Rodents attacking sleeping chameleon in outdoor enclosures?

Hi all, I am fairly new to keeping panther chameleons, but have been an avid reptile enthusiast for 20 yrs now, so before being berated, I have done quite a bit of research on these beautiful animals in books as well as this forum. I have a juvenile female panther who was doing magnificently in the outdoor enclosure I built using wire mesh and mist king system. She was looking magnificent until yesterday, when she had fairly bad cuts to her lower tail as well as small lacerations on her feet. She is outside where we currently are having a rodent problem. This is ongoing in the area and neighborhood cats have done some control, but not enough. I purchased rodent poison as this is the only way to kill the smartest of the varmint IMO. Tell me it's cruel, but I've had enough and tell me you want them living in your house :)) anyways it has been cool at night so I have ceramic heat emitters suspended above cages to provide extra warmth. Last night I kept waking up to noises sounding like rodents scurrying in the yard, and more poison was definitely eaten by morning. Reason I mention this is that normally she sleeps all tucked in schefflera plant in the cage interior. Tonight, I wanted to provide extra protection and heat, so while placing a blanket over her cage I noticed she now was roosting on side of cage higher up next to heat lamp. All of the toes she had injuries on were now sticking outside of cage :(( I hope that poison kills the rodents, but has anybody ever heard of something like this. I HATE rodents, other than snake food!! Sorry, I am very upset about my baby and really would appreciate if someone could comment on their experiences with this. Sorry for the long rant, but I am extremely stressed, and I feel you all understand more than others would. Thanks again for all the good work put into this site and the knowledge of the users!! :p
 

Simon1986

New Member
Sorry about your problem, sounds like some hungry rats. Problem is rats are master climbers is your cage on legs? If so try smuthering them in vasalene and something similar to make them slippy.

Also if the rats have bitten your Cham I'd get the vet to check him over as they can carry nasty diseases

Hope this helps
 

DanSB

Avid Member
I would expect rats to take entire toes and tails, they are vicious. Culd it be a cat climbing the cage and just happened to climb the worst place? Rats are horrid and I'm not trying to give them a pass here but it might help in trying to determine best steps to protect the enclosure.

Either way, no matter how well you eliminate the rats they will return and you need to rat proof the outdoor enclosure. While you're at it cat proof it too and encourage cats to hang out, for long term management nothing is better. I have some cat proofing tips on my blog here.

I would like to discourage poison use. It is detrimental to animals who naturally control the rodent population especially predatory birds and well laid out traps are every bit as effective without risking dead rodents in your walls or killing an owl.

If you need good tips on how to rodent proof an enclosure look for guides from people who have aviaries or chickens. They will go into much more detail than I could here. I might do a write up some day as I do have experience, and would be happy to answer specifics if you want someone to bounce ideas off of.
 

little leaf

Avid Member
why dont you just bring her in at night? I know its kinda a pain, but I take 8 outside every AM, and bring them all in again at night - just for this reason, but we have coons and mink- I also HATE those things- rats are DEF/ worse - they are also very smart, they will smell the mouth of the dead, and then avoid the sent, so the ones who you want to eat the poison may not be the ones getting it- I also support the NON use of poison - but a good snap trap is wonderful
so sorry to hear you little girl is getting bitten, also, if she starts to become stressed because of this, the stress can be just as bad( if not worse) than the rodents on her

good luck
 

sideeffect

New Member
Rats attack panther chameleon

I just lost my panther chameleon yesterday due to injuries sustained the night before as he slept in his enclosure which has been outside since spring. At first it was a mystery as to what exactly had happened. After racking my brain, I gave Mike at FLChams a call and upon hearing my story and seeing picture, he was confident it was a rat.

Sorry if this gets graphic...I just dont want this to happen to someone else.
It seems a rat (or rats) somehow was able to latch on to the rear right leg and pull it through the 1/2" vinyl coated mesh and seriously damage it. They also managed to get to his other three feet that were hanging outside the cage and chew the claws down to almost nothing, leaving the poor guy with almost nothing to hold on with.

When I found him yesterday afternoon, he was alive but was waving in and out of consciousness.

After consulting with a vet friend of mine, we both decided it was best to euthanize him in the most humane way possible. I didn't want to see him suffer and even if we were able to effectivly treat the infection, he would never be able to climb again.

I found this post and felt led to share what happedned to me so that someone reading this may take measures to prevent this from happening to them.
 

DanSB

Avid Member
Welcome to the forums.

Sorry for your loss.

Thank you for sharing and reminding us of the dangers rats pose.
 

Mike Fisher

Established Member
That's rough. Sorry for your loss. I've been designing a outdoor enclosure inside my brain, and I will definitely go with something that hangs up high and out of reach from rats, possums, raccoons, and cats. I've been primarily worried about cats, now I'm scared of rats more. Filthy basterds.
 

DanSB

Avid Member
That's rough. Sorry for your loss. I've been designing a outdoor enclosure inside my brain, and I will definitely go with something that hangs up high and out of reach from rats, possums, raccoons, and cats. I've been primarily worried about cats, now I'm scared of rats more. Filthy basterds.
A neat rat trick for an outdoor enclosure. Take 4 standard 5 gallon buckets. Pour about 3" of concrete on the bottom and mount PVC pipes in the middle of each bucket. Use this as a the base for the outdoor enclosure. Oh and fill the buckets halfway with water. Rats can swim but can't scale the PVC or bucket edge... They will drown in a bit. This also keeps ants and crawling insects out. The down side is you need to clean regularly to avoid mosquitoes.

I knew a guy who did this for outdoor finch cages and it worked great.
 

VigilantSpearIII

New Member
Sorry to hear about the rats. I had a few kittens years ago that were mauled and chewed up by rats. They snuck into my garage through a tiny slit and went savage on my kittens that were only 2 months old. My dad gave me a pug and he had been my garage guardian for a long time. He would make sure to scare off any rodent intruders. In or around the house. I have since moved and the old pug, Lotus, has since retired. Get a small spunky dog. That or setup some rat traps. I think Tractor supply had a good selection of traps. With rats though, trap and kill.
 

DanSB

Avid Member
Pretty cool, bucket moats. I wonder how many rats he drowned. Thanks for the tip!
More than a few. I sometimes just leave half full 5 gallon buckets out and occasionally get one. Rats are probably one of the only living things I don't mind killing. If dog is man's best friend rats are our arch nemesis. They will even gnaw on sleeping people. I once had one run across my bed at night. I've had cats ever since.
 

pssh

Avid Member
You can also make a second "cage" to go around the actual cage. It should be at least 6 inches larger on all sides. 1/4" mesh works best. It helps prevent cats, racoons, hawks, and rodents from reaching the chameleons. Its kind of a pain to do, but if you have a serious pest/bird problem, it can save the chameleons.
 

DanSB

Avid Member
You can also make a second "cage" to go around the actual cage. It should be at least 6 inches larger on all sides. 1/4" mesh works best. It helps prevent cats, racoons, hawks, and rodents from reaching the chameleons. Its kind of a pain to do, but if you have a serious pest/bird problem, it can save the chameleons.
This is also a great idea. An outer cage can be built with lower quality rougher mesh and be made late enough to house multiple smaller enclosures both will save a little money.
 

Bush baby

Avid Member
Have you actually tried feeding the rats? If they're looking for food you could sprinkle grain (or whatever rats like to eat) with cayenne/red pepper powder mixed into it.

It's works with squirrels as like all mammals their/our taste buds don't respond well to peppers but it shouldn't harm the Chameleon at all.....

Once the rats associate the enclosure with the stuff that burns their mouths, they're likely to not return.

Another thing i've heard that works is 'predator pee'. I know friends that use bobcat urine to keep rats/rodents away......seriously.
 

carol5208

Chameleon Enthusiast
Oh my gosh these stories are horrible but thank you for sharing. I have a large outdoor enclosure that has the coated wire instead of the screen. I have always felt fairly confident that it was pretty safe and on occasion I will let one of my chameleons sleep over night in it. Now I am kinda freaked out as I have seen them sleep close to the edge. I usually cover the top with something incase it rains so I never really thought about something pulling their legs or feet through.. I have seen rats around from time to time. My neighbor has alot of crap in his yard and places for them to hide. I think from now on, I am going to bring them inside. Thank you again for this info.
 
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