New Veiled Chameleon Owners

chameleodad

New Member
So, my 10 year old daughter came home with her third honor roll from school in a row. As a reward she purchased her first chameleon, a female veiled. We read everything we could find on-line, watched videos, bought books. The whole nine yards. This is our setup so far:

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - Veiled Chameleon "Ophelia", Female, no idea on age.
  • Handling - Very rarely. We try not to touch her very much at all.
  • Feeding - Crickets and Superworms. (Dubia roaches are illegal where I live, I can't even get them. Also if I brought home roaches, I'll probably end up divorced.) About 10 to 12 crickets a day. Feed in the morning. Crickets are in a cricket house and we free feed them Flukers Cricket Food, carrots, green beans, mustard greens, and a sponge of water.
  • Supplements - Crickets are dusted with ReptiCal without D3 daily, and we are planning on giving Reptivite and Reptical with D3 twice a month.
  • Watering - I had a brand new garden sprayer (never used still in box) in the garage. We use that with a misting head. I filled it with filtered water from our Brita filter. We spray all of the plants and walls of the cage 3 times a day until everything is dripping wet. We try not to spray Ophelia. We have never seen her drink, but we haven't had her for very long. (about 5 days now)
  • Fecal Description - Her feces is light brown and is soft and wet looking. Her pee (Urate?) is totally white and watery, kinda looks like spilled Wite-Out. (<- I'm giving away how old I am. I still have bottles of the stuff)
  • History - We've only had her for five days so we are still on a serious learning curve.

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Screened Cage Reptibreeze 16x16x30
  • Lighting - Compact Fluorescent UVB lamp Reptisun 10, reptile basking light with UVB 75 watt, 12 hours on, 12 off with a timer.
  • Temperature - Basking temp is 94 - 95F. The bottom of the cage is dim and about 70-ish. Lowest overnight temp is around 63. Maybe less when we are asleep? We measure with a Zoomed thermometer.
  • Humidity - This I unfortunately don't know. We did put a green bath towel around three sides of Ophelia's cage. So when we water the plants, the towel gets wet. We were hoping this would keep humidity levels up. I don't have a hygrometer yet.
  • Plants - Most of the plants are plastic. The cage is filled with them. We also put a pothos plant in, and are hoping it will grow. As the plant grows we were hoping to replace the plastic plants with more and more live ones. We also have hibiscus growing in the yard but those are huge and won't fit in the cage.
  • Placement - Cage is in my daughter's bedroom, on her dresser for right now. We put a kitchen mat under it because it has a lot of water that drips off. No fans near it. There is a vent on the ceiling but it is like 8 feet away. Top of cage is about 7 feet off the floor. It's above my head.
  • Location - We are located just outside of Tampa, Florida.

Current Problem: Okay, sooo... I'm going to admit that i've been really nervous ever since Ophelia came to our home. Not because I'm scared of her, but because my daughter is SO very happy and excited about her. She sings songs about her, draws pictures. Ophelia has become "the apple of her eye," to use an old saying my mom used to say to me. I've been scared that I'll do something wrong (lets face it, I'm the one taking care of Ophelia, my daughter helps, but really, I do the husbandry) and my kid will come home and Ophelia will be upside-down, legs in the air, dead. I have experience keeping fish, I've even bred saltwater fish, koi, coral etc. But when it comes to reptiles, I have far, far less experience.

Yesterday after everyone went off to school, I went upstairs to give Ophelia her watering. And she was black. Completely. I've never seen her that color before. She was on her basking branch, moving around and hunting down crickets. (they don't stay in her feeding bowl, they hop out and she hunts them down) But she was totally black. I watched her turn around, and she turned green. Then, 5 minutes later, she turned totally black again. (I'm going to try to put pictures up, but since this is my first post, I'm not sure if they will come across.) She did this about 4 or five times, and then ended up slightly darkish green with stripes.

This morning, she was dark again. Not black, but not her usual light green. Dark. With dark spots. She was in her basking spot.

Is this normal?? Is this perhaps because her cage is getting too cold at night and she's trying to warm up? Or am I doing something wrong and she's stressing?

Any advice you guys can give is really appreciated. My daughter and I are on a crazy learning curve and we're trying to absorb as much as we can. She was the one who suggested: "Post it on the chameleon forums. I bet someone will know." So, she will read all the replies when she gets home.

Thanks, everyone.
 

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ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
So, my 10 year old daughter came home with her third honor roll from school in a row. As a reward she purchased her first chameleon, a female veiled. We read everything we could find on-line, watched videos, bought books. The whole nine yards. This is our setup so far:

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - Veiled Chameleon "Ophelia", Female, no idea on age.
  • Handling - Very rarely. We try not to touch her very much at all.
  • Feeding - Crickets and Superworms. (Dubia roaches are illegal where I live, I can't even get them. Also if I brought home roaches, I'll probably end up divorced.) About 10 to 12 crickets a day. Feed in the morning. Crickets are in a cricket house and we free feed them Flukers Cricket Food, carrots, green beans, mustard greens, and a sponge of water.
  • Supplements - Crickets are dusted with ReptiCal without D3 daily, and we are planning on giving Reptivite and Reptical with D3 twice a month.
  • Watering - I had a brand new garden sprayer (never used still in box) in the garage. We use that with a misting head. I filled it with filtered water from our Brita filter. We spray all of the plants and walls of the cage 3 times a day until everything is dripping wet. We try not to spray Ophelia. We have never seen her drink, but we haven't had her for very long. (about 5 days now)
  • Fecal Description - Her feces is light brown and is soft and wet looking. Her pee (Urate?) is totally white and watery, kinda looks like spilled Wite-Out. (<- I'm giving away how old I am. I still have bottles of the stuff)
  • History - We've only had her for five days so we are still on a serious learning curve.

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Screened Cage Reptibreeze 16x16x30
  • Lighting - Compact Fluorescent UVB lamp Reptisun 10, reptile basking light with UVB 75 watt, 12 hours on, 12 off with a timer.
  • Temperature - Basking temp is 94 - 95F. The bottom of the cage is dim and about 70-ish. Lowest overnight temp is around 63. Maybe less when we are asleep? We measure with a Zoomed thermometer.
  • Humidity - This I unfortunately don't know. We did put a green bath towel around three sides of Ophelia's cage. So when we water the plants, the towel gets wet. We were hoping this would keep humidity levels up. I don't have a hygrometer yet.
  • Plants - Most of the plants are plastic. The cage is filled with them. We also put a pothos plant in, and are hoping it will grow. As the plant grows we were hoping to replace the plastic plants with more and more live ones. We also have hibiscus growing in the yard but those are huge and won't fit in the cage.
  • Placement - Cage is in my daughter's bedroom, on her dresser for right now. We put a kitchen mat under it because it has a lot of water that drips off. No fans near it. There is a vent on the ceiling but it is like 8 feet away. Top of cage is about 7 feet off the floor. It's above my head.
  • Location - We are located just outside of Tampa, Florida.

Current Problem: Okay, sooo... I'm going to admit that i've been really nervous ever since Ophelia came to our home. Not because I'm scared of her, but because my daughter is SO very happy and excited about her. She sings songs about her, draws pictures. Ophelia has become "the apple of her eye," to use an old saying my mom used to say to me. I've been scared that I'll do something wrong (lets face it, I'm the one taking care of Ophelia, my daughter helps, but really, I do the husbandry) and my kid will come home and Ophelia will be upside-down, legs in the air, dead. I have experience keeping fish, I've even bred saltwater fish, koi, coral etc. But when it comes to reptiles, I have far, far less experience.

Yesterday after everyone went off to school, I went upstairs to give Ophelia her watering. And she was black. Completely. I've never seen her that color before. She was on her basking branch, moving around and hunting down crickets. (they don't stay in her feeding bowl, they hop out and she hunts them down) But she was totally black. I watched her turn around, and she turned green. Then, 5 minutes later, she turned totally black again. (I'm going to try to put pictures up, but since this is my first post, I'm not sure if they will come across.) She did this about 4 or five times, and then ended up slightly darkish green with stripes.

This morning, she was dark again. Not black, but not her usual light green. Dark. With dark spots. She was in her basking spot.

Is this normal?? Is this perhaps because her cage is getting too cold at night and she's trying to warm up? Or am I doing something wrong and she's stressing?

Any advice you guys can give is really appreciated. My daughter and I are on a crazy learning curve and we're trying to absorb as much as we can. She was the one who suggested: "Post it on the chameleon forums. I bet someone will know." So, she will read all the replies when she gets home.

Thanks, everyone.
Welcome, you’re off to a great start! I’d recommend reading the veiled care sheet here: https://www.chameleonforums.com/care/caresheets/veiled/ if you haven’t already. I’m not great with ages, but she looks at least 4-6 months old. Female veileds can start to develop eggs around this time, I’d read the egg laying info on the veiled care sheet and this article here: https://www.chameleonforums.com/blogs/egg-laying-and-the-laying-bin.345/ The lay bin should be a permanent part of her cage. Superworms should only be for variety, not as a staple. Try some more variety, like multiple types of roaches (red runner, orange headed, ivory headed, and discoid cannot climb or fly-if your wife allows this, tell her they’re beetles!), silkworms, hornworms, butterworms, black soldier flies and larvae, blue bottle flies, small helix aspersa, mantids, painted lady butterflies, and silk, horn, and waxworm moths. Make sure whatever you feed is appropriately sized (isn’t too big for her to choke on) and that every feeder is gutloaded and dusted before feeding them off. Fluker’s gutload isn’t the best, use either organic fresh fruits and veggies (there’s a gutload list here: https://www.chameleonforums.com/care/food/ ) and/or a quality commercial gutload, like Cricket Crack, Pangea Gutload, or Repashy Bug Burger. Great supplement schedule, the only thing I would change is the brand, from ReptiCal to Zoo Med. Zoo Med is a better brand and you can use just two supplements instead of three (Zoo Med ReptiCalcium without D3 every feeding and Zoo Med Reptivite with D3 every two weeks). Make sure you’re misting for at least 2 minutes each time you mist. And to gently mist your cham, as well, for she needs it to clean out her eyes. She’ll soon, if not now, need a bigger cage a minimum size of 18” by 18” by 36” tall, but preferably 2’ by 2’ by 4’ tall or larger. She also needs a t5HO or T8 linear uvb bulb and fixture, though the strength depends on the height of her cage (Zoo Med 5.0 or Arcadia 6% if 36” tall, Zoo Med 10.0 if 4’ tall, and Arcadia 12% if 5’ or taller). The temperature is too hot in her basking spot, get it down to 85*F. Veileds can handle a temp drop at night down to 50*F without a nighttime heat source (which would be a low wattage ceramic heat emitter). A great cheap hygrometer is a digital thermometer/hygrometer combo from the hardware store (like $5) that you can use for lows and highs in ambient temp and humidity levels. Great job on getting a live plant, veileds eat them! Pothos is great because you don’t need extra lighting for it to grow! Hibiscus is a veiled favorite but does need supplemental lighting, so you could just use yours for outside time. How did you prepare the pothos before putting it in the cage? I’d close the vent in the ceiling or at least make sure it’s facing away from the cage. A drainage system is a must for cham, so let me know if you want any ideas for it! Not sure about her turning black since her basking is hot, maybe someone else can chime in on that. Let me know if I need to go into more detail or anything!
 

chameleodad

New Member
Thank you for the quick reply. Yes, I would really like to see your ideas for a drainage system. The bath mat is working for now, but it doesn't work too terribly well.

I have to spray Ophelia directly? The first time I did this she hissed at me, so I started avoiding it. I've also taken to spraying from outside the cage because she really didn't like the sprayer head. She bit it once when it got too close to her.

As for the temperature, the thermometer is one of those wired ones with what looks like a black pill shaped thermometer head at the end of the wire. It is black so I don't know if the temperature reading is accurate or if the thermometer itself is overheating because it is black plastic and in the light directly. If Ophelia sits on it or shades it the temperature it reads drops to around 70 or even lower.

I'm not sure my pet stores near by have so many bugs. Do you get them online?
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thank you for the quick reply. Yes, I would really like to see your ideas for a drainage system. The bath mat is working for now, but it doesn't work too terribly well.

I have to spray Ophelia directly? The first time I did this she hissed at me, so I started avoiding it. I've also taken to spraying from outside the cage because she really didn't like the sprayer head. She bit it once when it got too close to her.

As for the temperature, the thermometer is one of those wired ones with what looks like a black pill shaped thermometer head at the end of the wire. It is black so I don't know if the temperature reading is accurate or if the thermometer itself is overheating because it is black plastic and in the light directly. If Ophelia sits on it or shades it the temperature it reads drops to around 70 or even lower.

I'm not sure my pet stores near by have so many bugs. Do you get them online?
There are tons of ways to do drainage. Since she’s on your daughter’s dresser, I’d get a substrate tray (washing machine drip pan or a substrate tray the same brand as your cage, etc.), fill it with layers of egg crate/lighting diffuser, then add a moss mat over the top to prevent her from drinking the standing water and to add visual appeal. Then, when the water gets to the level of the moss mat, siphon it out into a bucket. Let me know if you want pictures!

Lightly and gently spray her so she can clean out her eyes. You don’t have to do it every time you mist, though.

That type of thermometer is great for basking temps. I use the digital thermometer/hygrometer combo from the hardware store on the outside of the cage and near the middle/bottom of the cage to measure ambient levels. I also use a digital temp gun to spot measure, as well.

Yes, online is great! The site sponsors here: https://www.chameleonforums.com/sponsors/?type=chameleon-food Rainbow Mealworms, eBay, etc. all have tons of feeders!
 

chameleodad

New Member
Pictures would be great. That way I can visualize it when I go shopping with her today after she gets home from school.

As for the laying bin, can I use a planter? I have a ceramic one that's 11" round and 10" tall. Just a regular planter for a potted plant that we never used. I think I can fit that in the cage. When I bought the cage it looked big to me. Now as I put more and more into it, it is getting smaller by the second.

I'm sorry if I have so many questions, I feel like I'm all over the place. If I buy worms/bugs online, I have to get habitats/cages for them as well? Or will they come in containers I can keep them in?

As for gut loading, I am just letting the crickets "free feed." Is that acceptable or is there a technique to it so they are more nutritious? Is there a technique for each different bug species?

Lastly (for now, I'm sure in like 3 minutes I'll come up with another question) the pet stores I went to (I visited 3, one local and two chains) gave conflicting advice about substrate for the cage. The chain stores insisted I had to have a substrate, the local one said leave it barren, no substrate at all. Which one is correct? The substrate I purchased is called Eco Earth. And it is a godawful mess. It gets everywhere. Am I okay just removing the stuff?
 
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ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
Pictures would be great. That way I can visualize it when I go shopping with her today after she gets home from school.

As for the laying bin, can I use a planter? I have a ceramic one that's 11" round and 10" tall. Just a regular planter for a potted plant that we never used. I think I can fit that in the cage. When I bought the cage it looked big to me. Now as I put more and more into it, it is getting smaller by the second.

I'm sorry if I have so many questions, I feel like I'm all over the place. If I buy worms/bugs online, I have to get habitats/cages for them as well? Or will they come in containers I can keep them in?

As for gut loading, I am just letting the crickets "free feed." Is that acceptable or is there a technique to it so they are more nutritious?

Lastly (for now, I'm sure in like 3 minutes I'll come up with another question) the pet stores I went to (I visited 3, one local and two chains) gave conflicting advice about substrate for the cage. The chain stores insisted I had to have a substrate, the local one said leave it barren, no substrate at all. Which one is correct? The substrate I purchased is called Eco Earth. And it is a godawful mess. It gets everywhere. Am I okay just removing the stuff?
I’ll snap some pics in a second!

A planter is a great lay bin! Make sure to use either organic soil, washed play sand (just rinsed really well with water multiple times), or a mixture of both. Make sure the soil is damp, not wet or dry, and can hold a tunnel. Does your planter have drainage holes in it?

Keep the questions coming, happy to help! Yes, you have to supply your own storage containers. I’ll post some pics of mine, as well. I keep my hornworms, butterworms, and black soldier fly larvae in their original containers in a wine fridge, then I’ll take out the black soldier fly larvae and butterworms to gutload at room temperature either the night before or a few hours before feeding them off. Everything else gets gasket sealed containers from the Container Store (a little extreme and not the cheapest; you can make your own gasket sealed container with weatherstripping and a regular container, way cheaper).

You can either constantly give your feeders quality gutload (which a lot of people do, it’s easier) or gorge the feeders you’ll feed off the night before or a few hours before feeding with a quality gutload (packs more nutrients in them, still feed the rest of the colonies of bugs, though).

Veileds are notorious for eating substrate so usually if you have a veiled, keep the cage bottom barren. You can also go bioactive, which means your substrate is living (is growing plants and supports microfauna like spring tails and isopods). If you go bioactive and make it deep enough, then you don’t need a lay bin. Just watch out for her eating the substrate.
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
Here’s my current drainage set-up (I’m going to be upgrading to bioactive once I finish building bigger cages for my chams). It’s a substrate tray with 3 layers of egg crate/lighting diffuser, topped off with a live moss mat. And a pic of one of my feeder insect bins
 

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chameleodad

New Member
Thank you for the pictures. That helps. We have a bunch of small changes to make to her habitat this afternoon. Hopefully she won't turn black again. We will see.

Yes. The planter has holes in the bottom. I stopped by HomeDepot during lunch. When I asked for a hygrometer they looked at me like I was from Mars. I may have to make a trip to the pet store later.

Where did you buy the moss mat?
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thank you for the pictures. That helps. We have a bunch of small changes to make to her habitat this afternoon. Hopefully she won't turn black again. We will see.

Yes. The planter has holes in the bottom. I stopped by HomeDepot during lunch. When I asked for a hygrometer they looked at me like I was from Mars. I may have to make a trip to the pet store later.

Where did you buy the moss mat?
Great! Lay bins need drainage. The digital thermometer/hygrometer combos at my store are in the weather monitoring section with thermometers and weather stations. I’ll link a picture to something similar to mine. I got my moss mat online, it’s a Galapagos Reptile Gear Mossy Crashpad
 

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chameleodad

New Member
My cage came with a plastic square drop in for a bottom. Did you just remove that and put the cage directly on the moss pad?
I'm thinking that until I get a moss pad or similar that I will leave the bottom in. That way she can't get stuck in the egg crate under the cage.

As for the bioactive, I may not be advanced enough yet. I did get a schiflerra plant while I was out so after I wash it I'll put it in as well.
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
My cage came with a plastic square drop in for a bottom. Did you just remove that and put the cage directly on the moss pad?
I'm thinking that until I get a moss pad or similar that I will leave the bottom in. That way she can't get stuck in the egg crate under the cage.

As for the bioactive, I may not be advanced enough yet. I did get a schiflerra plant while I was out so after I wash it I'll put it in as well.
I removed the plastic square that came with the cage, put in the substrate tray I bought, then added the egg crate and moss mat. What type of schfflera did you get? Make sure to wash it off really well and repot it bareroot into organic soil and cover the soil with rocks too big for her to eat
 

chameleodad

New Member
I bought a schefflera arboricola. It has yellow and green leaves. Sort of like the coloration Ophelia has when she is happy. I figured maybe she might find the plant colors "inspiring" and she'll stay her happy colors.

How much plant is too much plant in a cage? I swear this cage was big when I got it. Now it is starting to look miniscule. I re-potted the thing back in the original container it came in, because with the lay bin planter I needed something that could bend so I could make it all fit. I'll have to find some rocks next.

I added a T8 strip light. I will change out the bulb once I pick up my daughter. I bought a ReptiSun 5 bulb. I also was able to find two hygrometers. (not digital, just small mechanical ones.) So now I know that her cage is at 70% humidity.

The washing machine drip pan was a great idea by the way. I got it all set up and then I really went to town making it rain in the enclosure. The garden sprayer really comes in handy. Ophelia still didn't drink as far as I could see, but she turned really bright green when the "rain" was falling.
 

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ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
I bought a schefflera arboricola. It has yellow and green leaves. Sort of like the coloration Ophelia has when she is happy. I figured maybe she might find the plant colors "inspiring" and she'll stay her happy colors.

How much plant is too much plant in a cage? I swear this cage was big when I got it. Now it is starting to look miniscule. I re-potted the thing back in the original container it came in, because with the lay bin planter I needed something that could bend so I could make it all fit. I'll have to find some rocks next.

I added a T8 strip light. I will change out the bulb once I pick up my daughter. I bought a ReptiSun 5 bulb. I also was able to find two hygrometers. (not digital, just small mechanical ones.) So now I know that her cage is at 70% humidity.

The washing machine drip pan was a great idea by the way. I got it all set up and then I really went to town making it rain in the enclosure. The garden sprayer really comes in handy. Ophelia still didn't drink as far as I could see, but she turned really bright green when the "rain" was falling.
That type of schfflera is perfect! There is never too many plants, vines, branches, etc! Unless there’s no room for your cham to move, of course. Make sure the uvb bulb you bought is a T8 bulb, as well. Her humidity is right at the top of the 40-70% range, but is good. And thank you for listening and acting on our advice! You’re doing a great job!
 

chameleodad

New Member
That type of schfflera is perfect! There is never too many plants, vines, branches, etc! Unless there’s no room for your cham to move, of course. Make sure the uvb bulb you bought is a T8 bulb, as well. Her humidity is right at the top of the 40-70% range, but is good. And thank you for listening and acting on our advice! You’re doing a great job!

Thank you for all the advice. Our chameleon has seemed to like the changes to her setup. So far so good. She woke up and for the first time came to the door of her enclosure to eat. She didn't even wait for us to put crickets in her bowl, she was eating them as we were pouring them in. That was exciting to see.

We were looking at feeder insects online. We were thinking black soldier flie larvae, butter worms, crickets and a hornworms to start adding variety to her diet. Regarding hornworms, they seem huge. Will she choke on them? I can't seem to find any that are small enough that they would fit between her eyes. Should I wait on them until she is older, or is a hornworm squishy enough that she'll be fine with one?

I also discovered that no one sells grasshoppers. At all, as far as I can see. Am I incorrect? Is there a way to get hoppers? Or should I feed her what I can find from our wildflower garden? (I am starting to keep bees so our garden is pesticide free.)
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thank you for all the advice. Our chameleon has seemed to like the changes to her setup. So far so good. She woke up and for the first time came to the door of her enclosure to eat. She didn't even wait for us to put crickets in her bowl, she was eating them as we were pouring them in. That was exciting to see.

We were looking at feeder insects online. We were thinking black soldier flie larvae, butter worms, crickets and a hornworms to start adding variety to her diet. Regarding hornworms, they seem huge. Will she choke on them? I can't seem to find any that are small enough that they would fit between her eyes. Should I wait on them until she is older, or is a hornworm squishy enough that she'll be fine with one?

I also discovered that no one sells grasshoppers. At all, as far as I can see. Am I incorrect? Is there a way to get hoppers? Or should I feed her what I can find from our wildflower garden? (I am starting to keep bees so our garden is pesticide free.)
Isn’t it amazing to watch them eat!

Those feeders are a great starting point! You can get small hornworms. As long as the worm isn’t as wide or wider than the space between her eyes, you should be fine, just use common sense.

They’re illegal to sell in the states. While you can feed grasshoppers you caught from the wild, there’s a greater risk of parasites, etc. if doing so
 

chameleodad

New Member
Isn’t it amazing to watch them eat!

Those feeders are a great starting point! You can get small hornworms. As long as the worm isn’t as wide or wider than the space between her eyes, you should be fine, just use common sense.

They’re illegal to sell in the states. While you can feed grasshoppers you caught from the wild, there’s a greater risk of parasites, etc. if doing so

I feel totally foolish. I was looking at how long hornworms are. I never stopped to consider that its the width of the hornworm that matters. That makes sense now.
 

chameleodad

New Member
Since I’m new at this, I just want to verify that the white patches I see on Ophelia this afternoon are her beginning to do a skin shedding.

I took the pictures right after her afternoon misting.
 

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