I have read alot of the links given on pygmy chams on these forums, along with countless other things on keeping pygmy chams, but I am wondering what tips can you give to someone who wants to keep and breed them
The misty mate.. Roo loves it, I hate it. IMO, the Misty Mate is a pain in the posterior. I exploded two of them before I said to hell with it and started using a hand held pump sprayer. Part of my leafs are on a misting system.. I have them cycling at 2X a day for 30 seconds a session. That seems to work out well for me. I use red nozzles and mount them on the edge of the tank, sideways instead of straight down, so that the mist sort of drifts over the tank. My larger tanks have 2 nozzles, one on each side, and the smaller ones have only one mounted to a side. It creates a gradient of moisture that seems to work out well for my guys. Part of the tank is always wetter than other parts, so females can choose the moisture level for egg laying.
Working with these guys is FUN.. I love the leafs. You can get so decorative with the tanks and enclosures. I am currently working on a cabinet for brevs that is 6 feet long, 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide. I plan to keep a colony in there.. not sure how many, I will add 15 or so to start and see how that goes before adding more. I plan to have a creek in the enclosure for added humidity and water on demand. This may not work out well.. and I might have to pull it. Dart frog people have good advise on cage building, and following their methods for backgrounds, plants, etc. is pretty helpful. The big difference between keeping darts and brevs is the moisture levels. Frog keepers have saturated substrates. Brevs do better with more of a tropical forest floor type substrate that isn't quite so moist. I like to keep my humidity a bit lower in the tanks these days.. I have been running about 60 percent lately and like what I am seeing.
I use Reptisun 5.0's on all of my tanks because I feel that leafs benefit from higher UVB. In the wild, they are seen basking in patches of full sunlight, so they do get UVB. I have offered basking lights for them in the past, but don't see them really using them much. I pulled mine, but may put them back for the winter, or try one in the big enclosure I am working on now.
If you are really serious about breeding leafs, emailing the people who are really serious about it is best. The biggest difficulty is breeding into generations. F1's aren't difficult at all. F2's begin to present a challenge, and there are some thoughts about nutritional requirements. A couple of us are working pretty extensively with a variety of different models right now. I have personally experimented with lighting, air flow, basking lights, supplementation including vit A, etc.
Mouth and eye infections and a general failure to thrive are amongst the most difficult problems that leaf keepers face. So much of the keeping is simply an unknown still, and finding out what other people are doing at the moment is best.. this is the stuff that rarely makes it to the forums, because it is experimental. No one wants to tell a new brev keeper that preformed vitamin A supplementation may significantly cut down on mouth and eye infections and increase fertility and hatch rates in eggs because they haven't been doing it long enough to know if there are other consequences to using this method. One thing many of us would like to see, though, is a solid interest in these little guys, and long term projects that encourage captive breeding programs. I have been guilty of not developing my groups to the extent that I could.. I have sold most of my CB youngsters, and should have retained more than I have for continued breeding projects. My goal now is to begin really concentrating on breeding multigenerations of brevs.
As far as purchasing brevs goes, there are only a couple people in the US that are seriously breeding them right now. I don't have any available for sale at the moment, but roo might, and he is in NY. FLChams often has CH/CB animals available. I have purchased WC from him to improve my blood lines, and have been happy with them.
Mainly, as a new leaf keeper, you should concentrate on keeping them well. Just.. get them comfortable and living. Worry about the other stuff later if you want to pursue a breeding program. There is a lot more to it than just getting a group of leaf chameleons and dropping them into an enclosure if you truly want to be successful. Chances are good that these little guys won't always be available as WC.. getting people to recognize that and prepare for the eventuallity is important. If some of us can get these guys breeding into the F10's, etc. then we may stand a chance of truly keeping them long term in captivity. For right now, start collecting small feeders, research basic care and cage building, and have fun with it!
Wow, thanks so much, that is such a help!!! I will be sure to continue my research and begin plans for some sort of terrarium for the little buggers. I am a biology major so I foster a natural love for the environment, I don't want to get into these guys if I can't provide them a nice stress free environment for them to live in!