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[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ The Chameleon Forum ]

Posted by charm_paradise on April 23, 2003 at 16:11:39:

In Reply to: Rationale... posted by iwana on April 23, 2003 at 14:05:33:

Hi- Well I am with Steve on this one! I have the same cages he has they are 24Lx24Wx48H, and I have 6 panther chameleons, one in each cage! They were purchased off ebay from www.reptilehavenonline.com.

Let talk about your cage setup!

Chameleons need height in there cages, not length. You are housing him in a 2' high tank! I don't keep Iguanas, but I have neighbors who do and there cages are WAY different then my chameleon cages. You need to get him into a cage at least 24"Lx24"Wx48"H all screen. The reason it looks like you are having problems keeping humidity up, is because you have a basking light incased in a canopy right on top of the cage, and the only air movement is really thought the top of the tank where the heat is coming from! I also noticed that there was maybe one live plant in the tank, you will need allot more then on small ploth vine to keep in humidity. So lets say you get the all screen cage, you put 2 large Ficus trees or Umbrella trees, or Hibiscus plants in the cage, mist 3-4 times per day, you should be able to maintain at least 60% humidity ( which is perfect for veilds) in the middle of the cage where it is shaded by the live plants. Veilds will also enjoy eating the leaves! If it get very dry on days, you can use a wet terry cloth and place one on each side of the cage to hold in the humidity. The basking light will not dry out the cage because it is 4' tall not 2'. Then about the substrate, it looks like some kind of moss, which will grow mold, bacteria, and disease. Your veild also might try to eat it and it can cause an impaction in it system. The astro turf like stuff you have on the back of the tank, is a breeding ground for bacteria, get rid of it! The glass/acrylic door, is stressing the hell out of the poor guy. NEVER USE ANYTHING THAT WILL ALLOW HIM TO SEE HIS REFLECTION. Get rid of it! Yes chameleons do like to be above eye level, but the height of the actual cage helps in maintaining proper humidity and heat, a 2' tank dose not do this! Your cage setup looks to be more for pygmy chameleons then a veild! Hope this helps!

John

:Hi Steve,

:Thanks for your response. I kind of expected this type of reply, since I am well aware of what every source out there indicates as adequate housing for a chameleon. So I will detail here why it is we decided to design the enclosure the way we did. :-)

:For starters, we live in a Northern climate where our long winters and electric heating cause for very dry environments in our homes. For this reason, keeping tropical herps is indeed a challenge. Not only are we dealing with the already dry ambient air, we are dealing with the inevitable loss of moisture within the terrarium caused by basking lights and other heat sources.

:For this reason, all screen and all wire terraria are pretty much out of the question, as it is absolutely impossible to maintain proper heat and humidity in these enclosures unless you heat and humidify the entire room.

:To ensure proper heat and humidity while providing adequate ventilation, what we have seen recommended (for iguanas anyway, which we have been keeping for 10 years) is to provide two vents at the opposite ends of the terrarium, one near the floor and one under the basking area, to create a convection of air while creating a warm pocket of air in the upper part of the terrarium. Small holes also need to be drilled into the lid to let excess hot air escape and to keep the air from getting stagnant there.

:Two small vents have proven to be more than adequate for providing a constant supply of clean air even in our biggest terraria (we have one that is 6 feet long, 6.5 feet high and 3 feet deep). We therefore felt that the same vents would also be adequate for our chameleon, who's enclosure is not nearly as big as the iguanas (thus providing comparatively a lot more ventilation). Also, chameleon husbandry seems pretty similar to iguanas in that they are arboreal and require warm, humid environments.

:Another thing we've noticed with keeping arboreal lizards is that some vertical space can be sacrificed if the terrarium is placed high enough, since the lizards spend most of their time in the upper half of the terrarium anyway. This also allows us to create a better heat gradient. (you will notice in the pic that the terrarium is on a stand, so the cham is actually nearly 5 feet off the ground)

:We also went ahead and made the terrarium longer to give the cham more space to move around, and also again to create a better heat gradient. I know that, at first glance, it doesn't look like a terrarium that is designed for an arboreal lizard, but we did take this into consideration. :-)

:The substrate is there precisely because the chameleon never goes on the ground. It is there to absorb the excess dripping from the mist and to help raise humidity.

:The reflection in the plexiglass should have in fact been greatly reduced by the darker background; maybe he's stressed because he can actually see outside now? Is there anything in my rationale (above) that doesn't make any sense?

:Before considering constructing a new terrarium, I think we will go ahead and try hanging some vines behind the plexiglass to see if indeed the reflection (or lack thereof) is bothering him.

:If you have any other thoughts or if anything I said didn't make any sense, please let me know!

:Thanks again,

:Julie

:

::It's hard to say what spurred this latest discontent, but there are a number of things that could be leading to it. I don't mean to come down hard on your cage set up, but it certainly isn't optimal for a cham. I see in one of the shots that the front door (hanging down) is glass or plexiglass and basically faces the entire cage. It would be almost impossible for him to get away from his own reflection. I realize you haven't had problems to this point, but I'd say you've been lucky not to. He also has very little air circulation in this set up, with only a screen top and vents to the sides. An all-screen enclosure is recommended (see above for the cages I use). Your cage layout is also horizontal, as opposed to vertical. Chams like height to feel safe and this may be one of the reasons why he is now hiding in the leaves. I'm not sure what others are going to say (actually, I'm pretty sure), but you might want to consider a new cage at this point. I have a feeling you'd have a much happier cham. This is a personal preference (some people use them with no difficulty), but I'd lose the substrate also. My chams hardly ever (female only) go to the actual bottom of their cages. Those are just my opinions.

:::My husband and I have had our male veiled chameleon for two years now. He started out in a 20 gallon terrarium, and by the time he was 6 months old, we moved him into a much larger, home made wooden terrarium measuring 4 feet long, 2 feet high and 18" deep, lined with melamine paneling, branches and vines, with a glass front and two vents placed on opposite ends.

:::He immediately took to this new terrarium, because he was finding the old one rather cramped. As soon as we put him in, he was cruising all over the place, displaying his "happy colors" and has been a very happy chameleon ever since.

:::However, we recently got it into our minds to removate his home to optimize it somewhat. The white panels were starting to bubble and peel from the frequent mistings, so we covered the walls with a rubber carpeting, laminated the floor with a clear plastic, covered it with a layer of moss and installed an automated mister. The placement of the branches has not changed and he still has all the same vines and plants he had before.

:::We were sure he would *LOVE* these changes because now, he can climb on every surface of his terrarium, since he can climb the "carpeting" (basically, it's some sort of woven plastic with a rubber backing) as well as his vines and his branches.

:::Turns out, though, that he seems to be having a very hard time acclimating to all these changes. Basically, he is seemingly flipping out! He is almost constantly displaying his "stress colors" (blackish green), frequently hides behind his plants and scratches to get out. He has been in his renovated home since Saturday morning, which means it has been 5 days now.

:::Is this just normal acclimation or is there something seriously wrong with the enclosure? We can't imagine why he wouldn't enjoy the changes; everything around him is green. In his old home, he always stayed near his foliage so he could be "invisible". We thought maybe it was because he was seeing his reflection in the plexiglass, but at the same time, the reflection should in fact have been reduced by the darker background. When his home was all white, he seemed pretty happy in there.

:::Can you please take a look at the following pics and tell me if you see anything glaringly wrong and/or why Frasier (our veiled) would be so stressed out? Or do we merely need to give him more time to adjust?

:::Thanks!

:::Julie and Justin

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