Pygmy chamelions!

joshuai

Arachnoangel
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Well Ive been researching these little guys for a while and was wondering if there is anyone on here who has them? I would love to see photos of your setups and chameleons! I figure since they prefer the 70 deg range, and they don't need a lot of uv light and screen cage, they will be good for me in alaska. It rarely gets above 72 in my home and i can control the heat in a glass tank so they don't get blasted with -40 degree gusts every time i open the door in the winter here thats why screen cages dont work for me! I got a 30 gallon bow front i am planting with low shrubbery and small long dried willow branches above the plants! and a plastic plant cascading down one side with a dripper in it! I think they will do good!
 

kevin91172

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Just do it

I have been kicking around the idea of getting some.

Got a friend that has some with a really nice set up with misters and everything

Looks like a real jungle:)
 

Jaymz Bedell

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I have a fair bit of experience with a couple of species of pygmy chameleons. most of them are undergrowth dwellers, they like a lot of shrubby cover. i would forego the bare dry branches and plastic plants as well as the dripper and use several dwarf Schefflera/Brassaia or something similar, you can also weave the branches into the foliage of the live plants, giving them even more choices and diameters for good muscle exercise. as well as a nice layer of leaf litter. daily misting or a misting system is your best bet, a dripper will quickly flood the tank or at the very least keep the substrate way too wet causing root rot. these guys really do well in a heavily planted vivarium. and the leaf litter not only gives tons of hiding places but also an area for springtails and other microfauna to thrive. pygmy chams are not really that hard to cater for. if your temps are only getting into the very low 70s a VERY weak basking light might be in order, say 79 to 83 degrees a few inches under the bulb. however if the tank reaches the mid and upper 70s the basking light would be completely unneeded. using a florescent light for plant growth and some UV exposure is a good idea, it could also bump the temps in the tank up a few degrees above room temp. gutloaded feeders are a great idea but will not negate the need for a quality vitamin AND separate high quality calcium supplement. be careful not to over do it on either supplement though. and watch the expiration dates on both. expired supplements can be dangerous. good luck and let us know how things go.
 
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joshuai

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Wow that helps a lot! I am going to go ahead and go big with these little guys! i am going to use a 60 gallon aquarium that was modified for a turtle tank, so there is a space on the sides on the top that will help with better air flow rather than just the screen top! i will use a layer of that hydro balls with a layer of carbon on top of that with a screen layer on top of the carbon and then put potted plants all over with moss around the bases so they will be easy to change and what not! then i will fill in around the plants with coco fiber and leaf litter on top of that!(should i get someone to send some maple or oak? i have birch and aspen leaves here!) And then i will intertwine long thin sticks through the foliage and i am going to have some shallow feeding bowls throughout! I am going to manually mist! so i will put a peace of tubing down in to the hydro balls so if i see water pool too much down there i will be able to siphon it out! I will have two reptiglo 5.0 used waterproof fixtures one inside the aquarium on the back a few inches down from the top of the tank because it is tall! and one on the top on the other side with a plant light in it and they are short fixtures so it still will leave room for them to not be in the light if they don't want! How many do you think can go into the tank i was thinking of getting 7! 2 males and 5 girls or so! It is a big tank so i will see if the males get along and there is plenty of girls to go around! I watch very carefully both feeding, making sure they all eat, and behavior, making sure they are all getting along and happy! and no fake plants or waterfalls!lol
 

Jaymz Bedell

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sounds good for the most part. I would use a mix of cocofiber and shredded leaf litter and plant directly into that, it will hold moisture but drain fast, and moss would hold a lot of water possibly suffocating any eggs laid in the tank. by the way, if you have males and females you will have eggs. let them incubate in tank, they are TINY! the first time I saw an egg I thought it was perlite till I really looked at it. don't mount the light fixture inside the cage, it will put out quite a bit of heat. as long as there are plants reaching near the top they will get up there. glass also doesn't transmit UV, screen would be better with that. it will mean more misting for you, but, allow for more microclimates. a layer of shredded leaf litter over the cocofiber/shredded leaf litter allows for a great microfauna area, and then top it with whole leaf litter, it allows females privacy for egg laying and babies a place to hunt for tiny tiny food. hardwood leaves that have been allowed to dry in full sun for a few days work really well. i have access to oak and magnolia in an untreated area so I consider myself blessed with perfect leaf litter. this is a little rambly because i am VERY tired. but if you have any more questions, anything, feel free to ask, these little guys are some of my favorite creatures to work with. in a large communal tank you'll see a lot of interesting behavior.
 

zonbonzovi

Creeping beneath you
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I was forwarded this care sheet and found it to be concise and very helpful when I started keeping pygmies:

http://www.flchams.com/pygmy-chameleon-care-sheet.asp

It basically underlines everything Jamyz had to say and expands on some of that information. Great little creatures, they are. My return house guests love to watch them hunt and always ask, "Is it feeding time, yet?"
 

joshuai

Arachnoangel
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Thanks again guys! It should be a nice tank. I am in the process of collecting all the necisary elements and will keep you all posted on my new project! And any more tips or anything is very welcome including pics!;) I have a Exotera double terrarium florescent fixture that has 10.0 bulbs in it that are a year old ran daily! Do you think that that will be too powerful about 12 inches above where the chams are? on one side of the tank only!
 

Dyn

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I dont have much to add other than I was severely disappointed by the lack of pictures in this thread.
 

Jaymz Bedell

Arachnoknight
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10.0 would be overkill and some chameleon keepers have anecdotal evidence of it causing blindness. how much this would be a concern with chameleons that spend a lot of time in the shadows of undergrowth would be up for debate. but there's a good chance you could burn your live plants. well used 5.0 would be the highest I would personally go. even then I would keep a close eye on the plants more than anything...but I'm a devout plant lover. one last suggestion, invest in a pump up pressure sprayer for misting. it will save you some hand soreness. good luck and do keep us posted.
 

joshuai

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10.0 would be overkill and some chameleon keepers have anecdotal evidence of it causing blindness. how much this would be a concern with chameleons that spend a lot of time in the shadows of undergrowth would be up for debate. but there's a good chance you could burn your live plants. well used 5.0 would be the highest I would personally go. even then I would keep a close eye on the plants more than anything...but I'm a devout plant lover. one last suggestion, invest in a pump up pressure sprayer for misting. it will save you some hand soreness. good luck and do keep us posted.
Cool thanks im just going to buy 2.0's and i got the pump up prayers already i use for my blondi and other T tanks!
 

Jaymz Bedell

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Cool thanks im just going to buy 2.0's and i got the pump up prayers already i use for my blondi and other T tanks!
Awesome! as I've aged I've developed mild arthritis in both hands. all summer I'm mostly fine, but come winter I have a few issues with things like spray bottles. I love my pressure sprayers! and don't feel you're limited plant wise, there are a ton of options for you...in fact, check out the terrarium section at glasshouseworks.com just to give you some ideas, and while youre there check out the entire tropical stock list. there might be something you find more appealing.
 

zonbonzovi

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Ohh...didn't know about that site...nice. Being where you're at in the north, maybe some low-light plants would be advisable, even though you'll have lighting. I've had great results with orchids that grow in the soil and have been thinking of expanding the tank to add some epiphytic plants. Of course, viny plants like Pothos are a hit with the chams. Jaymz, what's your take on plants deemed "unsafe for herps"? My general thinking has been that as long as the plant doesn't leach any harmful stuff that can saturate a cham's skin, it should be OK. Thoughts?
 

joshuai

Arachnoangel
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Ohh...didn't know about that site...nice. Being where you're at in the north, maybe some low-light plants would be advisable, even though you'll have lighting. I've had great results with orchids that grow in the soil and have been thinking of expanding the tank to add some epiphytic plants. Of course, viny plants like Pothos are a hit with the chams. Jaymz, what's your take on plants deemed "unsafe for herps"? My general thinking has been that as long as the plant doesn't leach any harmful stuff that can saturate a cham's skin, it should be OK. Thoughts?
Do you have any pics of the little guys? And do your produce offspring? If so do you sell them CB? Hint hint!!!;)
 

Jaymz Bedell

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Ohh...didn't know about that site...nice. Being where you're at in the north, maybe some low-light plants would be advisable, even though you'll have lighting. I've had great results with orchids that grow in the soil and have been thinking of expanding the tank to add some epiphytic plants. Of course, viny plants like Pothos are a hit with the chams. Jaymz, what's your take on plants deemed "unsafe for herps"? My general thinking has been that as long as the plant doesn't leach any harmful stuff that can saturate a cham's skin, it should be OK. Thoughts?

I think it really depends why the plant is considered unsafe. if it's an issue of being eaten I wouldn't worry too much since pygmy chameleons don't eat plants, my concern would be their prey eating the plants and sequestering the toxins. but then again most toxic plants taste bad and even our feeder bugs tend not to eat them. if it's due to something like super sticky sap I would personally be more hesitant, but it depends on how easily the plant sheds it sap. when it comes to reptiles I tend to be a lot looser on plant restrictions than I do when dealing with birds or mammals, anything more likely to eat the actual plant. I've used Schefflera and Pothos/Philodendron in vivariums for over 2 decades now and had no problems with it. all 3 contain alkaloids known to be toxic when ingested. the best way to approach it is to check for feeders munching on it, but over the years I haven't seen much if any munching on the 3 mentioned. Ficus species are also widely used, and most contain a very sticky latex sap. a careful eye goes a very long way to spotting issues before they become problems.

a word of advice, set up the tank, plant it, decorate it, add the clean up crew/microfauna and let it sit, doing your intended spraying routine, for 2 to 4 months. this allows the plants to establish and your clean up crew/microfauna population to establish as well.

and now... orchids, someone mentioned orchids...I am an orchidaholic! the only terrestrial orchids I can think of that would suit vivarium living, outside of a very large vivarium, are Jewel orchids. however in terms of environmental enrichment I would leave them out. they're just not built for tiny chameleons to climb about in easily, most are also low growing, and in a pygmy chameleon habitat I try to get mostly bushy plants, plants that reach above the leaf litter layer, and I tend to favor quite a bit of leaf litter in vivariums. leaf litter is not only more natural than most other ground covers, but it allows for tons and tons of microfauna. most forest floors are not covered in tons of mosses, most are covered in various layers of decomposing leaf litter. pygmy chameleons of all sorts will sit close to the leaf litter layer happily picking off tiny bugs we can barely detect. and since most breeding and rearing will take place in the cage microfauna is indispensable for those tiny tiny little babies. now I miss my pygmy chameleon groups and am seriously considering setting something up.

edited to add:

Only low light plants will be acceptable for pygmy chameleons. higher light plants really require higher light. more light means more heat. however the plants mentioned here, Ficus, Schefflera, Pothos, and Philodendron are all very much low light plants and all do quite well in vivarium culture.
 
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zonbonzovi

Creeping beneath you
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joshuai...sorry, no 'good' photos to put up. I've only had these for not quite a year, so no babes yet.

Not sure what the orchid is that I have in the tank(my wife's the orchid specialist), but the chams tend to hide under it when at ground level. You're right, Jaymz, not the greatest surface for gripping, although the occasional adventurer will hunt roach nymphs while perched near the roots. What are you using for fertilizer? I started with the 'shroom/worm cast stuff but it's been awhile and plants are lookin' a little lean. Also- you guys talked about bulbs...what is your preferred for optimal light usage/low heat?
 

Jaymz Bedell

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bulb wise for plant growth the cheap normal output florescent "plant" bulbs, anything close to 6500K works well in my experience. especially if you can find a fixture with a remote balast, thats where most of the heat out put is. but the cheap shoplight flo fixtures at any big box hardware store for $9.99 that hold 2 bulbs are my favorite. they dont put out much heat, take standard bulbs, including the common t12 and t8 types most reptile bulbs come in.

fertilizer wise im fairly organic, but not because I think it will change the world. chemical ferts build up over time, and since i use an inorganic media with my orchids they don't get repotted out of it, so i notice a build up over time. even though I flush my chids twice a month with clear water. I use a mix of bat guano tea and a little blood meal. I've had excellent results so far. I stick to a well balanced fert year round, I cut back or cut it out altogether in winter, depending upon the plants and how they look and are growing. i feed weakly weekly, usually 1/4 to 1/2 the recommended strength. word of caution, I thought I would be well prepared and mix up a batch of guano tea and add the blood meal, and let it steep. it worked very well, my plants love it, however the smell was...bad...to put it lightly. I will add the blood meal to the tea right before use from now on. I did actually expect a pungent odor, but I was a bit surprised at how much. lesson learned. in a vivarium I stick to either a weak guano tea or a weak worm casting tea, and where possible I top dress with a little worm casting or guano. any well composted organic fert should work, the key is well composted and organic. usually when it comes time to add more leaf litter ill mix up a batch of shredded leaf litter a little peat/cocofiber, and a bit of worm castings, and then cover that with a layer of whole leaf litter. some people have good luck with their vivarium inhabitants providing all the fertilizer their plants can use, I have never been that lucky personally.
 

zonbonzovi

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What is the ratio of guano to water? I have a summer colony in my breezeway that leaves me a fresh pile in lieu of rent:D

I had great success with last year's forgotten, freezer-burned trout in my large, outdoor pots, but no way in hell would that work inside.
 

Jaymz Bedell

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compost that fresh pile for 6 months or so! youd need to get it worked out chemically to know what it contains. I use 3 table spoons of dried bat guano to 1 gallon of hot water, let it sit for a good long time, I then dilute that down further, 1/2 cup of bat guano tea to a gallon of water. and then i feed with that. I feed weakly, probably weaker than most. but it works out very well for me. it would also be safe to use in a vivarium, which is another concern for me, as I don't like having 6 different solutions to one basic issue. it's safe in a vivarium, in pot culture, and for my outdoor gardens. I never get root burn. even with more sensitive rooted plants. I wish i had a bat population to supply my guano needs, but we get relatively few bats durring the summer. I've got a huge population of Ruby throated hummingbirds...but almost no bats.

fish emulsion is a great fert too from what I've read, but the smell is too much for me. even outside it would be too much. I spend large chunks of time in the garden all summer. and with my luck it would attract even more furry pests than I have now, and I have a laundry list of furry garden invaders as long as my arm.
 

zonbonzovi

Creeping beneath you
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joshuai, here's a preview of your future buddies:

Wink, wink, nudge,nudge


Lady


Gentleman
 

joshuai

Arachnoangel
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joshuai, here's a preview of your future buddies:

Wink, wink, nudge,nudge


Lady


Gentleman
Thank you for the photos! I cant wait to get mine! I have someone looking at some shows this weekend! Hopefully i can get some good trios for a female versi and Female E. murinus ++ . Thank you for sharing! I will get photos up if i ever get my little guys! wont be long i imagine!


PS I have a lot of nice Ts if someone has a healthy trio now! I am really wanting to get my hands on some! I would love to trade! wink wink!
 
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