousa dogwood tree that no longer has leaves but a lot of fun branches to climb, it is high up (not too high that I can't retrieve him) and is in direct sunlight, the times he's been out has been in roughly in low 70s weather, and mid humidity for about 5-10 minutes during these backyard excursions.
  • Feeding: I feel as though I've become an insect overlord. I keep a healthy stock that I rotate for him daily, each feeding I try to give him a mix of 4 insects: crickets, dubias and silkworms are his staples. Hornworms and superworms are a few times a week. I just got isopods, so will add those to the mix; mealworms, calcigrubs and wax worms are seldom treats. Because he's a growing juvenile, I let him eat as much as he wants (he's not a big pig), so he eats about 10 insects a day; I feed him between 9-10am (will be closer to 9am once COVID is over and I go back into an office), during which he'll eat a few insects, then basks, wanders around a little, then he goes back to the feeder and eats the rest (or leaves some uneaten) by around 1pm. Will limit him in quantity and frequency as he gets older. For gut-loading I use some spinach, oranges, apples, broccoli, sweet potato and yams, plus fluker's Hi-Cal. Cricket Diet, and repashy superload, which they eat daily. I use Josh's Frogs watering gel and regular water dishes w/sponges. I drop the insects into the feeder cup, hand feed him, and also place worms on the screen so he hunt them a bit. I never leave insects in his cage overnight, and keep the insects cleaned up. I clean all bug cages 2-3 x week.
  • Supplements: 6 days/week with each feeding I dust with fluker's reptile calcium without D3, on the 7th day I use calcium with D3 (BUT I only do this on the 7th day every other week), on the other 7th day (every other week) I use herptavite multivitamins w/beta carotene (no D3).
  • Watering: I only use filtered/bottled water in my hand mister (as a backup system) and for the reservoir that my MistKing auto system pulls from, it has 2 valves/nozzles in the corners of the enclosure, it goes on 4 times day: 2 mins. at 8am (when lights go on), 1 min. at 11am, 2 mins. at 2pm and 1 min. at 5pm. Occasionally I see him drink, but he shows no signs of dehydration, so perhaps he's a shy drinker.
  • Fecal Description: Urates and poop have been normal (except when I gave him too many hornworms, then it got runny - won't be making that mistake again). Have not tested for parasites as he was captive bred and hasn't shown any signs of medical issues. I clean his cage immediately when I spot the excrement and wipe down any leaves, wood, vines, liner or screen that looks dirty on a daily basis.

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type: a 24" x 24" x 48" ZooMed ReptiBreeze open air/screen aluminum cage. The bottom has a ZooMed substrate liner (makes it easier to take out and clean the bottom). I added DragonStrands ledges on the sides. The cage sits on top of a table that is 2 ft. high, so top of cage is probably around 6 ft. or so.
  • Lighting: Both lights are on for 12 hours a day (8am-8pm), then they turn off for 12 hours (the lights are on an auto timer), they sit directly on top of the screen. I use a ZooMed Repti Basking 75W bulb (about 8" above his basking branch), and a ZooMed Reptisun 5.0 UVB Fluorescent 24" T8 17W bulb (this is on the right of the cage in case he only wants a certain type of light each time).
  • Temperature: Bottom/lower center of cage about 70-73F, basking temp is high 80s to 91. Lowest temp at night might hit 66-68 in my house. Temp is measured with a AcuRite 01080M Pro Accuracy Temperature and Humidity Gauge with Alarms. It tracks the high and low temps and humidity levels over a 24 hour period. I place this around the middle of the cage. For the basking spot I use a ZooMed Digital Thermometer with the sensor on the spot of the vine he basks on.
  • Humidity: Day humidity hovers around 70-74% during the day (except when the mister goes off it increases to around 85%). Night time is a bit lower (50-65%).
  • Plants: I have a bromeliad, a calathea, a croton and scheflerra plant (dwarf umbrella). I use fake vines (Exo terra moss, fluker's bend a branch) and also manzanita branches, as well as local branches I found in DC, which I washed and baked. I have 2 pieces of wood on the stands about a foot up from the bottom that I placed the 3 plants on (the scheflerra is on the bottom floor). The vines go below the wood if he feels like going to the lower part of the cage.
  • Placement: He is in our bay window, there's a tree in front one of the windows, but I tend to keep the blinds halfway shut in case the view freaks him out. I have a small dog that doesn't seem interested in him at all, she'll wander over from time to time, but I just call her over to me and she moves away from his cage. She tends to sleep on the same level of the house as him during the day but 2 rooms away. There's only me and my husband as the humans in the house.
  • Location: Where are you geographically located? Washington, DC
  • Other: He sleeps in the same spot each night, starts tucking in around 6:30/7pm even though lights go off at 8pm. He poops in normally the same place each time.
Thank you in advance for any suggestions this amazing community may have and for reading this long post! Some pictures to give context :) You can also see a bunch on his IG account.
Looks pretty good. In addition to @Thehippie suggestions, I would start cutting back on feeding so much, ditch the mealworms, and watch the UVB levels if you have a way to check. You might need to raise his basking branch to ensure he’s getting proper amounts of UVB with a T8 which may cause you to have to raise your heat lamp. Look into getting a T5 eventually.
 

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BrittBepler

Member
Well, I would fix up your humidity to around 40% Day time and 80-100% night time and maybe put some more branches up at the top so he can bask but other than that, you're more thorough than me!! I clean bug bins like once a week or two... He's a beautiful boy btw!
Thank you so much!! Maybe I need to enclose a side or 2 to help with humidity, it’s the hardest part to this I’ve found so far
 

BrittBepler

Member
Looks pretty good. In addition to @Thehippie suggestions, I would start cutting back on feeding so much, ditch the mealworms, and watch the UVB levels if you have a way to check. You might need to raise his basking branch to ensure he’s getting proper amounts of UVB with a T8 which may cause you to have to raise your heat lamp. Look into getting a T5 eventually.
Great ideas, thank you!
 

Gingero

Chameleon Enthusiast
Couple notes:

- Spinach and broccoli are not recommended for gutload since they are high in phosphorus and low in calcium. The rest of your gutload veggies/fruits look good. The watering gel and sponges aren't needed IMO since the bugs get water from the fruits and veggies.



- I'd suggest getting a T5 UVB. It is the most recent tech and has a better UVB output than a T8. If you want to stick with a T8 since a T5 requires a different fixture, then I suggest you get a 10.0 since that is closer to the UVB output of a T5 5.0.



- Be careful about your basking temp not getting too hot. 90 is about the max you want for an adult panther.



- Totally normal for them to get into their sleeping spot before lights go off.

 
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jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
Couple notes:

- Spinach and broccoli are not recommended for gutload since they are high in phosphorus and low in calcium. The rest of your gutload veggies/fruits look good. The watering gel and sponges aren't needed IMO since the bugs get water from the fruits and veggies.



- I'd suggest getting a T5 UVB. It is the most recent tech and has a better UVB output than a T8. If you want to stick with a T8 since a T5 requires a different fixture, then I suggest you get a 10.0 since that is closer to the UVB output of a T5 5.0.



- Be careful about your basking temp not getting too hot. 90 is about the max you want for an adult panther.



- Totally normal for them to get into their sleeping spot before lights go off.

Just being a little critical mean no offense gingero, but spinach and broccoli aren't recommended as regular gutloads for 2 separate reasons. Spinach his high in oxalic acid which binds calcium(blocking absorption), broccoli isn't recommended because of its goitrogens. Both these things aren't a big worry unless given on a regular basis. That's why when we made the cham forum gutload pictures, we tried to emphasize variety rather than any one ingredient.
 

BrittBepler

Member
Couple notes:

- Spinach and broccoli are not recommended for gutload since they are high in phosphorus and low in calcium. The rest of your gutload veggies/fruits look good. The watering gel and sponges aren't needed IMO since the bugs get water from the fruits and veggies.



- I'd suggest getting a T5 UVB. It is the most recent tech and has a better UVB output than a T8. If you want to stick with a T8 since a T5 requires a different fixture, then I suggest you get a 10.0 since that is closer to the UVB output of a T5 5.0.



- Be careful about your basking temp not getting too hot. 90 is about the max you want for an adult panther.



- Totally normal for them to get into their sleeping spot before lights go off.

Thank you so much! I just started broccoli and spinach so they haven't had too much, but great to know and will switch up the food. Yeah the basking temp sensor I think sometimes is off, it says 85, then 90, then 83, then 94 some hours, not sure why, but I lowered his basking branch to make it less hot for him under there, will keeping testing out other methods to get it just right. Will definitely switch to the T5, thank you for your help!
 

Gingero

Chameleon Enthusiast
*looks up goitrogens*

Quick search shows that kale and mustard greens are also high in goitrogens and yet those are highly recommended gutload. Can you help explain that?

Broccoli is higher in phosphorus than calcium per this nutrition chat (https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2356/2) so even without the goitrogens it still would not be recommended for this reason right?

Just trying to learn :)
 

BrittBepler

Member
Hi all, does this urate look normal? I only see him lick the vines and branches and not sure that will ever give him enough water intake but maybe he drinks off the leaves in private? Anyway his urates normally look fine except today, he hasn’t wanted to eat today unless it’s a super work which I don’t give him all the time, but doesn’t want to eat hornworms, crickets, dubias or silkworms. Still hasn’t shed and doesn’t look like he’s starting.
 

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BrittBepler

Member
I'm going to switch to the T5 5.0 lamp, any idea how far away I place the highest branches between this and the lamp? My current one is about 9.5" from the highest branch

Also, is my basking lamp at 75W enough, should I get 100W? How far away do I place this atop a screen cage to get a basking spot of no more than 90 degrees? Right now my 75W is about 10.5" and the sensor says 88 degrees
 
It looks great, do you have a dripping system? So long as your cham knows how to self regulate well you should be fine on temps. The top of their spine should be no closer than 6 inches from the heat bulb, uvb distance doesn’t matter. I have one cham thats terrible with self regulating and burned his spine, my other knows when to leave his basking spot. Buy some Zilla “tropical mist” spray, it will help your cham shed properly until you can get the humidity under control. Also “Bio-dude” is great for bee pollen. additionally your cham will need calcium (daily) multivitamin (every 2 week) and calc/d3 (every 2 weeks). Linda with “Linda’s gone buggy” is great for ordering Hornworms, when it comes to dubias and superworms just start your own colony, you’ll save hundreds. Mori-feeders for silks, always buy medium or large size. I don’t trust buying silks from anywhere else, they always die.
 

BrittBepler

Member
I have an auto-mister system, and I added a humidifier at night which now gets the humidity up to 85%. Thank you for the above measurements, I've adjusted as per your recommendations. I hope he sheds soon, as he hasn't been interested in eating the past few days (despite trying out dubias, horns, silks, crickets, he only wants to eat superworms, but I'm not giving in). His urates and poop look fine still. I use bee pollen in the cricket gut loading as well. My dubias were bought once and seem to replicate quicker than I can feed :)
 
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