Small bugs in chameleon housing


New Member
I have a veiled chameleon, his enclosure is 2*2*3.5, live plant inside is pathos, and a few artificial plants, with random size branches for climbing, I have the exo terra artificial substrate. The kind you put in water and it expands and gives you a bunch of exotic looking dirt kind of stuff, it's been in there over a month, I'm not sure if you're supposed to swap out the dirt regularly or not but today I noticed there were small bugs underneath a water dish I kept in there, they look like tiny mites or something and I was worried If these were harmful or if they're termites, and if I should clean Em out etc
Its recommended by most keepers to not have that kind of stuff in the bottom for that reason and it can be a breeding ground for bacterial as well the cham getting impacted if they eat it. It should be removed as soon as possible
Many veiled chameleons are likely to try to eat some dirt or plants, and most will suggest not having anything at the bottom of the enclosure. It can lead to issues with blockages (impaction) and lead to some unwanted vet bills. I used a few things and found most to be more work than it is worth. With the amount of moisture needed to keep a chameleon hydrated through misting, you will have mold and mildew issues in the substrate as well as gnats and bugs (all love the moisture) and it will most likely smell :eek:. Some owners do use substrate, but I'm sure they would agree that it is a lot more work! ;)
...Some owners do use substrate, but I'm sure they would agree that it is a lot more work! ;)

This is true. I only have substrate in one of my enclosures, and getting the ecosystem right was annoying at first. Now I have plenty of "life" with bugs that eat poop and dead leaves in there (worms, springtails, earwigs that I discovered yesterday). I got some soil that doesn't seem to mold either.

It's really neat to see all the little tunnels that the bugs make, and there's tons of things going on when it starts getting dark. That's always when the cleanup crew arrives! :D

I have the substrate with my Ellioti, who has a VERY planted (probably over planted, but he's really shy) enclosure and has no chance to get any dirt, not that he goes anywhere near the bottom... The dirt stuff I have absorbs moisture well, and seems to release it quickly, as I keep having to actually water the plants planted in there or they die. I would never consider this with my veiled though. Every time she gets something new, she HAS to taste it and try to eat it. She's also a lot larger, and more likely to eat the pieces which are too big for my ellioti.

If you want substrate, you have to provide draining, and make sure everything is planted enough that your chameleon won't accidentally reach the dirt. It also varies from chameleon to chameleon. Some would love to try some yummy black/brown substance, but there are some who never go lower than the middle of their terarrium. If you don't want to take the risk, best remove it. Your cham will be fine without :) And you can make things look nice, even when your plants are in pots!


Those bugs you saw...what colour were they? If they were white they MIGHT be springtails... but it's hard to say without a picture or more description. I'm also unfamiliar with the kinds of bugs that can randomly pop up in the USA :)
Sorry didn't see these last two replies, but they are a brown type of bug, I haven't gotten the chance to take a picture, and as for my veiled he doesn't seem to eat the substrate, and he does go all around the terrarium and I've even seen him wander the floor but just to look around
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