Chameleons are unique and they are arboreal (living in trees and plants). They need a spaced cage and décor with correct temperature and humidity in order to be happy and active. Each species needs different temperature and humidity to survive. I understand that you are excited and are eagerly waiting to bring your pet home. But, did you create a home for your pet yet? Here, let us see what should be considered before setting up a chameleon habitat.
Type of enclosure
The first thing you have to consider before buying a chameleon cage is the type of the cage. It is recommended that the chameleon cage walls be made of mesh or screen walls. Using plastic or glass for the cage is not recommended unless you have a screened roof. You can even dedicate a part of your house if you have vacant space like a small room or garage space. The mesh or screened walls facilitate the air flow in and out of the cage.
The size of the cage
Once you have sorted out the shape and material, you have to decide on the size of the cage. Chameleons need spacious habitat comparing to other other pets. For the smallest species, the ideal measurement of the cage is 24 x 36 x 36 inches. The bigger you can get the cage the better for your pet. Other than some large species, you can use a cage having the above mentioned dimensions.
As I mentioned before if you can dedicate a room for your pet, you have to decorate the chameleon habitat. If you are buying the enclosure from the store, you get all the accessories with it. Be it a room or the enclosure, a chameleon habitat should contain a plant or tree that give enough space for the chameleon to perch, sleep, and hide. Before keeping the plant inside the chameleon habitat make sure it is clean and is free of pesticides. I am sure you will also check whether the tree or the plant is poisonous because your chameleon is going to nibble on it.
I would like to give you some suggestions on the live plants that you can use in your chameleon habitat. Weeping fig (Ficus benajamina), mulberry, dwarf umbrella tree (Schefflera arboricola), and yucca are commonly used plants.
Water and food supply
You cannot keep your chameleon pet hydrated in a regular way using a water bowl. They rarely come down and they drink water as drops. To provide proper hydration your chameleon habitat should contain a water dripper. Chameleons drink drops of water dripping from leaves so you have to sprinkle water on the plant kept inside.
For feeding your chameleon you will need a food bowl. The location of the bowl in the cage is also important. Just keep this bowl at your pet’s favorite spot. The food bowl can contain insects or worms. The best option would be clamping the food bowl to the side walls of the cage.
Temperature and lighting
Chameleons needs to be exposed to sunlight and UV rays to keep them healthy. If you are planning to keep them in an isolated room, make sure that there are windows facing east side. By this, your pet chameleon can have a good exposure to the morning sun. To regulate the temperature in the room you can use a cooler or a heater.
If the chameleon is kept in a separate enclosure, you can use basking bulbs (can use Fluorescent UVB bulbs) to regulate the heat. Fix the bulb in the cage where your pet cannot go. The advantage of having these bulbs in the chameleon habitat is that the chameleon can move around the cage to adjust the heat. The area around the bulb will be hotter than the other parts of the cage. You can buy a temperature regulator from any reptile pet shop.
Just like the temperature inside the chameleon habitat, you have to adjust also humidity of the enclosure. To have the ideal humidity, you will need to mist the cage. There are many products available for this purpose. You will get this done by using manually spraying or keeping a dripper. If you are not going to be at home all the time you can either use the dripping system or can buy an automatic mister. The automatic cage mister can be set on a timer and need no human intervention.
Remember the cause for most of the reported losses of captive chameleons is the lack of hydration. It is advised that you have a humidity gauge and thermometer fixed inside the cage so that you can monitor it on a regular basis.
Now, let’s look into the flooring of the chameleon habitat. This is actually used to make the cleaning process easy. Your pet’s cage should be clean of debris and other wastes. Use pieces of newspapers or paper towels to cover the cage floor. Some plants come with large pots with the potting soil. You can use those pots also.
Conclusion – The chameleon habitat
Now, you have looked into the different aspects of setting up a chameleon habitat. By now, you would have understood that chameleons are very sensitive to the atmosphere around them. Even a slight change in the temperature and humidity can make them sick. You can get guidance from pet shops and reptile magazines about this. Get ready to bring your chameleon friend home!
For a complete step-by-step guide on how to care for your pet chameleon and what to consider before you even get one, check out Robert Jone’s “Chameleon Care Guide” at http://chameleoncareguide.com
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