Chapter 2:

  • Use artificial vines and flowers found at any craft store. I would stay away from artificial berries, beads that simulate water droplets or anything else that may look like "food". It is a good practice to offer your chameleon REAL plants to improve the air quality in its habitat and to simulate its natural environment as much as possible (See list of plants to use and those to avoid). When using real plants, beware of the tiny, white bits mixed into the potting soil (perlite) that look like Styrofoam. Hatchlings are drawn to these thinking they are tasty bugs and will eat them. Don't wait for it to happen, place large stones over the plant's exposed soil before introducing it to your chameleon! ONLY use real plants in the enclosure if you circulate them (i.e. use artificial plants one month, real the next ). Water can become stagnant and breed bacteria, so I would recommend exposing your pet to a real tree near a window instead!

  • You don't have to buy branches from pet stores. Harvest your own, preferably in the winter when they are bare and easier to clean. Use sand paper to smooth out any splinters or sharp regions, remove bark and make sure it's clean (make sure they are not too smooth or your chameleon will have difficulty gripping on). If the branches are small enough to fit, bake in your oven for about 2 hours @ 250 or wash them in detergent and scrub with a wire pad. Run hot water over it to soften the bark. Soak the branches in diluted bleach mixture but make certain you rinse and soak them in clean water to get any bleach residue off! A bird ladder makes a great accessory too! Found in the parrot/bird section of your local pet store, they come in a variety of sizes and are inexpensive!

  • Beware of any plant you purchase that has been treated with insecticides! Don't let you little guy run around on a pesticide treated lawn!

  • A nice thing to put in your chameleon's aquarium is a "veggie-clip" (found in the reptile section of any pet store). It is a suction cup with a plastic clip attached. You adhere it to the cool end of the aquarium wall and you can fasten a large leaf (romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce etc.) to it! This way you little one can nibble on fresh veggies if he desires!

  • Remember, what you may consider as "esthetic" your chameleon views as functional. Make certain vines and sticks are strongly affixed. You can use a glue gun to affix artificial foliage to aquarium walls. The glue peels off easily, and this makes it possible to build bridges and fun things to climbs for your chameleon! Never use a glue gun while your chameleon in the enclosure. Always wait at least 15 minutes to ensure glue is dry and any fumes have dissipated. Make sure any stings of glue that have dripped are cleaned up, as your chameleon or insects could ingest them. Using a glue gun is a great way of making your chameleons environment stimulating and secure, IF you remember to clean out any extra glue and use it VERY sparingly, and wipe away any fine glue webs that are left behind. Keep it simple. If you create elaborate habitats, you will be less enthusiastic about dissembling it to clean it every week.

  • Substrate. There are several options on the market, but only 3 are safe: Calcium sands, astro turf and nothing at all. I do not recommend towels, newsprint etc. as insects will crawl and hide under it. Wood chips are good for increasing humidity, however, many incidences have been reported of chameleons ingesting them when hunting, leading to fatal results. It won't hurt to have "nothing" as substrate, chameleons are arboreal (they dwell primarily in the treetops) and its not often you will see them walking on the ground. In the winter, you may want to use something to add more insulation.

  • Remember not to place branches or sticks to close to the basking lights. The basking light should be not less than 1 foot away from your chameleon. The first sign of a thermal burn is a light green patch on the skin, gradually turning black, usually on the casque (cone on head) as it's the closest area to the light. You may also see a small blister. If this appears, alter your light immediately and take your chameleon to a vet! If allowed, your chameleon will sit directly under a light, and unfortunately, does not seem to "learn" if they have been burnt already. BEWARE thermal burns and Calcium deficiency are the top 2 causes of death for chameleons.


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