No Place Like Home | Creating Your Chameleon Habitat Part 4

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.

Lightingchameleon-1240928

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.

Climate Controls

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.

thermometer-428339While 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.

 

 

http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Reptile-Health/Habitats-Care/Create-a-Habitat-for-your-Chameleon/

http://www.muchadoaboutchameleons.com/2012/04/how-to-set-up-proper-chameleon.html

No Place Like Home | Creating Your Chameleon Habitat Part 3

This is part three of a multipart series about creating an ideal habitat for your chameleon. The previous parts covered choosing an enclosure and selecting a room for the habitat to reside. This section is going to review how to “decorate” the space with branches, vines, and plants based on your chameleon’s needs.

Can You Take Me Higher

animals-1098679The majority of chameleons are arboreal; they feel safest when they are up high amongst the tree branches. That is why chameleon enclosures focus on height over width, and why you need to give them branches upon which to climb.

When it comes to climbing surfaces, you generally have two choices. You can go with real branches or vines and live plants, or their manufactured counterparts. Which method is best for you can depend on a number of factors which we will explore below.

The Genuine Article

If you want to help your chameleon feel at home in their enclosure, then having real branches and plants is a great way to go. Often, you can find suitable branch sections from a nearby tree, or at a suitably equipped pet store. Make sure the branches have a suitable amount of width, as tiny twigs won’t provide the support or gripping surface needed for your chameleon to climb, especially once they are full grown.

Branches

Before placing a new branch (that you find yourself) into the enclosure, thoroughly clean and sanitize the surface. You want to remove and dirt and debris, as well as loose bark on the surface. Additionally, you want only to include branches from trees or shrubs that are known to be NON-TOXIC. That means you may need to do some research before grabbing just any stick off the ground.

Once cleaned, you can cut the branch to a suitable size. In some cases, you can simply wedge them in place. At others, you may want to secure them to the enclosure with appropriate hardware. If you use hardware (like screws), make sure that they are not accessible to the chameleon. You wouldn’t like stepping on a nail sticking out of the floor, and your chameleon likely feels the same way.

If you choose to purchase branches from a reputable supplier, they will often be sanitized and scrubbed before you receive them. Some places will even cut the branches to length for you, saving you the trouble (especially if you don’t own suitable tools).

Vines

Vines provide additional climbing surfaces but are more flexible. This means you have more options in how they are placed. Finding suitable vines in your local environment may prove challenging, but long, flexible branches can also do the trick. As with the branches, cleaning and sanitizing are important, as well as confirming the vine material is non-toxic. For example, grape ivy may be a suitable choice, as well as flexible branches from a willow tree.

Plants

chameleon-384964When possible, using live plants is the way to go. Not only do they provide your chameleon with the shade and camouflage they may crave, but they can help hold humidity in the enclosure. They are also great for the air, especially when dealing with small spaces.

There are many suitable plants for use in chameleon enclosures. Some of the most popular choices include Ficus Benjamina, Umbrella Tree, and Pothos Plants. These may even be available at your local hardware or home improvement store, depending on your location and the current season.

When choosing plants, you want to make sure they are free of pesticides and fertilizers. You may have to repot the plants in a new planter with organic soil, and the exposed surfaces will need to be properly cleaned and sanitized. Often, this can be done with a clean bucket full of water that has a squirt of anti-bacterial soap mixed in.

Place the plant into the water “head down” without putting the roots in the solution. Swish the plant to make sure the solution reaches all of the surfaces, and leave it to sit for around five minutes. Then, thoroughly rinse the plant with clean water. Repeat the processes AT LEAST two more times before repotting the plant.

A Suitable Facsimile

Sometimes, managing live plants is overly complicated. For those occasions, fake plants can work as a suitable substitute. When choosing fake plants, make sure you pay attention to the quality. Often, it is unwise to simply grab some from your local craft store, as these were not designed for the rigors of having your chameleon walking all over them.

If you do want to work with fake plants, consider options designed specifically for reptile enclosures, and purchase only from reputable dealers.

Coming Soon!

This is part 3 in a multipart series focused on creating an ideal environment for your chameleon. Come back for additional advice to help you build your chameleon’s perfect home.

 

http://www.muchadoaboutchameleons.com/2012/04/how-to-set-up-proper-chameleon.html

http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Reptile-Health/Habitats-Care/Create-a-Habitat-for-your-Chameleon/

http://www.chameleonsonly.com/index.php?p=page&page_id=Plants/Branches

http://www.tikitikireptiles.com/pages.php?id=8

 

No Place Like Home | Creating Your Chameleon Habitat Part 2

chameleon-63148This is part two of a multipart series about creating an ideal habitat for your chameleon. Part one focused on selecting the proper type of enclosure based on your local climate and chameleon’s need. This section is going to review where to place your enclosure once you have it purchased.

Choose a Room

Your first decision regarding the placement of your enclosure is the room in which it will be setup. While many people would initially think a common living area is the best option, it is not always the case.

First, you need to understand that chameleons can become agitated by their environment. Rooms on the main floor that are either high traffic or that allow outside noise to carry into the space can cause your chameleon to feel nervous or threatened. Repeated disturbances make it difficult for your chameleon to settle, and the constant stress can have a negative impact on his or her health.

If you have a multistory home, then selecting a low traffic room on the upper floor is ideal. Not only does the increased height help your chameleon feel more secure (this is based on the location of a window, which we will explore later in this piece), it likely has these auditory or visual disturbances. This means your chameleon is less likely to experience unnecessary anxiety based solely on the environment.

Second, you need to make sure the temperature in the space is well controlled. Chameleons are highly sensitive to temperature, and you need to make sure the room can provide the temperature range your chameleon needs to thrive.

Keep it Up

The base of your chameleon enclosure should not be on the floor. If you purchase a glass or screen habitat that does not come with a set of legs to raise it off the floor, then you will need to put the cage on a table to lift it off the ground. Make sure the table is broad enough to support the weight of the enclosure and provide reasonable stability based on the fact that the chameleon will move throughout the space and may cause the weight within the enclosure to shift slightly while doing so.

Find a Window

lobby-797961Just as you wouldn’t like to stare at the same four walls all day, every day, for the rest of your life, your chameleon wouldn’t like it either. To help create a more engaging environment, it is best to pick a room with a window. This also gives your chameleon the opportunity to experience sunlight on a regular basis.

East-facing windows receive the morning sun which can provide a gentler warmth, while west-facing windows will brighten up in the afternoon but often get warmer. Depending on which option you choose, you need to make sure the temperature needs of your chameleon are met throughout the day. Getting too hot or too cold is not a great way to live, so take care to monitor temperature changes so you can provide him or her with the extra warmth or shade your chameleon may require.

If you live in North America, south-facing windows actually get the most sunlight throughout the day. However, on hot summer days, it may make the temperature in the space uncomfortably high. You will need to take extra care to ensure your chameleon can escape from the heat of the sun when required to make a south-facing window work.

Coming Soon!

This is part 2 in a multipart series focused on creating an ideal environment for your chameleon. Come back for additional advice to help you build your chameleon’s perfect home.

 

http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Reptile-Health/Habitats-Care/Create-a-Habitat-for-your-Chameleon/

http://www.muchadoaboutchameleons.com/2012/04/how-to-set-up-proper-chameleon.html

 

 

No Place Like Home | Creating Your Chameleon Habitat Part 1

chameleon-855125Before you bring your chameleon home, you must create a habitat suitable to its needs. While it may be tempting just to buy the first option you see, examining your options more carefully can produce better results. In this installment, we will cover information about the main types of enclosures that are available, and which may match your situation best.

Key Features for All Habitats

Certain features are ideal for any chameleon habitat. First, chameleons are arboreal and enjoy being able to get up higher. That means your enclosure will often be taller than it is wide. Additionally, you want to make sure the base of the enclosure is not actually on the ground. Your enclosure either needs to come with suitable legs or have the ability to be placed on a table or counter.

Drainage is also a concern as well as easy of cleaning. You want excess moisture to be able to quickly exit the living space, as well as any waste created by your chameleon. Even if you keep live plants in the habitat, drainage is always a concern.

Screened Cages

Screened cages are one of the standard options on the market. These enclosures have a frame, typically made of wood, metal, or plastic, and the frame supports the screens that prevent your chameleon from making a break for it.

The screens feature a relatively tight weave for multiple reasons. First, it prevents your chameleon from being able to reach through the screen. Even though many people would assume the design would only need to stop the chameleon from squeezing through, it is better to make sure that they can’t even stick a toe through the material. Aside from the risk of injury (should the chameleon get a toe stuck), it is also less likely to be damaged from your chameleon using it as a climbing surface.

mesh-443975Finer mesh also limits the ability of live food, such as crickets, from being able to escape the enclosure. Not only will this help keep the food in reach of your chameleon, but it also keeps in out of your home!

If you live in a hot, humid environment, screened cages make an excellent choice. First, they provide superior ventilation. This helps keep the enclosure from getting stuffy or musty as air can flow freely through the space. It also prevents the enclosure from becoming too hot based on heat retention from the material itself.

Terrariums and Vivariums

There are glass and acrylic terrarium or vivarium options that are suitable for chameleons as well. Often, these have solid sides made of glass or acrylic, a solid base, and a mesh or screened top. These options are also commonly available, though take care not to accidentally end up with a unit meant to be used as an aquarium as they may not come properly equipped and may not feature ideal dimensions.

These forms of enclosures can be ideal if your home is in a cold or dry environment. Glass and acrylic enclosures hold heat and humidity more effectively than screened cages. This allows you to create a more tropical environment without affecting your overall home environment as dramatically.

However, since temperatures and humidity can get quite high, and ventilation is more difficult with these enclosures (as it is commonly limited to the top only) you will need to pay particular attention to environmental readings.

Hybrid Enclosures

There are combination enclosures that feature a mix of glass or acrylic panels and screened sections. For example, the front of the habitat may be made of glass or acrylic, and the side may be half glass or acrylic and half screen. Some may even feature glass or acrylic panels that can be slide up or down to expose screened sections.

Hybrid solutions may be ideal if your weather varies drastically throughout the year. You can control ambient temperature and humidity more efficiently by adjusting the amount of ventilation based on current conditions.

Coming Soon!

This is part 1 in a multipart series focused on creating an ideal environment for your chameleon. Come back for additional advice to help you build your chameleon’s perfect home.

 

 

http://www.muchadoaboutchameleons.com/2012/04/how-to-set-up-proper-chameleon.html

http://chameleoncare.net/cage-habitat/

http://raisingkittytheveiledchameleon.blogspot.com/2007/12/enclosures-habitat.html

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Habitat-for-Your-Chameleon

http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Lizard-Care/Building-Lizard-Cage/