Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Veiled and Panther Chameleon Care 101B (PLANTS)


I now only use real live plants in my chameleon's enclosure. Real plants are by far the superior 'furnitures' for your chameleon. They are tremendous assets in keeping your enclosure humid and, best of all, for chameleons such as Veiled and panther (more so for Veiled), real plants can also be their SMALL part of diet. Veiled Chameleons adapt in the wild by nibbling on leaves to regain moisture during the dry seasons.

Chameleons love to hide from predators. Therefore, it is beneficial for you to have thick bushy plants (tall and healthy) for him to escape into. But, do not forget to also provide him with an empty space to stretch and relax. A cage with no room to move is just as bad as a bare cage. See the picture of my enclosure (in 101A) to get a better idea.

Since your chameleons might munch on the leaves, it is imperative to have plants that are safe to eat. Here are some of the plants that chameleon keepers often use in their enclosure:

1. Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis.
This is a very common beautiful plant available in almost all nurseries in the states. The leaves and the flowers are completely safe to eat (and if your chameleon do eat them, the flowers contain a nice boost of vitamin C) and the branches are strong enough to be climbed around by chameleons. I absolutely adore this plant. Unfortunately, Hibiscus can be quite tough to care. Their constant need of sunlight can be a problem if you put them in an indoor cage. Some people buy more than one Hibiscus. They put one in the cage and the other outside and rotate them every once in a while. I used Hibiscus almost exclusively at one time. Even now, ALL of my hibiscus thrive wonderfully inside my chameleon's cage. I do use a plant light (
GE Plant & Aquarium T12 ) to promote my Hibiscus' growth. You can find it at your local stores, such as Lowes, Walmart, or Target.

Here is a nice video demonstrating a female veiled eating a hibiscus flower.

2. Ficus Benjamina.
I have a love hate relationship with this particular plants. Ficus Benjamina, or the weeping fig, are very hardy plants. They can take a lot of abuse and will thrive very well indoors. However, Ficus Benjamina is mildly toxic. When broken, the branch will produce a milky sap that can irritate your chameleon’s eyes and skin. It is also advised to take the ficus out of the enclosure if your chameleon starts to munch the leaves excessively.

3. Schefflera Arboricola.
It is commonly known as the Dwarf Umbrella tree. This plant is also very easy to keep indoors. It has mild toxic and action should be taken when your chameleon start munching the plant too much.

4. Epipremnum aureum
It is commonly known as Golden Pothos or Devil’s Ivy. This plant, in my opinion, should be used in addition to your main plants. Its vines are not as rigid and tough like the plants I mentioned above. Golden Pothos has a high oxalate content that can block your chameleon’s calcium absorption. So, be cautious when your chameleon munches the leaves in great amount.
Be aware also that Golden Pothos has a poisonous cousin called
a heart-leafed Philodendron. Make sure that you do not buy the wrong one.

There are many other safe plants out there that you can use in your enclosure. Have fun creating a jungle for your chameleons! Just make sure that you research well. Make sure that you do not put poisonous plants inside the enclosure. There are many good websites that you can check to find out whether the plants you have are safe or poisonous.

Since many of the nurseries use heavy load of pesticides and fertilizers for their plants, it is crucial for you to prep your plants before introducing them into the chameleon’s cage.
Fertilizers and pesticides are highly TOXIC and can be extremely fatal to your chameleon.
I suggest to do it anyway, even when the nursery claim they are not using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Again, it is better to be on the safe side.

Here is a way that Kammers recommend me to do to prep the plants:

A. Removing Pesticides Trace:
  1. On a large tub, make a soapy solution by mixing a squirt of antibacterial soap with water. Mix them well.
  2. Turn your plant upside down and dunk it into the soapy water and swish it around.
  3. Let your plant sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Rinse your plant well to remove all traces of soaps
  5. Do step 1-4 about 3 or more times

B. Removing Fertilizer Trace:
Many of the potting soils that originally used by the nursery will have additives and fertilizer balls. Therefore, you need to repot the plant with organic potting soil that does not have chemical fertilizer or additives.
Some people use “Organic” Potting soil. I used “Supersoil” potting soil (without conditioners).
Because I want to make sure that there is no way for my chameleon to accidentally ingest the fertilizers, I completely repot the plant with the new soil.

Some chameleons are notoriously known to eat dirt. If you happen to get one that does (like me), it is even more IMPERATIVE that you do this preparation.
Currently, it is unknown why exactly some chameleons do this. Some people speculate that eating soil is the chameleons’ way to get rid of parasites. Some says it is a way for chameleons to obtain minerals for their bodies. Some simply says it is just a bad habit that your chameleon develops.

I am a bit ambivalent about this issue. But, I am leaning toward NOT letting your chameleon do that to avoid a possible case of impaction. A good way to prevent your chameleon from eating dirt is to cover the soil by plastic canvas (you can purchase it cheap at Wal-Mart’s art and crafts section) or by large polished rocks. If you decide to do the latter method, make sure that the rocks are too big for your chameleon to swallow and rinse the rock well with hot water before using them.

Some people allow their chameleon to eat the soil. If you decided to do so, make sure you sift the soil. Make sure there are no small pebbles, wood chips, or any objects that can be swallowed by your chameleon.

_______________________Lesson continued to 101C
Source(s): Kammerflage Kreations and chameleonforums.com

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