New Owner....well, kind of....

NorCalToy

New Member
Good Morning Ladies and Gents,

My son (Nathan, 11) worked hard all year to earn himself a chameleon. He wants to become a Herpetologist. It was a tough school year with SIP but he did it and we set out on this adventure together....

We are pretty limited from what I could purchase so we got 90% of our supplies from Petco and Petsmart. Started with an all screen cage setup in his book case (it fit perfect, thought it was meant to be).

Setup:

16x16x30 All screen
Plenty of vines and shelter
Low profile dual UVB bulb and a 25w warming bulb
Timed misting system twice daily

Warm spot hovers around 80 and the cage varies in the 70's
Humidity is around 50-60 right after misting and stays about an hour or two depending on if the window is open.

Crickets and wax worms. Gut loading crickets with Cricket Quencher and dusting with Repticalcium (sample came with cage) since the crickets are new.

We felt we had a descent setup for a starter set and then went to look for our new family member. Unfortunately, most retail stores had nothing. We ended up driving about 40 minutes to a reptile store and they had a few baby (thumb sized) panthers, and some rainbow jacksons. Well the babies scared me, they seemed too fragile, and they were so young they couldn't tell me the sex. So we settled on the larger rainbow jacksons (about 4 inch body). We got little RJ home and for the first couple of days just let him be. We watched him drink, and got to see him eat a cricket. After browsing the forum I noticed some peoples guys are eating 10-20 crickets a day? RJ maybe would eat 2-3 and a wax worm. Well, we had him about a week and today RJ past sometime in the night. Aside from the not eating much, he didn't show any other signs (though I guess that's a major F'n sign). He explored his cage a lot, and I figured since he was drinking it was just that settling period everyone talks about.

We have pets mind you, Frenchie, reef tank, and my son has a freshwater in his room also. Being a reef tank owner, I figure nothing is too complicated anymore. But I'm at a loss for where we might have gone wrong, and now my son is extremely hesitant about getting a new pet. I'm hoping that it's not as much our setup and maybe it's a combination of unfortunate things that happened. If pics of dead RJ will help, let me know....

Any advice, criticism (why would we start with an expensive ass lizard), encouragement.
 

Attachments

Your care was not set up for a Jackson chameleon, and was set up for a Panther or Veiled. However, there is also more that needs to be corrected. Your cage would have needed to be upgraded, for any three of the species, and you needed a linear bulb for uvb such as a reptisun t5ho linear bulb. Also, you need different supplements. For panther and veiled Chams, you would need a rotating schedule of calcium with no d3, some with d3, and vitamins, or go with an all in one like repashy calcium plus For Jackson’s, I’m not sure. @JacksJill is experienced with Jackson’s chameleons, while I only have kept panthers. I’m not sure if I missed anything, but it’s what I got.
 

JacksJill

Chameleon Enthusiast
Yes, your cage could use several upgrades but none of the problems would have caused RJ to die so quickly. I would bet that RJ was a wild caught chameleon and he looks more like a Yellow Crested or Xanth than a "Rainbow" or Jack jack. Can't be sure from the picture. I feed my adults 1-2 feeders a day, young growing animals eat more.
I would also guess that the pet store was giving him too much D3 and the stress of the new cage along with D3 toxicity probably did him in. Jackson's need half of the amount and strength of supplements that panters etc. require. It is all to common a mistake. Jackson's only get D3 once a month not with every feeding they get plain calcium 2-3 times per week.
 

NorCalToy

New Member
Thank you both so much for your reply, and on a Saturday no less! Nathan has really been torn up about this so I think your comments have given him some much needed encouragement.

I think I've been going about this the wrong way, when I started reefing I went budget because I wasn't sure if I'd love the hobby. Now that I do, dropping $700 on a new light or $500 on a dispensor doesn't seem like a big deal because I can see the value. With the terrarium, I wasn't sure, but now realizing this could be a family member for 5+ years makes me realize I shouldn't be skimping. My wife asked if I'd ever give our French Bulldog the cheap treatment, and now I see her point.

So that being said....

The small cage was meant as sort of a break in for both my son and my wife. Building a large cage would have her really questioning her agreeing to this adventure :). So aside from cage size, can anyone recommend a specific light fixture. We live in Northern California (Bay Area) so weather fluctuation isn't a major concern for us, since the cage is inside we don't typically see temp drops in our house less than 60.

Preferred online vendors, Amazon, small business's that I can support instead? I'll take a look at some of the other posts for specific supplements.

Lastly, should we try another Jacksons, or is there a heartier chameleon that is more forgiving?
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
I think if you like jacksons, you should stick with jacksons. There are some people working with kenyan blood line jacksons(as opposed to the Hawaiian). I'd try for one of them. Like you said, if you've done a reef, a chameleon should be NP.
 

JacksJill

Chameleon Enthusiast
Jackson's actually like a night time drop in temperature to 60 F and will tolerate 50 if necessary. You will want a T5 linear light with a dual fixture so you can add a 6500K plant light. There is more than one way to do it but you want quality UVB that is the full width of your cage something to keep plants alive and a basking bulb that creates the proper temperature for the species you choose. It varies.
 

Quinnbys

Member
I am so sorry for your and Nathan's loss! That could be super distressing, especially how excited I am sure you all were. I too would be surprised that you did anything in 24 hours that was the only source of his passing, but certainly the stress of moving might have pushed him over the edge. It's likely the pet store wasn't caring for him properly. I have no personal experience with Jackson's, but there are a TON of resources here on the forums and on Bill's Strand's website about what the best setup would be for one, and I do think the size of the enclosure, UVB light source and humidity are going to be the big three to manage.

Best lighting options that are super specific to Chameleons can be found here, Todd, who runs the shop is also VERY helpful and can make super specific recommendations based on your setup: http://www.lightyourreptiles.com/

Here is another hood you can get on amazon that I used on our little girl when she was in a smaller cage that I think is "decent," but again you want to check that you have the right strength bulb for the depth/size of your enclosure. I don't use this hood anymore, since we upgraded our enclosure to a 4 foot by 4 foot and bought something much larger. The bulbs vary quite widely, so it's worth an hour of reading to make sure you're getting what you you need. More detail about the hood can be found here, it uses the T5 High Output Linear bulbs, which is the style you'll probably want. You'll then need the basking light of course as well, but that's much less complicated.

I hope you and your kiddo are able to push through and get an awesome Chameleon soon, they are a joy to have, but are certainly complex :) Good Luck!
 

Quinnbys

Member
Ooo another thought. Getting your new Cham checked for parasites (and then down the line), a quick in-person reptile vet visit is also super useful in the first stage of ownership. If you can find a vet who specializes in Reptiles it can make the world of difference. The parasite check is just a fecal drop off, so you dont even need to disturb your little one to get it checked.

This website I found useful for finding Reptile Vets in my area, they have a nationwide search and registry: https://arav.site-ym.com/search/custom.asp?id=3661
 

Marcoa1988

Member
Thank you both so much for your reply, and on a Saturday no less! Nathan has really been torn up about this so I think your comments have given him some much needed encouragement.

I think I've been going about this the wrong way, when I started reefing I went budget because I wasn't sure if I'd love the hobby. Now that I do, dropping $700 on a new light or $500 on a dispensor doesn't seem like a big deal because I can see the value. With the terrarium, I wasn't sure, but now realizing this could be a family member for 5+ years makes me realize I shouldn't be skimping. My wife asked if I'd ever give our French Bulldog the cheap treatment, and now I see her point.

So that being said....

The small cage was meant as sort of a break in for both my son and my wife. Building a large cage would have her really questioning her agreeing to this adventure :). So aside from cage size, can anyone recommend a specific light fixture. We live in Northern California (Bay Area) so weather fluctuation isn't a major concern for us, since the cage is inside we don't typically see temp drops in our house less than 60.

Preferred online vendors, Amazon, small business's that I can support instead? I'll take a look at some of the other posts for specific supplements.

Lastly, should we try another Jacksons, or is there a heartier chameleon that is more forgiving?
I use t5ho 's for my chams
 

NorCalToy

New Member
Thank you again for all the replies. Jill so goes that mean I’m okay with the night time routine? I have A ceramic setup for the winter months but I hadn't planned on using it now.

Quinn I’m ordering a new light today and proper supplements, thanks for the recommendations.

I think we are going to setup the new light and put some nice plants in there, make sure the plants are doing well and then whenever a chameleon becomes available we will add him. Less rushed this time.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
I'll answer for jill lol since I just popped in... correct do not use a heater. Jacksons and other montanes can handle and prefer very cool temperatures at night. Jacksons i believe are used to even lower temperatures than many Parsons(species I keep) and my Parsons even handles the 40s without problems.
 

jacksonchamnew

Avid Member
This is the fixture that can kill chameleons. Others have said it. T5 linear fixture of UV. Arcadia makes some good bulbs. Cool looking Jacksons and I like the moss.
 

Quinnbys

Member
This is an expensive item to recommend, but I really benefitted from buying a UV Solarmeter device. It lets you actually measure how much UVB the enclosure is exposed to at various spots: the basking spot, lower in the cage etc. This also let's you test each bulb you buy so that 1) you're sure it's working out of the box and 2) you're sure it's not over-producing UVB.

I really struggled with how much approximating there seemed to be re: lighting, so this device helped me a TON. Also as you use the bulbs, they will wear out and stop producing UVB, so this lets me know exactly when I need to replace a bulb, as opposed to just throwing them out every six months and hoping for the best. I realize this might not make sense for everyone to invest in given the cost, but the peace of mind it has given me has been super worth it IMO. It also helped me adjust the placement and planning of our enclosure so I knew Peach was getting the right amount of UVB, or if I need to move a branch up higher etc.

You can find them from anywhere from I think $150 to $200. Your son might also think the meter is pretty cool, especially if he's getting into the science of herpetology. I have the 6.5R model personally, the manufacturers website has a ton of info.

Keep us posted on your journey!
 

NorCalToy

New Member
This is an expensive item to recommend, but I really benefitted from buying a UV Solarmeter device. It lets you actually measure how much UVB the enclosure is exposed to at various spots: the basking spot, lower in the cage etc. This also let's you test each bulb you buy so that 1) you're sure it's working out of the box and 2) you're sure it's not over-producing UVB.

I really struggled with how much approximating there seemed to be re: lighting, so this device helped me a TON. Also as you use the bulbs, they will wear out and stop producing UVB, so this lets me know exactly when I need to replace a bulb, as opposed to just throwing them out every six months and hoping for the best. I realize this might not make sense for everyone to invest in given the cost, but the peace of mind it has given me has been super worth it IMO. It also helped me adjust the placement and planning of our enclosure so I knew Peach was getting the right amount of UVB, or if I need to move a branch up higher etc.

You can find them from anywhere from I think $150 to $200. Your son might also think the meter is pretty cool, especially if he's getting into the science of herpetology. I have the 6.5R model personally, the manufacturers website has a ton of info.

Keep us posted on your journey!
Darn, I have a light meter for my fish tanks but it's reading for different measurements, go figure! I wonder if there is a rental company that ships them, I imagine you only use it every bulb change right?
 

Quinnbys

Member
Darn, I have a light meter for my fish tanks but it's reading for different measurements, go figure! I wonder if there is a rental company that ships them, I imagine you only use it every bulb change right?
I ended up using ours more often than I thought. I used it a lot when planning and then implementing the layout of the enclosure, since the ideal UV Index is based on the distance various perching branches are from the lightbulb itself, it helped me figure out where to put everything during setup time. Then I use it maybe once a month to check on the bulb and make sure it's still producing the same amount, then again when it's time to put in a new bulb.

Arcadia has a nice webform that let's you put in your species and see their recommendations regarding target UV-index for basking (and for shade): https://www.arcadiareptile.com/lighting/guide/
So I basically used this for my Furcifer Pardalis Peach, targeting a UVI of about 3 in the hot basking zones, then tapering off to 0 in the shade/lower areas of the enclosure.
You totally don't need the meter, and I think a lot of people just use distance as an approximation. We just ended up with a very sick Cham when we brought her home, so we overly fixated on everything while we were trying to get her healthy :)

**Note the below is for a Panther Chameleon, you can look up a Jackson for your setup. This also refers specifically to their brand of bulbs, but it gives you a good idea of how the setup and distances work.
1592372124020.png
 
Top Bottom