Preparing for my first chameleon, tips appreciated

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Traildrifterphalanx, Jun 11, 2017.

  1. Traildrifterphalanx

    Traildrifterphalanx Established Member

    Greetings all,
    I have been a reptile lover all my life, and it wasn't until a few years ago I got into the hobby of caring for them. I really love chameleons, but always considered them to be "too high maintenance" for me based on what I've heard, but now having more reptile experience, I think I am up for the task.

    I am a mature adult with a full-time job, money in savings, a house to myself, and no intention of ever having kids. Quiet pet-filled household.

    I am new to this board and new to chameleons.
    I currently own 2 bearded dragons (housed SEPARATELY!) ages 9mo and 3 mo, 3 african dwarf frogs (+2 otos), a cat, and a pacman frog. Due to my love for my bearded dragons, I spend a lot of my time on beardeddragon.org as a very active member by the same username: traildrifterphalanx. I take husbandry needs and care of my pets VERY seriously, and already have experience with a very knowledgeable reptile specialist (not exotics*) about 30mins away.
    My oldest bearded dragon was just 2 years old when she succumbed to un-diagnosed kidney cancer on 5/4/17. I miss her greatly and have done everything I can to immortalize her and her effect she had on me. My animals mean everything to me.

    What brings me to this forum is basically reassurance as well as possible introduction upon adopting my first little chameleon. I am planning on a veiled chameleon.
    I'll start with what my plans are regarding husbandry:

    Enclosure:
    I purchased a Zilla Reptibreeze 18x18x36 enclosure just recently. I fully understand bigger is always better, but I plan to start with a baby and go from there and understand the dimensions above are considered a minimum (this is the same with bearded dragons, a 36x18x18 enclosure is considered the minimum.)
    I do not plan to do a free range setup, however, I am open to the idea of an outdoor enclosure on nice days as I have a large and relatively empty fenced backyard. I live in Wisconsin and clearly this is not a year round option.
    Lighting:
    Being very familiar with bearded dragons I understand lighting is crucial. Both my enclosures are set up with an Arcadia 12% uvb along with basking bulbs to get them their desert basking temps (~105F). I do have a dual dome fixture and would be curious to use a compact 5.0 or 5% uvb bulb, however if chameleons are anything like bearded dragons, the UVB is best supplied via florescent tube (reptisun 5.0 T5 or Arcadia 5%). Reassurance on this is appreciated, but I am leaning the tube route as I would hate to waste my time on bad lighting immediately.
    Plants:
    I purchased a medium hibiscus plant just this weekend and plan to keep the enclosure indoors. I understand from what I read this plant can be very finicky and fail to properly thrive indoors. I was unable to find a ficus or an umbrella tree locally after checking 4 locations (local greenhouse, Walmart, Menards, Home Depot) and settled on the hibiscus. It is currently outside in the original pot it came in on these hot summery sunshine filled days to help encourage the health of the plant prior to being brought indoors. I do plan to re-pot it and "hide" the dirt. I also have 2 long pothos vines in a cup of water to encourage roots that will be added to the enclosure as well. These vines are clippings from my very healthy 3 year old pothos that hangs in my living room. My pacman frog also uses pothos clippings and loves to burrow under them, and they are flourishing in his enclosure. Healthy plant and I know the source :)
    Railways:
    In addition to pothos vines, I have some bamboo chutes, dried reeds, and tree branches from my large mature maple tree outside to use as railways and perches. All listed items are easily graspable with tiny chameleon mittens. I have not laid out yet how I plan to do this but figure once I start actually setting up the enclosure I'll figure it out. I do not at this time know how I am tying these up as I prefer not to use push pins due to cat.
    Diet:
    I am experienced with the voracious appetite of baby bearded dragons and they are omnivores, eating both insects and greens. Because of this, I breed my own dubia roaches and also keep on hand a second feeder type to add variety (currently superworms for my big boy Richter, but none for my 3mo old due to impaction risks.) I am also familiar with dusting insects as I do this for my dragons and my pacman frog and keep calcium with and without D3 on hand.
    Health:
    As I mentioned above, I already have a reptile specialist that has been seeing and treating my bearded dragons. In addition to this, I am familiar with the concerns of MBD, impaction, egg binding, and parasites. While I have only experienced parasites, I know the signs and symptoms of the others and suffered a personal tragic loss to a dragon with kidney cancer, so am aware of symptoms with kidney function. I am familiar with scale rot, mouth rot, paralysis, lethargy, and dehydration.
    Humidity:
    The one thing that I'm not super familiar with for chameleons is a drip system, or providing water for them.
    Bearded dragons gain most of their moisture in plump bugs and veggies, but I do have experience bathing them or providing water via dropper. Pacman frogs absorb water through their skin and do not drink, but I am familiar with misting. I have no problem misting the enclosure, and plan to get a much nicer misting bottle than the one I've been using for my Pacman frog that keeps jamming up.
    Regarding my cat:
    I know cats are red flags in the herp business so wanted to set things straight. My cat is extremely nonchalant when it comes to my bearded dragons. They are handled daily, for hours, one at a time, and my cat is my lap buddy. The dragons (the large ones only) are allowed to free range the home under supervision, but the supervision is so I don't lose them, not a cat concern. My cat has interacted with the dragons, she has galloped over to them when particularly super excited because they're running around, but this ends with sniffing their face and walking away. She lacks a prey/hunt drive and has been raised by me since a kitten. As much as I understand there are many people that will still be wary, I have 0 concern and know my cat a lot better than others. Of course a new lizard, a little chameleon, which my cat has never seen before will be new and interesting, I will still be sure the enclosure is cat proof as she is still quite curious, and I do not plan to leave a tiny baby chameleon unattended with my cat. I wouldn't leave it unattended even without a cat.


    Sorry for the extremely long post, but I wanted to make it clear this is a serious decision and I have experience and this is not an impulse buy. Aside from the few husbandry things to consider (which light? humidity?) I also have the hard decision regarding location. As mentioned, I live alone and do have a cat, and I have been trying to come up with the best placement. Currently, both bearded dragons are in my living room in stacked enclosures, my aquarium of african dwarf frogs and otos are in the living room, and pacman frog is in my bedroom for the time being. While I own a house, I don't have a lot of room to work with, but I do have 2 rooms that are very seldom used - the office, and the guest room. These are currently my two likely areas, but I would prefer he be located in a position that I can see him and monitor him throughout the day, i.e a more visited room. The living room is still an option, either next to or across from the dragons, or near the entryway (no one enters the actual entryway.)

    Anyway, location is definitely a personal decision as no one here knows my home layout.
    I hope this novel I wrote can help broadcast my intentions, and I am all for tips, tricks, and ideas regarding the things still holding me up.

    Thanks for reading.
    I will be publishing a paperback copy of this novel....
     
  2. laurie

    laurie Retired Moderator

     
  3. Traildrifterphalanx

    Traildrifterphalanx Established Member

    Thanks for the warm welcome!
    I see a lot of people reaching out for help on the beardie forum months after getting them and it's often too late to help and usually uvb related, so I wanted to be sure not to be that person. I will sit with the empty enclosure until I'm absolutely ready.

    And I do apologize for getting a little defensive about the cat, but it seems mentioning cats over on the bearded dragon forum instantly means you're pets are in danger from some members, so I felt it necessary to come out the door defending her.

    Here's my happy pet family!
    Alucard, 3mo female
    IMAG3619.jpg
    Richter, 9mo male
    IMAG3634.jpg
    Yoshi and Richter
    IMAG3561.jpg
    Hypnotoad, the Pacman frog
    IMAG3573.jpg
    And Gunther (female), Luis (male), and Kashi-Go-Lean (male), the African dwarf frogs.
    IMAG3038.jpg
    That's Luis hugging onto Kashi. They'll figure it out one day.
     
  4. Kristen Wilkins

    Kristen Wilkins Chameleon Enthusiast

    Welcome @Traildrifterphalanx you have come to the right place for chameleon care theirs Amazing keepers here . Veileds are Amazing !!.

    Check out lightyourrepriles.com Todd's Amazing . He has quad set up's that work well for plant , basking , and uvb .

    Your beardie is adorable !!.

    The dragon strands enclosure are fantastic when you are ready to upgrade if you are not building one your self .
     
  5. Traildrifterphalanx

    Traildrifterphalanx Established Member

    Thanks!
    Both my uvb lights for the dragons are actually from light your reptiles, Todd is amazing :) I'll have to check out the quad thing, though!

    I've considered building my own larger one but you know how it goes sometimes. Thanks for the tips!
     
  6. Kristen Wilkins

    Kristen Wilkins Chameleon Enthusiast

    Yes I do !!. Your very welcome . ;)
     
  7. etclement

    etclement Established Member

    I am currently building my own larger cage. I would recommend it if you are willing to research and put some time in!
     
  8. Kristen Wilkins

    Kristen Wilkins Chameleon Enthusiast

    You should do a blog on it . Under enclosures and supplies .
     
  9. Traildrifterphalanx

    Traildrifterphalanx Established Member

    I just placed my order for a 14" reptisun 5.0 t5 with reflector hood. Hoping I made a good choice!
     
  10. etclement

    etclement Established Member

    Do you know where you are getting your veiled? I got mine from FLchams and I've had zero health problems after 2 months.
     
  11. Traildrifterphalanx

    Traildrifterphalanx Established Member

    I actually haven't really started looking, honestly. I've been so focused on what I've needed to get setup. I'll have to take a look at FLchams or other reputable breeders. It may be able a month before I adopt the little guy :) as much as I'd love him by tomorrow. I have a wedding to attend as a groomsmen out of town, some debt to clear by July, a tattoo for my bearded dragon that passed, and other misc bills. While a chameleon is still within budget even so, I'd prefer to let things settle financially before taking one on
     
    Kristen Wilkins likes this.
  12. laurie

    laurie Retired Moderator


    So, you just get better, and better! You are even financially responsible? You must not be real! I knew I could not like you that well and you be real. I just dreamed all of this
     
  13. Traildrifterphalanx

    Traildrifterphalanx Established Member

    Lol!
    My mom raised me right.

    I always have a cushion of a month's worth of bills in savings in case I suddenly lose my job, but I prefer to have more than that. For all the upcoming events, I'll get close to being just a 1 month cushion again, but I get an extra paycheck in August and my birthday is in just 8 days and I'll be asking for cash toward the tattoo, so in about that month or less I'll know where I'm at.
     
    Kristen Wilkins likes this.
  14. Traildrifterphalanx

    Traildrifterphalanx Established Member

    I've been racking my brain for what to use as a background in the enclosure. Luckily, hoarding pays off!
    IMAG3650.jpg
    I still had the styrofoam wall from my 36X18X18 exo terra dragon enclosure. I'll likely spruce it up with some fake vines or flowers embedded in the wall.
    My pothos is still working on rooting
    IMAG3651.jpg
    And the hibiscus is looking good! Although it looks so small in the enclosure...
    IMAG3654.jpg


    What would you recommend to create more plant height?
    I still need to repot it, likely will this weekend, and I have branches too large for the oven that I'll have to soak over the next few days.

    My uvb light should also be arriving this weekend and I'd really like to start getting the enclosure ready for life :)
     
  15. etclement

    etclement Established Member

    If you mean a taller plant, Dracaena trees, Ficus alli, or a huge pothos with a prop would work.
     
  16. Kristen Wilkins

    Kristen Wilkins Chameleon Enthusiast

    You can run a 2 by 4 across the top of the enclosure . Use either heavy fishing line or flower wire to fasten . Then you can hang plants .
     
  17. Traildrifterphalanx

    Traildrifterphalanx Established Member

    I'm hoping the pothos clippings go crazy and I can use them to drape around the branches.
    I'll have to see about adding a dracaena as I could not find a ficus anywhere.
     
  18. Traildrifterphalanx

    Traildrifterphalanx Established Member

    I like that idea, I'll have to look more into it!
     
  19. Kristen Wilkins

    Kristen Wilkins Chameleon Enthusiast

    (y)
     
  20. Traildrifterphalanx

    Traildrifterphalanx Established Member

    What are your thoughts regarding substrate? I know a draining method is recommended, and right now it would just pool on the built in floor. Would a "natural" substrate like eco earth covered in large river rocks work?
     

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