small pebbles okay as a substrate?

swan092

New Member
I haven't gotten my cham yet, but I want to put his environment together first before I get him and I have heard mixed things about substrates. I am planning on building my own terrarium and it will be round so terrarium flexi liners are out of the question. I wanted to use the sand that is not harmful to the cham, I think its calcium based, but anyways, then I thought of using papertowel with a thin layer of very small pebbles so that he doesnt eat them and he can see his food. Any suggestions? I just want something that looks nice but the health of my cham is more important! Thanks:)
 

carol5208

Chameleon Enthusiast
Unfortunately, nothing is best. Small pebbles would be a bad choice as yourchameleon could eat them or shoot his tongue at prey and get one of the pebbles by accident. Don't put any sand in there either. They can eat that too which can lead to digestion problems. Alot of stuff that looks cool in the cage is not in the best of interest of health to your chameleon. Leave the cage floor bare. You are going to be putting alot of water in the cage with misting and dripping and any type of substrate is a breeding area for bacteria not to mention places where feeers could possibly hide out.
 

seanUTD

New Member
My question is "terrarium"... If your building your own I'm assuming it's mesh screen and not anything in the glass or plastic family? There's very few chams that can survive in anything but mesh...
 

JackP308

Established Member
If I were to use a substrate which I do with my panther female. Itd be dirt or coco fiber. With a layer expanded clay balls "Hydroton". Gives a good look and more natural display.



I have the Exo screen Cages though that have the water proof bottoms. Wouldnt work in standard screen cages without modifications.
 

carol5208

Chameleon Enthusiast
If I were to use a substrate which I do with my panther female. Itd be dirt or coco fiber. With a layer expanded clay balls "Hydroton". Gives a good look and more natural display.



I have the Exo screen Cages though that have the water proof bottoms. Wouldnt work in standard screen cages without modifications.
It is everyone's choice on what they want to use as substrate. We can all only give opinions on what we think is best. Like I said, anything in the bottom of the cage is most likely going to get water logged and I would not want to take the chance of any kind of fungus or bacteria to have a chance to grow. Would also not want to take the chance of accidental or intentional injestion JMHO!
 

JackP308

Established Member
What was your point in quoting me, I gave my opinion. I had nothing to say about yours. I use bare bottom on reptibreezes i use fully planted in everything else. I understand your logic and opinion. Kind of confused on why you quoted me but yea.
 

ferretinmyshoes

Veterinarian
Staff member
What was your point in quoting me, I gave my opinion. I had nothing to say about yours. I use bare bottom on reptibreezes i use fully planted in everything else. I understand your logic and opinion. Kind of confused on why you quoted me but yea.
Quoting gives reference to the context of your comment, it's not an attack or public flogging or anything. Don't take it personal, she didn't say anything rude to or about you.

It is everyone's preference as to what they put in the bottom of the cage, but I agree that any substrate on the bottom is generally a bad idea in most cases because of all the stories of impactions that people have posted. Chams have died from it before.
 

Ekaj13

New Member
My question is "terrarium"... If your building your own I'm assuming it's mesh screen and not anything in the glass or plastic family? There's very few chams that can survive in anything but mesh...
This is not correct and has been addressed many times. Glass and free range enclosures are two excellent options that come to mind.
 

Olimpia

Biologist & Ecologist
What about using the large smooth river rocks that they sell at craft and dollar stores? Those are too big to get ingested and woud give your bottom a cool look if that's what you want. The only think then is to worry about crickets and such getting into the nooks and crannies, but if you cup feed then that concern disapears. And it would still let water drain through.
 

JackP308

Established Member
Quoting gives reference to the context of your comment, it's not an attack or public flogging or anything. Don't take it personal, she didn't say anything rude to or about you.

It is everyone's preference as to what they put in the bottom of the cage, but I agree that any substrate on the bottom is generally a bad idea in most cases because of all the stories of impactions that people have posted. Chams have died from it before.

I still dont get the point. It is personal when your name is in the quote. I just didnt really get it. So what was it referencing ?how I keep my cages? Or just to repeat things? I have some rude things to say but Ill bite my tongue. Public Flogging just made me laugh though . Anyway I know its Public Forum but my comment was directed toward not you!! So thanks for your wise explanation not needed.

my point was pebbles is not the best choice and soil seems pretty safe in my Room and looks good and more important beneficial to the animals. So maybe give it a shot. BTW rocks are a good way to grow bacteria as well if you did not know.


Ferret - Show me cases of chams dieing from impacting organic soil and coco fiber. If so I bet its not common. You probably have better chance of killing them with poor husbandry than just because you housed them on organic soil or coco. I wasnt even making a big deal I just stated how I keep mine and I said I do have bare bottoms as well.
 

sandrachameleon

Chameleon Enthusiast
I haven't gotten my cham yet, but I want to put his environment together first before I get him and I have heard mixed things about substrates. I am planning on building my own terrarium and it will be round so terrarium flexi liners are out of the question. I wanted to use the sand that is not harmful to the cham, I think its calcium based, but anyways, then I thought of using papertowel with a thin layer of very small pebbles so that he doesnt eat them and he can see his food. Any suggestions? I just want something that looks nice but the health of my cham is more important! Thanks:)
Hello Swan
What type of chameleon is it? How large is the terrarium and what is it made of? How do you intend to handle watering and feeding?
without knowing this, its hard to give you a really good answer.

But, generally speaking, a bare cage floor can be easier to deal with. Easier to clean, often easier for handling the volume of water you'll be providing, less hiding options for feeders, less likely to harbour growth of bacteria.

That said, many people use cocofibre/peat, short length moss and such mixed with hydrotone or lava rock, all covered with larger rocks (that cannot be accidentally injested) or mesh / landscaping fabric. Some of the "Hazards" of a substrate can be mitigated by using terrestrial isopods,destruents, and spring tails

If you browse quickly through the links on this blog entry, I think you'll find some that show how others have done it:
https://www.chameleonforums.com/blogs/sandrachameleon/82-enclosures-housing.html

And I agree with ekaj - Mesh screen is NOT the only acceptable enclosure material. Plexi, wood, glass, plastic, coated wire, and many other options exist that can be superior in some circumstances to a mesh cage. Depends on the environment outside the cage and how it differs from what you wish to maintain inside the cage.

Some examples:
https://www.chameleonforums.com/terrarium-pictures-23200/
https://www.chameleonforums.com/svens-castle-lots-pics-10677/
https://www.chameleonforums.com/members/sandrachameleon-albums-cage.html
https://www.chameleonforums.com/everyone-who-knows-you-cant-keep-chameleons-glass-31937/
 
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carol5208

Chameleon Enthusiast
It is everyone's choice on what they want to use as substrate. We can all only give opinions on what we think is best. Like I said, anything in the bottom of the cage is most likely going to get water logged and I would not want to take the chance of any kind of fungus or bacteria to have a chance to grow. Would also not want to take the chance of accidental or intentional injestion JMHO!
was just using you as an example that everyone has their choices. I do not agree with your choice but as stated is it JMHO. Did not mean to start a fight here. Not what this forum is about....
 

swan092

New Member
My question is "terrarium"... If your building your own I'm assuming it's mesh screen and not anything in the glass or plastic family? There's very few chams that can survive in anything but mesh...
Yes of course. I have done my research. It will be made with 4 ft. wide, 57 in-long piece of 1/4 in. hardwire cloth (the plastic coated variety so its safer for my cham), 2 plastic plant water saucers (17" diameter), hog rings and clear silicone caulking to attatch the hardwire to the saucers. The cage will end up being 4 ft tall and 17 in wide... What do you think?
 

carol5208

Chameleon Enthusiast
17 wide is too narrow in my opinion. Most of the cages used are 24 X 24 X48 I have always felt that they are not even wide enough. They need to be able to move back and forth horizontally as well as vertically and you are not leaving much room to do that. Not enough room for an adult to roam around. Babie and juvi yes, but they grow up very quickly
 

swan092

New Member
What about using the large smooth river rocks that they sell at craft and dollar stores? Those are too big to get ingested and woud give your bottom a cool look if that's what you want. The only think then is to worry about crickets and such getting into the nooks and crannies, but if you cup feed then that concern disapears. And it would still let water drain through.
That sounds great! That was kinda the general idea I had when I said pebbles.. I definitely would never use anything small enough for my cham to digest.
 

swan092

New Member
I have changed everything now... haha

Okay so I just got a nosy be and he will be here in 30 days so they are larger and I figured I would need a bigger enclosure. My boyfriend also is really into building it so how does this sound plexi glass on the back (I live in WA and it colder here) and it will be covered with a terrarium forrest background. The two sides, the top, and the front door will be mesh screeening. The whole thing will sit on top of a cabinent to hide the filtration system. The bottom of the cage will be plastic slightly slanted to a funnel system which will funnel the water into a bucket in the cabinent so the whole thing will look like a nice piece of furniture. A ultra fine meshtray, or something with holes in it that feeders wont fall through will cover the slanted flitration system and it will be a tray I can slide out for easy cleaning. I was thinking of using a weeping fig as the main potted plant with a devils ivey hanging from the top for mor variety and cover. I stilll need to find out if a nosy be would eat a weeping figs leaves, cuz if so I want to change it just incase. Ill add extra different size vines, the lights, drip and watering system etc. The actual enclosure will be 4-5 ft tall and 2-3 ft wide. how does that sound (Sorry if I didnt make much sense its way easier to see in my head and draw it). Any suggestions?
 

carol5208

Chameleon Enthusiast
I think I just read in another post here that ivy is toxic. Might wanna check on that! Try a pothos instead, they vine really nice and are cham safe. Panthers are not as big of plant eaters as Veilds but I have read on here where some have munched on plants before so you can never take that chance of putting a poisonous plant in your enclosure. Ditto on the weeping fig. Not sure about those either. Everything else sounds great and it sounds like you are going to be providing an awesome new home for your chameleon.
 
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