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Proper Chameleon Care and Housing

Posted by Amber on

Today I will be discussing the proper housing for a chameleon along with all the dos and don’ts that are involved with owning one of these gorgeous lizards.

The first thing to consider when planning on getting a chameleon is, will you have enough time to put into this animal as they are somewhat high maintenance. The toughest thing when owning a chameleon is keeping them hydrated. There are two options when it comes to hydrating them, a dripping system or a misting system.

If you are more interested in the drip system then the best thing to do would be to purchase these items: a 3-5 gallon bucket (or smaller if wanted), an adjustable nozzle, and airline tubing.

(in a sense we are recreating this but in a larger form)

Please keep in mind that if you choose to do a dripping system with a large vessel of water to NOT put it directly on top of the chameleon cage as it will break the cage.

Now about the misting systems, which I prefer over the dripper. The best misting system that is available is the MistKing Starter, these starter kits are meant for a smaller amount of cages.

(the mistking system does best with a minimum of a 3 gallon bucket)

The way that the MistKing works is simple, we have a bucket of water, the system will take the water out of the bucket and mist the cage. The MistKings are great because you can have them on a timer and not have to worry about constantly filling up a dripper system. If you want the MistKing to only run for 2 minutes then you can set it that way, whereas a dripper will go until the bucket is empty (unless you close the valve). The main reason why chameleons need such an intricate watering system is because they cannot see standing water, so they need a moving water feature to provide their hydration.

Now there are other options for watering like hand misting, a water fall, a water pump feature, but most of these options the chameleon will either poop in or have to be located on the floor of the cage which is not convenient for the animal.

Next, I will discuss the best substrate for a chameleon. If you are interested in looks and want something to look really natural I would choose between either Forest Floor bedding or Repti Bark, both of these substrates are very absorbent. If you are looking for something easy to clean and not have to worry about impaction I would either do a bare bottom (no substrate) or paper towels. Personally I prefer bare bottom, especially if the tray for the cage is black because it looks nicer to me and it is very easy to clean.

Time for the most important aspect, the cage. Chameleons thrive best in screen cages, like a Repti Breeze. For a chameleon 2-5” the best size would be a 16”x16”x30” screen cage, for anything larger than that they best size would be the 24”x24”x48” Repti Breeze. Something to always keep in mind, is that chameleons LOVE coverage! So the more plants, sticks, and hiding areas, the better for them and the happier/healthier they will be.

Recap:

Cage: Minimum would be a medium size. You do not need to go larger than the large, but you can.

Substrate: Bare bottom or paper towels to reduce possibilities of impaction from beddings.

Lighting: Daytime – 75-100W white basking bulb for the medium size cage. 100-150W white basking bulb for the large size cage. A UVB tube bulb that goes across the entire top of the cage (the screw/coil UVB do not provide the best UVB).

Nightime – 75W red basking bulb for the medium size cage. 100W red basking bulb for the large size cage.

Food: Hornworms, crickets, dubia roaches, and superworms are great options.

Live Plants: There is a HUGE list but here are some of the live plants that are safe for your chameleon:

  • -Asparagus Fern
  • -Aspen
  • -Boston Fern
  • -Cotton Wood
  • -Ficus
  • -Jade Plant
  • -Pothos
  • -And Many More…

Hydration: MistKing system or a dripper.