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This is part four of a multipart series about creating an ideal habitat for your chameleon. The previous parts covered choosing an enclosure, selecting a room for the habitat to reside, and the addition of plants.
In this section, we will provide an overview of lighting needs (for more complete information, see the Let There Be Light post) as well as watering and misting systems. Additionally, appropriate climate control monitoring equipment is explored to make sure the environment is comfortable for your chameleon.
To ensure the health of your chameleon, certain lighting must be included in the enclosure. Aside from having enough light in the space to simulate the changes between night and day, your chameleon’s enclosure will likely need a UVB light and a basking bulb.
Chameleons, like people, need vitamin D. The easiest way to meet this need is through contact with UVB light. While UVB light naturally occurs in sunlight, having an enclosure indoors may limit the amount that the chameleon actually receives. By including a UVB light that is focused on the enclosure, you can make up for what is not present in the space.
Your chameleon needs approximately 10 to 12 hours of exposure to UVB on a daily basis. Often, the easiest way to meet the time requirement is to have the light on during the day and simply turn it off at night. If you want to make the process easier, you can event set the light on a timer, so that it automatically turns on and off at the correct intervals even when you are not home.
Basking bulbs provide an additional heat source in the enclosure. While you should ensure your room is kept at an appropriate temperature at all times, the basking bulb gives your chameleon an extra warm spot to help regulate their overall body temperature. In contrast to the UVB light, which should cover the vast majority of the space, a basking bulb only needs to heat a specific area.
As with the UVB bulb, basking bulbs should also be turned off at night. This allows your chameleon to feel the extra warmth traditionally experienced during the day time, while also simulating the cooler nights they would have in the wild.
Watering and Misting
If your enclosure includes live plants, then you will need to make sure and meet their watering needs. Each type of plant may have different requirements, but care instructions are often included when the plant is purchased. You can choose to hand-water plant soil as needed, or check into automated watering systems.
Misting systems benefit your chameleon directly. Unlike many animals that drink from water bottles or dishes, chameleons get their water off of the environment. In the case of enclosures, this often refers to droplets collected on plants and surfaces as the result of misting the space. Not only is this required for needed humidity, but it also provides a necessary source of fluids for your chameleon.
You can mist an enclosure by hand using a suitable spray bottle, but investing in an automated misting system may be wise. This ensures that all of the misting needs are met whether you are home to manage the task or not. You can set the misting system to spray at specific intervals, creating a routine upon which the chameleon can rely.
It is critical to check the temperature and humidity levels on a regular basis to ensure all of these needs are being met. This means you will need to invest in a thermometer to watch the temperature, and a hygrometer to monitor humidity.
While most home heating and air conditioning systems have thermostats, you still need to check the conditions within the enclosure itself. This helps you compensate for variances based on the enclosures exact locations within the home. For example, a habitat near a window with direct sunlight might actually get warmer than the temperature set on a thermostat. Investing in a high-quality thermometer specifically for the enclosure ensures your chameleon’s precise needs are being met at all times.
Once your lighting, watering and misting, and climate control systems are in place, you have all of the components required for a suitable chameleon enclosure. Research the specific needs of your chameleon’s breed to ensure the environment is kept in a way that meets those standards. Monitor the status of the habitat on a regular basis, especially when there is a significant or seasonal change in your home area. Then, you can simply enjoy your chameleon knowing that everything is set how it should be.